China 1450-1750

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CHINA 1450-1750
* China has outstanding naval capacity in the early 1400s (see the discussion of the Ming voyages in the unit Ming Voyages: 1405-1433). * The Chinese political and social order is at its height in this "late imperial" period of the last two dynasties: the examination system has, from the Tang dynasty onward, created a strong centralized and fully functional civil service in place of an aristocratic elite with a territorial base of power. Scholar-gentry, residing at home as they study for the next level of examination or await official appointment, support the work of the appointed district magistrate (who, by regulation, cannot be from the district) and form one elite class of Confucian literati that governs China. * By the 1700s the Chinese governmental practice in general, and civil service examination system in particular, becomes a model for emulation championed by the Physiocrats and other political activists seeking to reform government in Europe, and particularly in France. * Qing imperial power is at its height under three strong emperors, who rule in succession: Kangxi (1662-1722), Yongzheng (1723-1735), and Qianlong (1736-1795) and expand the borders of Chinese territory to the greatest extent since the Han empire. Military campaigns in the 1700s bring Chinese Turkestan (Xinjiang), Outer Mongolia, and Tibet under Chinese domination. * Advanced commercial development takes the place of industrial development in China: geographic unity, river systems, and canals facilitate the development of internal trade in China. The mainland of China forms a natural unit almost cut off by mountains and desert from the Eurasian land mass to the west and south. Its size and the political unity that prevails for much of its late imperial history promote interregional trade within China. The absence of trade barriers within this unified country and the existence of a vast and varied geography mean that shortages in one part of China can be...
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