Chinese History can take a lifetime to understand, so know that a single blogpost will just cover the basics. Chinese history is very important to modern China, and many customs and traditions date back thousands of years.
One of the most important elements of Chinese history is the Dynasties. Dynasties are summed up by a series of Emperors and Empresses from the same bloodline that ruled China. When a dynasty was overthrown, a new one would take its place or China would be divided into different states. The Dynastic period lasted from 150 BCE to 1911 CE, and is one of the longest-lasting periods in human history. Each Dynasty contains enough history to last a lifetime. These Dynasties were held together by one of the most influential ideas of though, known as Confucianism.
Confucius was a scholar during a period of division in China, and when the Zhou Dynasty came into power they adopted this ideology. Confucianism is founded on the principles of the Mandate of Heaven. Even though there were deities before Confucianism, the idea of Heaven was a foreign concept. The Mandate of Heaven is the idea of using hierarchical structure in a society to reach the afterlife. There are 5 major relationships in a society, with the most prominent being the way the father and the son interact. This concept enforced the idea that there are superiors and inferiors, and you must act accordingly in society to go to Heaven. Emperors were held to the same standard. When an Emperor was overthrown it was thought that he/she had disobeyed the Mandate of Heaven and that it was deserved. Confucianism still plays a major role in Chinese society today, and can be found in nearly every aspect of life.
In 1911, China overthrew the Qing Dynasty to form a democracy, however in 1916 the government fell apart. This caused a great chaos leading to China being divided up into several smaller states. Eventually, two major parties tried to reunify China. One of which was a Nationalist party that sought for democracy, and the other party sought to reunify China through Communism. Lead by Mao Zedong, the Communist party escaped to the mountains in 1934, but then took back all of China in the 1949 revolution. This lead to the Nationalist party’s escape, to what is now known as Taiwan.
Now known as the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong lead multiple cultural and industrial revolutions with varying degrees of success. As China sought to become more modern, it lead to a decrease and then increase of Capitalism. The China seen today is a mix of Communism and Capitalism to support China’s massive population.
This is a very brief overview of Chinese history; it would take a lifetime to understand, with history and Confucianism playing a role in nearly every aspect of society today.
Here's a few videos on Chinese history if you want to learn more from Crash Course: