明、清(鸦片战争以前) 概述 Further Development of the Unitary Multi-ethnic Country and Decline of Feudal Society
The final phase of Chinese feudal society is represented by the period of the Ming and Qing dynasties, from the 14th to the 19th centuries. The Ming Dynasty lasted over 280 years from its establishment by Zhu Yuanzhang in Nanjing in 1368 AD to Emperor Chongzhen's suicide in 1644. The early reign of the Qing Dynasty lasted over 190 years from Emperor Shunzhi's entry into Beijing in 1644 to the outbreak of the Opium War in 1840. In the Ming Dynasty, there was a closer integration of the many ethnic groups that composed China. In the first half of the dynasty, the economy developed rapidly, and society was prosperous. Admiral Zheng He made seven long-distance voyages with huge merchant fleets, and promoted China's friendly relations with foreign countries. The reigns of emperors Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty are regarded as a golden age both materially and culturally, and there emerged great numbers of statesmen, thinkers, strategists, explorers and scientists in those days.
During this period also, economic and cultural contacts between the East and the West became more and more frequent. The opening of new navigation routes linked almost all corners of the globe. With the Industrial Revolution in the West, capitalism progressed rapidly. However, China was left behind during this phase of history, due to the restrictions imposed by the feudal political and economic structure, which hampered the development of commerce. But aggression by Western colonialists forced the Chinese feudal rulers to change their attitude to the outside world.