Will Xu – Map Making & Changes in China’s Territory


Project Title: Map Making &Changes in China’s Territory

Student: Will Xu
Mentor: Jennifer Cross
Domains: History and visual arts
Faculty Grader: Therese Lichtenstein

Documentation of Product


Changes in China’s Territory from 221 BCE to 1912 CE



Will Xu


As one of the four major ancient civilizations, China is the only one has a long and continuous history and brilliant culture. For a five thousand years civilization, China’s territory is changing all the time. My senior project is about China’s territorial changes over several centuries due to invasion, annexation, ethnic conflicts and colonization. The time period covered is from 221 BCE to 1912 CE.


The pre-Qin era (Before 221 BCE)

The pre-Qin era was a period from primitive society to Emperor Qin Shihuang who unified China and established the feudal centralized system (221 BCE). During this era, due to the lack of historical data, China’s territory did not have fixed boundaries. However, in general, the major regions were between the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. This area is called “ central plain”, and it was the so-called birthplace of Chinese civilization.


Qin Dynasty (221 BCE – 207 BCE)

In 221 BCE, the First Emperor of Qin (Qin Shihuang) annexed six other states and unified China, and the territory expanded to south of the Yangtze River region. In the modern-day, the main land of the Qin Dynasty is Gansu and Shanxi. After the national unification, Qin Shihuang defeated Hun (Xiongnu, a nomad), and gained the Hetao Area, also known as the Great Bend of the Yellow River. Hetao Area refers to the Yellow River “几” bending and its’ surrounding area. It is the chief area of cultivated land and the production of grain in China. Also, Qin Shihuang marched to the south. He beat Baiyue, who inhabited southern China and northern Vietnam, and occupied Guangxi, Guangdong, and even northern Vietnam. However, in southeastern China, the Qin Dynasty did not have full control of this region. The local minority still ruled southeastern China in the Qin dynasty. Supposedly, it belonged to the Qin Dynasty. Qing Shi Huang extended China’s boundaries far to the south into northern Vietnam, to the northeast into Korea. This was the general boundary of the Qin dynasty, and the actual area of control was over 3 million square kilometers.



Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE)

In 206 BCE, Liu Bang, always known as Emperor Gaozu of Han, founded the Han Dynasty. The Xin Dynasty (9 CE– 23 CE), which was founded by Wang Mang, divided the Han Dynasty into two periods. One period was the Western Han, and the other period was Eastern Han.


Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 9 CE)

Many wars broke out at the end of the Qin Dynasty. During the war, Hun (Xiongnu) occupied Hetao Area again. In the early Western Han, due to a series of wars, the national power became weakened, thus, the Western Han Dynasty had to make a concession and defend the heartland. The Western Han Dynasty abandoned Nanyue (including most of the region of Guangdo, Guangxi, Yunnan and northern Vietnam), Minyue (now is Fujian province) and the middle areas of Guizhou province.

After decades of rehabilitation, until Emperor Wu of Han (Han Wudi) who ascended to the throne (141 BCE), the Han dynasty had become the most powerful empire in the world. Han Wudi was a military enthusiast, expanding boundaries was his favorite thing. At first, he pacified the rebels in Minyue, and then, he decided to solve Hun problem completely. In 127 BCE, Han Wudi sent a famous general, Wei Qin, to attack the Huns, and he recaptured the Hetao area. In 121 BCE, another famous Han general, Huo Qubing, annihilated Hun tribes in the Hexi Corridor (now the Gansu Province. It was the main road from China’s mainland to Xinjiang). In 119 BCE, the Western Han Dynasty got their third victory over the Huns, and finally the Huns did not have enough force to fight against the Han Dynasty to regain control over their original territory – the Western Regions (now Xinjiang and parts of Central Asia). When the Han army initially entered the Western Regions, the Western Han Government also did not have enough power to control the Western Regions. However, the economic links strengthened, thus, it laid the groundwork for control of the Western Regions in the future. In the 70s BCE, the Huns had frequent internal contradictions and conflicts. Part of the Huns surrendered to the Han Dynasty, and the Huns abandoned the Western Regions. In 60 BCE, the Han Dynasty established the western regions frontier command, and officially began to exercise state sovereignty in the Western Regions.

In southern China, the Han army was also invincible. In 111 BCE, Han Wudi sent the military to go on a punitive expedition to attack Nanyue. Nanyue was defeated. Also, the Han army occupied Hainan Island. In the same year, the Han military went to Southwestern Yi (now Yunnan, Guizhou, southwest Sichuan and southern Gansu). They caught the local minority leader, beheaded thousands of protesters, and began to administrate in this area. About a year later, the Han military pacified the rebels in Minyue again, and Minyue fell. Thus, southern China ended a long-term semi-separatist state, and the boundary of the Han Dynasty reached to northern Vietnam. In 109 BCE, the Han military defeated the Wiman in Korea, which was entrenched in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. Thus, the northern part of the Korean Peninsula was under the rule of the Han emperor.

During the Western Han Dynasty, China’s territory had phenomenal expansion.  All of Korea, northern Vietnam, most of Xinjiang, a large region in the Central Asia, the entire Sichuan and Liaoning, a majority of Yunnan and GuiZhou and Inner Mongolia, were controlled by the Western Han Dynasty, and the actual control area was over 6.5 million square kilometers.


Xin Dynasty (9 CE– 23 CE)

At the end of the Western Han Dynasty, social contradictions were intensified. Wang Mang, who founded the Xin Dynasty, was the solo emperor during the Xin Dynasty. The Xin Dynasty only existed 14 years, and it was the shortest period for a dynasty in Chinese history.

At 8 CE, Wang Mang usurped the throne, and China’s heartlands (China Central Plain) were in a terrible conflict. Thus, Hun wrested Western Regions’ control. Also, the Xin Dynasty abandoned Hannan Island. As for the other territory, the Xin Dynasty inherited the Western Han Dynasty.


Eastern Han Dynasty (25 CE– 220 CE)

At 25 CE, emperor Guangwu of Han (Liu Xiu) founded the later Han, also known as the Eastern Han Dynasty. Liu Xiu mainly recovered Han’s lost territory, and during the entire Eastern Han Dynasty, the territory did not have too many changes.

At the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, because the China Central Plain was plagued by ceaseless wars, Cao Cao, who was the real power behind the throne, had to concede the Hetao Area, northern Shanxi and northern Henan. Other countries were also eroded in the northeast and the southland. In the Western Regions, China lost north Xinjiang (about 40 thousand square kilometers). Therefore, the actual area of the Eastern Han Dynasty was about 5.5 – 6 million square kilometers.


Six Dynasties period (220 CE – 589 CE)

The Six Dynasties period, from Wei to Sui, was 369 years. During 220 CE to 589 CE, more than 30 different dynasties were founded in China, including six chief dynasties, which were the three kingdoms (220 CE – 280 CE), Jin Dynasty (265 CE – 420 CE), and Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 CE – 589 CE). Only the Western Jin Dynasty (265 CE – 316 CE) unified China for about 50 years. The Six Dynasties period involved the most frequent regime changes in Chinese history, thus, warfare, instability, and chaos defined this period.


The Three Kingdoms (220 CE – 265 CE)

The Three Kingdoms period, a historical period between the Eastern Han Dynasty and the Western Jin Dynasty, included Wei, Shu, and Wu. Since 184 CE, there was tangled warfare among warlords in various parts of China. Cao Cao had a firm hold over the Eastern Han emperor and oppressed the princes, due to his political advantage. After years of fighting the north and south on many fronts, he eventually unified northern China. Under the pressure from Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Quan leagued together. In 208 CE, the Battle of Red Cliff broke out. In this battle, the allies from Liu Bei and Sun Quan defeated Cao Cao’s troop. Therefore, the Battle of the Red Cliffs determined the triangular balance of power among the three kingdoms, Wei, Shu, and Wu.

In 220 CE, Cao Cao’s son Cao Pi usurped the throne, proclaimed himself emperor, and founded Wei, also known as Cao Wei. Thus, the history of the Three Kingdoms began, and the Han Dynasty ended. The following year, Liu Bei reconstructed the Han Dynasty, also known as Shu or Shu Han. In 229 CE, Sun Quan was proclaimed emperor, and founded Wu, also known as Eastern Wu. Thus, the three kingdoms stood like the three legs of a tripod.

As for the territory, Wei, Shu, and Wu basically integrated the territory of the Eastern Han Dynasty.


Wei (220 CE – 265 CE)

Wei was the most powerful kingdom in the Three Kingdoms period. The kingdom of Wei basically controlled northern China, including the Western Regions. However, Xiong Nu occupied Hetao area again. Before 263 CE, the area of Wei was around 3 million square kilometers. After taking the kingdom of Shu, in 263 CE, the territory attained to 4.5 million square kilometers.


Shu(221 CE – 263 CE)

Shu was the weakest kingdom in the Three Kingdoms period. The territory included the modern Si Chuan, Chong Qin and Yun Nan, which are in southwest China.


Wu (229 CE – 280 CE)

The territory of Wu was in southeast China (Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan and northern Vietnam). In addition, Wu’s army arrived on Taiwan Island and this was the earliest evidence that China regarded Taiwan as China’s territory. However, at that time, the kingdom of Wu did not leave the garrison to establish counties, therefore, Taiwan still did not belong to Wu.


Western Jin Dynasty (265 CE – 316 CE)

In 265 CE, emperor Wu of Jin (Sima Yan) founded the Western Jin Dynasty, and replaced Cao Wei. In 280 CE, Jin destroyed Wu, and unified China. The Western Jin Dynasty inherited the territory from the kingdom of Wei, and Sun Wu’s territory. In conclusion, the territory of the Jin Dynasty was north of Shanxi, Henan, and Liaodong Peninsula; East of the ocean; South of northern Vietnam; West of the Gansu, Yunnan and Western Regions.


Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 CE – 420 CE)

At the end of the Western Jin Dynasty, five tribes – Xiongnu, Xianbei, Jie, Qiang and Di caused a series of uprisings, and captured the capital of the Western Jin Dynasty and occupied northern China. In 317 CE, Sima Rui founded the Eastern Jin Dynasty, also known as the later Jin Dynasty. The capital was located in Jiankang, and now is located in Nanjing. The territory, in general, was confined to the south of the Yangtze River Basin. Relatively, the north of the Yangtze River Basin was dis-unified, and sixteen kingdoms were founded between 317 CE to 420 CE.


Southern and Northern Dynasty (420 CE – 589 CE)

In Chinese history, the Southern and Northern Dynasties were full of disruptions. The Southern Dynasty was composed of four dynasties: Liu Song (420 CE – 479 CE), Southern Qi (479 CE – 502 CE), Liang (502 CE – 557 CE), and Chen (557 CE – 589 CE).  In 420 CE, Liu Yu banished the emperor of Eastern Jin Dynasty, and founded Song, know as Liu Song, and the Southern Dynasties started. The territory of the Southern Dynasty succeeded the Eastern Jin Dynasty. It was largely in the south of the Yangtze River Basin. The Northern Dynasty was composed of five dynasties: Northern Wei (386 CE – 557 CE), Eastern Wei (534 CE – 550 CE), Western Wei (535 CE – 557 CE), Northern Qi (550 CE – 577 CE), and Northern Zhou (557 CE – 581 CE). In 386 CE, Emperor Daowu of Northern Wei – Tuoba Gui, founded Northern Zhou. His posterity, Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei, personal name Tuoba Tao destroyed other kingdoms, unified northern China, and then the Northern Dynasty started. In 534 CE, Northern Wei split to Eastern Wei and Western Wei. The territory of the Southern Dynasty succeeded the sixteen kingdoms, and it was confined to the north of the Yangtze River Basin. The Northern Dynasty ended the Central Plains’ (Comprising the middle and lower reaches of the Huanghe River) melee situation, which lasted nearly one hundred and fifty years. In addition, the ancestors of the founder of the Sui Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty were aristocrats in the Northern Dynasty. In political, military, and other fields, they followed the Northern Dynasty, and prospered.


Sui Dynasty (581 CE – 618 CE)

In 581 CE, the emperor of Northern Zhou abdicated and handed over the crown to Yang Jian (emperor Wen of Sui), and then, he founded the Sui Dynasty. In 589 CE, Sui’s army went down to Southern China. Sui captured emperor Northern Zhou, and finished uniting China. Emperor Wen of Sui ended centuries of disruption in China, from then on China maintained political unity during most centuries.

In 604 CE, Emperor Yang of Sui (Yang Guang) ascended the throne. In most people’s minds, Yang Guang was a fatuous and self-indulgent emperor, and he was the major cause of the short-lived the Sui Dynasty. However, besides womanizing Yang Guang was also interested in warfare. In 599 CE and 611 CE, Sui defeated Eastern Turks and Western Turks respectively, and north China became stablized. In about 610 CE, Sui Emperor Yang-ti invaded Koguryo with more than one million men. Thus, China could establish counties in Qinhai and Xinjiang provinces in true sense (The Western Regions).


Tang Dynasty (618 CE – 907 CE)

The Tang Dynasty, with the most populous capital – Chang’an at that time, was extremely prosperous and the most powerful dynasty in Chinese civilization. The Tang Dynasty was the golden age in Chinese history, and the Tang Dynasty had contacts with South Asia, East Asia and some European countries. Due to the power of the Tang Dynasty, more and more foreigners began to call Chinese-“Tang People”, even when the Tang Dynasty ended.

In 617 CE, Li Yuan occupied the capital of the Sui, and controlled the child emperor of the Sui. After a half year, Li Yuan claimed himself the emperor of a new empire, the Tang.

In the early period of the Tang Dynasty, the territory expanded greatly. In 630 CE, the Tang destroyed the Eastern Turks, and occupied Mobei (now the people’s Republic of Mongolia) and Monan (now the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region). Until to 682 CE, after series of rebellions, Turks recovered their country and occupied Mobei again.

The Tang Dynasty began operating the Western Region in 630 CE. After 29 years, the Tang’s army destroyed the Western Turks, and expanded the boundary to the Caspian Sea and the Bleak Sea. However, the Tang Dynasty didn’t have stable control of this area. In 665 CE, the Tang’s boundary narrowed to the east of Pamirs Plateau. Almost a century later, in 755 CE, the Anshi’s Rebellion broke out, and this was a significant turning point for the Tang Dynasty, which moved from prosperity to decline. For the next 36 years, the Tang Dynasty gradually lost the control of the Western Region.

In 660 CE, the Tang’s army destroyed Paekche (one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, including Goguryeo, Paekche and Silla), which was located in the southwest of the Korean Peninsula. In 668 CE, the Tang’s army destroyed Goguryeo, and established frontier command in Pyongyang (now the capital of North Korea) However, because of local people’s fierce opposition to the Tang’s control and Silla’s expansion, this frontier command was moved to the eastern and southern parts of Liaoning province. Around the Anshi’s Rebellion, the Tang abandoned the frontier command in Liaoning province; thus, other nationalities dominated the eastern and southern parts of Liaoning province.

In the Tibet Plateau, the Tufan state (Tibetan regime in ancient China) became stronger and stronger. In the early 7th century, the Tufan state unified the Tibet Plateau, and became the most powerful enemy for the Tang Dynasty. During the Anshi’s Rebellion, when many frontier guards attempted to suppress the rebels, the Tufan’s soldiers took the advantage and marched towards to the Tang’s territory. Also, Turks attacked the Hetao Area, and occupied it. As a result, the Tang Dynasty lost Hexi region, which was the only way that the Tang could have access to the Western Regions. Consequently, The Tang Dynasty lost their control over the Western Regions and tracts of territory.

The Tang’s territory is divided into three periods. The first period was around 699 CE, when the Tang destroyed Korea and theTurks. In the most flourishing period (Around 740 CE) of the Tang Dynasty, the Tang’s territory extended east to the Korean Peninsula, west to the Aral Sea in Central Asia, south to the Hue (in Vietnam), and north to the Lake Baikal. In that period, the Tang’s territory area was over 10 million square kilometers. In the late Tang Dynasty, compared with the flourishing period, the territory was almost reduced in half, including the Western Regions, the Korean Peninsula, and a vast territory of north China.


Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907 CE – 979 CE)

After the Tang Dynasty, China disintegrated into many small states. Over a short span of 70 years, there were 15 states established in “China Proper” (China Proper doesn’t include Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Northeast of China). Due to much warfare and rapid regime changes, it is best to focus on one dynasty or one kingdom’s territory change. Therefore, we will only consider the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in China.

During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, the Central Plains Dynasty completely lost control of the Western Regions. Also, in 938 CE, the Later Jin Dynasty ceded Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi and north of Hebei to the Liao Dynasty (The Liao Dynasty was founded by Khitan people, it was located in north China). Based in this area, the Song Dynasty and the Liao Dynasty had much warfare, and it became the first “disputed areas” in Chinese history.


Northern Song Dynasty (960 CE – 1127 CE)

Emperor Taizu of Song (Zhao Kuangyin) ended the upheaval of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, unified China and founded the Song Dynasty. The Song Dynasty was the most prosperous dynasty in Chinese history. However, in the Northern Song Dynasty, the territory was reduced to 300 million square kilometers. Also, the Northern Song Dynasty signed the first unequal treaty, the Chanyuan Treaty. In 1004 CE, Liao invaded Song, and Liao defeated Song. In order to sue for peace, emperor Zhenzong of Song agreed to send a yearly tribute to Liao, and signed this unequal treaty. In addition, the Northern Song Dynasty did not take virtual action to prevent the Kingdom of Xia’s independence. As a result, the Song lost the control of northwest China.


Southern Song Dynasty (1127 CE – 1279 CE)

After the end of the Northern Song Dynasty, the Song royalties established a new regime in the regions south of the Yangtze River, called the Southern Song Dynasty. As the Northern Song Dynasty had done, the Southern Song Dynasty had developed their economy, and had both a thriving culture, and terrible military affairs. The land area reduced 1 million square kilometers, and reached 2 million square kilometers.


Yuan Dynasty (1271 CE – 1368 CE)

Kublai Khan, leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan, founded the Yuan Dynasty (the Great Yuan Empire). In 1279 CE, he conquered the Southern Song dynasty, and unified China. In Chinese history, the Yuan Dynasty was the first unified empire established by a minority nationality.

Mention the Yuan Dynasty, and most people probably marvel at its territory. In fact, the Yuan Dynasty had an unprecedented territory. The territory of the Yuan Dynasty, inherited from the Empire of Mongolia, was founded by the leader of the Mongolian nationality – Genghis Khan. In 1206 CE, Genghis Khan unified Mobei, and established the empire of Mongolia. At that time, the Jin dynasty was the suzerain of the empire of Mongolia. However, due to the Jin Dynasty and its allies, the Western Xia dynasty, were in decline, the empire of Mongolia invaded Western Xia and the Jin Dynasty successively. In 1227 CE, the troops of Genghis Khan conquered Western Xia. In 1234 CE, his army conquered the Jin Dynasty. Thus, the empire of Mongolia controlled the entire North China. In addition, in the mid 13th century, Tibet was officially incorporated into the territory of the empire of Mongolia. Also, during 1219 CE to 1260 CE, the empire of Mongolia had conducted three large-scale western expeditions. From 1219 CE to 1225 CE, Genghis Khan was the leader of the first western expedition. His army arrived at the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, Iraq, Iran and India. From 1235 CE to 1242CE, Genghis Khan’s grandson, Batu, commanded the second western expedition. This time, the troops of the empire of Mongolia defeated Poland, the Holy Roman Empire and Hungary. Also, this troop conquered Bulgaria, and expanded the influence of the empire of Mongolia to the Italian peninsula. From 1252 CE to 1260 CE, Genghis Khan’s other grandson, Hulagu, led the last western expedition. His army arrived in Syria, Egypt and Iraq. These three western expeditions helped the empire of Mongolia become an empire that expanded to Eurasia, and became the second largest empire in world history. The land area covered over 30 million square kilometers, just beyond Great Britain and its colonies.

When Kublai Khan became the emperor of the empire of Mongolia and founded the Yuan Dynasty, some Mongolian nobles broke away from the Yuan Dynasty. Thus, at that time, the land area of the Yuan Dynasty was about 13 million square kilometers. In subsequent decades, the Yuan Dynasty retracted some renegade area, and then the territory tended to stabilize, north to the Arctic Ocean coastline, south to the South China Sea, southwest including the current Tibet and Yunnan, northwest to the current eastern Xinjiang, northeast to Stanovoy, Sea of Okhotsk, Sea of Japan, and Sakhalin island. In addition, Tibet and Taiwan for the first time became a part of China in the Yuan Dynasty.


Ming Dynasty (1368 CE – 1644 CE)

In Chinese history, the Ming Dynasty was the last dynasty that was founded by the Han nationality (the Han nationality, China’s main nationality, was distributed all over the country). In the late Yuan Dynasty, because of social chaos and the ruler’s incompetence, a peasant uprising broke out. Eventually, Zhu Yuanzhang (Hongwu Emperor) captured the capital of the Yuan Dynasty, unified China, and founded the Ming Dynasty.

Although the Ming Dynasty overthrew the Yuan Dynasty, the territory was still reduced. In North China, in order to protect themselves against the Mongolians, the Ming Dynasty built the Great Wall in the border zone, and abandoned some territory (About one-third of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region). In the northwest China, another Mongolian tribe occupied almost the whole Xinjiang. In northeast China, the Ming Dynasty, especially the early Ming Dynasty, once controlled the Lena River in Siberia, Heilongjiang Port and Sakhalin Island for decades. In 1434 CE, the Ming Dynasty abandoned this area, retreated and stood on the defensive in the east of the Liaonning Province. In the late Ming Dynasty, Jurchen (also known as “NuZhen”, the descendant of Nuzhen – Manchu established the last dynasty – Qing) replaced Ming’s rule in the northeast China generally, and occupied the east of the Liaonning Province. In addition, the Korea Dynasty and the later Joseon Dynasty expanded their territory to the north in the early Ming Dynasty. Eventually, their territory extended to the Yalu River and Tumen River. In 1403 CE, the Yongle Emperor ceded north of Hamhung, which belonged to China throughout the past Chinese history, to the Joseon Dynasty. From 1416 CE to 1449 CE, the Joseon Dynasty occupied the east area of Yalu River, and the south area of Tumen River by force. As a result, Yalu River and Tumen River divided the boundary of China and Korea. In the southwest China, the boundary of the Ming Dynasty reached to northern Myanmar, northern Laos, northern Thailand, and northern Vietnam. But in the late Ming Dynasty, Ming lost control of these regions. In southeast China, Portugal leased Macao in 1553 CE, and gained right to berthed ships. After four years, Portugal got rights of residence in Macao. But, nominally, the Ming government managed the Portuguese in Macao, and still has sovereignty of Macau. In 1624 CE, Dutch colonists arrived and established a city in the southern Taiwan. In 1626 CE, Dutch colonists entered northern Taiwan. In 1642 CE, the Dutch drove the Spaniards away and occupied the whole Taiwan. In 1661 CE, Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) attacked Taiwan, defeated the Dutch, and recovered Taiwan officially.


Qing Dynasty (1644 CE – 1912 CE)

In Chinese history, the Qing Dynasty was the second unified dynasty founded by a minority, and it was the last feudal monarchy dynasty. In addition, the Qing Dynasty eventually formed the unified territory of China.

In 1619 CE, Nurhachu, who was from Jianzhen Jurchen, founded the Later Jing Dynasty in Manchuria. In 1636, his son Huang Taiji changed it to “Qing” (meaning “clear”). Until 1643 CE, the territory of the Qing Dynasty covered Northeast China (Manchurian), inner Mongolia, and a vast area of Russia (North: Outer Khingan Range; West: Lake Baikal; East: Sakhalin Island).

In 1644 CE, the peasant uprising led by the Li Zicheng army overthrew the Ming Dynasty, and sacked the Ming capital Beijing. The Ming Dynasty collapsed. However, the Qing army defeated Li Zicheng in Shanhai Pass, and occupied Beijing. After a few months, the emperor of Shunzhi moved the capital to Beijing, and then the Qing Dynasty replaced the Ming Dynasty and he became the country’s ruler.

In the next 15 years, the Qing Dynasty destroyed all resistances, and generally controlled the territory of Ming, except some parts of Fujian and Taiwan, which was ruled by Zheng Chenggong. In 1683 CE, the Qing army attacked Taiwan, and the offspring of Zheng Chenggong surrendered. Next year, the Qing Dynasty established prefectures in Taiwan, and Taiwan was attached to Fujian.

In the early 17th century, Mobei (now the people’s Republic of Mongolia) was controlled by three Nomads. In 1688 CE, another Nomad – Junggar invaded and occupied Mobei. Thus, these three Nomads had to move to Monan (now Inner Mongolia), attached to the Qing Dynasty, and asked the Qing government for help. At that time, Junggar was already very powerful (Including Xinjiang, Tibet, Qinhai, Sichuan, Gansu, inner Mongolia and the people’s Republic of Mongolia). Thus, the Qing government dispatched troops against Junggar. In 1690 CE, the Qing army annihilated the Junggar army, unified the Mongolian Plateau, and recaptured the Monan and Mobei. In the next few years, the Qing army went deeper into the Junggar. In 1698 CE, the Qing army recaptured Qinhai. In 1717 CE, Junggar sent troops to Tibet, and occupied Lhasa. In 1718 CE, the Qing government dispatched troops to Tibet, but they were completely annihilated. After two years, the Qing army eventually pacified Tibet. In 1745 CE, a civil unrest took place in Junggar (at that time, Junggar only controlled Xinjiang). Therefore, in 1754 CE, the emperor of Qianlong decided to dispatch troops to finish this lengthy warfare. In the next year, the Qing army captured the Northern Xinjiang, however, a rebellion broke out. Due to the freezing weather the Qing army had to retreat. After two years, the Qing army went back, and captured the Northern Xinjiang again. Two years later, in 1759 CE, the Qing army occupied the Southern Xinjiang, and then, Xinjing was officially included into the territory of the Qing Dynasty. Also, the Qing Dynasty finished the unification of China and laid the foundations of the modern Chinese state.

According to the Sino-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk, Treaty of Kiakhta, and Treaty of Kyakhta, the border between China and Russia had clear borders. (East from Abagaitu Islet, through Kyakhta, and west end in the western Sayan Mountains)


The loss of territory

Since the First Opium War, the Qing Government, no match for modern European firepower, had to settle and the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing became the first of the many “unequal treaties”, and Britain occupied Hong Kong Island. In 1860, after the Second Opium War, the Qing Government signed the Convention of Peking, and ceded the southern Kowloon Peninsula to Britain.  The Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory in 1898 CE ceded the rest of the Kowloon Peninsula (376 square miles) to Britain as a concession.

In 1858 CE and 1860 CE, during the Second Opium War, the Qing government gave up all land beyond the Amur and Ussuri Rivers to the Russian Empire (including Sakhalin island), giving Heilongjiang its present northern borders. Because of these two unequal treaties, China lost more than 1 million square kilometers. In 1864 CE and 1877 CE, the Qing government signed another two unequal treaties with the Russian Empire, and ceded more than 0.5 million square kilometers to the Russian Empire in the Western China.

In that historical period, Britain, France, and Japan also colonized India, Burma, Vietnam, Korea and other countries. Due to the fact that these counties bordered China, Britain, France, and Japan used various methods to occupy China’s territory.

In 1895 CE, the Qing Government signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki, and ceded Taiwan and Penghu Islands to Japan.

The Qing dynasty ended in 1912 CE.



Since the first emperor of Qin destroyed six kingdoms, and established the empire of Qin, after almost 2000 years, China eventually formed an unprecedented unified country, and the territory was over ten million square kilometers (North: the western Sayan Mountains, Argun River, Stanovoy Range; South: South China Sea Islands; East: Sakhalin Island; West: Lake Balkhash, Pamir Mountains.)

Exhibition & Presentation Summary

照片 2 4.09.54 PM 照片 2 照片 3 2.22.07 PM 照片 3 照片 4 2.22.07 PM 照片 4 3.43.18 PM 照片 4 照片 5

Works Consulted



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Tan, Qixiang. The Historical Atlas of China-The Three kingdoms period, The Western Jin Dynasty Period. Hebei: China Cartographic Publishing House, 1982. Print.


Tan, Qixiang. The Historical Atlas of China-The Eastern Jin Dynasty and Sixteen Kingdoms Period, The Southern and Northern Dynasties Period. Hebei: China Cartographic Publishing House, 1982. Print.


Tan, Qixiang. The Historical Atlas of China-The Qing Dynasty Period. Hebei: China Cartographic Publishing House, 1982. Print.


Tan, Qixiang. The Historical Atlas of China-The Yuan Dynasty Period, The Ming Dynasty Period. Hebei: China Cartographic Publishing House, 1982. Print.


Ge, Jianxiong. 疆域与政区. 江苏: 江苏人民出版社, 2011. Print.


Zhu, Linlin, a Brief History of Gergraphical Map in China. Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press(China), 2011. Print.


Ge, Jianxiong. 中国历代疆域的变迁. Beijing : The Commercial Press, 1997. Print.


Tan, Qixiang. The Historical Atlas of China-The Sui Dynasty Period, The Tang Dynasty Period, The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. Hebei: China Cartographic Publishing House, 1982. Print.


Tan, Qixiang. The Historical Atlas of China-Qin Dynasty Period, Western Han and Eastern Han Dynasties Period. Hebei: China Cartographic Publishing House, 1982. Print.


Tan, Qixiang. The Historical Atlas of China-The Liao Dynasty and Northern Song Dynasty Period, The Jin Dynasty and Southern Song Dynasty Period. Hebei: China Cartographic Publishing House, 1982. Print. ”



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