III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > E. East Asia, to 1527
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See Korea, to 540 C.E.)
E. East Asia, to 1527
1. China, 589–960
a. Periodization and Events
The period from 589 to 960 covers the short Sui dynasty, the Tang—one of the longest Chinese dynasties—a period of splendorous growth in every way, and a half century of disunion. Most historians of China, regardless of their subspeciality, would agree that a breaking point of great significance occurred at the end of the Tang and the beginning of the next imperial dynasty, the Song; others place it more generally over the course of the 10th century. This period has been forcefully argued as marking the beginning of Chinese modernity, the end of aristocracy and the commencement of meritocratic government, the shift from slavery to feudalism, the rise of centralized autocracy, and a host of other important transitions. Irrespective of ideological bent, though, virtually all historians recognize an all-important shift.  1
With the Sui dynasty, efforts began immediately to link the Yellow River with the Yangzi River. A reintegration of north and south China began.  2
Liu Fang suppressed a rebellion in An-nam, repelled the Cham, and sacked their capital at Indrapura.  3
The reign of Yangdi (569–618) was tyrannical and egocentric; he was alleged to have killed his father. He moved the capital to Luoyang, began rebuilding the Great Wall (607–8), and completed the Grand Canal (605) to link Luoyang to the Yangzi River, which later was linked further to Beijing (608) and Hangzhou (610), as well as undertaking other fiscally draining public works projects.  4
The National University was enlarged and the doctoral, or jinshi, degree was first awarded. The first Japanese embassy was received from Empress Suiko.  5
Sui armies under Pei Ju attacked west into Xinjiang but were defeated.  6
612, 613, 614
Three huge assaults on Kogury, a state on the Korean peninsula, by massive Sui armies proved economically and militarily debilitating. They destroyed the Sui economy and incurred popular ire, leading to domestic upheaval.  7
Sui forces were defeated by the Turks, prompting Yangdi to send Gen. Li Yuan (566–635) to combat the Turks, while he retired to the south, where he was murdered (618).  8
The recentralization policies set in motion by the Northern Zhou were continued by the Sui, and this aided the reunification of the empire and helped break the back of the great families. The Sui central government took control of all appointments to the regular bureaucracy and used extensive examinations. The Sui also adopted the Western Wei's militia system. The Sui census of 606 gave a national population of 46,019,956, a great rise from earlier. The Sui also continued the Tuoba Wei's equal-field system for land distribution and taxation. Like the Qin, the Sui unified the country rapidly after centuries of disunion, but moved too quickly and too forcefully to try to secure its achievement; both were extremely short-lived.  9
The TANG DYNASTY, founded by Li Yuan (r. 618–26, as Taizu) and his son LI SHIMIN (600–49). The Tang was a truly brilliant age in Chinese history, and Tang institutions became models for the other countries of East Asia. The Tang's principal capital was placed at Chang'an, which became the largest city in the world and attracted visitors from many different lands, and an eastern capital was set up at Luoyang. The basic institutional foundation on which the Tang built—centralized authority, the civil service examination system, and the like—had been laid by the Sui. Li Shimin had pushed his father to depose Yangdi of the Sui and seize the throne. When the Tang came into existence, rebellions were still going on throughout the empire. Li Shimin fought them for seven years, and by 624 north China had been reconquered. The south was brought into line more through ameliorative, less harsh measures.  10
Li Shimin ambushed and eliminated his two elder brothers, had himself named crown prince, and two years later compelled his father to step down.  11
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.