History of Beijing

The earliest remnants of human habitation in the Beijing municipality are found in the caves of Dragon Bone Hill near the village of Zhoukoudian in Fangshan District, where the Peking Man lived. Homo Erectus fossils from the caves date to 230,000 to 250,000 years ago. Paleolithic Homo Sapiens also lived there about 27,000 years ago. There were cities in the vicinities of Beijing by the 1st millennium BC, and the capital of the State of Yan, one of the powers of the Warring States Period (473-221 BC), Ji, was established in present-day Beijing.

After the fall of the Yan, the subsequent Qin (221-207 BC), Han (206BC-220 AD) and Jin (265-420 AD) Dynasties set-up local prefectures in the area. In Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) it became the headquarter for Fanyang jiedushi, the virtual military governor of current northern Hebei area. An Lushan lauched An Shi Rebellion from here in 755 AD. This rebellion is often regarded as a turning point of Tang Dynasty, as the central government began to lose the control of the whole country. 

In 936 AD, the Later Jin Dynasty (936-947 AD) of northern China ceded a large part of its northern frontier, including modern Beijing, to the Khitan Liao Dynasty. In 938 AD, the Liao Dynasty set up a secondary capital in what is now Beijing, and called it Nanjing (the "Southern Capital"). In 1125 AD, the Jurchen Jin Dynasty annexed Liao, and in 1153 moved its capital to Liao's Nanjing, calling it Zhongdu, "the central capital." Zhongdu was situated in what is now the area centred around Tianningsi, slightly to the southwest of central Beijing.

Mongol forces burned Zhongdu to the ground in 1215 AD and rebuilt it to the north of the Jin capital in 1267 AD. In preparation for the conquest of all of China, Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty founder Kublai Khan made this his capital as Khanbaliq (Mongolian for "great residence of the Khan") or Dadu (Chinese for "grand capital"). This site is known as Cambuluc in Marco Polo's accounts. Apparently, Kublai Khan, who wanted to become a Chinese emperor, established his capital at this location instead of more traditional sites in central China because it was closer to his power base in Mongolia. The decision of the Khan greatly enhanced the status of a city that had been situated on the northern fringe of China proper. Khanbaliq was situated in the north of modern central Beijing. It centred on what is now the northern stretch of the 2nd Ring Road, and stretched northwards to between the 3rd and 4th Ring Roads. There are remnants of Mongol-era wall still standing. 

After the fall of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368 AD, the city was later rebuilt by the Ming Dynasty and Shuntian prefecture was established in the area around the city. In 1403 AD, the third Ming Emperor Yongle moved the Ming capital from Nanjing (Nanking) to the renamed Beijing (Peking), the "northern capital", situated in the north. The capital was also known as Jingshi, simply meaning capital. During the Ming Dynasty, Beijing took its current shape, and the Ming-era city wall served as the Beijing city wall until modern times, when it was pulled down and the 2nd Ring Road was built in its place. It is believed that Beijing was the largest city in the world from 1425 to 1650 and from 1710 to 1825.

The Forbidden City, home to the Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The Forbidden City was constructed soon after that (1406-1420), followed by the Temple of Heaven (1420), and numerous other construction projects. Tiananmen, which has become a state symbol of the People's Republic of China and is featured on its emblem, was burned down twice during the Ming Dynasty and the final reconstruction was carried out in 1651.

After the Manchus overthrew the Ming Dynasty and established the Qing Dynasty in its place, Beijing remained China's capital throughout the Qing period. Just like during the preceding dynasty, Beijing was also known as Jingshi, which corresponded to the Manchu Gemun Hecen with the same meaning. It was the scene of the siege of the foreign legations during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. 

The Xinhai Revolution of 1911, aimed at replacing Qing rule with a republic, originally intended to establish its capital at Nanjing. After high-ranking Qing official Yuan Shikai forced the abdication of the Qing emperor in Beijing and ensured the success of the revolution, the revolutionaries in Nanjing accepted that Yuan should be the president of the new Republic of China, and that the capital should remain at Beijing. 

Yuan gradually consolidated power, culminating in his declaration of a Chinese Empire in late 1915 with himself as emperor. The move was highly unpopular, and Yuan himself died less than a year later, ending his brief reign. China then fell under the control of regional warlords, and the most powerful factions fought frequent wars (the Zhili-Anhui War, the First Zhili-Fengtian War, and the Second Zhili-Fengtian War) to take control of the capital at Beijing. 

Following the success of the Kuomintang's Northern Expedition which pacified the warlords of the north, Nanjing was officially made the capital of the Republic of China in 1928, and Beijing was renamed Beiping, "northern peace" or "north pacified", to emphasize that the warlord government in Beijing was not legitimate. 

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Beiping fell to Japan on 29 July 1937. During the occupation, the city was reverted to its former name, Beijing. It was later merged into the larger Wang Jingwei Government based in Nanjing. With Japan's surrender in World War II, on 15 August 1945, however, Beijing's name was changed back to Beiping. 

On January 31, 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, Communist forces entered Beijing without a fight. On October 1 of the same year, the Communist Party of China, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, announced in Tiananmen the creation of the People's Republic of China in Beijing. Just a few days earlier, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference had decided that Beiping would be the capital of the new government, and that its name would be changed back to Beijing. The Beijing city wall was torn down between 1965 and 1969 to make way for the construction of the 2nd Ring Road. 

Beijing's Tiananmen Square following the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping, the urban area of Beijing has expanded greatly. A new commercial area has developed in the Guomao area, Wangfujing and Xidan have developed into flourishing shopping districts, while Zhongguancun has become a major center of electronics in China. 

In recent years, the expansion of Beijing has also brought to the forefront some problems of urbanization, such as heavy traffic, poor air quality, the loss of historic neighborhoods, and significant influx of migrants from poorer regions of the country, especially rural areas. 

By early 2005, the city government attempted to control urban sprawl by restricting development to two semicircular bands to the west and east of the city center, instead of the concentric rings of suburbs that had been built in the past.

Beijing had held the Summer Olympics successfully in 2008, which had sparked nationalistic pride across China.  

Some Great Events of Beijing in History

* In 11 Century B.C., Shao Gong in the West Zhou Dynasty built Yan near current Beijing.

* The early years of the Yuan Dynasty, Kubla Khan changed Yanjing into Zhongdu, and Beijing started to be the capital of the country.

* In the lunar January of 1403, the Yongle Reign, Emperor Zhu Di changed Beiping intoBeijing, and moved the capital to Beijing. The name Beijing started to be used.

* In 1644, Emperor Fulin was enthroned in Beijing, and made Beijing the capital in the imperial edict.

* On Oct. 1, 1949, People's Republic of China was founded. The founding ceremony was held inTian'anmen, the capital Beijing.

* In 1987, the Great Wall, the Palace Museum, and the Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site were ranked in the World Heritage List by the UNESCO.

* In 1998, the Temple of the Heaven and the Summer Palace were ranked in the World Heritage List by the UNESCO.

* In July 3, 2003, the Ming Tombs was ranked in the World Heritage List by the UNESCO.

* In July 13, 2001, Beijing won the bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

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