The history of Beijing dates back to over 3000 years ago, and Beijing was initially built in the present Xuanwu District of Beijing in 1040 B.C., and it served as capital for over 850 years in various dynasties. Beijing has been the capital of the People’s Republic of China since its foundation on 1st of October in 1949.
500,000 to 700,000 years ago, the climate was warm and the precipitation was abundant in Beijing, and the Peking Ape-men lived in cave dwellings in the southwest suburb of Beijing, boasting one of the earliest hominids who knew how to use fire. When the fire emerges, the ancient Chinese civilization begins.
Since the Great Unification by Emperor Qinshi in the Qin dynasty, Beijing has become a famous city. After the Buddhist introduced to China during the Western Han dynasty, it raced off in every corner of China, and the first Buddhist temple in Beijing was established during 1700 B.C., which was the precursor of Beijing Tanzhe Temple.
Sui and the Tang Dynasties
The Great Canal was opened under imperial order during the Sui dynasty with Zhuojun (present Beijing) as its north end. Emperor Li Shimin launched a war with Korea in 645 with Beijing as his headquarter, resulting in failure and withdraw of his troop to Beijing, where he ordered to build the Sympathizing Loyalty Temple (Minzhong Temple), the present Fayuan Temple, to commemorate the death in the war, and then Beijing was called Youzhou as an important military city and trading center in North China.
Song, Liao and Jin Dynasties
With the political situation falling into collapse after the Tang dynasty, the north minorities grew stronger day by day. The Chi-tan ethnic minority established Liao Empire in 907 with Nanjing (present Beijing) as provisional capital, and Nanjing was renamed Zhongdu in 1153 owing to the occupation of Jin rulers.
The rising Mongolian ethnic minority leader Genghis Khan seized Beijing in 1215, followed by the establishment of Yuan Empire by Kublai Khan who made Beijing as capital.
Upon usurping the throne, Zhu Di (later emperor Chengzu) decided to move his capital north to Beijing in 1399 owing to its important geographical position, who also ordered to enlarge this ancient city on the basis of Yuan Imperial City, so most cultural heritages in Beijing such as the Forbidden City were remnants of Yuan dynasty.
With Manchu people taking helm of the state, large-scale constructions were launched successively. Beijing was under attack by the Joint Anglo-French Forces during the Second Opium War in 1860, resulting in the ransacking of the Yuanming Garden (the Old Summer Palace).
On October 1, 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed to the world the birth of the People’s Republic of China with Beijing as capital, and tens of thousands people presented on the Tiananmen Square, since when Beijing has taken a new look in all aspects.
Author: Yang Qingwei