In the early 17th century, Jurchen chief Abahai proclaimed his new rule, renaming his people as the Manchus.
He created the bases of a sedentary nation instead of separated nomad tribes, and formed a great military force. In 1644, the Ming frontier troops opened a way through the Great Wall to the Manchus in order to help the Ming Emperor to recapture the capital from the Chinese rebels. When the Manchus had recovered Beijing, they refused to leave the city and decided to establish their empire here, under the rulers Qing.
The Qing dynasty (1644-1911) took the control of China after several years of cruel war, which was once again under foreign rule.
By the end of the 17th century, the Qing had eliminated all Ming resistance and had put down every Chinese rebellion in the south. Soon Manchu became the official language, the Chinese were forced to wear the Manchu pigtail and intermarriage between a Manchu and a Chinese was forbidden. Under the Qing, the distant lands of Inner and Outer Mongolia, Tibet and Turkestan were included into the Chinese territory, creating an empire with a greater extent than during the Tang era.
Emperor Kangxi reigned for 61years in the 17th century. He was a patron of the arts: ordered the creation of the most complete dictionary of Chinese characters with beauty calligraphy, investigated the European science and technology, brought Jesuit astronomers and cultivated his image as the Son of Heaven. In the military aspect, he controlled the southern Rebellion of Three Federations. His successor, the Emperor Yungzheng is considered one of the most efficient rulers in Chinese history with and model government. Then, Qianlong inherited the throne. He widely expanded the Chinese borders. Manchuria, Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan were all under the Qing power.
The next decades were a period of a great economy grown, with peace and prosperity in the entire nation. In the mid-17th century China reached its apex, turning into one of the strongest, wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world. Arts also flourished and there were a widely increased of schools for the people, even in rural zones.
Since the latter half of the 18th century, China had begun to bear increasing economic problems produced by a huge population growth, migrants from central China and European looking for financial opportunities. By 1850 the population had exceeded 400 million, and all the land that could be profitably exploited using traditional farming methods was already under cultivation. Millions of people became poor and were unable to deal with floods or droughts.
In 19th century, successive trade disputes with the Western impoverished dramatically to the country. Opium Wars against a Franco-British alliance concluded in 1842, ceding the Chinese island of Hong Kong to Britain and opening five ports—Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai—to foreign trade and residence (treaties of Nanjing and Tianjin).
Soon Russia, Japan and United States demanded similar treaties with China. By the 1860s there were 14 treaty ports. This originated new international cities like Shanghai or Guangzhou which had a reduced control by the Qing. In the 1870s, Japan, France, Britain, Russia and Germany took many regions away from China. Then, Japan won the Sino-Japanese War for the Korea’s control.
China was obligated to recognize the independence of Korea and also had to pay an enormous war indemnity while ceded the island of Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula in southern Manchuria (Treaty of Shimonoseki). This terrible defeat caused numerous revolutionary movements calling for the formation of a republic instead of the Manchu imperial government.
In the beginnings of 20th century, a conservative anti-imperialist movement known as the Boxers rebelled in the north of China.
The Empress Dowager sided with the Boxers when they advanced on Beijing and attacked to foreign commerce and killed some foreign ministers. In response a multinational alliance invaded China. The revolutionary armies were defeated by the combined troops of the British, Japanese, Russian, Italian, German, French, United States and Austrian. The alliance reestablished the monarchy and demanded further concessions from the Qing government.
Soon years later another uprising could extinguish two thousand years of dynastic succession. In 1911 Sun Yatsen assumed the provisional Republican Government at Nanjing.