The Manchu or Qing Dynasty

1644 AD - 1912 AD

Under Manchu rule, China reached the highest point in its 2000-year history and collapsed from internal pressure along with pressures exerted by the West. As with previous invaders of China, the Manchus started to absorb the Chinese culture. The government was based on that of the Ming and was more centralized. The central administration was regulated by a new institution called the Grand Council. This council regulated the military and political affairs guided by the emperor. The chief bureaus in the capital had both a Chinese and a Manchu leader. The traditional bureaucracy and civil service examination was generally the same as with previous Chinese dynasties.

By the end of 17th century, the Manchus had effectively eliminated all of the Ming opposition and put down a rebellion led by Chinese generals that had helped the Manchus. The Manchu dynasty eventually controlled Manchuria, Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Tibet. Even Nepalm Burma, Korea, and Vietnam recognized China as a major power.

Even though the Manchu dynasty had over-powered it enemies, the 18th century was a time of unprecedented peace. However, as with the previous trends, the population growth superseded the economic growth. So, in the 18th century, the economic status of the Chinese peasant declined. The government's funds were depleted due to foreign expansion. The Manchus grudgingly accepted trade with the West. The most active trading partners were the British, French, and the United States. The British, wanting to gain a larger foothold in the Chinese market introduced Indian opium. This opium trade depleted the Chinese silver reserves and gave the British a large advantage over all the other Chinese trading parteners.

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