||It has been suggested that this article be merged with History_of_China#Imperial_China. (Discuss) Proposed since April 2013.|
Imperial China (also called the Empire of China or the Chinese Empire) refers to the history of China from 221 BC to AD 1912, or to the government of China in that period.
|History of China|
Early Imperial China 
Early Imperial China begins with the unification of China by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC. It ended five centuries of feudal warfare, similar to that of Western Europe, that plagued the Eastern Zhou dynasty. The short-lived Qin introduced centralized government under the absolute monarchy of the emperor of China. The Qin standardized measurements and script and linked up the Great Wall. Their structure of government, the Three Lords and Nine Ministers, characterized this period. The Qin were overthrown in 206 BC and were replaced by the Han Dynasty which ruled for four centuries and made Confucianism the state ideology. This period ended in 220 CE, followed by the Six Dynasties, a four hundred year period of warfare which lasted until the Sui dynasty defeated its rivals in 589.
Mid-Imperial China 
Mid-Imperial China begins with the reunification of China by the short-lived Sui dynasty in 589. The Sui replaced the nine-rank system with the imperial examination and embarked on major public works such as connecting the various canals to form the Grand Canal. They also replaced the state structure with the Three Departments and Six Ministries, a system that would remain little changed until the adoption of a cabinet in May 1911 just prior to the Xinhai Revolution.
After the Sui were overthrown, the Tang dynasty ruled for three centuries in prosperity. Its collapse was followed by decades of upheaval known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. Tribes from the north took advantage of the disunity to set up the Northern Conquest Dynasties. Most of China proper was reunified by the Song dynasty in 960 which saw major technological, economic, and cultural advances and the rise of neo-Confucianism. China was conquered by the Mongol Empire in 1279. The period spanning the Tang and Song dynasties is also known as the Golden Age of China.
Late Imperial China 
Late Imperial China refers to the period between the end of Mongol rule in 1368 and the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912 and includes the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Sometimes it includes the Yuan Dynasty also.
The use of early/mid and late Imperial China is preferred by many economic, cultural, and social historians over the standard dynastic periodization in that it emphasizes social and economic continuities between dynasties. In particular, there is a consensus among historians that unlike the Yuan Dynasty, the Manchu invasions did not mark a relatively sharp discontinuity in Chinese history and that most of the cultural and social trends of the period crossed the Ming–Qing division.
At the same time, some historians point out that this periodization tends to regard the periods of stable united dynasties as "normal" and "standard" and the periods in between as "abnormal."
- Mote, F. W., Imperial China: 900–1800 (1999).