Friday, December 15, 2017

Yuan Dynasty - Significance

The most significant achievement of the Yuan Dynasty was the unification of the whole territory. Prior to this China had been, for more than 300 years, a country of separate states.  From the Fanzhen Separatist Regions in the later period of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) to the isolated states in the Five Dynasties and Ten States period (907 - 960): from the confrontation of the Northern Song (960 - 1127) and Liao (916 - 1125) to the rivalry between the Southern Song (1127 - 1279) and the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234), China's history has been characterized by conflict.
This situation changed with Kublai Khan's accession to the throne, when he defeated all the separatist military forces and unified them under a mighty centralized power system. Meanwhile, a close connection between the central court, the regional administrations and the border areas was set up. Thus a unified state was well consolidated by the later dynasties. Especially, the 'Xingsheng' administrative system, established by Yuan rulers to enhance the ruling of the centralized power, had profound influence on later rulers.  Even today the Chinese government still uses 'Sheng' (province) as the title of local administrative units.
Naturally, the unification of the territory enhanced the communication between different ethnic minorities, thus strengthening the national integration process. After the founding of the Yuan Dynasty, many ethnic minorities migrated to the central plain. They brought their techniques of production as well as their unique culture and art, which enriched the economic and social life of people living in the central plains. Meanwhile, a number of Han people flowed to the residential areas of the ethnic minorities. Taking the advanced agricultural and handicraft techniques with them, these Han people contributed a lot to the exploitation of the frontiers.
Another significance of the Yuan Dynasty was the outstanding achievements in the natural sciences and technology. Due to the open policy implemented by the Yuan rulers, a great many advanced science and technology innovations were introduced to China. One example of these achievements is the unprecedented progress in the fields of astronomy and mathematics, made possible by the refined knowledge gained from foreign experts.
On the other hand, the unified territory objectively promoted the development of geography, water conservation and agriculture. In a word, the technological developments of the Yuan Dynasty surpassed any other dynasties in Chinese history.
Last but not least, the much more frequent communication with foreign countries during the Yuan Dynasty was of influential significance. Because of the external expansion of the early period of the Mongolian Empire, many foreign countries from continental Europe, Asia and Africa started to turn their eyes upon this piece of oriental land. Through the comings and goings of envoys, merchants and travelers between China and many foreign countries, the western world developed a deeper understanding of the splendid Chinese civilization.

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