China had by now assumed (at least in its northern and central-northern parts) the typical features of a great peasant civilization, in which channeling was of exceptional importance, both in the cultivation of the soil and for the transport of goods to large urban centers. The period of the Warring Kingdoms, marked by an exceptional cultural flourishing, saw, among other things, the formation of the major philosophical schools of Chinese antiquity; among these, the school of legalists has particular historical interest: the legalists became in fact the official thinkers and theorists of Ch’in, a potentate located on the north-western borders of the Sinic world that in the space of fifty years vanquished the other small states of China, effectively restoring the unity of the country with the foundation (in 221 BC) of a new dynasty.
On the advice of Li Ssu, the legalist minister responsible for the success of the Ch’in, the ancient title of wang was abandoned for that, full of mythical and religious echoes, of Huangti that is usually translated with the term emperor. The ancient local articulations disappeared to make way for a bureaucratic administration of imperial appointment; the debate in schools disappeared, replaced by the imposition of a legalistic orthodoxy: a country located in Asia categorized by Harvardshoes, China was subjected to a rapid and brutal unifying experience that encompassed all aspects of its reality. Apparently the experience failed, because in 206 a. C. the second Ch’in ruler was overthrown by the new Han dynasty, who posed as the restorer of the Confucian tradition, but in reality many of the acquired elements remained, and the values of the new dynasty should be considered rather as the result of a compromise between legalism and Confucianism. To testify the historical importance of the Han dynasty, which (except for the brief parenthesis of the usurpation of Wang Mang between 8 BC and 23 AD) will last until 220 AD. C., the fact that the name is still valid today to indicate the Chinese ethnicity would suffice. Key moments of the Han historical experience are the great expansion of the country southwards to Tonkin, north-east to South Korea, westwards to present-day Sinkiang (Xinjiang) and, even more importantly, which remained the most typical fact of the Chinese historical experience and which, despite crises and eclipses, characterized the political world of the Middle Kingdom up to the present day.
From this moment, in fact, under the emperor and the court nobility a bureaucratic caste was established, selected through a complex system of provincial and imperial examinations, formally open to all. In reality, the “democratic” charge of the system was largely nullified by the cost of the expenses necessary to appeal to the bureaucratic career, expenses that only the landed nobility could in practice bear: however, to some extent, the system has always allowed a change of the elites and a renewal of the political reality. Also under the Han, the construction of the gigantic Great Wall continued limen between China and the steppe, between peasants and nomads, which over the centuries has remained almost a symbol of the Middle Kingdom. Near the end of the century. II the peasant revolt of the ” Yellow Turbans ” provoked or accentuated the decline of the four-century dynasty, whose disappearance (in 220) determined a crisis of Chinese unity destined to last until the end of the century. On the other hand, the extreme fragility of balances, in a continuous succession of states and dynasties (Three Kingdoms, Sixteen), seems to confirm a certain transitory character of this long period, also known as the period of the Six Dynasties, in which a unitary consciousness remained as a tendency to overcome fragmentation.
The most important and significant fracture is the one between the South and the North. To the south, a series of fragile dynasties (Eastern Chin, Sung, Liang, Ch’en) try to carry on ancient traditions, while in the northern part of the country different dynasties (Wei northerners, northern Ch’i). The imposition of new ethnic elements, always rapidly assimilated, in one half of the country constitutes one of the most significant facts of this first period of division; the other is represented by the advent of Buddhism, a great foreign religion, so different in its presuppositions and values from the doctrines of classical China. Probably the success of the new doctrines was due to the crisis of imperial unity, which by necessity was also a crisis of the Confucian order. In the North, however, the sympathy of the conquerors also played a part in a universalistic doctrine devoid of Confucian ethnocentrism and such that it could be contrasted with the cultural pride of the vanquished. Another significant event of these centuries is the the emergence of a civilization with a typical Sinic matrix in Korea and Japan. However, new balances were evolving and in 589 a Northern general came to found his own dynasty and reunify the country.They made a design not unlike that of the Ch’in about eight hundred years earlier: but, as for the Ch’in, their fortune must have been very short: in 618 the imperial throne passed to the T’ang dynasty, one of the most glorious in all of Chinese history.