Empire Building in East
Wang Cheng, popularly known as Shih Huang Ti (meaning the first emperor), ended the age of warring states in China. He crushed all local rulers and established a strong central government. However, uprisings of the peasantry, unlike in other cultures, occurred again and again in China. Such uprisings led to the collapse of Chin dynasty.
Han dynasty (206 BC (BCE) - AD (CE) 220, founded by Liu Pang, flourished for 400 years. Their capital was Chang-an. The most popular and powerful ruler was Wu Ti. His generals succeeded in driving away the Huns in the north. Thus the Han Empire once again threw open the silk road for trade. A large export trade, mainly in silk, reached as far as the Roman Empire.
In the north, artisans and herders of rival “barbarian” dynasties brought in new techniques like the methods of harnessing horses, use of saddle and stirrup, techniques of building bridges and mountain roads, and seafaring. Such innovations made Han Empire prosperous. At the beginning of the Christian Era, the Han Empire rivalled that of Rome in size and wealth.
Buddhism came to China from India during the reign of Han dynasty. With Buddhism came the influence of Indian art to China and from China this spread to Korea and from there to Japan. Some of the Buddhist art of the time show the impact of Hellenistic styles.
Han emperors found it extremely difficult to control the big land owners. So after some decades of consolidation, China saw the emergence of several rival kingdoms marked by civil wars in north China. People abandoned their homes and farms, and fled from there to the Yangtze region and beyond. The period after Han ruled witnessed political instability across the country.