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The Manchu ethnic minority (6)

(People's Daily)

09:57, August 11, 2011

Political and Cultural Development

Under the strong influence of the Han people, the Manchu slave system soon underwent a speedy development towards feudalism, accompanied by intense class struggle and social reform made from above downwards. In pursuing their goal to conquer the country, the Manchu rulers began in 1633 to institute the Eight Banner system among the Hans and Mongolians under their control.

In 1635, Huang Taiji (1592-1643, eighth son of Nurhachi and later enthroned as Emperor Tai Zong of the Qing Dynasty) chose the name of "Manchu" to replace Nuzhen for his people. In the following year, when he ascended the throne, he adopted Great Qing the name of his dynasty.

In 1644 the Qing troops marched south of Shanhaiguan Pass and unified the whole of China, initiating nearly 300 years of Manchu rule throughout the country.

The Manchus made their contributions in defending China's frontiers from foreign aggression. As early as the mid-17th century, Russia made repeated incursions into areas along the Heilong River. In 1685, on orders of Qing Emperor Kang Xi, Manchu General Peng Chun led his "eight banner" troops and naval units in driving out the Russian invaders. The subsequent Treaty of Nerchinsk, signed on an equal footing in 1689, delineated a boundary line between China and Russia, and maintained normal relations between the two countries for more than 100 years.

Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, troops sent by the Qing court repulsed British-backed Gurkha invasions of southern Tibet and local rebellions in Xinjiang, also incited by the British colonialists. These and other military exploits of the Manchu emperors brought into being a unified Chinese state that extended from the outer Hinggan Mountains in the north to the Xisha Islands in the south, and from the Pamirs in the west to the Kurile Islands in the east in the heyday of the Qing Dynasty.

The Manchu people have also added splendor to Chinese culture with many works of scientific significance. These include Shu Li Jing Yun (Essence of Mathematics and Physics), Li Xiang Kao Cheng (A Study of Universal Phenomena) and Huang Yu Quan Lan Tu (Complete Atlas of the Empire) compiled during the reign of Emperor Kang Xi. Man Wen Lao Dang (Ancient Archives in Manchu), Man Wen Tai Zu Shi Lu (A Manchu Biography of the Founding Emperor) and Yi Yu Lu (Stories of Exotic Lands) by Tu Lichen are among the famous works written in the early years of the dynasty, while Qing Wen Qi Meng (Primer of Manchurian), Chu Xue Bi Du (Essential Readings for Beginners), Xu Zi Zhi Nan (A Guide to Function Words) and Qing Wen Dian Yao (Fundamentals of Manchurian) are important works in the study of the Manchu language.

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