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Ancient China
China United



China United
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.09

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    conspirator, eunuch, farfetched, legitimate, offences, standing, strong-will, terra-cotta, prosperity, admirable, turbulent, dire, fortification, policies, economic, successor
     content words:    Ji Fa, Zhou Wuwang, King Wu, Emperor Zhou Youwang, King You, Though Zhou, Zhou Pingwang, King Ping, Western Zhou, Eastern Zhou


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China United
By Vickie Chao
  

1     In the beginning, China was never a united country. For a long while, the landscape was dotted with hundreds of city-states. Sometimes, the heads of the smaller city-states would swear allegiance to the head of the biggest, strongest city-state. Sometimes, they would not. During this chaotic period of time, wars were very common. Around the 11th century B.C., the State of Zhou became a dominant powerhouse. The head of that state, Ji Fa, eradicated the Shang dynasty and established his own. He called it the Zhou dynasty. Ji Fa, who later became known as Zhou Wuwang or King Wu of Zhou, was a good emperor. So were the other earlier rulers of the Zhou dynasty. They encouraged arts. They pursued sound economic policies. Together, they made their nation strong and affluent. Just when things started to look promising, it began to go downhill. A series of weak, less competent Zhou emperors assumed power. They lacked the resolution to command respect from other city-states. In 771 B.C., the rebels killed Emperor Zhou Youwang (or King You of Zhou) and ransacked the capital. Though Zhou Youwang's son (Zhou Pingwang or King Ping of Zhou) escaped the slaughter and later managed to move the kingdom to a new location, he could never rebuild the glory and prosperity. Historians often use this disaster as the dividing point of the long history of Zhou. They call the era before the coup the Western Zhou dynasty and the era after the Eastern Zhou dynasty.
 
2     The Eastern Zhou dynasty, in many ways, was a dynasty in name only. Its rulers did not have any real authority. They were, literally speaking, living at the mercy of other city-states. Over the nearly half millennium of its existence, the Eastern Zhou dynasty could be further divided into two periods. The first was the Spring and Autumn Period (770 B.C. - 476 B.C.), and the second the Warring States Period (476 B.C. - 221 B.C.). Both epochs were marred with wars.
 
3     During this turbulent time of Chinese history, building a united nation was a farfetched idea. But one man took up the challenge and succeeded. That remarkable man was Ying Zheng (259 B.C. - 210 B.C.). He united China in 221 B.C.
 
4     Ying Zheng was the son of Zichu, a prince of the State of Qin. As was the custom of the time, the heads of the seven strongest city-states of the Warring States Period often held each other's sons as hostages. The concept behind this idea was that nobody would want to rush into wars unless they had no regard for their own offspring. Zichu was the hostage in the State of Zhao. He was miserable there. He wanted to go back to his own country, but he could not. One day, he had a chance encounter with a rich merchant named Lu Buwei. The two struck up a conversation, and Lu Buwei was very impressed by the prince. He decided to help Zichu to become the next Qin emperor. Using his personal wealth and connection, Lu Buwei persuaded the childless Madam Hua Yang to adopt Zichu as her son. He figured that Madam Hua Yang, the crown prince's favorite concubine, had a good chance of becoming a queen. If he teamed up with her, he could make Zichu the next crown prince.

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