Was China ever in the top 3 most powerful countries/empires of the world?

Mar 2019
12
Canada
#23
When it was unified, it was pretty consistently the #1 power until the rise of European colonial empires like Spain in the 16th century and Britain in the 19th century.
Although I doubt Spain can defeat China, Spanish navy was attacked and defeated by Ming China in several different skirmishes.
And on ground.
I doubt Spanish can defeat the full might of Ming in that time period, it's true they had better technology, but the different isn't really that big.
 
Mar 2019
12
Canada
#24
Neither the Assyrian, Babylonian, Achaemenid, nor Macedonian empires existed at the same time as a united China, so a comparison there is meaningless. The position of China vis-a-vis imperial Rome is much argued over, but far from conclusively on the side of the Romans at all points. The Huns were an ephemeral steppe empire which can't really be compared to any centralized state, but regardless they had an infinitely smaller population and military. The Byzantines were never stronger than a united China, although for a time in the 5th/6th and arguably 10th and 12th centuries they were stronger than any one of the Chinese states, and the HRE, as a decentralized underdeveloped Germanic kingdom with 1/8th of the population, was a joke in comparison (and the Carolingian Empire, if you're counting that, only slightly less so at perhaps 1/5th). The first few Caliphates were huge, but their rise and fall coincided with that of arguably the most powerful dynasty in Chinese history, the Tang, and no Caliphate would have had a population more than 2/3rds as large as the Tang's; the Tang also had a more professional military, and more centralized and efficient governmental apparatus. That being said, a case for the Caliphate could certainly be made in the early-mid 9th century, from what I've seen, but I'm not quite familiar enough with either to give an opinion one way or another. The Mongols were certainly stronger in the 13th century (although again we're back to steppe empires), and founded their own dynasty of China, but the Ottoman Empire never had a population or military more than one third the size of the Ming or Qing (although I'm not familiar enough with the latter to say when or if it was really "Chinese"). I would say a Chinese dynasty (not including the Mongols) was the most powerful state on earth for about 750 years of the period between 400 and 1650, give or take 50 years, or a little under 2/3rds, which could be most of the time or a little under that depending on which side of the Roman-Chinese debate you take (and which I'm not touching).
Well, when China is unified, compared to any other major nation of the time, they would be outmatched in military and economic strength.
When China id dis unified, some of the Chinese independent provinces are still more powerful than most existing states of the time.
Of course that was until the 7 years war.
 
Mar 2019
12
Canada
#26
Neither the Assyrian, Babylonian, Achaemenid, nor Macedonian empires existed at the same time as a united China, so a comparison there is meaningless. The position of China vis-a-vis imperial Rome is much argued over, but far from conclusively on the side of the Romans at all points. The Huns were an ephemeral steppe empire which can't really be compared to any centralized state, but regardless they had an infinitely smaller population and military. The Byzantines were never stronger than a united China, although for a time in the 5th/6th and arguably 10th and 12th centuries they were stronger than any one of the Chinese states, and the HRE, as a decentralized underdeveloped Germanic kingdom with 1/8th of the population, was a joke in comparison (and the Carolingian Empire, if you're counting that, only slightly less so at perhaps 1/5th). The first few Caliphates were huge, but their rise and fall coincided with that of arguably the most powerful dynasty in Chinese history, the Tang, and no Caliphate would have had a population more than 2/3rds as large as the Tang's; the Tang also had a more professional military, and more centralized and efficient governmental apparatus. That being said, a case for the Caliphate could certainly be made in the early-mid 9th century, from what I've seen, but I'm not quite familiar enough with either to give an opinion one way or another. The Mongols were certainly stronger in the 13th century (although again we're back to steppe empires), and founded their own dynasty of China, but the Ottoman Empire never had a population or military more than one third the size of the Ming or Qing (although I'm not familiar enough with the latter to say when or if it was really "Chinese"). I would say a Chinese dynasty (not including the Mongols) was the most powerful state on earth for about 750 years of the period between 400 and 1650, give or take 50 years, or a little under 2/3rds, which could be most of the time or a little under that depending on which side of the Roman-Chinese debate you take (and which I'm not touching).
Well basically every Chinese dynasty besides the Yuan can be considered Chinese.
The Liao had a Mongolian emperor, but he speaks Chinese, well read in Chinese, and was a noble send as a tribute to serve in the Tang military, kind of like a Gallic Roman commander in the Roman emporer wins in a rebellion.
The Qing had Manchu emperors, but his minister of finance is Chinese, his minister of arms is Chinese, everyone at postions of importance is Chinese. Later Manchu emporers are pretty much han, given they can't even speak Manchu. Their power came from han nobles all along.
They were beaten by the Ming actually, but the Ming rements can't defeat the Rebels so they got the Qing as their leader to restore order.
 
Jul 2011
5,768
#27
Well, when China is unified, compared to any other major nation of the time, they would be outmatched in military and economic strength.
When China id dis unified, some of the Chinese independent provinces are still more powerful than most existing states of the time.
Of course that was until the 7 years war.

The chart is not accurate. China was a huge power in terms of population, area, wealth, technology, etc. However, China wasn't that strong in the 19th century. It did manage to avoid becoming a European colony, unlike almost everywhere else. It wasn't that strong a single power in warring states periods. It also might not have been at the level of the Roman or Mongol empires at their peaks.
 
Mar 2019
12
Canada
#28
The chart is not accurate. China was a huge power in terms of population, area, wealth, technology, etc. However, China wasn't that strong in the 19th century. It did manage to avoid becoming a European colony, unlike almost everywhere else. It wasn't that strong a single power in warring states periods. It also might not have been at the level of the Roman or Mongol empires at their peaks.
That is why I said until the 7 years war.
When the Western military and economy really kicked off
centuries before 19th century.
 
Jul 2014
1,445
world
#29
Qin, Han, Tang, Ming and Qing dynasty are among the greatest empires of any period. I might argue that even the early Song empire was a superpower until it got derailed by idiot emperors.

PS: I consider the Qing empire a thoroughly Chinese empire. The Manchus willingly integrated so well into Chinese culture that today it is impossible to differentiate between the Han ethnic group and Manchu ethnic group. The accents, culture and lifestyle is basically same.
 
Mar 2014
1,796
Lithuania
#30
Although I doubt Spain can defeat China, Spanish navy was attacked and defeated by Ming China in several different skirmishes.
And on ground.
I doubt Spanish can defeat the full might of Ming in that time period, it's true they had better technology, but the different isn't really that big.
China for Span was secondary objective, main forces were concentrated in Americas. It is very hard to tell what would happen if America would not have been discovered an China would become main objective for European powers. Anyway, Spain managed to send forces all way to China for them to be defeated. What China actually sent to Spain and how successful they were?
 

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