Chou, dynasty of China, which ruled from c.1027 B.C. to 256 B.C. The pastoral Chou people migrated from the Wei valley NW of the Huang He c.1027 B.C. and overthrew the Shang dynasty. The Chou built their capital near modern Xi'an in 1027 B.C. and moved it to Luoyang in 770 B.C. Initially the Chou dominated the N China plain between Manchuria and the Chang valley. By 800 B.C., however, the local lords had become strong enough to form separate states, especially in the north and at the mouth of the Chang. In later times the state of Ch'u controlled the middle Chang valley, and the border state of Ch'in grew in the northwest. In the 6th cent. B.C. the states of Wu and Yüeh became major power. An anarchic period (403-221 B.C.) of warring states followed, at the end of which the Chou gave up their remaining power to the emerging Ch'in dynasty. Despite political disorder, the later Chou era was the classical age of China (known as the period of the "hundred schools of thought"), when Confucius, Mo-ti, Lao Tzu, Mencius, and Chuang-tzu lived, debated, and responded to the turmoil with creative ideas. In the second half of the dynasty, striking social and economic changes also took place. Iron implements were introduced from W and central Asia, the ox-drawn plow was first used, and large irrigation and water-control projects were instituted, resulting in increased crop yields in N China. Trade developed as cities grew in number and size and roads and canals were constructed. Chou society was sharply divided between the aristocratic warrior class and the peasant masses and domestic slaves. Writers of the anarchic period that followed it pictured the early Chou as an age of well-ordered beneficent feudalism, but this may merely reflect their own desire for political unity. Toward the end of the period, the rigid feudal class system was gradually weakened, the hereditary power of the aristocrats was minimized, and there was more social mobility.

See C.-Y. Hsu, Ancient China in Transition (1965); H. G. Creel, The Origins of Statecraft in China (Vol. 1, 1970).

or Lan-chou

City (pop., 2003 est.: 1,576,400), capital of Gansu province, north-central China. Situated on the upper Huang He (Yellow River), it became part of the territory of Qin in the 6th century BC and later developed as a major trade centre on the Silk Road. It became the seat of Lanzhou prefecture under the Sui dynasty (581–618 AD) and the capital of Gansu province in 1666. It was badly damaged during the Muslim uprisings in 1864–75. A centre of Soviet influence in northwestern China in the early 20th century, it was the terminus of the 2,000-mi (3,200-km) Chinese-Soviet highway that was used during the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45) for the transport of Soviet supplies. Lanzhou developed as an industrial and cultural centre after World War II. It is the seat of Lanzhou University.

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or Fu-chou conventional Foochow

City (pop., 2003 est.: 1,387,266), capital of Fujian province, China. Located on the bank of the Min River, it was the capital of the kingdom of Yue in the 2nd century BC. Fuzhou, important militarily in the 1st century AD, came later under the Tang dynasty. During the Song dynasty (960–1279), it was a centre for overseas trade and also an important cultural centre. It reached its height of prosperity when it was opened as a treaty port after the first Opium War (1839–42). It is now a centre for industrial chemicals. In the city and nearby hills are notable examples of traditional Chinese architecture, including pagodas and temples.

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or Chou En-lai

(born March 5, 1898, Huai'an, Jiangsu province, China—died Jan. 8, 1976, Beijing) Chinese communist leader, premier from the founding of the People's Republic of China until his death (1949–76). Zhou became a communist during his studies abroad in France and was an organizer for the Chinese Communist Party in Europe. Like other communists, he worked with the Nationalists in the early 1920s and escaped capture when Chiang Kai-shek purged his former allies in 1927. He joined Zhu De and Mao Zedong in Jiangxi province and became political commissar of the Red Army. In the 1930s he negotiated a tactical alliance with the Nationalists to resist Japanese aggression. When the communists prevailed over the Nationalists in 1949, Zhou became premier of the new People's Republic of China. During the Cultural Revolution, Zhou helped restrain extremists; as the revolution waned in the early 1970s, he sought to restore Deng Xiaoping and other moderates to power. He is credited with arranging the historic meeting between U.S. Pres. Richard Nixon and Mao that paved the way for U.S. recognition of the communist government.

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or Cheng-chou formerly (1913–49) Zhengxian or Cheng-hsien

City (pop., 2003 est.: 1,770,800), capital of Henan province, east-central China. Located south of the Huang He (Yellow River), it is an important rail centre. There were Neolithic settlements in the area, and the Shang Bronze Age culture (fl. circa 1500 BC) was centred there on a walled city. Zhou-dynasty tombs have also been discovered. The city was first called Zhengzhou in AD 605, and it has been known by that name virtually ever since. It achieved its greatest importance in the 6th–12th century, when it was the terminus of a canal that joined the Huang to the north. In the early 20th century it became a rail junction and a regional agricultural centre. Since 1949 its industrial base has greatly expanded, and its population has grown considerably.

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