Thursday, September 4, 2008

Naval history of China

The naval history of China dates back thousands of years, with archives existing since the late Spring and Autumn Period about the ancient navy of China and the various ship types used in war. In modern times, the current and governments continue to maintain standing navies with the People's Liberation Army Navy and the Republic of China Navy, respectively.


Early coastal maritime endeavors

The legendary Xu Fu searching of mythical Fusang or the setting up of maritime Silk road since 2th century BCE from Hepu Commandery draw the ancient Chinese naval maps.

Although numerous naval battles took place before the 12th century, such as the large-scale Three Kingdoms Battle of Chibi in the year 208, it was during the Song Dynasty that the Chinese established a permanent, standing navy in 1132 AD. At its height by the late 12th century there were 20 squadrons of some 52000 marines, the admiral's headquarters based at Dinghai, while the main base remained closer to modern Shanghai in those days. though that method of propulsion had been abandoned for many centuries and only recently reintroduced before the war. Numerous other innovations were present in Chinese vessels during the Middle Ages that had not yet been adopted by the Western and Islamic worlds, some of which were documented by Marco Polo but which did not enter into other navies until the 18th Century, when the British successfully incorporated them into ship designs. For example, medieval Chinese hulls were split into so that a hull rupture only flooded a fraction of the ship and did not necessarily sink it . This was described in the book of the Song Dynasty maritime author , the ''Pingzhou Table Talks'' of 1119 AD. Along with the innovations described in Zhu's book, there were many other improvements to nautical technology in the medieval Song period. This included crossbeams bracing the ribs of ships to strengthen them, rudders that could be raised or lowered to allow ships to travel in a wider range of water depths, and the teeth of anchors arranged circularly instead of in one direction, "making them more reliable". also had their sails staggered by wooden poles so that the crew could raise and lower them with ropes from the deck, like window blinds, without having to climb around and tie or untie various ropes every time the ship needed to turn or adjust speed.

Arguably the largest naval battle in history was the Battle of Lake Poyang from August 30 to October 4 of the year 1363 AD, a battle which cemented the success of Zhu Yuanzhang in founding the Ming Dynasty. However, the Chinese fleet shrank tremendously after its military/tributary/exploratory functions in the early 15th century were deemed too expensive and it became primarily a police force on routes like the Grand Canal. Ships like the juggernauts of Zheng He's "," which dwarfed the largest Portuguese ships of the era by several times, were discontinued, and the became the predominant Chinese vessel until the country's relatively recent naval revival.


Early literature

One of the oldest known Chinese books written on naval matters was the ''Yuejueshu'' of 52 AD, attributed to the Han Dynasty scholar Yuan Kang. Many passages of Yuan Kang's book were rewritten and published in Li Fang's encyclopedia of the ''Taiping Yulan'' , compiled in 983 AD as one of the Four Great Books of Song. The preserved written passages of Yuan Kang's book were again featured in the ''Yuanjian Leihan'' encyclopedia, edited and compiled by Zhang Ying in 1701 during the Qing Dynasty. These "classes" of ships were the great wing , the little wing , the stomach striker , the castle ship , and the bridge ship . This was discussed in a dialogue between Mozi and Lu Ban in 445 BC , as the hook-and-spar technique made standard on all Chu warships was given as the reason why the Yue navy lost in battle to Chu.

The rebellion of Gongsun Shu in Sichuan province against the re-established Han Dynasty during the year 33 AD was recorded in the ''Book of Later Han'', compiled by Fan Ye in the 5th century. Gongsun sent a naval force of some twenty to thirty thousand troops down the Yangtze River to attack the position of the Han commander Cen Peng. After Cen Peng defeated several of Gongsun's officers, Gongsun had a long floating pontoon bridge constructed across the Yangtze with fortified posts on it, protected further by a , as well as erected forts on the river bank to provide further missile fire at another angle. Cen Peng was unable to break through this barrier and barrage of missile fire, until he equipped his navy with castle ships, rowed assault vessels, and 'colliding swoopers' used for ramming in a fleet of several thousand vessels and quelled Gongsun's rebellion. The largest of these ships had five layered decks, could hold 800 passengers, and each ship was fitted with six 50 ft. long s that were used to swing and damage enemy ships, along with the ability of pinning them down. Not represented here, of course, is the innovated by the Tang Prince Li Gao more than a decade later in 784 AD.

Tower ships

Covered swoopers

Combat junks

Naval endeavours by era

Warring States

*Wars between and

Qin Dynasty

*Xu Fu
*Wei Tusui Conquered Yue

Han Dynasty

*111 BCE, the delegates of Emperor Wu of Han explored the Southeast Asia and India from Gulf of Tonkin to make contact with central Asia states, the Silk Road of Sea.
*Rebellion of Gongsun Shu

Three Kingdoms

*Battle of Red Cliffs

Sui Dynasty

*Goguryeo-Sui Wars

Tang Dynasty

*Battle of Baekgang

Song Dynasty

*Battle of Caishi
*Battle of Tangdao
*Battle of Xiangyang
*Battle of Yamen

Ming Dynasty

*Battle of Lake Poyang
*One naval battle in the Fourth Chinese domination ,the Ming Navy destroyed the Vietnamese navy of 300 warships
*Zheng He
*Imjin War
**Battle of Noryang

Qing Dynasty

*Zheng Chengong
*Battle of Penghu
*Beiyang Fleet
*Nanyang Fleet
*Opium Wars
*Sino-French War
**Battle of Foochow
**Battle of Shipu
*First Sino-Japanese War
**Battle of Yalu River
**Battle of Weihaiwei

Republic of China

*Republic of China Navy
*Second Sino-Japanese War

People's Republic of China

*People's Liberation Army Navy
*First Taiwan Strait Crisis
*Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
*Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
*Battle of Hoang Sa
*Spratly Island Skirmish

Chinese naval warfare gallery

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