The Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties were era in which territory of China was established. During this era, agricultural civilization and nomadic areas of East Asian continent merged into a great empire, and Beijing became capital, since it was in transition zone between agriculture and nomadic population. From Yuan Dynasty to Ming Dynasty and then to Qing Dynasty, this was also an era in which picture of world was changing. The rapid rise of Western countries, especially gradual expansion of Russia into Siberia, made expansion of Qing Dynasty of unprecedented significance.
In 1206, Temujin founded Mongol Khanate. At that time, East Asian continent still had regimes such as Kingdom of Jin, Xixia, Siliao, Southern Song Dynasty, various ministries of Tubo, Dali, and Goryeo. With rise of Mongolia, unification of country fell to lot of Mongolia.
Map of Southern Song Dynasty
After rise of Mongolia, she successively destroyed Siliao, Xixia and Jin, and also conquered Tubo, Dali and Goryeo. In 1271, Kublai Khan established Yuan dynasty and announced his succession as Emperor of China. In 1279, Yuan Dynasty destroyed Southern Song Dynasty, noting that Yuan Dynasty had unified East Asian continent. The territory of Yuan Dynasty was unprecedentedly vast, stretching from North Korea in east to Hami in west, Lake Baikal in north, and Southeast Asia in south. The Yuan Dynasty introduced provincial system, which laid foundation for Chinese provincial system.
Yuan Dynasty Territory (Ryukyu in picture should not be in Yuan Dynasty Territory)
In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang founded Ming Dynasty, which ruled hinterland. Mongolia retreated to pastures and Ming dynasty occupied Hetao Plain to counter Mongolia. In addition, Tubo tribes, seven Mongol tribes in Kansai, and three Wuliangkha tribes expressed their submission to Ming dynasty. But Ming dynasty did not establish actual control in these areas. During reign of Zhu Yuanzhang, territory of Ming Dynasty was limited to interior and Liaodong region.
The situation at beginning of Ming Dynasty
The Yongle era was heyday of Ming Dynasty. During this era, Ming Dynasty established Nuer Gandu Division in northeast, Chief Jiaozhi Envoy Division in Vietnam, and establishment of Guizhou Province, which promoted reform of Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. During this era, Ming Dynasty's sphere of influence expanded, stretching from Hami in west to Southeast Asia in south. However, Ming dynasty never established dominance over Tubo, Mongolia and western regions. The territory of Ming dynasty in that era was about 7 million square kilometers.
Yongle era territory (light red color - sphere of influence)
After Yongle Emperor, territory of Ming Dynasty began to shrink. The Nuer Gandu Division and Cochin Chiefs Division were abolished after 20 years of existence. The Seven Divisions of Kansai and Three Divisions of Wuliang, which were originally in sphere of influence, gradually lost control. During Jiajing period, Hetao region was founded by Monan Mongolia. The Mongol Khan unified Mongolia and attacked Ming Dynasty many times. The Jurchen tribe in northeast also began to compete with Ming dynasty. In middle and end of Ming Dynasty, Eastern Chagatai Khanate in western regions began to split, and Turfan Khanate and Yarkand Khanate arose. The territory of Ming Dynasty mostly shrank south of Great Wall during this era, with an area of less than 4 million square kilometers. This situation lasted for about 200 years.
At end of Ming Dynasty, Mongol, Jurchen, and Heshuot Khanates arose. In 1616, Nurhaci united Jianzhou Jurchens and Haixi Jurchens, established Hojin Kingdom, and defeated Ming dynasty in subsequent Battle of Sarhu. During Huang Taiji period, he conquered wild Jurchens, North Korea, Liaoning, and Monan Mongolia, and basically unified Northeast region. In 1636, Huang Taiji founded Qing Dynasty. The Heshuote Khanate was founded on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and in 1640 Qinghai-Tibet region was united. Oirat Mongolia began to strengthen in northwest. In addition, Russia from Eastern Europe has already occupied Siberia, started conquering Buryat Mongolia in area of Lake Baikal, and even entered the Heilongjiang river basin. The situation in East Asia has become something of a crisis.
Situation at end of Ming Dynasty
In 1644, Li Zicheng destroyed Ming Dynasty. Subsequently, Nanming regimes such as Hongguang, Longwu and Yongli emerged on mainland, Li Zicheng's "Dashun" in north, and Zhang Xianzhong's "Dashi" in Sichuan, such a regime of warlords was very dangerous. They fought against each other and started a game of ranged and close attack. And Russia took more of Mongolia. However, advent of Qing Dynasty quickly eliminated these regimes. In 1664, Qing dynasty united mainland with mainland. During Kangxi period (1662-1722), territory of Qing Dynasty continued to expand rapidly.
Territorial changes in Shunzhi era
After Kangxi came to power in 1681, "San Francisco Rebellion" was crushed, which made situation on mainland more stable. In 1683, Zheng regime in Taiwan was abolished, and Taiwanese government and three counties of Taiwan, Fengshan and Zhuluo were established in Taiwan, marking official incorporation of Taiwan into China's Central Plains Dynasty. During period when Qing Dynasty entered customs, Russia continued to encroach on Heilongjiang river basin. After Kangxi unified Taiwan, he started Yaksa War against Russia and finally signed Treaty of Nerchinsk, which stated that borders between China and Russia were outside Xing'an Mountains.
Kangxi territory in early days
During period of Sino-Russian negotiations, Dzungar Khanate in northwest continued to expand to east, occupying entire Khalkha-Mongolian region and reaching Ulan-Butong. Subsequently, Kangxi defeated Galdan three times and won all three times. At same time, Tsevang Arabtan in rear of Dzungars became independent, while Galdan was trapped inside and out and was forced to commit suicide by taking poison. Since then, Mongolian region of Khalkha has been incorporated into territory of Qing Dynasty. In 1717, Chewang sent 6,000 troops to Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau to destroy Heshuot Khanate. In 1720, Kangxi Trilateral Army drove Dzungar army out of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and Qing Dynasty stationed troops in Qinghai-Tibet, noting that Tibet and Qinghai had been incorporated into Qing Dynasty territory. Since then, territory of Qing Dynasty has exceeded 10 million square kilometers.
After Kangxi's death, Yongzheng unified country founded by Kangxi. In north, Bren Treaty and Treaty of Kyakta were signed with Russia, which established sovereignty of Qing Dynasty over Mongolia; ministers and ministers settled in Tibet, this is first time that China's Central Plains Dynasty established an administrative establishment in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; for border.
Kangxi era area
During reign of Emperor Qianlong, Dzungar Khanate was in decline, and its Russia was just destroying Dzungars. But Emperor Qianlong took first step: in 1755 he liquidated Dzungar Khanate and occupied western regions. This is first time that Central Dynasty of China has occupied site since Tang Dynasty. After that, Qianlong suppressed rebellion of Amursana, Saiza and Zhuo, renamed western regions "Xinjiang" and put General Ili in charge here. Since then, area of the Qing Dynasty has reached 13 million square kilometers, and this figure has been preserved. By 1858, about 100 years, it was first occurrence in history of China.
The heyday of Qing Dynasty