It is said that in China, there have been many inventions which were re-invented much later in the West. To judge according to the existing literature, China must be classified as one of the oldest high cultures. Of several dynasties one can highlight perhaps the Han Dynasty which lasted from approx. 200 BC to 200 AD, united the empire and brought to a certain flower.
Particularly important is the doctrine of Confucius originating from this time, although strongly emphasizes the hierarchy in the family and in the state but also explicitly permit possible criticism of this. It is said that this period has also major influences on today's China where more than a few even have memorized the book about the teachings of Confucius, a not uncommon practice in the Chinese school system.
The Confucian doctrine is intended for everyday use, if you like rather philosophy than religion. This distinguishes China fundamentally from e.g. Japan and many other countries, where at least originally, religion was a solid link of the society. In the Han period is the first expansion of the once much smaller area to the west up to today's Samarkand, whereby e.g. The Silk Road is justified.
China would not be China if it were not afterwards disintegrated again, although at that time it had not yet reached its current dimensions to the north and south. Even otherwise China's history is difficult to compare with that of Europe. Long before there was woodblock printing to improve education. Cities with populations greater than 100,000 are unknown here until the end of the last millennium, but exist in China since its beginning. Only in 1800, the country reaches the expansion of today.
Then one loses again e.g. Hong Kong by the Opium War, area north of the Amur by the Chinese-Russian war and among others the southern Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan by the Chinese-Japanese war. But these are only examples, because Japan has a huge impact also on the rest of the national territory. Of course, the abdication of the last emperor flows also not smoothly in 1912. After the Communists first are pushed back under Chiang Kai-Shek's, the People's Republic of China comes into existence under Mao Zedong from 1949. 08/12