Military. Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution

Military. Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution

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Located in the west sector of the city, Military. Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution is the largest military museum in the world, which displays rocket missiles, fighter planes, torpedo boats, tanks, and guns.

The museum opens a two-part exhibition on China’s ancient war-fare. The first part features weaponry and battle tactics from primitive society to the 1840 Opium War. The second part covers the period from 1840 to 1919, the beginning of modern Chinese history.

Entering the foyer of the exhibition hall, the visitor sees a battle scene on a sweeping, ground-to-ceiling mural painting. In the middle of the room stands a marble stone inscribed with words from Sun Zi: “War is a matter of vital importance to the state.” Alive during the Spring and Autumn Period of China (770-476 BC), Sun Zi has become a world renowned strategist. His book, “Sun Zi’s Art of War,” is even studied by Japanese business people because it contains many useful tactics and intrigues.

In the main hall, the first thing the visitor sees is a horse-drawn chariot with three life-like warriors on board. Warfare before the Qin and Han (206 BC to AD 220) period, cavalry became popular. This is illustrated by the terracotta army unearthed in Xi’an. Three clay soldiers and their charges were shipped from Xi’an to the museum for permanent display. They are enclosed by glass and a wall of larger-than-life photographs of the tomb army. The Three Kingdom period (220-280 AD) saw big developments in war tactics, particularly in battles on water and the use of fire as an offensive weapon. The battles at Guandu, Chibi and Feishui became famous, so did such strategists as Cao Cao and Zhuge Liang. The Sui and Tang dynasties were a time when China was militarily vigorous and campaigned against Koreans, Tibetans and northern nomads. The organizations of the army became more sophisticated, and city defence improved. Gunpowder was invented during this period and was soon applied to war. Song Dynasty (960 to 1279 AD)was a dynasty full of technological inventions. The Chinese learned to smelt iron and carbonize it to produce steel. Much of the steel went to equip the Song army of over one million. Yet despite the steel arms, the use of catapults, flame throwers and incendiaries, the Chinese were defeated by invaders from the north. On display is a huge replica of a fortified city wall and a variety of weapons and tools used by attackers and defenders, such as a long-armed axe mounted on a cart for breaking walls, an armoured mobile shed or sheltering cage that could be hoisted to the top of a mast for observing enemies on the wall. Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD) was established by the Mongols, who had a superb army in terms of over-all direction, organization, toughness and ability in individual combat. These fighters lived in the saddle. They could sleep on horseback. They created the largest empire in world history, stretching from Korea to east Europe. One sand table shows a major battle between the Mongols and the Chinese in 1259 AD. During the Ming and the pre-Opium War Qing dynasties (1368 to 1840 AD), China’s ancient weaponry reached its peak. Artillery and sappers emerged as specialized troops. Improved battle ships equipped with cannons were used to fight the Japanese. One military achievement was the recapture of Tai-wan from the Dutch in 1661. The exhibition shows a battleship, one-sixth the size of the Ming Dynasty original, which could carry over 100people. After the 1840 Opium War with Britain, China fell prey to newly-industrialized foreign powers, although its troops and people continued to resist the foreign invaders. Meanwhile, there were also constant wars between Qing government forces and peasant rebels.

The exhibition consists of 2,000 cultural relics selected from museums throughout China. More than 200 historians and military scholars were involved in the preparation of the show, which includes paintings, photographs, replicas, maps, sand tables, wax sculptures, and videos.

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