Technology and Production

Over its five-thousand-year history, China has made fundamental contributions to technology related to agriculture, science, and the production of ordinary and luxury goods. These innovations include rice domestication, porcelain-making, papermaking, coined money, silk production, the compass, moveable type, the mechanical clock, and gunpowder. Porcelain became such a valuable export that its association with Chinese culture led to its being known as “china.” Ancient China mechanized production to produce high-quality and high-quantity bronze objects thousands of years before the Industrial Revolution. Today, China is the world’s largest exporter of goods and has emerged as a scientific and technological powerhouse.

Key Points

  • Art and artifacts attest to China’s technological advances throughout history.
  • Trade networks, urbanization, merchant communities, natural resources, state power, and tributary systems contributed to making China a forerunner in technology and production during dynastic times.
  • The technologies that originated in China improved the lives of people there and in other cultures as these technologies were spread through trade. We can still see the effects of these innovations today.