Shanhaiguan Great Wall

Facts about Shanhaiguan Great wall of China

Shanhaiguan Great wall Throughout Chinese history, it served as a frontier of defence against tribes from Manchuria (e.g. the Khitan, Jurchen and the Manchus). Shanhaiguan is located south of Yan Mountain, and north of Bohai. For centuries, the pass guarded the narrow passage between the Northeast and the Central East region of China.

Both Northern Qi Dynasty and Tang Dynasty constructed passes. In 1381, Ming general Xu Da constructed Shanhaiguan, named due to its position between mountain and the sea. Later Ming general Qi Jiguang began fortification and construction of a military city around Shanhaiguan, building cities and forts to the east, south and north of the pass. Shanhaiguan became one of the most heavily fortified pass in China, and to this day, it is also one of the best preserved passes in the Great Wall.

There are two accounts regarding the battle of Shanhaiguan at the end of the Ming Dynasty; The more popular romanticised version states: during the end of Ming Dynasty, Shanhaiguan general Wu Sangui was about to surrender and join the rebel forces of Li Zicheng when he heard that his concubine Chen Yuanyuan was taken by Li Zicheng. Enraged, he contacted the Qing and the leader Dorgon. Afterwards, Wu Sangui opened the gates of Shanhaiguan for Qing soldiers and together fought a decisive battle against Li Zicheng.

The victory by the Qing Dynasty hastened the foundering of Li Zicheng's political powers and firmly established Qing as the dominant power in China. The second account of events is that Wu Sanggui (A general of the defeated dynasty) surrendered to Li Zicheng (The leader of the rebellion against the Ming dynasty), but on his way to Beijing, he heard of the disorderly state of the capital and massacres perpetrated by Li's forces, as well as the murder of his own father. Enraged he returned to Shanhaiguan and surrendered to the Qing.

Sanggui's forces then fought in the front lines against Li's deceiving them into believing the Qing had not broken through. Then the Qing decimated Li's forces, distinguishing them by cloths attached to the uniforms of Sanggui's troops. During the Qing Dynasty, Shanhaiguan, situated between Shenyang and Beijing, was referred to as the Key to the Capitals. Both during the Republic, as well as Eight-Nation Alliance and Second World War, Shanhaiguan was the site of many conflicts.