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Qin Shi Huang was the first Chinese sovereign to proclaim himself “Emperor”, after unifying China in 221 BC. That year is therefore generally taken by historians to be the start of the “Qin dynasty” which lasted for fifteen years until 207 when it was cut short by civil wars.
In 221 BC, the Qin armies invaded from the north, captured the king, and annexed Qi. Some of the strategies Qin used to unify China were to standardize the trade and communication, currency and language. For the first time, all Chinese lands were unified under one powerful ruler.
Ying Zheng, the king of Qin unifies China and proclaims himself the First Emperor, as he is the first Chinese sovereign able to rule the whole country, thus ending the Warring States period. He is known by historians as Qin Shi Huang.
In 230 BC, Ying Zheng unleashed the final campaigns of the Warring States period, setting out to conquer the remaining states, one by one. Following the fall of Qi in 221 BC, China was unified under the rule of Qin.
In 221 BC, King Zheng of the Qin State renamed himself as emperor, and made Xianyang City of Shaanxi Province as the capital. He announced that he was the first emperor of China, and the later generations should inherit the respectful title from him. That is, they should name themselves the second Qin Emperor, the third Qin Emperor and so on.
With help from Li Si, Wei Liao (尉繚) and others, Ying Zheng formulated a plan for conquering the other six major states and unifying China. The plan, which focuses on annexing each state individually, is based on ” allying with distant states and attacking nearby ones “, one of the Thirty-Six Stratagems.
Han was conquered by Qin. Zhao was conquered by Qin. Wei was conquered by Qin. Chu was conquered by Qin. Yan and Dai were conquered by Qin. Wuyue was conquered by Qin. Qi surrendered to Qin. China was unified under the Qin dynasty.