Shanhai Pass

Shanhai Pass is one of the major passes in the Great Wall of China. It is located in Shanhaiguan District, Qinhuangdao, Hebei province. In 1961, the pass was selected as a National Cultural Site of China. It is a popular tourist destination at the eastern terminal point of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. The location where the wall meets the Bohai Sea is nicknamed "Old Dragon's Head" Laolongtou (simplified Chinese: 老龙头; traditional Chinese: 老龍頭; pinyin: Lǎolóngtóu). The pass lies nearly 300 kilometres (190 mi) east of Beijing and is linked via the Jingshen Expressway that runs northeastward to Shenyang.

Throughout Chinese history, the pass served as a frontline defensive outpost against ethnic groups from Manchuria, including the Khitan, Jurchen and the Manchus.

Coordinates: 40°00′33.71″N 119°45′14.92″E / 40.0093639°N 119.7541444°E

Shanhai Pass
The "First Pass Under Heaven" plaque on Shanhaiguan's main gate
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese山海关
Traditional Chinese山海關
Literal meaning"Mountain and Sea Pass"
Manchu name
Manchu scriptᡧᠠᠨᠠᡥᠠ
Romanizationšanaha furdan


Located south of Yan Mountain, and north of the Bohai Sea, for centuries the pass guarded the narrow passage between Northeast and Central East China. Both the Northern Qi Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty constructed passes here. In 1381, Ming general Xu Da constructed the present pass, which was named Shanhaiguan (literally "mountain-sea-pass") because of its position between the mountains and the sea. In the late 16th century, Ming general Qi Jiguang began fortification and construction of a military city around the pass, building cities and forts to the east, south and north, making it one of the most heavily fortified passes in China. Today it is one of the best preserved passes in the Great Wall.

Battle of Shanhai Pass

In 1644, Li Zicheng led a rebel army into the Ming dynasty capital of Beijing, marking the official end of the Ming dynasty. After occupying the capital, Li attempted to enlist the support of Ming general Wu Sangui, commander of the powerful Ningyuan garrison north of the Great Wall. Rather than submit to Li, Wu contacted the Manchu Qing dynasty, suggesting that they combine forces to drive the rebels from the capital. Dorgon, regent of the Qing, marched his army to Shanhai Pass to receive Wu's surrender. Together, Wu and the Manchus defeated Li Zicheng's army near the pass, and Li was forced to abandon the capital. The Qing victory enabled their army to enter Beijing unopposed, and established them as the dominant power in China.[1]

Later history

DV239 Shanhaiguan, China
Shanhaiguan, painted by a passing traveler in 1900

During the Qing era, the Shanhai Pass, situated between Shenyang and Beijing, was referred to as the "Key to the Capitals". During the Republican era, as well as during the Eight-Nation Alliance and World War II, the pass witnessed many conflicts.

The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica noted:

SHANHAI-KWAN, a garrison town in the extreme east of the province of Chih-li, China. Pop. about 30,000. It is situated at the point where the range of hills carrying the Great Wall of China dips to the sea, leaving a kwon or pass of limited extent between China proper and Manchuria. It is thus an important military station, and the thoroughfare of trade between Manchuria and the great plain of China. The Imperial Northern railway from Tientsin and Taku, 174 m. from the former, runs through the pass, and skirts the shore of the Gulf of Liao-tung as far as the treaty port of Niu-chwang, where it connects with the railways leading from Port Arthur to the Siberian main line. The pass formed the southern limit of the Russian sphere of influence as defined in the convention between Great Britain and Russia of the 28th of April 1899.

In July 1900, 15,000 Japanese troops landed at Shanhai Pass, prior to marching on Peking to relieve the siege of the legations by the Boxers. A pre-landing bombardment of the area was unnecessary as few Chinese troops were present.[2] Inter-allied relations were dealt a blow when a drunken fracas occurred at the Shanhai Pass between Japanese and French troops. In the fighting three French and seven Japanese soldiers were killed, and five French and 12 Japanese were wounded.[3]

In November 1945, the North Eastern People's Liberation Army (PLA) attempted to hold Shanhaiguan against Guomindang forces attacking from the south. They sought to keep Chiang Kai-shek out of Manchuria. The PLA forces of 10,000 were under equipped and too few to defend the position and retreated to Siping.


The Shanhai Pass is where the Great Wall of China meets the ocean (at the Bohai Sea).

The Shanhai Pass is built as a square, with a perimeter of around four kilometres (2.5 mi). The walls reach a height of 14 metres (46 feet), and are seven metres (23 feet) thick. The east, south and north sides are surrounded by a deep, wide moat with drawbridges over it. In the middle of the pass stands a tall bell tower.

All four sides of the Shanhai Pass once possessed a gate or mén (門), with the Zhèndōng Gate (鎮東門) in the east wall, the Yíng'ēn Gate (迎恩門) in the west, the Wàngyáng Gate (望洋門) in the south and the Wēiyuǎn Gate (威遠門) in the north. Due to lack of repairs over the centuries, only the Zhèndōng Gate remains today. This was the most important gate due to its position, which faces outside the pass towards Beijing.

See also


  1. ^ Wakeman 1985, pp. 290–318
  2. ^ Straits Times, 18 July 1900, p.2
  3. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 1904 p.5


  • Wakeman, Frederic (1985), The Great Enterprise: The Manchu Reconstruction of Imperial Order in Seventeenth-century China, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 0520048040

External links

Battle of Beijing (1644)

The Battle of Beijing took place between February and April 1644 in the areas surrounding Beijing, and was fought between forces of the Ming Dynasty and rebel forces that were led by Li Zicheng.

Li Zicheng led his rebel army to attack the Ming capital Beijing from two directions (north and south). The eunuch official Du Zhizhi (杜之秩) ordered the Ming forces defending Beijing to open the city gates and let Li Zicheng's army in. After the fall of Beijing, the last Ming ruler, the Chongzhen Emperor, committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree near the Forbidden City. No actual battle was fought in Beijing itself because the rebels marched on the capital unopposed, and even after occupying Beijing, the rebels did not face any resistance. Li Zicheng then proceeded to establish the short-lived Shun Dynasty, which was subsequently defeated by forces of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty. The Qing dynasty would go on to rule China, a reign that lasted 268 years.

Battle of Shanhai Pass

The Battle of Shanhai Pass, fought on 27 May 1644 at Shanhai Pass (Shanhaiguan, 山海關) at the eastern end of the Great Wall of China, was a decisive battle leading to the formation of the Qing dynasty in China. There, Qing Prince-Regent Dorgon allied with former Ming general Wu Sangui to defeat rebel leader Li Zicheng of the Shun dynasty, allowing Dorgon and the Manchus to rapidly conquer Beijing and replace the Ming dynasty.

Beijing Knot

Beijing Knot (北京结; Běijīng jié) is a branch point in the Great Wall of China located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of central Beijing in China and marks the most northwestern tower of Jiankou. At Beijing Knot the main body of the Great Wall from Shanhai Pass in the east splits up into two branches. One continues west towards Juyong Pass and further to Niangzi Pass and forms the inner wall. The other branches continues northwest towards Zhangjiakou and further west towards the Yellow River and forms the outer wall.

Chen Yuanyuan

Chen Yuanyuan (1624–1681) was a courtesan who lived during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. She was the concubine of Wu Sangui, the Ming dynasty general who surrendered Shanhai Pass to the Manchu Qing dynasty, and later rebelled in the Revolt of the Three Feudatories. Chen's life and relationship to Wu later became the subject of a number of popular stories and legends, many of them focusing on her supposed role in Wu's fateful decision to defect to the Qing, thereby sealing the fate of the Ming dynasty.

Defense of the Great Wall

The Defense of the Great Wall (simplified Chinese: 长城抗战; traditional Chinese: 長城抗戰; pinyin: Chángchéng Kàngzhàn) (January 1 – May 31, 1933) was a campaign between the armies of Republic of China and Empire of Japan, which took place before the Second Sino-Japanese War officially commenced in 1937. It is known in Japanese as Operation Nekka (熱河作戰, Nekka Sakusen) and in many English sources as the First Battle of Hopei.

During this campaign, Japan successfully captured the Inner Mongolian province of Rehe from the Chinese warlord Zhang Xueliang, and incorporated it into the newly created state of Manchukuo, whose southern frontier was thus extended to the Great Wall of China.

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe with an eye to expansion. Several walls were being built from as early as the 7th century BC; these were later joined together and made bigger by Qin Shi Huang (220–206 BC), the first Emperor of China. Little of that wall remains. Later on, many successive dynasties have repaired, maintained, and newly built multiple stretches of border walls. The most well-known of the walls were built during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

Apart from defense, other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.

The frontier walls built by different dynasties have multiple courses. Collectively, they stretch from Dandong in the east to Lop Lake in the west, from present-day Sino-Russian border in the north to Qinghai in the south; along an arc that roughly delineates the edge of Mongolian steppe. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the walls built by the Ming dynasty measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measures out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi). Today, the Great Wall is generally recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in history.


Guandong may refer to:

Guandong or Kwantung (關東), a historical name for Manchuria, i.e. "east of Shanhai Pass"

Kwantung Leased Territory, a small section of the above region controlled by Russia and, then, Japan from 1898 to 1945

Guandong (關東), a historical name for North China Plain, i.e. "east of Tong Pass"

History of the Great Wall of China

The history of the Great Wall of China began when fortifications built by various states during the Spring and Autumn (771–476 BC) and Warring States periods (475–221 BC) were connected by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to protect his newly founded Qin dynasty (221–206 BC) against incursions by nomads from Inner Asia. The walls were built of rammed earth, constructed using forced labour, and by 212 BC ran from Gansu to the coast of southern Manchuria.

Later dynasties adopted different policies towards northern frontier defense. The Han (202 BC – 220 AD), the Northern Qi (550–574), the Jurchen Jin (1115-1234), and particularly the Ming (1369–1644) were among those that rebuilt, re-manned, and expanded the Walls, although they rarely followed Qin's routes. The Han extended the fortifications furthest to the west, the Qi built about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) of new walls, while the Sui mobilised over a million men in their wall-building efforts. Conversely, the Tang (618–907), the Song (960–1279), the Yuan (1271–1368), and the Qing (1644–1911) mostly did not build frontier walls, instead opting for other solutions to the Inner Asian threat like military campaigning and diplomacy.

Although a useful deterrent against raids, at several points throughout its history the Great Wall failed to stop enemies, including in 1644 when the Manchu Qing marched through the gates of Shanhai Pass and replaced the most ardent of the wall-building dynasties, the Ming, as rulers of China.

The Great Wall of China visible today largely dates from the Ming dynasty, as they rebuilt much of the wall in stone and brick, often extending its line through challenging terrain. Some sections remain in relatively good condition or have been renovated, while others have been damaged or destroyed for ideological reasons, deconstructed for their building materials, or lost due to the ravages of time. For long an object of fascination for foreigners, the wall is now a revered national symbol and a popular tourist destination.

Hong Chengchou

Hong Chengchou (1593–1665), courtesy name Yanyan and art name Hengjiu, was a Chinese official who served under the Ming and Qing dynasties. He was born in present-day Liangshan Village, Yingdu Town, Nan'an County, Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China. After obtaining the position of a jinshi (進士; successful candidate) in the imperial examination in 1616 during the reign of the Wanli Emperor, he joined the civil service of the Ming Empire and served as an official in Shaanxi. During the reign of the Chongzhen Emperor (r. 1627–1644), he was promoted to Minister of War and Viceroy of Suliao (薊遼; an area which included parts of present-day Shandong, Hebei and Tianjin). In 1642, he surrendered and defected to the Manchu-led Qing Empire after his defeat at the Battle of Songjin. He became one of the Qing Empire's leading Han Chinese scholar-politicians. While he was in office, he encouraged the Manchu rulers to adopt Han Chinese culture and provided advice to the Qing government on how to consolidate its control over the former territories of the fallen Ming Empire. Apart from Dorgon and Fan Wencheng (范文程), Hong Chengchou was regarded as one of the most influential politicians in the early Qing dynasty. However, he was also villainised by the Han Chinese for his defection to the Qing Empire and for his suppression of the Southern Ming dynasty (a short-lived state formed by remnants of the fallen Ming Empire).

Jiayu Pass

Jiayu Pass or Jiayuguan (simplified Chinese: 嘉峪关; traditional Chinese: 嘉峪關; pinyin: Jiāyù Guān) is the first frontier fortress at the west end of the Ming dynasty Great Wall, near the city of Jiayuguan in Gansu province. Along with Juyong Pass and Shanhai Pass, it is one of the main passes of the Great Wall.

Jisi Incident

The Jisi Incident (己巳之變) was a military conflict between the Later Jin and Ming dynasty, named because it happened in 1629, a jisi year according to the Chinese sexagenary cycle. In the winter of 1629 Hong Taiji bypassed Ming's northeastern defenses by breaching the Great Wall of China west of the Shanhai Pass and reached the outskirts of Beijing before being repelled by reinforcements from Shanhai Pass. The Later Jin secured large amounts of war material by looting the region around Beijing. This was the first time the Jurchens had broken through the Great Wall into China proper since they rose up against Ming China.

Li Zicheng

Li Zicheng (22 September 1606 – 1645), born Li Hongji, also known by the nickname, "Dashing King", was a Chinese rebel leader who overthrew the Ming dynasty in 1644 and ruled over northern China briefly as the emperor of the short-lived Shun dynasty before his death a year later.

Ming Great Wall

The Ming Great Wall (明長城; Ming changcheng), built by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), forms the most visible parts of the Great Wall of China today. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi) from Jiayu Pass in the west to the sea in Shanhai Pass, then looping over to terminate in Manchuria at the Hushan Great Wall. This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.While the Ming walls are generally referred to as "Great Wall" (changcheng) in modern times, in Ming times they were called "border barriers" (邊牆; bianqiang) by the Chinese, since the term changcheng was said to evoke imagery of the tyranny of Qin Shi Huang (260–210 BC).

Northeast China

Northeast China (Chinese: 中国东北) or Dongbei is a geographical region of China. It also historically corresponds with the term Inner Manchuria in the English language. It consists specifically of the three provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang, collectively referred as the Three Northeastern Provinces (东北三省), but broadly also encompasses the eastern part of Inner Mongolia. The region is separated from Far Eastern Russia to the north largely by the Amur, Argun, and Ussuri rivers, from North Korea to the south by the Yalu River and Tumen River, and from the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region to the west by the Greater Khingan Range. The heartland of the region is the Northeast China Plain.

Due to the shrinking of its once-powerful industrial sector and decline of its economic growth, the region is called the Rust Belt in China.

As the result, a campaign named Northeast Area Revitalization Plan has been launched by the State Council of the People's Republic of China, in which five prefecture-level cities of eastern Inner Mongolia, namely Xilin Gol, Chifeng, Tongliao, Hinggan, and Hulunbuir, are also formally defined as regions of the Northeast. The region is nearly congruent with some definitions of "Manchuria" in historical foreign usage.Another term for the area is Guandong (关东), meaning "east of the Pass", referring to the famous Shanhai Pass between Liaoning Province and the neighboring Hebei Province (and also North China) to the west. This name was also used by the occupying Japanese colonists referring to their leased territory of Dalian after the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki, as the Kwantung Chou (関東州), which gave name to the occupying Kwantung Army that was later mobilized to set up the puppet state of Manchukuo.


Shanhai may refer to:

Shanhai Pass, pass of the Great Wall of China

Shanhai Jing, or Collection of the Mountains and Seas, Chinese classic text

Shanhaiguan District

Shanhaiguan District (simplified Chinese: 山海关区; traditional Chinese: 山海關區; pinyin: Shānhǎiguān Qū), formerly Shan-hai-kwan or Shan-hai-kuan, is a district of the city of Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province, China, named after the pass of the Great Wall within the district, Shanhai Pass. It is located 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) east of the city centre.

Shun dynasty

The Shun dynasty (simplified Chinese: 顺朝; traditional Chinese: 順朝; pinyin: Shùn cháo), or Great Shun (simplified Chinese: 大顺; traditional Chinese: 大順; pinyin: Dà shùn), was a short-lived dynasty created in the Ming-Qing transition from Ming to Qing rule in Chinese history. The dynasty was founded in Xi'an on 8 February 1644, the first day of the lunar year, by Li Zicheng, the leader of a large peasant rebellion.

Li, however, only went by the title of King (王), not Emperor (皇帝). The capture of Beijing by the Shun forces in April 1644 marked the end of the Ming dynasty, but Li Zicheng failed to solidify his political and military control, and in late May 1644 he was defeated at the Battle of Shanhai Pass by the joint forces of Ming general Wu Sangui who shifted his alliance to the Manchus after the fall of the Ming dynasty, with Manchu prince Dorgon. When he fled back to Beijing in early June, Li finally proclaimed himself Emperor of China and left the capital in a hurry. The Shun dynasty ended with Li's death in 1645.

After the Shun was created, Li Zicheng ordered the soldiers to kill the Ming remnants still existing in Beijing. This resulted in strong rebellions from the forces of the Southern Ming. In addition with the Shun ministers constantly fighting for power, the dynasty effectively lasted less than a year.

Yan Mountains

The Yan Mountains, also known by their Chinese name Yanshan, are a major mountain range to the north of the North China Plain, principally in the province of Hebei.

The range rises between the Chaobai River on the west and the Shanhai Pass on the east. It is made up mostly of limestone, granite, and basalt. Its altitude ranges from 400 to 1000 meters. The main peak, Mount Wuling, is 2,116 meters (6,942 ft) above sea level and is located in Xinglong County in Hebei. The range contains many narrow passes, such as the Gubei Pass, the Xifeng Pass, and the Leng Pass. The eastern stretch of the Great Wall of China, including Badaling in northern Beijing, can be found in the Yan Mountains. The mountains are also an important traffic gateway between north and south.

Zu Dashou

Zu Dashou (died 1656), courtesy name Fuyu, was a Chinese military general who served on the northern border of the Ming dynasty during the Manchu conquest of China. He fought against the Manchu-led Qing dynasty in several major engagements before ultimately surrendering to them in 1642. An alleged descendant of the Eastern Jin dynasty general Zu Ti (祖逖), he was the maternal uncle of the Ming general Wu Sangui, who surrendered Shanhai Pass to Qing forces and defected to the Qing side. Zu's tomb was acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, and is considered one of the "iconic objects" of the museum.

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