The unprecedented expanding of Sino-foreign economic and cultural exchanges in the Yuan Dynasty imposed a significant influence on the world's history.
1 Yuan Dynasty
At the end of the 12th century, the Mongol ethnic group, previously under the reign of Liao and Jin, grew stronger. In 1206, Temujin unified the Mongolia prairie and established the state of Mongolia. He took the title of Genghis Khan. Expeditions led by him and his successors led to a rapid conquering of vast areas across Eurasia, bringing severe tribulations to the people. The Mongolian Empire bestrode Europe and Asia, but it was actually an unstable political and military union lacking a common economic base and comprehensive laws and codes. In 1271, Kublai changed the title to Yuan and set up his capital in Yanjing to move the sovereign center toward the central plains. In 1276, Yuan troops captured Lin' an, announcing the end of the Southern Song. In 1279, Yuan unified the whole country.
2 Consolidating the reunification
While abolishing some backward Mongolian systems like "integration of army and civilians," "dividing and sharing land among people" and hereditary official positions at prefecture and county levels, Kublai imitated the systems of former Tang, Song, Liao and Jin dynasties, "establishing official positions in charge of different affairs" to stabilize political situations and appease the public. Three major systems, namely Zhongshu Ministry, Shumiyuan and Yushitai, were established at the central level, and Xuanzhengyuan was also set up to manage nationwide religious affairs and Tibetan areas. In addition, Xingzhongshusheng, or simply called "xingsheng," was established as the local branches of the Zhongshu Ministry and administrated by officials directly dispatched by the central government. In some re-mote areas inhabited by ethnic groups, Xuanweisi was set up for administration. To timely convey political orders and strengthen ruling over local areas, Tongzhengyuan and post-house systems were also established nationwide, delivering top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top files and documents and offering traveling emissaries and officials daily necessities and traffic tools. That played a big role in consolidating the reunification.
3 Vast territories
Yuan realized a wider grand unification based on the civilization of the central plains. With vast territories, the empire expanded from areas north of the Yinshan Mountain in the north, to islands in South China Sea in the south, and stretched from present-day Sakhalin Island in the northeast to areas including Xinjiang and Central Asia in the northwest. Yuan officially included Tibet into the Chinese reign, set up an executive secretariat in Yunnan and a patrol inspection administration in Penghu under the jurisdiction of Jinjiang County, Fujian to administrate Penghu and Liuqiu (present-day Taiwan). The effort intensified Yuan's jurisdiction and exploration in these areas. The Semu people, including the ethnic groups in Xinjiang, became part of the top ruling class of the Yuan Dynasty, increasing the contacts between the central plains and Xinjiang areas.
4 Economic recovery and cultural exchanges
Following the historical retrogression caused by the changes of dynasties, the Yuan Dynasty witnessed rapid economic recovery and further consolidation of the unified multi-ethnic country. The period also saw smooth domes-tic traffic and outbound traffic including both land and sea routes as well as frequent Sino-foreign exchanges. Such cities as Dadu (present-day Beijing), Hangzhou and Quanzhou were much more prosperous than in any previous days. Rabban·Sauma from Uihur was once sent to Europe from Dadu, who established ties with Roman Church and wrote the first Chinese records on what he saw and heard in Eu-rope. Marco Polo, an Italian businessman, arrived in Dadu in 1275 through the Silk Road and stayed in China for 17 years, where he was once appointed by Kublai as an official of the Yuan Dynasty. His book, The Travels of Marco Polo, dealt with many aspects of the Chinese life like the bustling cities, social situations, folk customs, religious beliefs and unique products, creating a sensation among the European society. The unprecedented expanding of Sino-foreign economic and cultural exchanges in the Yuan Dynasty imposed a significant influence on the world's history.