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AD 280, Emperor Wudi of Jin (Jin Wudi) ended the turbulence of Three Kingdoms and united China again. During his rein, the society is stable enough and there was some prosperity. When his son succeded him however, the country went into chaos. AD 311, a rebel called YongJia broke out. AD 316, the dynasty of West Jin died.
317, one of West Jin's royal family, based in Ducheng, and established the East Jin. Sima Rui thus became Jin Yuandi. East Jin's government was extremely choatic and corrupted. There were conflicts between every group of people. Among these conflicts, the one between the power of the central government and the power of regional government (which was called The Fight of Jing Chang) lasted for a long time. This fight destroyed peace and civilian's everyday life. Many innocent people were involved. During the late East Jin, peasants' taxes were extremely high which resulted in peasants rebelling against the government. AD 420, East Jin died.
Above: --> A carriage of Jin (graphic courtesy of China-Window.com)Northern and Southern Dynasties
During the rein of East Jin, some ethnic groups in regions in northern and southern China divided the central power into regional power and established their own little "countries". The old name for this period is "Five Lakes and 16 Countries" period. This period is divided into two sections. The first section is mainly charactised by the conflict between early Yan and early Qin, and Early Zhao and Later Zhao. During the 2nd section, the North countries were unified and was in direct conflict with East Jin.