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This article is about the civilization in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. For other appearances of the faction in the series, see Chinese.
Civilization Technology tree Strategy
Receive the Mandate of Heaven, nourish a large population with the bounty of the fertile river valleys of China, and command your people to build an empire stretching to the four corners of the earth! Guide your scholars and craftsmen towards outstanding technological discoveries and apply them to your vast armies. Will your fearsome Chu Ko Nu, armed with rapid-firing mechanical crossbows, be enough to lead your armies to victory against the wily enemies beyond your borders?

The Chinese' civilization music theme in the Definitive Edition

The Chinese are an East Asian civilization in Age of Empires II. Like their predecessors, they are descendants of the Shang civilization, which inhabited the same area. The Chinese civilization is based on the Tang, Yuan, Song and Ming dynasties of medieval China. In the game, they focus on archers with a versatile tech tree and a double-edged sword civilization bonus, making the Chinese a difficult civilization to pick up.

The Chinese as a civilization also appear in subsequent games (Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties, Age of Mythology: Tale of the Dragon, and Age of Empires IV), making the Chinese the only playable civilization that appear in every Age of Empires game. In all future installments of the Chinese civilization, they share the same characteristic of the Chinese of Age of Empires II being a "jack of all trades" civilization with very complex gameplay mechanics.


The Chinese are a very versatile civilization with an overall solid technology tree. Their infantry have all technologies but lack Supplies and foot archers get all the upgrades they could want, and their cavalry is also solid despite missing two final tier upgrades (Paladin and Hussar). The Siege Workshop is average, but their Scorpions get a great attack boost with Rocketry. Their navy is average missing the Fast Fire Ship and Elite Cannon Galleon, but they get fully upgraded Galleons. Their Monks are slightly above average, having nearly every important technology except Heresy and Redemption. Their defenses very good, and their economy is average technology tree-wise, but their +3 Villagers at the game start give them a notable kick start.

Campaign appearances[]

The Chinese are the playable civilization in the Lake Poyang (Langshan Jiang before the Definitive Edition) scenario from the Battles of the Forgotten campaign. They also appear as allies or enemies in:

Genghis Khan[]

  • Into China
    • Engineers - Enemy
    • Jin - Enemy
    • Hsi Hsia - Enemy
    • Tanguts - Enemy
    • Song - Enemy

Battles of the Conquerors[]


Battles of the Forgotten[]

This scenario is played as the Chinese.

  • Lake Poyang / (Langshan Jiang before the Definitive Edition)
    • Admiral Chen - Enemy
    • Pirates - Enemy > Ally
    • Nanchang - Ally
    • Chinese Peasants - Ally
    • Han Army - Enemy
    • Nanchang Temple - Ally
    • Han Navy - Enemy

Gajah Mada[]


Le Loi[]

The Chinese are enemies in all appearances.


Unique unit[]

ChukoNuIcon-DE.png Chu Ko Nu: Foot archer that fires multiple arrows

Unique technologies[]

CastleAgeUnique.png Great Wall: Increases the hit points of walls and towers by +30%.
Unique-tech-imperial.jpg Rocketry: Increases the attack of Chu Ko Nu by +2, and the attack of Scorpions by +4.

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonus[]

Farms start with +10% food.[note 1]


The Age of Kings[]

  • Start the game with –150 food.
  • Non-Elite Chu Ko Nu train in 19 seconds.
  • The Chinese do not have access to Block Printing.
  • The Chinese can research Redemption.
  • Team bonus is Farms have +45 food.

The Conquerors[]

  • Start the game with -150 food and –50 wood.
  • Rocketry introduced.
  • Chu Ko Nu gain a +2 attack bonus against Spearmen.
  • With patch 1.0b, they start the game with –200 food and –50 wood.

The Forgotten[]

  • Town Centers gain +5 LOS.
  • Great Wall introduced.
  • Non-Elite Chu Ko Nu train in 16 seconds.

Definitive Edition[]

  • Since update 34699, the Chinese get Block Printing.
  • Since update 34699, their three extra Villagers are tied to their initial Town Center, so in Nomad type maps, they will show up when the Town Center is constructed.
  • Since update 36202, Redemption eliminated from their tech tree.
  • Initially could research Supplies. With update 37650, it was removed from their technology tree.
  • With update 51737, team bonus is Farms have +10% food.

In-game dialogue language[]

In-game, Chinese units anachronistically speak modern Mandarin (Chinese: 普通話, Hanyu Pinyin: Pǔtōnghuà), instead of Old Mandarin as spoken in the timespan between the 12th and 14th centuries, more appropriate for Age of Empires II's pre-Qing Chinese civilization.

  • Select 1 Shénme? (什么?/什麼?) - What?
  • Select 2 Wéi? (喂?) - Hello?
  • Select 3 Zhǔnbèi jiùxù (准备就绪/準備就緒) - Ready
  • Select 4 Hézhǒng mìnglìng? (何种命令?/何種命令?) - What order?
  • Task 1 Hǎo (好) - OK
  • Task 2 Xíng (行) - OK
  • Task 3 Zhèngquè (正确/正確) - Correct
  • Task 4 Zūnmìng (遵命) - Affirmative
  • Build Jiànzhù gōng (建筑工/建築工) - Builder
  • Chop Fámù gōng (伐木工) - Lumberjack
  • Farm Nóngfū (农夫/農夫) - Farmer
  • Fish Yúfū (渔夫/漁夫) - Fisherman
  • Forage Liángcǎo zhēngshōu rén (粮草征收人/糧草徵收人) - Gatherer
  • Hunt Lièrén (猎人/獵人) - Hunter
  • Mine Kuànggōng (矿工/礦工) - Miner
  • Repair Xiūlǐgōng (修理工) - Repairer
  • Attack Gōngjī! (攻击!/攻擊!) - Attack! (not used)
  • Select 1 Shénme? (什么?/什麼?) - What?
  • Select 2 Zhǔnbèi jiùxù (准备就绪/準備就緒) - Ready
  • Select 3 Hézhǒng mìnglìng? (何种命令?/何種命令?) - What order?
  • Move 1 Xíng (行) - OK
  • Move 2 Zūnmìng (遵命) - Affirmative
  • Move 3 Hǎo (好) - OK
  • Attack 1 Gōngjī! (攻击!/攻擊!) - Attack!
  • Attack 2 Zuòzhàn! (作战!/作戰!) - Fight!
  • Attack 3 Shì! (是!) - Yes!
  • Attack 4 Jìngōng! (进攻!/進攻!) - Charge!
  • Select 1 Shénme? (什么?/什麼?) - What?
  • Select 2 Wéi? (喂?) - Hello?
  • Select 3 Zhǔnbèi jiùxù (准备就绪/準備就緒) - Ready
  • Select 4 Hézhǒng mìnglìng? (何种命令?/何種命令?) - What order?
  • Move 1 Hǎo (好) - OK
  • Move 2 Xíng (行) - OK
  • Move 3 Zhèngquè (正确/正確) - Correct
  • Move 4 Zūnmìng (遵命) - Affirmative
  • Select 1 Shénme? (什么?/什麼?) - What?
  • Select 2 Wéi? (喂?) - Hello?
  • Select 3 Zhǔnbèi jiùxù (准备就绪/準備就緒) - Ready
  • Select 4 Hézhǒng mìnglìng? (何种命令?/何種命令?) - What order?
  • Move 1 Hǎo (好) - OK
  • Move 2 Xíng (行) - OK
  • Move 3 Zhèngquè (正确/正確) - Correct
  • Move 4 Zūnmìng (遵命) - Affirmative

AI player names[]

When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Chinese AI characters:

  • Chen Qingzhi (陈庆之/陳慶之): was a prominent general of the Liang dynasty. He is best known for his campaign in 530 to crush Northern Wei.
  • Li Shi-min (李世民): Personal name of Emperor Taizong, the second emperor of the Tang dynasty; lived 598–649.
  • Li zi-cheng (李自成): Born Li Hongji (李鸿基/李鴻基), leader of the rebels who overthrow the Ming dynasty and the emperor of the short-lived Shun dynasty; lived 1606–1645.
  • Lin Chong (林冲): A fictional character on the Water Margin novel.
  • Mu Gui-ying (穆桂英): A legendary heroine from the Northern Song dynasty.
  • Su Dingfang (蘇定方): was a general of the Chinese Tang Dynasty who succeeded in destroying the Western Turkic Khaganate in 657.
  • Wen Tian-xiang (文天祥): A scholar-general from the Southern Song dynasty known for resisting Kublai Khan's invasion and refusal to submit before the Yuan dynasty; lived 1236–1283.
  • Wu Xe-tian (武则天/武則天): Alternative spelling of Wu Zetian, the empress-consort of the Zhou dynasty and the only female sovereign of China; lived 624–705.
  • Yang Jian (杨坚/楊堅): Personal name of Emperor Wen of Sui, the first emperor of the Sui dynasty; lived 541–604.
  • Yue Fei (岳飞/岳飛): A general from the Southern Song dynasty known for leading the Song in the wars against the Jin dynasty in the 12th century; lived 1103–1142.
  • Zhao Kuang-yin (赵匡胤/趙匡胤): Personal name of Emperor Taizu of Song, the founder and the first emperor of the Song dynasty; lived 927–976.
  • Zheng He (郑和/鄭和): A Ming dynasty admiral notable for his expeditionary voyages to the rest of Asia and Africa; lived 1371–1433/1435.
  • Zhu Di (朱棣): Personal name of Yongle Emperor, the third emperor of the Ming dynasty; lived 1360–1424.
  • Zhu Yuan-zhang (朱元璋): Personal name of Hongwu Emperor, the founder and the first emperor of the Ming dynasty; lived 1328–1398. He was the leader of the Ming Army in the Battle of Lake Poyang.


  • The Chinese civilization icon is based on traditional Chinese knotting.
  • The user interface is a Chinese Dragon.
  • Counting the Shang, the Chinese are the only civilization to appear in all five titles of the Age of Empires series, including their respective expansion packs.
  • For gameplay purpose, developers do not give the in-game Chinese civilization many technologies historically invented by real-life Chinese:
    • The Chinese were most famous for their advanced fortification techniques, heavily walled cities (which aided Chinese defenders as late as World War II), and excellent siege engineers. Chinese siege engineers were instrumental to the rapid Mongol conquest of Persia and Russia, yet ironically the Mongols have a better siege line than the Chinese, who do not even receive Siege Engineers.
    • The Chinese invented the first cannon, yet they do not receive Bombard Cannon and Hand Cannoneer. This may refer to the fact that during the Qing Dynasty, the emperor forbade the advancement of gunpowder weapons, which made their guns gradually weaker compared to the western countries, though Qing Dynasty is out of the Age of Empires II campaign.
  • The civilization bonus of the Chinese starting with more villagers is completely negated in maps or gamemodes that only allow a specific number of villagers to exist at the start of a map, though the Chinese still retain the trade-off of starting off with less resources, presenting a disadvantage.
  • The Chinese are arguably the only civilization to not have a widespread land unit that is top of its class, due to lacking military bonuses and lacking Siege Engineers to make their Scorpions, which benefit from Rocketry, fully upgraded. Most civilizations have at least one unit that is both fully upgraded and benefits from civilization-specific bonuses or technology. For example, the Aztec Champions benefit from Garland Wars, Berbers have fully upgraded Hussars and Heavy Camel Riders for a discount, Britons' Trebutchets with Warwolf deal damage over a wider area. The main outliers are the Chinese, Goths, Malay, and Persians. However, the Goths, Malay, and Persians have bonuses or technologies that significantly reduce the cost of their infantry, Militia-line and Battle Elephants, and Crossbowmen, respectively. The Chinese lack any such bonus or upgrade.
    • This is a similar situation to the Shang in Age of Empires. Whereas other civilizations each had bonuses for at least one military unit, the Shang lack any. This is notable since the Shang are the predecessors of the Chinese.
  • The Chinese are the most polarized civilization. While they are very powerful for experienced players, they perform very weakly for beginners. This is probably due to their additional three Villagers with -200 food, which is very hard to control.
    • Their perfomance for highly experienced players is well reflected in tournament usage, where Chinese are one of the most commonly drafted, picked, and even banned civilization on several maps.
    • The Chinese having the characteristic of a high skill level with a "jack of all trades" focus is shared with their successors in Age of Empires III, Age of Mythology, and in Age of Empires IV.


China was reunited in 581 AD after a long period of internal war by the founders of the Sui dynasty. For most of the 1000 years that followed, China was one of the largest and most advanced civilization in the world. Because of its geographic isolation from the West, it was able to develop and maintain a unique culture that spread its influence over much of Asia.

An emperor generally held supreme power as the son of heaven. Natural disasters or other calamities were taken as proof that the mandate of heaven had been withdrawn, however, and could justify revolt. Mandarins were conservative civil servants who operated most of the government at the local, province, and imperial level. Mandarins earned their positions by passing detailed civil service examinations based mainly on the works of Confucius.

The T'ang dynasty ruled China from 618 to 907. China under the T'ang was large, wealthy, and powerful. There was extensive foreign trade and interest in the arts among the upper class. Printing and gunpowder were invented. The last 100 years of T'ang rule witnessed tumultuous peasant revolts, however, and wars between local military rulers that the imperial court could not end. The years from 907 to 960 were known as the Five Dynasties period. Northern China was held by barbarians, and southern China split into 10 rival states. From one of these, an army general named Zhao Kuang-ying seized power and unified the southern states, founding the Song dynasty. His descendants reunited China within 20 years.

The Song dynasty ruled at least part of China until 1279. This was another period of cultural brilliance, and it was considered the great age of Chinese landscape painting. There was a dramatic improvement in economic activity, including a large overseas trade. Population and cities grew, food production grew faster than population, a money economy developed, and industrial output increased. No city in Europe could approach the populations of Chang An, Beijing, and Guang Zhou, all with more than 2 million inhabitants.

The wealth of China attracted enemies, however, and the Mongols began attacks in 1206. By 1279 they had completed the conquest of Song China and moved the capital to Beijing. The dramatic economic improvement of the Song dynasty ended with the Mongol conquests and the estimated 30 million deaths that they caused. The Mongol Yuan dynasty reunited China and reestablished it as a great military and world power. Chinese influence was spread into Asia. Hanoi was captured three times and tribute was extracted from Burma. Trade with India, Arabia, and the Persian Gulf was developed. Marco Polo visited China during this period.

Natural disasters and higher taxes in the fourteenth century caused rural rebellions. A Buddhist monk rose to be one of the leaders of the Red Turbans, a secret society opposed to the emperor in Beijing. The rebels seized Nanjing in 1356 and drove the Mongols from Beijing 12 years later, establishing the Ming dynasty. The Ming presided over another cultural flowering and established a political unity that outlasted the Ming and continued into the twentieth century. The Ming clamped down a strict conservatism and isolation, however, discouraging change and innovation, banning foreign travel, and closing the Silk Road.

Some of the most noteworthy aspects of medieval China are the technologies that were invented there, usually many centuries before a similar technology was invented in, or transmitted to, the West. Important Chinese inventions included the compass, the wheelbarrow, the abacus, the horse harness, the stirrup, the clock, iron-casting, steel, paper, moveable type (printing), paper money, gunpowder, and the stern-post rudder.



  1. The bonus is applied after farm upgrades, so a Farm with Horse Collar researched starts with (175+75)*1.1=275 food.

Video overview[]