The Qin and Han dynasties (221 BC-AD 220) were an era of national unification and strong national power. The manor economy and handicraft industry grew fast. Envoy Zhang Qian's mission to the Western Regions opened up the Silk Road, enhancing economic ties between China and the rest of the world and establishing the Central Plain as the world's commercial and trade center. Confucianism emerged as the dominant ideology, and many leading technologies were invented during this period. 

In the Wei, Jin and Northern and Southern dynasties (220-589), Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism co-existed and began to integrate with each other. Literature, painting and grotto art flourished, exhibiting multiethnic integration and laying a foundation for the prosperous era in the ensuing Sui and Tang periods.