From A Traveller's History of China, fourth edition p263-268
Note: the personal names of Chinese rulers were rarely used after they ascended the throne. For the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the names shown below are the formal ones taken by kings on their accession. For the Qin dynasty, the personal titles used by rules are given. After the Qin dynasty, reigning emperors were normally referred to only as 'Imperial Highness' or something similar and had no personal titles during their lifetimes. After their deaths, they were given posthumous titles: these are the titles shown below for rulers from the Han to the Yuan dynasties. (Wang Mang is an exception: this was his personal name). Personal names of rulers of the Han, Sui and Tang dynasties appear in parenthesis. Mongol titles or names are given in parenthesis for rulers of the Yuan dynasty. For the Ming and Qing dynasties it has become the usual practice to refer to emperors not by any personal title or name but by the title of their reign-period (which was used in the Chinese system of dates): for these two dynasties, therefore, titles of reign-periods are given. Strictly, it is incorrect to refer to, say, 'the Emperor Qianlong' as 'Qianlong' is not the emperor's personal name or title. 'The Qianlong Emperor' is preferable.
Xia existence not proven, probably c. 2100 - c. 1600 BC
Shang c. 1600 - c. 1050 BC
Zhou c. 1050 - 256 BC
WESTERN ZHOU c. 1050 - 771 BC
EASTERN ZHOU 770 - 256 BC
Qin 221 - 206 BC
Han 206 BC - AD 220
WESTERN HAN 206 BC - AD 9
XIN AD 9 - 23
EASTERN HAN AD 25 - 220
The Three Kingdoms 220 - 80
Jin 265 - 420
The Sixteen Kingdoms (in parts of northern China) 304 - 439
The Northern and Southern Dynasties 420 - 589
THE SOUTHERN DYNASTIES
THE NORTHERN DYNASTIES
Sui 581 - 618
Tang 618 - 907
The Five Dynasties 907 - 60
Song 960 - 1279
NORTHERN SONG 960 - 1127
SOUTHERN SONG 1127 - 1279
Liao (in part of north China) 907 - 1125
Jin (in part of north China) 1115 - 1234
Yuan 1206 - 1368
Ming 1368 - 1644
* The same emperor ruled during both these reign-periods: he had been carried off by the Mongols and was replaced on the throne by a brother, but was later able to return and rule again.
Qing 1616 - 1911
*The same emperor ruled during both these reign-periods: until the Ming dynasty, it had been common for reign-periods to change during the course of a single reign, but after 1368 such changes became exceptional.
The Republic of China 1912 - 1949 (still in existence in Taiwan)
Presidents and Heads of State
*From 1917 until 1927 there were two rival governments in China, one in the north, enjoying international recognition, and one in the south, backed by the Chinese Nationalist Party. The southern government was led until his death in 1925 by Sun Yat-sen, though he did not take the title of president until 1921. From 1926 the northern government was totally dominated by the warlord Zhang Zuolin and had no chief executive. It collapsed in 1927. Zhang Zuolin fled from Beijing the following year shortly before it was occupied by Nationalist forces.
THE PEOPLE's REPUBLIC OF CHINA 1949 -
Heads of State/Presidents
*Liu Shaoqi was unconstitutionally removed from office during the Cultural Revolution - legally he remained head of state until his death in 1969. After his death his deputy, Dong Biwu, became acting head of state. The post was not officially filled again during the period of the Cultural Revolution and was abolished by the consitution promulgated in 1975, its powers being transferred to the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. The current constitution, adopted in December 1982, created a presidency: Li Xiannian became the first president in June 1983.