The area now known as Shenyang has been inhabited for over 7 thousand years, though a city was not formally established here until the Warring States period, which makes it one of the oldest capitals in the region. It has been known by various names, having originally been called Shengjing (to rise) and Mukden but is now named after the Han river, which was previously known as Shen Shui.
The city is probably most famous for its place in Chinese history as the birthplace of the Qing Dynasty: in 1625 when the dynasty was being founded, the son of Emperor Nurhaci declared Shenyang the new capital. It did not hold onto this title for long, losing out to Beijing less than twenty years later. It was still considered to be an important provincial town though, and was named a sub-capital. Nurhachi and his empress were buried in Shenyang, in the area now known as Eastern Tomb, and emperor Huan Taiji in the Northern Mausoleum .
In the 19th century, Russia occupied much of the region and Shenyang's industrialization can be traced back to this time when heavy industry boomed in the city. After the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese established a concession there, and Shenyang became a base for Japanese expansion into Manchuria. On 18 September 1931, the Japanese contrived a military confrontation with Chinese troops near Shenyang (then widely known in the West by its old Manchu name of Mukden). The so-called ''Mukden Incident''was used as a pretext by Japan to attack China and set up the northeast of the country as a puppet state called Manchkuo. In 1945 the Japanese occupation ended: the memory of this time is still raw in the city, which has a Shenyang ''9.18'' History Museum to commemorate the events.
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