As a historical city of over 3,000 years, Beijing has got altogether about 20 names as dynasties rose and fell. It was during the 1st Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) that its name was changed from Peiping to Beijing and the city was made the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Let’s trace the former names of Beijing to understand its history better.
Shuntianfu, the office of Shuntian Prefecture in the Ming and Qing dynasties, was abolished in 1913, the second year of the Republic of China (1911-1949). In 1914, the city which was comprised of most areas of today’s Beijing adopted the name Jingzhao, which was later replaced by Peiping in 1928.
It is not exact to call Beijing Wanping, but Wanping is actually a general work used by old Beijingers to refer to the city. Wanping used to be a county in the Ming and Qing dynasties, which contained today’s Shijingshan, Mentougou, Haidian, Fengtai and part of Daxing in the southwest of Beijing, i.e. today’s Wanping and its surrounding area.
In 1420, Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) relocated the capital to Beijing and changed the place name to Jingshi, which was still used in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). There were two different versions about the origin of Jingshi. Some said it originated from a verse line in Shijing, The Classic of Poetry, and thus people call a country’s capital Jingshi. Others believed that the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC-256 BC) first established its capital in Fengxiang, Shaanxi, and the mountain in Fengxiang was called “Jing” and the water “Shi”, so Jingshi later became a synonym for capital.
Zhu Di, the Yongle Emperor changed Beipingfu to Shuntianfu in 1430 and built Beijing city as the new capital. Since then, the city has had a history of 596 years.
Zhu Yuanzhang established the Ming Dynasty in 1368. To commemorate the feat of recapturing the north, Dadu of the Yuan Dynasty was changed to Peiping (Northern Peace).
After the Mongols selected Beijing as the capital of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the city was called “Khanbaliq”. In Mongol, it means “City of the Khan”. Marco Polo also referred to Dadu of the Yuan as “Khanbaliq” in his book.
The Jurchens occupied Yanshanfu of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) in 1125, and in 1153 they moved their capital to Yanjing and named it Zhongdu, which included today’s southwest of Beijing,.
In 938 AD, the former Youzhou was upgraded to Youdufu during Emperor Taizong of the Liao Dynasty (916-1125). The city as the second capital of the Liao was named Nanjing and also called Yanjing. The capital of Liao was in Shangjing then (south of Baarin Left Banner in today’s Inner Mongolia).
Besides, Beijing was also called Jicheng, Yandu, Zhuojun and so forth.