The Chinese have long been undermined by the western world as not being well known for their technological accomplishments. However this is completely untrue, and thanks to the efforts of a British philanthropist Joseph Needham the Chinese have been accredited with the discovery of an independent invention of the decimal system, seismological detectors, the blast furnace, gunpowder, paper money, the wheel barrow, paper, printing, the compass, natural gas as a fuel, the rotary fan, the suspension bridge, spaghetti and many more, as well as having made a huge contribution to the fields of medicine, astronomy and logic.
The most important Chinese inventions, the ones that have impacted the rest of the world that is to say, have been gunpowder, just think about war and armaments! Paper, printing (they invented moveable type, not John Gutenberg) and the compass. Although they are also credited with the creation of brandy and whiskey and these are pretty important innovations for some people.
Chinese alchemists played a major role in the development of gunpowder, and this invention has probably had the biggest impact of any other discovery. It formed the basis for all armaments, and waging war. It was accidentally discovered in the Tang Dynasty, while and alchemist was trying to create the elixir of life. However this was only one of many military innovations, there was the grid sight, tear gas, mustard gas, rockets, bombs and even a small version of the cannon.
In 105 AD Cai Lun was responsible for the invention of paper, he was a Chinese Eunuch (please don’t make me explain what this means). And this was one of the greatest Chinese inventions. During the Battle of Talas River in 751, some Chinese paper makers were captured by the Arabs and this is how paper making came to be known to the world, by a process of enculturation.
The compass was originally used as a religious accruement; the Chinese people believed that when you built a new house, it had to be perfectly aligned with nature, so the compass was used to ensure this alignment. Obviously perfect alignment with nature must have been true north. This was a simply wooden circle, with notches carved on it, on which the monk balanced a magnetic spoon. Navigation throughout the world has been developed and dictated to by the compass.
Anesthetics have been used as far back as the 3rd century, this was a type of wine which had an anesthetic affect. The Chinese are world renowned for their knowledge of herbal medicines and acupuncture and this dates back millennia. 4000 year old skulls have been found in Heilongjiang, Qinghai and Henan provinces which indicate some kind of surgery may have taken place on them, the age of these skulls have been confirmed by Carbon Dating.
The Chinese invented a lot of stuff that has an impact on our everyday life. We can go on and on but the above is probably good enough for now.