Was China a super power in ancient times?
China has been a global superpower in almost every historical period.
The only exception was the century of humiliation (1850–1949), or during the imperialism era.
In Pre-Qin dynasties, China was ruled (nominally) by Shang and Zhou rulers. Their territories, despite being small compared to present-day China, was larger than its contemporary civilization, such as ancient Greece and ancient Egypt. The technology was at least equal to both civilizations. Almost every in China proper was subjugated by Chinese states under the Zhou dynasty. The tribal people were sinicized, and became “Chinese.” During this age, Chinese culture flourished. Many ideological groups (Confucianism, Legalism, etc.) spawned in this era.
Chinese civilization in the Warring States period, notice that the entire territory of Chinese civilization increased because of the colonization of the outer areas by states, especially Qin and Chu. Qin defeated as many as 25 tribes, and annexed the areas once controlled by nomads.
In Qin dynasty and Han dynasty, China became a , centralized empire (completely in the reign of Emperor Wu of Han). China became the end destination of the silk road. Trade and economy were flourished. Unlike Rome that was defeated by the nomads, Han Dynasty managed to defeat the mighty Xiongnu confederacy at its homeland, and repelled these nomads from the Chinese border. Furthermore, the eastern part of Central Asia, and Korea was conquered by Han Dynasty as well.
Han Dynasty later defeated the Yue people in Fujian, and sinicized them.
China (In red) had a large economy since. Notice that the share of world GDP decreased sharply during the century of humiliation (1849–1949), which paralleled to the imperialist era. The only country that had a larger share of world GDP in antiquity than China was India. However, since AD1, ancient India was not united into a single state as China (Han Dynasty). The closest ones were the Gupta Empire (320CE–550CE).