Chinese architecture refers to a style of architecture that has taken shape in Asia over many centuries. The structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main changes being only the decorative details. Since the Tang Dynasty, Chinese architecture has had a major influence on the architectural styles of Korea, Vietnam and Japan.
The architecture of China is as old as Chinese civilization. From every source of information - literary, graphic, exemplary - there is strong evidence testifying to the fact that the Chinese have always employed an indigenous system of construction that has retained its principal characteristics from prehistoric times to the present day. Over the vast area from Chinese Turkistan to Japan, from Manchuria to the northern half of French Indochina, the same system of construction is prevalent; and this was the area of Chinese cultural influence. That this system of construction could perpetuate itself for more than four thousand years over such a vast territory and still remain a living architecture, retaining its principal characteristics in spite of repeated foreign invasions - military, intellectual, and spiritual - is a phenomenon comparable only to the continuity of the civilization of which it is an integral part(Liang, Ssu-ch'eng 1984, A pictorial history of Chinese architecture : a study of the development of its structural system and the evolution of its types, ed. by Wilma Fairbank, Cambridge (Mass.)