The Republic of China

Post-Imperial China

Sun Yat Sen

Sun Yat Sen in 1924

The Qing Dynasty was overthrown in 1912 by revolutionists led by Sun Yet Sen (sun zhong shan).

With the establishment of the Republic of China, the 2,000 years of Chinese imperial rule came to an end.

The goverment was formed by KMT (Guomindang, i.e. Nationalist Party), a brainchild of Sun Yat Sen.

The government unfortunately was weak and for a few decades, the country was fragmented and ruled over by competing warlords, resulting in incessant political upheavals and foreign invasions.

May 4 Movement

The chaos fueled the well-known May 4 Movement in 1919, sparked off by the Treaty of Versailles settlement that sought China to grant Shandong to Japan.  The movement marked the upsurge of Chinese nationalism, and a re-evaluation of Chinese cultural institutions, such as Confucianism.  

Communist Party of China (CCP)

Equally significant, the turbulence also catapulted the birth of the Communist Party of China (CCP) in 1921.

In 1925, Sun died of cancer, and Chiang Kai Shek took over as leader.  A civil war broke out, and a massacre of members of CCP took place when the party was routed in 1934, CCP made a massive retreat known as the Long March.  It was during this period that Mao Zedong, the CCP leader who revolutionized China later, consolidated his leadership position.

Nominal Unification

In 1928, the republic was nominally unified under the KMT. It went through the early stages of industrialization and modernization, but the conflicts between the KMT and the Communist Party of China remained. So were the problems with the remnant warlords and the aggressive Japan.

Sino-Japanese War

The Sino-Japanese War between 1937 to 1945 broke out. During and after the war, the widening gap between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party made a coalition government impossible, plunging the country into civil war again.

KMT Retreat to Taiwan

A series of political, economic, and military missteps led to the KMT defeat. It retreated to Taiwan in 1949, with some 2 million KMT supporters fled to the island.

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