China Recent History

By | June 1, 2021

The Republic of China

In 1895, China suffered a defeat against Japan in the Sino-Japanese War. The population suffered, revolts broke out and the empire was increasingly questioned. Attempts were made to put a stop to these counter-movements, but they did not succeed in the long run. The Quing dynasty was very weak at the beginning of the 20th century. Part of the Chinese demanded a reform of the empire and a constitutional monarchy in which the emperor’s power should be restricted. Others called for a Chinese republic and popular rule. In 1911, the Qing Dynasty came to an end and the last emperor named Puyi, who was only five years old at the time, was deposed. So on January 1, 1912 the Republic of China proclaimed. During the First World War, China sided with the Allies, but did not intervene with troops. China primarily hoped for support from the Europeans and the Americans against Japan, which repeatedly wanted to expand its power in the direction of China.

War with japan

But despite the resistance of the Chinese, the Japanese expanded their sphere of influence and also conquered Chinese territory such as Manchuria, which is located in northeastern China, in 1931. During World War II, the Chinese who fought against the Japanese in the Second Sino-Japanese War suffered dire losses. The Nanking massacre, in which, as during the entire war, many people lost their lives, became sadly famous. It is said that China suffered the most casualties after Russia in World War II.

End of war

Even before the war, there had been a great dispute between the Chinese nationalists under Schiang Kai-Shek and the communists under Mao Tse-tung, dividing China into two major political camps. The Japanese were able to take advantage of this tense situation during the war. But Japan lost the Second World War on the side of the German Reich. A nuclear bomb drop on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war in the Pacific.

Communist China under Mao Tse-tung

In China in 1949 the communists under Mao Tse-tung defeated the nationalists in the Chinese Civil War, in which these two political groups fought fiercely. The People’s Republic of China was proclaimed on October 1, 1949. That was the beginning of the history of communist China. According to, the re-education of the Chinese people to become communists began.

Many people lost their property

Landowners were expropriated and the land distributed to the farmers. The Communist Party cracked down on the representatives of “old China”. Any resistance from the population was suppressed. In addition to the redistribution of the land, the industry should also be expanded and a modern transport network developed. The population should receive more education. If China was initially still under the strong influence of the Soviet Union and tried to follow the example of the Soviet Union, the country separated over time.

The Hundred Flower Movement

Mao managed to stimulate China’s economy after the war. Five-year plans for the economy, which set specific goals, helped. In 1956, Mao wanted to know what the people were thinking and urged all Chinese to express their views on politics. Then a lot of them did that, and also critically. This movement was called the “Hundred Flower Movement”. Above all, the power of the Communist Party, which enriched itself at the expense of the people, was criticized. But the consequence was the punishment of the critics by the communists, who did not tolerate any criticism.

“Big leap forward”

From 1958 Mao planned the so-called “Great Leap Forward”. But what did that mean? This jump should allow China to catch up with the western industrialized nations. He wanted to group the farmers in communes, with the result that in the end far too little food was grown. The plan went wrong and there was a great famine in China. It is said that this was the greatest famine of mankind, in which up to 45 million people died of hunger.

Red Guards

The Cultural Revolution that Mao launched was intended to bolster his power and eliminate his political opponents. He was supported in this by the Red Guards, who stood by his side loyally and cracked down on their political enemies with the utmost severity. Many people have been betrayed by them.

Cultural revolution

In 1966 the Cultural Revolution took place, with the “Red Guards” supporting Mao. Whoever was suspected of criticizing the party was severely punished. The Red Guards, which largely consisted of schoolchildren and students, were increasingly cruel against resistance. A great many people died during the “Cultural Revolution”, which in truth had very little to do with culture.

New economic policy after Mao’s death

In 1976, Mao died and his political successor was a man named Deng Xiaoping. This also carried out economic reforms. He also allowed a form of market economy and made property possible again for people. Not everything had to be handed in. He also opened up the economy to foreign countries in order to bring money and ideas into the country.

Some of the Chinese benefited from the innovations, others remained poor and did not benefit from them. Since 1979 the “one-child-policy” (compare also everyday life: the Chinese one-child-policy) was introduced in China in order to slow down the great growth of the population. While the country opened up to foreign countries, little changed internally. There was an all-determining party, the Communist, and political resistance was suppressed.

Failed attempts at democratization

An important date in Chinese history is June 1989 when student protests broke out in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the capital of China. One also speaks of the “Tian’anmen massacre”, because Tian’anmen is the Chinese name for this place. The army intervened and several thousand deaths, including many students. In the following years, death sentences were pronounced against critics of the government and the party. The attempt to open China to democracy had failed.

And today?

Although China is still a one-party state and ruled by communism, it has developed its own form of capitalism and has overtaken the West in some areas. A small proportion of the Chinese have become very rich and are benefiting from the country’s economic growth. Another part, and especially the rural people, are still very poor. China was and is a land of contrasts.

President of China is XI Jinping

Acting President of the People’s Republic of China is XI Jinping. He is also the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and chairman of the Central Military Commission. So he has a lot of power in his hands and can make a lot of decisions. So he has his own population monitored and – if necessary – also takes action against minorities. According to the Chinese constitution, he could remain president for the rest of his life.

China Recent History