Chronology of Key Events

  • 1842,  Opium Wars, a.k.a. first Anglo-Chinese War, 鸦片战争 with Britain, ended in China’s defeat and the Treaty of Nanjing opening up 5 cities–Canton, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Ningbo, and Shanghai–to residency by British subjects for the purpose of trade
  • 1851-64, Taiping Rebellion, a.k.a. 太平天国 led by Hong Xiuquan 洪秀全 as Heavenly King against the Qing government;
  • 1860, second Anglo-Chinese War, aka Anglo-French expedition entered Peking, plundered and destroyed the great imperial summer palace: Yuanming Yuan 圆明园;
  • 1860-90, Self-Strengthening Movement, a.k.a. 洋务运动 led by people such as Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, Tan Sitong, and Zhang Zhidong who argued for Chinese learning as substance / essence and Western learning for application / utility (中体西用);
  • 1894-5, first Sino-Japanese War, a.k.a. 甲午战争, with Chinese defeat by the Japanese imperial army on land and by sea;
  • 1898, Hundred Days of Reform, a.k.a.  百日维新 or 戊戌变法 initially endorsed by the imperial court but ended with the death of six reformers: 谭嗣同、康广仁、林旭、etc
  • 1989-1901, Boxers Rebellion, a.k.a. 义和团运动, backed by the Empress Dowager who declared war against “all foreigners in the world”; (扶清灭洋); second expedition by the Allied forces (of 8 nations: Britain, The United States, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Austria) entered Peking; the Imperial Court fled to Shansi; Peace Treaty signed; and war indemnity, a.k.a. Boxer Protocol, 庚子赔款
  • 1904-5, Russo-Japanese War; Japan received Russian rights in Liaodong Peninsula; Lu Xun in Japan 1902-09; first silent film was made titled Dingjun Mountain; civil service exam (a.k.a. imperial exam) was abolished, 废除科举制;
  • 1911 Revolution, a.k.a. 辛亥革命; October 10: outbreak in Wuhan; national day for Republic of China, the Union of five races (Han, Mongols, Manchus, Muslins and Tibetans),中华民国,五族共和; fall and abdication of Chinese monarchy to become a republic 从帝制走向共和
  • 1912, Founding of Guomindang 国民党, (GMD); abdication of last emperor, young Xuantong; empire and royal dynasties ended; Yuan Shikai became president of the Republic of China, alliance with Sun Yat-sen as advocate of Three Principles of the People, 孙中山的三民主义;
  • 1919, the signing of Versailles Treaty triggered student protest for China to withdraw from the treaty and May Fourth Movement, a.k.a. 五四新文化运动 breaking out from Peking University, spearheaded by people such as Cai Yuanpei, Hu Shi, Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao (蔡元培胡适、陈独秀、李大钊) who advocated gender equality in higher education and liberal arts; It was a coup d’état in which the progressives wanted Mr. De 德先生 (democracy) and Mr. Sai 赛先生 (science); proposed abolition of written Chinese (“汉字不灭,中国必亡”-鲁迅) and Destruction of the Family and On Ancestor Revolution by anarchists;
  • 1921, Founding of Chinese Communist Party 共产党 (CCP) in Shanghai;
  • 1926, Beginning of Northern Expedition 北伐 against warlords; during 1924-27, first united front of CCP and GMD; 第一次国共合作;
  • 1927, Shanghai Massacre, the GMD crack down on communists;
  • 1928, Nan Chang Military Uprising 南昌起义, on August 1st, instigated by CCP; the birth of the Red Army, a.k.a. People’s Liberation Army (PLA) since 1949
  • 1931, Japan’s invasion of Manchuria; five “encirclement campaigns” were launched by GMD to stamp out CCP forces; Japan militarily occupied Manchuria and northeastern China; Puyi, the last emperor of China was the puppet ruler of Manchuria;
  • 1934, Long March (a.k.a.长征) of the Red Army began, led by Mao Zedong (毛泽东), elected chairman of Central Committee of CCP;
  • 1936, Red Army reached Shaanxi soviet base; Yan’an Border Government; Xi’an incident 西安事变 in which Jiang Kai-shek 蒋介石 as commander-in-chief of the army and the chairman of GMD was arrested by his subordinates and then released;
  • 1937, Japanese troops bombed and occupied Shanghai; 2nd United Front formed between GMD and CCP 第二次国共合作;the year China entered into the WWII and declared war on Japan;
  • 1938, Japan occupied north, central and south coastal Chinese areas; the rape of Nanking; Chinese government moved to Chongqing;
  • 1941, China became formally a member of the allied nations (Britain, France, Soviet Union, United States of America) against Germany, Japan and Italy;
  • 1945, Empire of Japan surrendered and WWII ended; Chinese Civil War ensued between the CCP and GMD;国共内战; Taiwan ceased to be a colony of Japan for half a century;
  • 1949, People’s Republic of China 中华人民共和国成立 formally established by CCP; the defeated GMD nationalist troops fled to Taiwan;
  • 1950, 3-anti- (corruption, waste, bureaucracy) 5-anti- (bribery, tax-evasion, fraud, do shoddy work and inferior material, steal economic secrets) campaigns; Land Reform that began in 1947 came full swing against the “landlords”, recorded in the book by American journalist William Hinton titled Fanshen as having ” . . . played as important a role in China Civil War as the Emancipation Proclamation played in the American Civil War of 1861-1865. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation confiscated without compensation $3 billion worth of property in slaves; put an end to the possibility of compromise between the industrial North and the slave-hold South”; Chinese volunteers joined the Korean War;
  • 1953, First Five-Year Plan began; constitution
  • 1957, Anti-Rightist Movement 反右; Great Leap Forward 大跃进; agrarian collectives (communes) formed; campaign to eliminate four harmful insects: rats, sparrows, mosquitoes, flies
  •  1959, Sino-Soviet alliance collapsed; Indian Border Wars;
  • 1961-63, as a result of economic blunder and famine; millions starved and perished
  • 1966-76, The Cultural Revolution began 文化大革命; under his theory of “uninterrupted revolution,” Mao’s Red Guards were mobilized against “Capitalist Roaders;” national economy paralyzed; education came to a halt; high school and college students by the millions went to countryside to be “re-educated”
  • 1972, Nixon visited China in February
  • 1976, Premier Zhou Enlai died; Tiananmen Square demonstration; Mao died; “Gang of Four” arrested 四人帮: Jiang Qing (madam Mao), Yao Wenyuan, Wang Hongwen, and Kang Sheng,
  • 1978, Deng Xiaoping, exonerated, emerged as top party man; approved economic reform program 改革开放; Four Modernizations (in agriculture, industry, national defense, science and technology); diplomatic relation with the U.S. formalized 中美建交; “Democracy Wall” appeared in Beijing to voice dissenting opinions
  • 1979, Deng Xiaoping visited the United States; over 10,000 students going abroad; crackdown on democracy Wall” dissidents; China-Vietnam 14-day war
  • 1980s: the trial of “Gang of Four“; urban reform programs introduced; privatization; reform campaign and cultural thaw; a.k.a. Cultural Fever, 文化热; Anti-bourgeois liberalism campaign; further price reform postponed, spiraling inflation and panic buying leads to the State Council slamming brakes on further economic reform; the Great Cultural Debate
  • 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev visited China; Tiananmen Pro-Democracy protest against corruption; martial law declared; June Fourth Incident 六四民运;
  • 1997, Deng died before Hong Kong was handed over to China
  • 1999, Macao handed over to Chinese administration
  • 2001, China joined WTO and began actively participating in global economy and trade