China Chronology

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221 B.C.: Much of what constitutes modern China is first united under the Qin dynasty.

206 B.C.–A.D. 220: After the death of the first Qin emperor and a brief civil war, the Han dynasty emerges. The imperial system and the bureaucratic administration developed under the Qin and Han dynasties provide a model for Chinese government for the next two millennia.

1298: Marco Polo, a Venetian explorer, writes a book about his travels in the Far East. His accounts of Oriental riches inspire other Western explorers.

1582: Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit missionary, becomes the first foreigner permitted to live in Beijing.

1773: British traders begin paying for Chinese goods with opium rather than with Western goods or gold.

1839–42: The Opium War begins as China attempts to enforce its ban on Opium importing. The British respond by attacking several Chinese ports. The Chinese are easily defeated and the Treaty of Nanjing is signed in 1842. It stipulates that Chinese ports remain open to British trade and also cedes Hong Kong to the British.

1850: The Taiping Rebellion, the largest in Chinese history, begins as peasants revolt against the Qing dynasty. Not fully suppressed until 1864, the rebellion helps prepare the way for the end of the imperial system in the 20th century.

1856–60: A second Opium War pits China against Great Britain and France. It ends with the Chinese being forced to open more ports to trade with the West, legalize the importation of opium, and sanction Christian missionary activity.

1899–1902: The Boxer Rebellion occurs as antiforeign peasant groups known as Boxers attack Christian missionaries. An international force of British, French, American, German, Russian, and Japanese troops intervene, and China is ultimately forced to pay reparations to those countries and to permit for- eign troops to be stationed in Beijing.

1911–12: The failure of the Boxer Rebellion triggers more support for anti-imperial revolutionaries. The imperial system collapses with the abdication of Emperor Henry Pu-yi, ending over two millennia of monarchy. Revolutionaries led by Sun Yat- Sen take over the government, and the Republic of China (ROC) is declared. The Kuomintang, also known as the nationalists, becomes the dominant political party of the new government.

1917: During World War I China joins the Allies and declares war on Germany.

1919: At the peace conference in Versailles, France, Chinese demands are ignored and the former Chinese territory of Kiaochow is awarded to Japan. The May Fourth Movement occurs as students, workers, and merchants protest. China refuses to sign the Treaty of Paris.

1921–23: The period of Sino-Soviet collaboration begins as the Communist International disseminates literature in China to start Communist groups. Disillusioned with the West, many Chinese respond and form the Communist Party of China (CCP). The CCP merges with the Kuomintang, creating a left and right wing in that party.

1926–28: Aided by the Soviet Union, the Kuomintang overthrows warlords in Beijing. Afterwards, disagreements break out between Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek and the CCP. Chiang launches a purge of Communists, as Kuomintang troops destroy the CCP leadership in Shanghai.

1931: Japan occupies Manchuria, Mongolia, and north China. Chiang insists that the Kuomintang must purge the Communists before dealing with the Japanese threat.

1934: The CCP, led by Mao Zedong, begins the 5000- mile march to Shensi province to evade Chiang’s extermination campaigns.

1945: World War II ends with the Japanese surrender to the Allies. China regains control of Manchuria and Taiwan.

1946–49: Communists (the CCP) and nationalists (the Kuomintang) battle for the right to govern China. On October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is formally established with Mao Zedong as CCP chairman and leader. Remnants of the nationalist government flee to Taiwan, still calling themselves the Republic of China.

February 1950: China signs a 30-year treaty with the...

(The entire section is 1,432 words.)