Timeline for China

1700 - 2008

Dates marked by * are ones you should know precisely.





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  Late Qing Period (1700 - 1911)  
1700-1740     Rites Controversey leads to withdrawal of Jesuit mission    
1793 "Macartney Mission" -- failed attempt to establish British-Chinese diplomacy in framework of "Tribute System"       Era of the French Revolution (1789-1800) initiates the spread of social radicalism in Europe
1796-1804 White Lotus Uprising signals anti-Manchu unrest and social decay        
1839       Commissioner Lin Zexu arrives in Canton to put an end to opium trade  
1840-1842* Opium War -- British defeat China in South China and force terms of "Treaty of Nanjing" Establishment of "Treaty Ports" and cession of Hong Kong to Britain as a colony      
1848         Europe's "Revolutionary Year" brings doctrines of Karl Marx (1818-1883) to prominence
1850-1864 Taiping Rebellion South China largely out of Qing gov't control Taiping "Christian" ideology sweeps South China Hong Xiuquan, leader of rebellion

Anti-Taiping forces ultimately under control of Zeng Guofan

1864-1894 "Era of Self Strengthening" Rapid growth of foreign presence in expanding array of "Treaty Ports," which include foreign "concessions" (urban districts under non-Chinese administration) First period of active importation of Western ideas -- policy of "adopt Western Techniques & preserve Chinese Spirituality" Zeng Guo-fan's protege Li Hongzhang  Prime Minister

Rising power of Empress/Empress Dowager Cixi

1894-95 Sino-Japanese War     Yuan Shikai attempts to lead Chinese armies in Korea  
1898 The "Hundred Days"     Reform programs of Kang Youwei -- Kang flees to Japan after forces loyal to Cixi stage coup

Other Chinese revolutionaries in Japan include Sun Yat-sen, who formulates political program of "Three People's Principles"

1900* Boxer Uprising        
1905     End of Confucian Examination System   Russo-Japanese War -- Japan's victory increases Japanese power in Korea and Manchuria

Abortive revolution in Russia signals rising power of social radicalism

1911 Republican Revolution breaks out in military barracks in Wuchang -- meets little resistance in near-bloodless ouster of Manchu dynasty     Sun Yat-sen named "Provisional President"

Yuan Shi-kai brokers Qing "surrender"

Japan annexes Korea (1910)
  Republican China (1912-1949)  
1912* Establishment of Republic of China     Yuan Shikai becomes first President  
1913 Sun Yat-sen establishes the "National People's Party"  (the Kuo-min-tang [KMT], or Guomindang [GMD]) Nationalists win first (and only) fully democratic national election in China -- Yuan Shikai dissolves new parliament      
1914-1918 Reduced influence of Europe in East Asia

Rise of Japanese power in China

      World War I



Japan issues the "Twenty-One Demands"        
1916       Yuan Shikai dies  
1917     Adulation of Woodrow Wilson

Rise of liberal currents among urban intellectuals

  US entry into war on basis of Wilsonian "Self-determination of nations"

Communist Revolution in Russia -- Lenin (1870-1924) comes to power

1917-1927 National government in Beijing in hands of loyalists of northers "Warlord" strongmen Warlord Decade Rapid dissemination of Western political, social, and artistic ideas in urban centers Lu Xun composes "Kong Yiji" and other fiction of social criticism  
1919* Treaty of Versailles ending World War I signed in France May 4th Uprising protests Chinese government's capitulation at Versailles

Initiation of May 4th Movement

Liberal trends in literature & academics

  Mussolini forms Fascist Party in Italy -- becomes Prime Minister in 1922
1921 Chinese Communist Party [CCP] established in Beijing     Mao Zedong a founding member of CCP  
1923 KMT-CCP Alliance established        
1925       Death of Sun Yat-sen  
1927* Northern Expedition

Purge of CCP by KMT

  Culmination of "Second Revolution" (or "Nationalist Revolution") Chiang Kai-shek consolidates power within KMT Stalin takes power in USSR (Lenin d. 1924)
1927-1937 The "Nanjing Decade" -- KMT in control; capital in Nanjing   KMT's "New Life" movement combines Confucian and Fascist ideas -- Nationalist Revolution takes sharp right-wing turn Dominance of the Soong family in KMT government  
1927-1934 CCP in Jiangxi (in southeast) -- Period of "Jiangxi Soviet"

CCP intitates Land Reform in Jiangxi

1929-1939         Era of woldwide Great Depression
1931 Japanese army stages phony "Mukden Incident" as pretext to invade all Manchuria and establish puppet state of Manchukuo (1932)       Japanese militarists gain control
1933         Hitler becomes Chancellor in Germany
1934-1935* KMT "encirclement campaigns" vs. CCP, leads to The Long March     Mao takes control of CCP at "Zunyi Conference," midway in Long March  
1936-46 CCP in Yan'an (in northwest) -- the "Yan'an Period" CCP introduces moderate land reform in North Development of Maoist ideology

"Yan'an Sprit" and leadership of "Eighth Route Army" (later "People's Liberation Army", or PLA)

CCP leadership in hands of Mao (general leader & ideologue), Zhou Enlai (diplomacy), Zhu De (military)  
1936 Xi'an Incident [Sian Incident]-- Chiang Kai-shek kidnapped by Zhang Xueliang

Chiang's release initiates KMT-CCP United Front against Japan (to 1942)

1937-45* The War of Resistance Against Japan (World War II in East Asia) begins with Marco Polo Bridge Incident (7/7/37) KMT government retreats to Chongqing in southwest Flight of refugees to Chongqing & Yan'an Joseph Stilwell commands American forces in China aiding KMT

"Dixie Mission" of US forces in Yan'an (1944-45)

World War II in Europe (1939-45)

US engagement, 1941-1945 (Pearl Harbor 12/7/41)

1946-1949 KMT-CCP Civil War       Beginning of Cold War
  Communist Period -- Maoist Phase (1949 - 1976)  
1949* "Liberation" -- KMT forces retreat to Taiwan

Establishment of the People's Republic of China

1950-1953 Korean War       McCarthy era in US

Death of Stalin (1953)

1952 Five-Anti Campaign        
1956-1960 Emergence of "Sino-Soviet Split"        
1956-57 Hundred Flowers Campaign       Khrushchev in power in USSR -- retreat from Stalinism
1957-58 Anti-Rightist Campaign        
1958-1959* Great Leap Forward Widespread famine kills up to 30 million      
1960-1962   Era of "retrenchment" -- moderates in control      
1962-1965 Socialist Education Campaign "Downward transfer" program relocates millions of "intellectuals" "Politics in command" of education -- school admissions based on politics Dominance of moderates Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping Beginning of US engagement in Vietnam
1966-1970* Cultural Revolution Red Guards exercise primary power in provices Campaign against the "Four Olds" Rise to dominant power of Jiang Qing and PLA chief Lin Biao (purge of moderates) Election of Richard Nixon (1968) -- Henry Kissinger National Security Advisor / Secretary of State
1970-1976 Latter phase of Cultural Revolution PLA leading social force  

Jiang Qing leads "Gang of Four"

Final US defeat in Vietnam (1975)
1971 Ping-pong Diplomacy with US     Lin Biao dies fleeing from botched coup

Foreign policy control under Zhou Enlai

1972 Richard Nixon visits China        
1976* Arrest of Gang of Four
(Oct. 6)
Suppression of April memorial demonstrations for Zhou Enlai at Tiananmen -- Deng Xiao-ping goes into hiding   Death of Zhou Enlai (1/8)

Death of Mao Zedong (9/9)

Hua Guofeng head of state -- reemergence of Deng Xiaoping

Death of Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan (1975) -- rise of Chiang Ching-kuo (Pres. 1975-88) leads to political liberalization in ROC
  Post-Mao China (1976 -  )  
1978-79   Birth & death of "Democracy Wall"   Deng in full control; Hua Guofeng forgotten

Wei Jingsheng imprisoned for political protests

Carter administration announces shift of US diplomatic ties from Taiwan to Beijing
1980 Trial of Gang of Four     Jiang Qing imprisoned (commits suicide, 1991)

Appointment of Hu Yaobang (Premier) and Zhao Ziyang (Chairman)

1987   Student demonstrations and anti-government protests lead to Hu Yaobang's dismissal.  Li Peng appointed Premier     Gorbachev's policies liberalize USSR
1989* Tiananmen Incident     Death of Hu Yaobang

Zhao Ziyang disgraced, Jiang Zemin appointed Chairman

Lee Teng-hui President of ROC (Taiwan), 1988-2000

Fall of the Berlin Wall -- Cold War begins its end

1997 Reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese control     Death of Deng Xiaoping  
1998 Appointment of Zhu Rongji as Premier signals policy of economic pragmatism        
2000 US grants China permanent normal trade relations; preparation to enter WTO       Election in Taiwan of Chen Shui-bian and end of KMT control
2001 China enters WTO        
2003 "Fourth Generation" leadership installed    

New Politburo led by President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao

President Bush signals Taiwan to avoid provoking PRC on issue of Taiwan independence
2004         Chen Shui-bian wins second term in contentious Taiwan election
2008     China prepares to host its first Olympic Games   KMT returns to power under
Ma Ying-jeou
on a platform of rapprochement
with PRC