History of China: American Views on Anti-Western Sentiment - Cold War Documentary Film (1967)
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Published on Jul 15, 2012
The Qing Dynasty (1644--1911) was the last imperial dynasty in China. Founded by the Manchus, it was the second non-Han Chinese dynasty. The Manchus were formerly known as Jurchen residing in the northeastern part of the Ming territory outside the Great Wall. They emerged as the major threat to the late Ming Dynasty after Nurhaci united all Jurchen tribes and established an independent state. However, the Ming Dynasty would be overthrown by Li Zicheng's peasants rebel, with Beijing captured in 1644 and the last Ming Emperor Chongzhen committed suicide. The Manchu then allied with the Ming Dynasty general Wu Sangui and seized Beijing, which was made the capital of the Qing dynasty, and proceeded to subdue the remaining Ming's resistance in the south. The decades of Manchu conquest caused enormous loss of lives and the economic scale of China shrank drastically. Nevertheless, the Manchus adopted the Confucian norms of traditional Chinese government in their rule and was considered a Chinese dynasty.
At the turn of the 20th century, a conservative anti-imperialist movement, the Boxer Rebellion violently revolted against foreign suppression over vast areas in Northern China. The Empress Dowager, probably seeking to ensure her continual grip on power, sided with the Boxers as they advanced on Beijing. In response, a relief expedition of the Eight-Nation Alliance invaded China to rescue the besieged foreign missions. Consisting of British, Japanese, Russian, Italian, German, French, US and Austrian troops, the alliance defeated the Boxers and demanded further concessions from the Qing government.
In the 1920s, Sun Yat-Sen established a revolutionary base in south China, and set out to unite the fragmented nation. With Soviet assistance, he entered into an alliance with the fledgling Communist Party of China. After Sun's death from cancer in 1925, one of his protégés, Chiang Kai-shek, seized control of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party or KMT) and succeeded in bringing most of south and central China under its rule in a military campaign known as the Northern Expedition. Having defeated the warlords in south and central China by military force, Chiang was able to secure the nominal allegiance of the warlords in the North. In 1927, Chiang turned on the CPC and relentlessly chased the CPC armies and its leaders from their bases in southern and eastern China. In 1934, driven from their mountain bases such as the Chinese Soviet Republic, the CPC forces embarked on the Long March across China's most desolate terrain to the northwest, where they established a guerrilla base at Yan'an in Shaanxi Province.
During the Long March, the communists reorganized under a new leader, Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung). The bitter struggle between the KMT and the CPC continued, openly or clandestinely, through the 14-year long Japanese occupation (1931--1945) of various parts of the country. The two Chinese parties nominally formed a united front to oppose the Japanese in 1937, during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), which became a part of World War II. Following the defeat of Japan in 1945, the war between the KMT and the CPC resumed, after failed attempts at reconciliation and a negotiated settlement. By 1949, the CPC had established control over most of the country. (see Chinese Civil War)
At the end of WWII in 1945 as part of the overall Japanese surrender, Japanese troops in Taiwan surrendered to Republic of China troops giving Chiang Kai-shek effective control of Taiwan. When Chiang was defeated by CPC forces in mainland China in 1949, he retreated to Taiwan with his government and his most disciplined troops, along with most of the KMT leadership and a large number of their supporters.
Major combat in the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with Koumintang (KMT) pulling out of the mainland, with the government relocating to Taipei and maintaining control only over a few island. The Communist Party of China was left in control of mainland China. On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China. "Communist China" and "Red China" were two common names for the PRC.
The economic and social plan known as the Great Leap Forward resulted in an estimated 45 million deaths. In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, which would last until Mao's death a decade later.
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