China History

By | January 9, 2023

China – state flag

China National Flag

The flag of the People’s Republic of China was adopted in 1949. The color red stands for revolution, but it also has an old tradition, as it was the color of the Han Dynasty. The big star today symbolizes the leadership of the Communist Party. The four little stars stand for peasants, workers, petty bourgeois and patriotic capitalists.

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An alternative symbolism is that the big star represents the Han Chinese, while the others represent the largest national minorities: Manchus, Tibetans, Mongols and Uyghurs.

China (Prehistory)

The first traces of human activity in China are primitive stone tools from the older Paleolithic. The oldest human find is a fragment of a lower jaw from the cave of Longgupo near Wushan; its age is estimated at 1.8 million. year. About 1 million years old is the skull from Lantian in Shanxi. An important site is the caves in Zhoukoudian near Beijing, which are especially famous for the discovery of the Peking man, who lived for approximately 500,000 years ago. These early human finds all belong to Homo erectus. It is uncertain when the forerunner of modern man, archaic Homo Sapiens, appeared in China, but it may have been as early as 200,000 years ago. The people of the oldest Stone Age lived as hunters and gatherers and knew about the use of fire. Several types of stone and bone tools as well as jewelry of animal bones and seashells have been found in tombs from the younger Paleolithic at Zhoukoudian, approximately 16,000 BC.

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The first traces of agriculture and settlement in villages are from around 7000 BC. In northwestern China, millet was the main crop, while rice dominated in the south and southeast. In both areas, the pig and the dog were the oldest domestic animals, later followed by water buffalo, beef and sheep. Stone tools became more specialized and refined, and pottery became widespread. Some of the pottery was decorated, most often with painted geometric patterns, but birds, animal and human figures also appear. The figure patterns may indicate that the religion was animistic. The settlements were located by rivers and coasts and were protected first by ditches and later by ramparts or palisade works. In the north, the houses were half buried in groups around a central house. Later, important buildings were placed on elevations. The grouping of houses suggests that the Chinese clan system was already under construction. In the south, pile houses were widespread.

According to a2zgov, there were two main cultures: a central-western one on the Huang He River and the tributary Wei He River and one east-southeast along the east coast. The Yangshao culture at Wei He is famous for its painted pottery. The early phase (until 4300 BC) is known from Banpo at Xi’an with a later branch in Miaodigou (approximately 3900 BC) at Huang He. Yangshao spread, presumably in the late 3000’s, northwest to Majiayao and on to Banshan (approximately 2800-2500 BC) and Machang (approximately 2500 BC) in Gansu Province. In the south, an early culture is known from Hemudu (approximately 5000) near Hangzhou with wooden houses, fine pottery and jade making.

Traces of Dawenkou culture (approximately 4300-2400 BC) have been found in the eastern province of Shandong. A later culture, Liangzhu (approximately 3300-2250 BC), in the areas around Hangzhou and Shanghai has particularly finely processed jade objects. From the later part of the Stone Age, the Longshan culture (approximately 3000-1700 BC) is known in Shandong, which made extremely thin, black pottery. During this period, the settlements grew in size and could be surrounded by massive earthworks. Finds of arrowheads and spearheads indicate the emergence of more warlike communities fighting for settlements and hunting or farming areas. At the same time, the worship of phallus symbols became common in contrast to the ancient worship of female figures with highlighted breasts and genitals. The Bronze Age began approximately 2000 BC, and at the same time the development of state formations began.

China – history

China – History, Delimitation

The territory of Chinese history is ideally the territory of modern China with Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and the islands of the South China Sea and of course the large areas to the north, west and south, where significant non-Chinese-speaking minorities live, and where especially large areas in west, e.g., Tibet and Xinjiang, first became part of the Chinese Empire in the 1700’s.

Historical overview
ca. 7000 BC The earliest known settlements with agriculture in China.
approx. 1650-approx. 1000 BC Shang Dynasty. The scriptures are developed in late Shang time.
approx. 1000-255 BC Zhoudynastiet. The most important philosophical directions can be traced back to the period after approximately 500 BC
221 BC Qindynastiet. The imperial era begins.
206 BC Qin is overthrown by Liu Bang, who becomes the first emperor of the Han Dynasty.
65 Imperial initiative to promote the introduction of Buddhism from Central Asia.
220 The mobile dynasty is falling. China is divided.
589 The Southern Dynasty gains power throughout China.
618 The seaweed dynasty is established. The civil service apparatus is being expanded. Cultural flourishing that culminates in the first half of the 700’s.
751 China suffers defeat to the Arabs on the Talas River in southern Kazakhstan; the Chinese advance to the west is halted.
755 An Lu-shan rebellion. Xi’an plundered. The emperor flees to Sichuan. The seaweed dynasty is decisively weakened.
907-996 Between the collapse of the Tang Dynasty and the establishment of the Song Dynasty, five short-lived dynasties and 10 smaller states rule in southern China.
1115-1234 The Manchurian Jind dynasty rules in northern China.
1211 The Mongols attack China.
1271 Khubilai Khan founds the Mongol Yuan Dynasty with its capital in Beijing.
1279 The song dynasty is falling.
1368 The Ming Dynasty is founded. Nanjing becomes the capital.
1421 Beijing becomes the capital.
1405-33 Admiral Zheng He’s expeditions to Arabia, the east coast of Africa and the southeast coast.
1550’s Portuguese rule in Macao. From approximately 1600 other European countries start trading with China.
1644 The Ming Dynasty is ruled by Manchus who establish the Qing Dynasty.
1839-42 The Opium Wars.
1850-64 The Taiping Uprising.
1855-77 Muslim uprisings in parts of China.
1856-60 Arrow Wars. China at war with Britain and France.
1883-85 Sino-French War.
1894-95 First Sino-Japanese War. Taiwan ceded to Japan.
1898-1901 The Boxer Rebellion.
1912 The Qing Dynasty and thus the Chinese Empire fall. Sun Yat-sen becomes president, but must go into exile in 1913.
1916-28 Warlords dominate the political power in China.
1921 The Communist Party of China (CCP) is founded.
1928-49 Guomindang (GMD) under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek formally governs China.
1931 Japan conquers Manchuria.
1932 Manchuria becomes independent as Manchukuo, but is actually a Japanese sound state.
1934-35 The Long March.
1937 Japan attacks China. Nanjing Massacre.
1946-49 Civil war between GMD and CCP.
1949 Establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
1950 Chinese troops move into Tibet.
1950-53 Korean War. China is participating on North Korea’s side.
1958-60 The Big Spring Forward campaign is trying to increase production. It fails and the failed policy leads to a famine.
1959 Tibetan uprising in Lhasa is defeated.
1960 China breaks with the Soviet Union.
1966-76 The Cultural Revolution.
1971 The People’s Republic of China will have a seat in the UN.
1976 Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong die. Showdown with the Fire Band.
1978 Deng Xiaoping becomes China’s real leader. Reform policy begins.
1989 Student demonstrations in Beijing and incipient organization of dissatisfied workers. The protesters are being defeated by the military. Sanctions against China.
1997 Deng Xiaoping dies. Hong Kong is given by Britain back to China.
2000-t. China is experiencing strong economic growth.

Before entering China, many of these areas have had a rich and varied history, which deserves an independent place in our historical knowledge of present-day China; but in both Chinese and foreign historiography they are most often mentioned only when they have been part of or at war with the Chinese Empire or have been perceived as part of the dynastic succession. One side effect is that in modern Chinese historiography there is a tendency to virtually all wars until the meeting with the Europeans in the 1800’s. manufactured as civil wars between peoples and states that are now part of China.

The perception of China’s history

There are many notions about the development of Chinese society, which are partly based on the Chinese self-understanding in relation to especially the western societies, which have been both role models and aggressors from the mid-1800’s. to the mid-1900’s, partly on foreign perceptions, which have often concentrated on contradictions rather than similarities. The image still stands strong in the West of a poor and overpopulated society with an autocratic, centralist and bureaucratic state, built up with the family as a model and basic unit and with contempt for trade and similar secondary economic activity. Recent research has shed some sometimes unexpected light on Chinese society’s changes in time and space, making it difficult to say definitively what traits are so entrenched, that they can be used to draw comparisons to developments in the rest of the world. It is not least the regional variations that have a hard time making an impact in the clear history writing, but the extensive regional historical and archaeological work, which is under strong development in China, will probably improve this situation.

Dynasties in the earliest history and imperial times

The oldest Chinese characters are found on animal bones that have been used in oracle taking, from the 2nd millennium BC. They thus date from the late period of the Shang dynasty, which is the first dynasty known for sure, and which was founded in 1600-BC. With the writing of the late Shang period begins the actual Chinese history that is traditionally divided into dynasties. The pre-Shang dynasty, the Xiad Dynasty, is known from later written sources, but is not yet with certainty linked to archaeological finds. The Shang dynasty lasted until 1000 BC. and was centered in the northern part of Henan Province, but its extent has not been precisely determined. The Shang State was based on family organizations with the king as the central figure and with a personified cult of divinity of which the royal cult was a part. The Shang dynasty was succeeded by the Zhou dynasty (1000-t.-255 BC). Together with Xia, these three dynasties have a special place in Chinese history and thinking, a golden period with ideal forms of society that posterity should strive to resemble.

Dynasties and selected emperors, reigns and heads of state
-approx. 1650 BC Xia (mythological)
approx. 1650-approx. 1000 BC Shang
approx. 1000-255 BC Zhou
1040-771 BC Western Zhou
770-256 BC Eastern Zhou
770-476 BC Spring and Autumn period
475-221 BC The Warring States Period
221-206 BC Qin
206 BC-9 AD Western Han
9-25 AD Xin (Wang Mangs interregnum)
25-220 Eastern Han
220-280 Period of the Three Kingdoms
220-265 Wei
221-263 Shu-Han
222-280 Wu
265-316 Western Jin
316-420 Eastern Jin
420-589 The southern dynasty
420-479 Liu Song
479-502 Qi
502-557 Liang
557-589 Chen
386-581 The northern dynasties
386-535 Northern Way
535-557 Western Wei
534-550 Eastern Wei
550-577 Northern Qi
557-581 Northern Zhou
581-618 Sui
618-907 seaweed
907-960 The five dynasties
907-923 Later Liang
923-936 Later Tang
936-946 Later Jin
947-951 Later Han
951-960 Later Zhou
960-1279 Song
960-1127 Northern Song
1127-1279 Southern Song
916-1125 Liao
1038-1227 Xi Xia
1115-1234 Jin
1271-1368 Yuan
1271-94 Khubilai Khan
1368-1644 Ming (periods of government)
1368-98 Hongwu
1398-1402 Jianwen
1402-24 Yongle
1424-25 Hongxi
1425-35 Xuande
1435-49 Zhengtong
1449-56 Jingtai
1456-64 Tianshun
1464-87 Chenghua
1487-1505 Hongzhi
1505-21 Zhengde
1521-66 Jiajing
1566-72 Longqing
1572-1620 Wanli
1620 Taichang
1620-27 Tianqi
1627-44 Chongzhen
1644-1912 Qing (Reigns)
1644-61 Shunzhi
1661-1722 Kangxi
1722-35 Yongzheng
1735-95 Qianlong
1795-1820 Jiaqing
1820-50 Daoguang
1850-61 Xianfeng
1861-74 Tongzhi
1875-1908 Guangxu
1908-12 Xuantong (Puyi)
1912-49 Republic of China (Presidents)
1912 Sun Yat-sen
1912-16 Yuan Shikai
1916-17 Li Yuanhong
1917-18 Feng Guozhang
1918-22 Xu Shizhang
1922-23 Li Yuanhong
1923-24 Cao Kun
1948-49 Chiang Kai-shek
1949 Li Zongren
1949- People’s Republic of China (Presidents)
1954-59 Mao Zedong
1959-68 Liu Shaoqi
1983-88 Li Xiannian
1988-93 Yang Shangkun
1993-2003 Jiang Zemin
2003-13 Hu Jintao
2013- Xi Jinping

With the founding of the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. began the imperial era, ending with the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. In a quarter of that period, a unified state did not exist, and it was not until the Yuan Dynasty’s conquest of southern China in 1279 that unity was established.

The most important dynasties after Qin were Han (206 BC-220 AD), Tang (618-907), Song (960-1279), the Mongol dynasty Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644 ) and the Manchu Qing (1644-1912). In between these there have been periods of several kingdoms. A total of 23 legitimate dynasties are counted.

Society, profession or population

Around the middle of the last millennium BC. there had been a development away from a more archaic economy, with scattered political and economic entities with some degree of common cultivation of the land gradually giving way to private property, primarily in the outlying areas where new land was cultivated. At the same time, better fertilization, drainage and irrigation were introduced, some of which are still in use in Sichuan. With the more intensive operation of the land, the population increased, which became the basis of the mass armies that came to shape the warfare instead of the more courtly and ritualistic forms of earlier times. This development was also helped along the way by new technology, manufacture of cast iron, which made it relatively inexpensive to manufacture stabbing and percussion weapons and not least projectiles for the crossbow, which became an important weapon until the introduction of firearms in recent times. In the period after the first census, the most important change in agricultural production was the expansion to the south and the cultivation of the rich lands, not least from the middle of the first millennium AD, when rice cultivation with planting rather than direct sowing began to spread. At the same time, the emergence of markets outside the controlled cities meant freer conditions for trade, and around the Buddhist monasteries a monetary and banking system gradually emerged. There are no figures for the size of the population in that period, but it has probably had significant ups and downs until it is estimated under Song to have reached over 100 million. residents. In Song, the last major breakthrough in traditional agriculture came with the introduction of the rapidly ripening rice fromChampa in southern Vietnam, which enabled several crops, including not least rice and wheat, on the same land in the same year. The introduction of the American crops, corn, potatoes, peanuts, tobacco, etc., which appeared after 1500, seems to have stretched over so long that in the imperial period they have not had the same effect as the Champarisen. As a textile plant, hemp was long the most important, but cotton cultivation began in earnest towards the end of Song and gradually spread to the north.

A census from 1381 showed approximately 60 million It probably increased to three times in the period up to 1600, but fell so sharply during wars, crises and storms in the first half of the 1600’s. After a significant increase in 1749, approximately 175 million residents, while the 300 million. was reached towards the end of the 1700-t. In the mid-1800’s. is calculated with approximately 430 million The number fell again, due to the extensive uprisings of 1851-65, so that approximately 400 million at the end of the imperial period in 1912.

At the beginning of the last three dynasties, Yuan, Ming and Qing, large declines in population have been observed with reasonable certainty, not least in the central plains, as evidenced by extensive measures taken to attract farmers from other regions to to revive production. Hunger and disease also followed bad harvest years due to the weather, grasshoppers, etc. During the last approximately 500 years, from which there are good sources of local conditions, one can see that in many areas, at least in the northern part, there have been bad years at two to three year intervals and severe famine a few times in 100 years. The total food production has for long periods, also approximately 1650-1800, when the population increased most sharply, been sufficient. The problem has been getting the food to where it was needed. It was one of the government’s tasks to provide assistance in such situations, and in some periods, especially in the 1700’s, it has been shown that it could organize significant relief work, and there were, for example, tax exemptions in bad harvest years. From approximately In 1800, however, production did not seem to have kept pace with population development.

Numerous inventions have been made in China, and some have been of great importance to the technological development of the world. Nowadays, the Chinese even mention paper, compass, gunpowder and letterpress. This contributes to the Chinese to some extent rightly claiming that they until approximately 1500 constituted the most advanced society in the world. Of the four inventions mentioned, however, only the paper, invented at the beginning of the first millennium AD, as well as the art of printing, especially from the Song Period, developed independently in China to be able to have a greater influence on the development of society. Printed writings were a prerequisite for the spread of teaching and examinations as well as for literary development, especially when publishing became a lucrative business in the 1500’s. Studies of reading ability show,

From an early age, Chinese society has been centered around cities. In particular, the Song Period is known for a lively economic activity based on urban occupations such as crafts and trade, and not least in the 1500’s. there were large industry-like workshops with several hundred employees. The cities have also had an impact on the farmers who lived in their vicinity. They could sell in the markets, products from home industry that could exploit the labor force during periods when it could not be used in agriculture. In this process of increased commercialization of society, changes are taking place in the position of the peasants. So even though there have also been large estates and tendencies to concentration of land cultivated by tenants since Song, the mentality of the Chinese farmer has been that of the self-employed.

From the classical period, the Chinese population has been divided into four groups: the learned officials who headed society as the prince’s servants, as well as the peasants, artisans, and at the bottom the merchants. The division meant that, for example, merchant families would like to see a member of the family as a civil servant or at least in alliance with civil servants. This may be the reason why the new companies that emerged in the late 1800’s had a strong connection to the civil service. The dependence on bureaucracy weakened companies as their capital was used for purposes other than business operations. However, one must be careful to conclude that merchants have automatically been at the bottom of the social ladder and that trade has been neglected in Chinese daily life.

Simultaneously with the traditional division of the population, the nobility should be mentioned. Early Zhou was a family society where power and position were determined by birth. Admittedly, this was weakened in the late Zhou period and abolished in Qin, but right up to the Tang era, a nobility with estates and influence in government and local communities was an essential element of the economic and political life of the community. In later dynasties, the many descendants of emperors, and during Qing also the Manchus, as their military efficiency declined, constituted an upper class of parasites.

There has also been a class of slaves. During periods when slavery was banned, they have been registered as family members, and to this day there have been various underprivileged groups, some defined historically, others based on their profession. Thus the Mongols introduced in 1200-1300-t. a division of the population into approximately 80 hereditary professional groups, which in simplified form continued during the following Ming dynasty with hereditary position, eg farmer, craftsman or soldier.

The position of women in society has been lower than that of men in the period in which written sources are available. Towards the Song Dynasty, changes took place, which deprived women of the right to self-employment, and it was also during Song that the custom of lacing the woman’s feet began. We do not yet have a comprehensive overview of the woman’s position, but literary works testify that a few women have been able to get an education.

Government and society

In the Zhou State, local princes and nobles ruled over hereditary territories and recognized the supremacy of the Zhou King. From the middle of the period, especially in the border areas and later in the conquered areas, there was a development of administrative units where the prince could deploy his own people independently of family ties, and it is from the same areas that tax collection and peasant property are first heard. to the land they cultivated. It was a time of upheaval in which especially the lower princes without lucrative hereditary positions were on the rise. Among these arose a number of philosophical schools with various proposals for the arrangement of society; the most important was Confucianism, which with its emphasis that all people, regardless of origin, could both give and receive education and thus earn themselves the highest posts, led to a radical break with the dependence on clan and family affiliation that had hitherto characterized society. Another characteristic of Confucianism was the idea that the good prince, by his mere example, could ensure a good government, independent of law. Confucianism set a number of requirements for human relations, which with its adherence to rituals and its emphasis on hierarchical conditions have helped to give Confucianism a reputation for being against change. This is hardly correct, but the Chinese themselves have contributed to this impression, for example at the encounter with Western culture in the 1800’s.

Another important philosophical school that influenced the development of society was legalism, which emphasized laws that were to apply to all; legalism was the basis of the Qinstaten. Under Han, it was replaced by Confucianism as the mainstay of state thought, but a number of features of legalism were preserved in later periods. Law texts that were to some extent based on the legislation of the Qin and Han periods were collected in large collections of laws during the first millennium AD. Recent studies of Chinese law, which have traditionally been characterized primarily as constituting a criminal law, suggest a very sophisticated legal practice.

With Confucianism and legalism, the contradiction in Chinese state perception is seen between the belief in “government by man” versus “government by law”, which has emerged periodically in the Chinese debate since He and also has significance in today’s changes in Chinese society.

The third philosophy that is usually mentioned in this connection is Daoism, which to a greater extent sees man and human life as part of nature. As a state-bearing philosophy, Daoism acquires for a short period approximately 400 AD

The legalists promoted agriculture at the expense of trade as the basis of a strong military state. Control over the population was sought to be maintained by updating units on five households with mutual responsibility to the law. A Confucian classic that provides an idealized picture of the government under Zhou also mentions updating the population into groups based on ten households. Such divisions appear in many later dynasties in one form or another as units of a local self-government. If the numerical division could be implemented, it would neutralize the traditional divisions that could be the basis for informal but real power relations, thereby giving the central government and its local representatives better control right down to the village level. The examples known, however, suggest that this practice has seldom been able to live up to the ambitions of the rulers. A famous case is the controversial reforms of the 1000’s. by Wang Anshi, whose basic idea was that the state, which at the time was exposed to strong pressure on the northern border, could best be strengthened if the burdens were better distributed and the peasants were given the opportunity to work free of ambitious officials, landowners and lenders.. In addition to reforms in which the state actively strengthened economic activity, the population was divided into units of ten households to ensure law and order and as a basis for discharging a militia instead of an expensive and inefficient standing army. The reforms were quickly abolished or changed when Wang Anshi’s opponents came to power.

Under MingA registration system was set up in which the population was divided into units of 110 households, whose leaders, who were in turn found among the ten richest households, were responsible for paying taxes, carrying out public works and, to a certain extent, peace and order was maintained, education completed, etc. People were to remain where they were registered, and the system generally presupposed a society without change, an ideal that was not observed either in the Ming era or in other periods of China’s history. Although attempts to set up such organizations are also seen later, the period after approximately 1500 characterized by the absence of more ambitious projects aimed at controlling local communities. At a time when central power in Europe, for example, was becoming stronger, it seems

Above local self-government there was a bureaucracy. Already from Zhou a steady development is seen, but the bureaucracy was for a long time linked to warriors and landowners. It is only with the Seaweed Period that it finds the form that is becoming known, first in Korea and Japan and much later in the West. The exam system became an important basis for official recruitment; however, it was not until Song that the examination system gave the social status for which it later became known.

Education in, first and foremost, the neocongfusian interpretation of classical texts became, for the rest of the imperial period, an important path to political, economic, and social position, but never the only one. Thus, there were periods when many offices were sold either to raise money or as a deliberate attempt to reduce the influence of the personal ties that the exam system could promote. Exams gave access to positions, but towards the end of the dynasties there were far more graduates with exams than there were positions. The candidates then found employment in education or as specialized secretaries of civil servants, or they stayed at home to manage the family’s property and position in the local community, which was thereby strengthened in relation to the central government. In the last thousand years, the bureaucracy has been dominated by civilians, but in turbulent periods there was a militarization of society with private armies and castles, and military or military-oriented civilian officials played a significant role at times.

Above the bureaucracy, the person of the emperor has been important to the leadership of the government; however, there are numerous examples of emperors without influence either because of incompetence or because other individuals or government bodies have actually taken power. It could be widowed empresses, such as Wu Zetian in the late 600’s. and Cixi in the late 1800’s, other imperial or imperial relatives, nobles, eunuchs, ethnic comrades, officials, or the bureaucracy itself. In the periods when there have been both northern and southern states, there seems to have been a tendency for the person of the emperor to be more important in northern dynasties than in southern ones, where large noble families had greater influence.

A prerequisite for the development of the state with its need to master its resources was the collection of taxes. The oldest known tax from the Zhou period was a personal tax (cup tax). This was the common form until Tang and became special in 500-600-teKr. linked to ideal notions of allocating equal plots of land to each individual person. Upon the person’s death, the land or most of it fell back to the state. There are doubts about the extent to which such systems have worked. From the end of 700-teKr. personal taxation was gradually abolished in favor of land taxation; however, it continued in the form of some hovering services to the state and its representatives. During major tax reforms from the 1500’s. and onwards the land tax and the hover services were to some extent combined, so that there is talk of a unitary tax. Another important form of tax has been consumption taxes, which really began in 100-tkKr. with tax on salt and iron. At times, consumption and trade taxes have been the state’s main source of revenue, especially during the Song, and from the mid-1800’s. during the uprisings that ravaged large parts of the country, a tax was imposed on all goods that passed customs stations. That tax came at the end of the dynasty to make up over half of the state’s revenue.

There has been a period of under-taxation. Especially after a turbulent period, low taxes were appropriate to get the economy recovered. Periods of low taxes are thus often seen in connection with the establishment of new dynasties. Under-taxation could be difficult to change later due to respect for the laws issued by the first emperor of a given dynasty. Attempts were made, such as the tax reforms of Ming and Qing, but the basic under-taxation was not touched upon. Unofficial but often widely recognized taxes were levied on the expenses to be incurred, and the burden on the individual taxpayer could thus be significant. The unofficial taxes and taxpayers’ efforts to get rid of them have provided a fertile ground for corruption,

China and the outside world

The traditional view of China as a closed country does not stand up to closer analysis. Chinese culture expanded from its core area on the plains around Huang He and the tributary of the Wei River. The most important periods of military expansion to the north and west were in 100-tkKr., 600-teKr., 1200-1300-t. (the Mongols) and 1600-1700-t., but in addition there has been a slower expansion both politically and demographically first to the south in the first millennium AD, in the last few hundred years to the northeast, so that these areas today predominantly have Han Chinese population.

Chinese sources, which are the most important for most of the early history of East, Central and South Asia, testify to contacts to this end, just as there are records and other indications of contact with West Asia in Roman times.

China has also been the subject of religious influences from outside. Buddhism came to China in the Han era from India and through Central Asia and was for a few hundred years from the middle of the first millennium the most important spiritual current in China with influence on both the political center and daily life. Chinese monks during this period went to India, and many Buddhist scriptures were translated into Chinese. Their travel stories suggest that there has been a lively traffic to both Central Asia and overseas territories, especially to Southeast Asia. At the same time, Japanese and Korean monks traveled to China to study Buddhism.

During the Tang and Song periods, there were Arab-Muslim merchant communities on the China coast, and under the Mongols there were rich connections to the rest of Asia and Europe, just as foreigners flocked to trade and live in China. Then the American silver in the 1500’s. entered the world market, China became an important part of the world economy, as a significant part of the silver could be absorbed into the Chinese economy, where it was used in tax payments.

It was during the efforts after the Mongols in 1368 to create a Chinese state with a strong imperial power in direct contact with the local communities that the attempts to prevent contacts with foreign countries became part of the official policy, which in various forms continued until the 1800’s. Chinese were banned from trading in foreigners and sailing. Attempts to cut off the population from contact with the outside world never succeeded, but it contributed to the government’s notion that the country was isolated. This self-understanding was strengthened in the encounter with the Europeans, who appeared in greater numbers during the 1500’s. The first Europeans complied with the conditions set by the Chinese government as long as money could be made on trade, but from approximately In 1800, they began to demand diplomatic contacts on equal terms and with permanent diplomatic representations. At the same time, the British in particular began to finance their purchases of tea by selling opium, grown in India, rather than as before with silver. This led to economic problems in China, which ended with a ban on opium imports and the subsequent oneOpium War 1839-42. In Chinese historiography, the war is still considered the beginning of the modern period, but at the same time as the beginning of the approximately 100 years, when foreign powers gained more and more influence, and where especially Russia was given large areas, which the Russians had previously recognized as Chinese.

In 1856-60 there was another war with Great Britain and later also with France. It was in the so-called Arrow War on trade rights. The war was a humiliating defeat for the Qing regime and culminated in 1860 with the burning by British troops of the Imperial Summer Palace near Beijing. One result of the war was the system of treaty ports.

Later efforts to hold together the empire that the Manchus in the 1700-t. had gathered, led to attempts to modernize the country’s economy and defense and a little later around the year 1900 also the education system. This happened in certain areas, but nationwide initiatives were not possible. The division of the country, which continued some time after the end of the empire, had in fact begun in the mid-1800’s. with the great uprisings and the advance of the foreigners.

The Chinese defeat in the war with Japan in 1895 led in 1898 to reforms that were initially slowed down. But after the defeat in 1901 to the European powers after the Boxer Rebellion, a more systematic reform program was launched in government and administration and of education. Limited popular participation in local assemblies was also initiated, but before these reforms took effect, the country began to fall apart after a military uprising that began in Wuhan on 10.10.1911 and gradually spread across most of the country. Envoys from 16 provincial assemblies met in Nanjing in late December 1911 and elected Sun Yat-sen as China’s new president on January 1, 1912. Just over a month later, on February 12, the emperor abdicated.

The Republic’s first year

The new Republic of China, which replaced the Qing Dynasty, took over an economically backward country. Regional independence movements threatened the unity of the kingdom, and foreign powers, through their concessions and the unequal treaties, had considerable power over the development within their various spheres of influence. In addition, the Confucian ideology was no longer able to unite the intellectual elite of society.

The coalition of political forces that had overthrown the Qing Dynasty quickly collapsed. Sun Yat-sen, who was the leader of Tongmenghui ‘The Revolutionary Alliance’, was appointed provisional president on January 1, 1912, but the Qing regime refused to capitulate. Instead, it gave military man Yuan Shikai the power to form a Republican government. Yuan was soon outmaneuvered by Sun Yat-sen and became president in March 1912. In the December 1912 election to China’s first parliament, Sun Yat-sen’s party, now renamed Guomindang, won.(GMD) ‘National People’s Party’, a clear victory, but Yuan suppressed the opposition with assassinations, threats and bribery. In late 1913, GMD was banned and Sun Yat-sen went into exile. Yuan Shikai now based his power on the military and on foreign powers, and in 1914 the parliament was dissolved.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 allowed Japan greater influence in China, and in 1915 Japan confronted China with 21 demands, the common denominator of which was a far-reaching extension of Japanese privileges in China. However, the loss of external prestige did not weaken Yuan Shikai’s ambitions, and in late 1915 he launched a plan to re-establish the empire with himself as the new emperor. But when he was installed in January 1916, the resistance became too great, and after just two months he again gave up the monarchy. Protests continued, however, province after province declared independence from Beijing, and in June 1916, Yuan Shikai died; after 1916, the country virtually ceased to function as a unit.

The political-military instability in the years after 1916 inflicted great suffering on the population. Nevertheless, it was during that period that Chinese industrialization really took off. World War I was a triggering factor, but progress continued even after 1918.

Nationalism and communism

Although China had joined the Allies in 1917, the great powers decided at the Versailles peace talks to hand over Germany’s special rights on the Chinese peninsula of Shandong to Japan instead of returning the territory to Chinese sovereignty. This humiliation triggered on May 4, 1919 large student demonstrations in Beijing. The protest movement, which originated in Beijing University, was part of a cultural renewal movement that wanted to do away with the Confucian tradition. Central to the movement was Xin Qingnian magazine ‘New Youth’, edited by Chen Duxiu, to which Mao Zedong was also affiliated. The May 4 movement is a collective term for this whole syndrome of innovation. Based on this movement becameChina Communist Party (CCP) formed in 1921 with Chen Duxiu as leader.

After the expulsion in 1913, Sun Yat-sen had continued his political struggle and, based in Guangzhou, tried to create the basis for a reunited China. The Soviet Union had offered itself as an ally in the Sun Yat-sen struggle, resulting in close cooperation between the GMD and the CCP and the formation of the United Front between the two parties in 1924. The core was the new Whampoa Military Academy, whose first leader was Chiang Kai- shek, while the communist Zhou Enlai became director of the political department of the academy.

After the death of Sun Yat-sen in 1925, the revolutionary movement continued to spread. There was an explosive approach to the CCP-dominated unions as well as a resurgence of revolutionary peasant movements in the villages. On July 1, 1926, the Northern Expedition against the warlords in Central and Eastern China began; at the end of 1926, the GMD controlled seven provinces in this region.

In early 1927, Chiang Kai-shek broke with the Soviet Union and the CCP, and in April he triggered a coup in Shanghai in which hundreds of Communists and trade union leaders were killed. The GMD was initially divided, but quickly regrouped, and the Communists were driven underground or fled to South China’s most rugged mountain areas. The rise of the GMD continued, and on October 10, 1928, the new government was installed as China’s national government with its capital in Nanjing and Chiang as president.


The period 1928-37 is often called the Nanjing Decade, but in reality the GMD in 1928 controlled only part of eastern and central China, while the rest of the country continued to be ruled by warlord regimes that were merely formally subordinate to the Nanjing government. This picture did not change significantly during the period. Apart from the local warlords, the Nanjing government faced two new enemies: the Communists and the Japanese, who in 1931 had conquered Manchuria.

After the massacres of 1927, the CCP succeeded in establishing a base area on the border between Hunan and Jiangxi, and in 1930, the Soviet government of southwestern Jiangxi was formed under Mao’s leadership. The Chiang Kai – shek’s first three “siege and defeat campaigns” against the Red Army 1930-31 all ended in defeat. In 1931, the first Soviet National Congress was held in the Jiangxibase area. Mao was installed as head of government, but in reality his power was too downward, as the CCP’s top leadership, the so-called 28 Bolsheviks, were more Soviet loyal than Mao’s groups and skeptical of his peasant-based guerrilla methods. The CCP’s base areas at this time had approximately 9 mio. residents, of which 3 million. in the Jiangxi Soviet itself, and an army of up to 150,000 men.

After two more campaigns, in 1934 Chiang succeeded in putting the Red Army out of the game. The CCP decided to evacuate from Jiangxi and in October 1934 broke with 100,000 men surrounding Chiang in an escape to the west. This was the beginning of the Long March 1934-35, which led the Red Army from SE to NW China and at the same time led to Mao’s takeover of the party leadership. Once the remnants of the Red Army had established themselves in northwestern China, Chiang stood ready to give the CCP the death blow; but Japan’s growing pressure on China changed history.

The Japanese conquest of Manchuria in 1931 set in motion a chain reaction of conflicts between China and Japan. For the GMD, it was a serious setback for the efforts of national unification. Up through the 1930’s, the Japanese advance in northern China continued, while Chiang primarily focused on continuing to fight the CCP. In 1936, however, he was forced by his own to negotiate an end to the Civil War. Zhou Enlai represented the CCP at the negotiations that led to the Second United Front between the GMD and the CCP 1937-45.

China in World War II

The forces of the GMD and the CCP added a few minor defeats to the Japanese, but in the main China was powerless in the face of a Japanese onslaught that by the end of 1938 had divided the country into three parts: Japan controlled East China from Manchuria in the north to Guangzhou in the south. and industrially developed area. In poor Central and SW China, the GMD ruled, while the CCP controlled a base area in the extremely poor and sparsely populated North- West China, with Yan’an as its headquarters. Communist guerrilla units, in turn, were very successful in infiltrating the lands behind the Japanese lines in northern China, and during the war these areas became the CCP’s main power base. After 1938, tensions grew again between the GMD and the CCP, and after a military clash in January 1941, the cooperation ceased in practice.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, China joined the Allies with formal declarations of war against Japan and Germany. Chiang Kai-shek’s strategy was to allow the United States to defeat Japan separately and to use US military aid to build up GMD forces with a view to the post – war settlement with the CCP. He was therefore not interested in the Americans’ efforts to reorganize the GMD’s military into a more active fight against the Japanese.

Mao strengthened his position in the CCP during World War II, and at the party’s seventh congress in April 1945, “Mao Zedong Thinking” was enshrined as the CCP’s governing ideology.

Civil War 1946-1949

Immediately after the Japanese capitulation in August 1945, a race was launched between the forces of the GMD and the CCP to take over the territories that the Japanese had controlled. Mao relied on Manchuria, which was occupied by Soviet forces, and in the autumn, 100,000 men under the command of the CCP were transferred here. This commitment became crucial to the outcome of the Civil War. When the Soviet Union withdrew from Manchuria in the spring of 1946, the CCP had established a power base in the villages that laid the groundwork for the final victory in 1949.

Despite several US mediation attempts, the Civil War broke out in earnest in April 1946. In the first years of the Civil War, the GMD had apparently taken over and in March 1947 was able to occupy the CCP’s headquarters in Yan’an. But despite superiority in manpower and equipment, Chiang’s forces were scattered over many positions. The CCP’s forces, from 1946 the People’s Liberation Army, therefore had the opportunity to cut off the GMD garrisons from supplies and defeat them individually. In 1948, the fortunes of war for the Communists returned with decisive victories in Manchuria and northern China, and Beijing was captured in January 1949. On October 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China at Tiananmen in Beijing, while Chiang Kai-shek evacuated the remnants of his armies to Taiwan.

The communist victory in 1949 was due to a number of factors. A major role was played by the Japanese occupation, which had enabled the CCP to build positions of strength behind the Japanese lines, while giving the party a strong patriotic profile. Another important factor was the CCP’s growing experience of implementing social reforms in the villages, which strengthened adherence to the party’s policies. For the GMD, the regime was weakened during the civil war by corruption, economic chaos and widespread demoralization. Finally, Chiang Kai-shek’s own erroneous military dispositions came into play. The Republic of China had not been able to fulfill the enormous tasks that had been placed on its shoulders at its establishment in 1912. Now it was the turn of the CCP to try.

The first year of the People’s Republic of China

Due to the continued support of the United States for Chiang Kai – shek’s GMD regime in Taiwan, the newly formed People’s Republic had no choice but to, in Mao’s words, “lean to one side”, namely the Soviet Union. Domestically, the CCP’s strategy, as presented in the September 1949 joint program, can be described as moderate socialism. The objective included land reform, industrial development and equality for women; in the long run, agriculture had to be transformed into cooperatives and industry socialized.

The immediate tasks in 1949-50 were fighting inflation and rebuilding the war-torn country. Two major reforms characterized society, the Marriage Act of 1950, which gave women the right to own land and facilitated access to divorce, and the land reform, which redistributed landowners to landless and poor peasants. The reform was accompanied by extensive violence against the old upper class in the villages, and about 1 million. landowners were killed. In the cities, the focus was on getting the industry going again, and private business owners were encouraged to work loyally for the new system.

China’s involvement in the 1950-53 Korean War came to significantly affect development. When the US-dominated UN force had pushed North Korea’s army back near the Chinese border, China responded by deploying large forces on North Korea’s side and pushing UN forces back to the 38th parallel. Internationally, the war meant that China became further isolated from the West and more dependent on friendship with the Soviet Union. Suspicion of everything Western grew, and campaigns against “spies” and “counter-revolutionaries” contributed to the establishment of a social surveillance system in which the demand was adherence to the new regime.

The Soviet model came to the fore with the first five-year plan (1953-57). In the following years, the pace of socialization was accelerated several times at Mao’s initiative, and by the beginning of 1956, both the co – operativeization of agriculture and the state takeover of industry were largely complete. Meanwhile, with its participation in the Bandung Conference in 1955, China had marked a desire for closer ties with the Alliance-Free Movement in the Third World.

Khrushchev’s confrontation with the Stalin era in 1956 and unrest in the Eastern Bloc forced Chinese leaders to change course. With the Campaign of the Hundred Flowers (1956-57), Mao wanted to win the intellectuals for the CCP through greater freedom of speech. In the spring of 1957, criticism of the party proved to be more profound than originally thought, and hundreds of thousands of intellectuals were now punished as “right-wing”.

In November 1957, Mao visited Moscow, but beneath the surface a conflict simmered between China and the Soviet Union, and Chinese leaders sought a less bureaucratic and more growth-promoting model as an alternative to the Soviet one.

The Great Leap Forward

The result of these considerations was the Great Leap Forward, a mass movement for social and political transformation, combined with a massive increase in production. The heart of the campaign was the municipalities, which were formed in the second half of 1958. The municipalities were to combine agriculture, industry, trade, education and the militia, and their main task was to use China’s most important resources, human labor, for direct capital formation through construction, iron smelting, etc. After a promising start, the negative effects quickly became apparent. The iron was bad and the coordination of the many initiatives impossible. In the “three bitter years” of 1959-61, the crisis developed into a regular famine that cost millions of lives. Up to 45 million. is considered to have been murdered, worked to death, starved to death or otherwise perished as a result of the campaign. It thus stands as one of the bloodiest events in world history. After the conflict with the Soviet Union broke out in 1960, China was now more isolated than ever after 1949.

In 1958, the party’s economists had warned against the Great Springs strategy, but the party incl. the organizational leaders Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping had been behind Mao as a whole. In 1959, however, Mao’s furious reaction to Defense Minister Peng Dehuai’s criticism of Mao’s policies created an atmosphere of fear and mistrust in the CCP’s supreme bodies.

The Cultural Revolution

In the first half of the 1960’s, the CCP pursued a more cautious economic policy, and traditional planned economy again held its entrance, while the Mao 1960-62 remained in the background. However, he did place his close ally Lin Biao in the post of defense minister. From the end of 1964, the conflict in the party was irreversible between Mao and his allies on the one hand and the party organization by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping in particular on the other. In May 1966, Mao launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, whose dual goal was to eliminate Mao’s opponents among older top leaders and give the youth the opportunity for revolutionary experiences through participation in the Red Guard movement.

During the active combat phase of the Cultural Revolution 1966-68, millions of schoolchildren and young people, organized in Red Guard groups, went on the offensive against anything reminiscent of China’s ancient culture or Western influence, as well as against intellectuals and party leaders. Liu Shaoqi was imprisoned and died of ill-treatment in 1969. Deng Xiaoping was placed under house arrest and later sent to Jiangxi, where he worked at a tractor factory. From the beginning of 1967, however, Red Guards factions came into conflict with each other, and the situation became increasingly chaotic until the army in 1968 was deployed and disarmed the Red Guards. At the CCP’s Ninth Congress in 1969, the People’s Liberation Army emerged as the party’s most important power base, and Lin Biao was promoted as Mao’s successor.

Mao’s last year

In 1970, Mao and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai decided to radically change foreign policy and break China’s isolation by opening a dialogue with the United States. In 1971, US Security Adviser Henry Kissinger visited China to prepare for President Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972 and the Shanghai Communiqué, which called for a normalization of relations between the two countries. In October 1971, a majority in the UN General Assembly deprived Taiwan of its seat in the UN and thus in the Security Council and handed it over to the People’s Republic of China.

That same fall, a drama unfolded at the highest level in Beijing. According to the official account, Lin Biao tried to assassinate Mao, and when that failed, he tried to escape by plane to the Soviet Union in September 1971. The plane crashed and Lin Biao perished.

In China, however, the Cultural Revolution was not yet over. At the Tenth Party Congress in 1973, the Cultural Revolutionary wing, consolidated around Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, was consolidated, but it did not have the power to prevent the rehabilitation of a number of party leaders, including Deng Xiaoping, who in 1973 was appointed Deputy Prime Minister. In practice, Deng came to serve as Prime Minister when Zhou Enlaiat this time was weakened by disease. Thus, a fierce power struggle was planned in connection with Mao’s apparently imminent death. Zhou Enlai’s death in January 1976 sparked major demonstrations in Beijing against the Cultural Revolutionaries. Deng was designated as the mastermind behind these demonstrations and deposed from all his posts. The Cultural Revolutionary wing, however, had only limited support in the party organization and not at all in the army. After Mao’s death in September 1976 it succeeded Mao personally appointed party leader and Prime Minister Hua Guofeng, with the help of the army to isolate Jiang Qing group was arrested and condemned as Gang of Four in the subsequent criticism campaign.

In the years during and immediately after the Cultural Revolution, the movement of many intellectuals in the West and the Third World was seen as an example of a popular, non-bureaucratic socialism. After Deng Xiaoping’s takeover in 1978, revelations of the shadowy sides of the Cultural Revolution began to emerge, and today there is widespread agreement both inside and outside China that the Cultural Revolution was a disaster for the country. Up to 1 million people lost their lives due to persecution or participation in factional fighting. Economic growth was slowed down and the education system suffered greatly. The many changes of course during the Cultural Revolution led to widespread political apathy and cynicism in the population, and the CCP put a very large part of its prestige out of control.

Deng Xiaoping’s era

Hua Guofeng was appointed Prime Minister in April 1976, and in October of the same year he took over the chairmanship of the CCP after Mao. In 1976-77, Hua was launched as “the brilliant leader” in the media, but in reality his power base was flimsy and he could not prevent further rehabilitations of the victims of the Cultural Revolution. In 1977, Deng Xiaoping was rehabilitated for the second time, and in 1978, the breakdown of Hua’s power continued. In the fall of 1978, the 1976 demonstrations were re-evaluated and proclaimed a “revolutionary event”; likewise, the victims of the Anti-Right movement in 1957 were rehabilitated. In Beijing and other cities, the sticking of critical wall papers testified to the beginnings of a popular pro-democracy movement. And in December 1978, Deng and his followers took over the political initiative, when, at the landmark third plenary session of the Central Committee, they adopted a reorientation of the CCP’s course. Going forward, economic development should be the main task, not Maoist class struggle. The conditions of the peasants were improved, and they were given greater freedom for private production alongside the collective. The confusion of politics, administration and economic management was recognized as a problem. In many areas, the third plenary session set the agenda for the “reform and open door” policy of the Deng Xiaoping era, and the meeting has since gained status in the Chinese media as a crucial turning point in China’s modern history. Thereafter, Deng Xiaoping, albeit informally, served as China’s supreme leader. and the meeting has since gained status in the Chinese media as a crucial turning point in China’s modern history. Thereafter, Deng Xiaoping, albeit informally, served as China’s supreme leader.

In 1979, China and the United States established full diplomatic relations, while Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia to eliminate the Chinese-backed Pol Pot regime. China responded in January 1979 with a military attack on Vietnam, which enjoyed the support of the Soviet Union, and Chinese foreign policy increasingly resembled an informal alliance with the United States against the main enemy, the Soviet Union. On the home front, the Democracy Movement was overthrown in the spring of 1979, and its most notorious advocate, Wei Jingsheng, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Deng balanced between the reform-minded and the more orthodox members of the top leadership, and important reforms were tested in provinces, controlled by the people of Deng; thus, the “system of responsibility”, in which the peasants in effect gained private control over their land, was tested in the provinces of Sichuan and Anhui before the system was made nationwide in the first years of the 1980’s culminating in the 1982 decision to dissolve the people’s communes. In 1979, the “special economic zones” were established for the purpose of attracting foreign capital and increasing China’s exports. In 1980, one of the most successful people in the reform wing, Zhao Ziyang, took over the post of Prime Minister from Hua Guofeng, and another reformer, Hu Yaobang, took over the post of party leader in 1981.

The one-child policy was launched in 1980, the same year that the Fire Band was brought to justice and sentenced to death, which, however, was converted to life imprisonment. Also in 1980, Deng Xiaoping presented at an internal party meeting proposals for far-reaching political reforms. The core of Deng’s proposal was a clear separation between, on the one hand, the CCP’s political-ideological work and, on the other hand, administrative and economic functions. At the local elections in the People’s Congress in 1980, the boundaries of criticism and initiative from below were expanded. But the liberal wave of 1980 triggered a counter-offensive by the Orthodox Communists in 1980-81, and in 1982-83 they again for a period had great influence in the party leadership; at the same time, close cooperation with the United States began to cool, and China sought a position of neutrality vis-à-vis the superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.

In 1984, the pace of economic reforms picked up again; while the emphasis in 1979-84 had been on reforms in agriculture, where the average standard of living of the peasants had doubled, the industry now came into focus. 1984 was also the year when China and the United Kingdom signed an agreement on the transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997. In the following years, China entered a period of high economic growth, and trade with the outside world also grew rapidly. But at the same time, social tensions increased as the difference between winners and losers in the reform process became apparent. Some provinces and regions began to resemble the East Asian “tiger economies,” while others were stuck in poverty. Inflation and corruption contributed to a mood of uncertainty and skepticism. With the relatively greater freedom of expression after the mid-1980’s’ The critique of the CCP’s abuse of power among intellectuals and students also grew. A series of student demonstrations in 1986-87 led to a violent reaction from the orthodox wing of the party, and Deng Xiaoping sacrificed the reform-minded Hu Yaobang to the party leadership post. However, Deng managed to rock Zhao Ziyang into the party leadership post, while the technocratLi Peng took over Zhao’s prime ministerial post. At the CCP’s thirteenth congress in October 1987, the reform course was resumed.

In 1988, tensions in society increased again. Inflation triggered waves of panic purchases, and in the summer of 1988, the government decided to slow down price reform and economic growth. Internally in the system, Zhao’s star was now too declining, and Li Peng’s rising, but Zhao would not give up the reform course without a fight.

Against the background of the split in top management, intellectual critics in the spring of 1989 saw an opportunity to penetrate with their message, and in reality an alliance emerged between the Zhao group in top management and the critical intellectuals. The fermented criticism turned into large student demonstrations, triggered by Hu Yaobang’s death on April 15, 1989. During May, this new democracy movement spread to 123 Chinese cities, and millions of city dwellers lined up around student demonstrations. The government imposed a state of emergency in Beijing on May 20, 1989, but this did not stop the demonstrations, and the CCP’s aging leaders therefore chose to deploy the army.

On the night of June 4, 1989, up to 200,000 troops were deployed against the democracy movement in Beijing. Many hundreds of civilians were killed on Tiananmenplace, and thousands wounded. Shortly afterwards, Zhao Ziyang and his supporters were officially ousted from office, while authorities launched a crackdown on system critics, student leaders and workers who had tried to form independent unions. Jiang Zemin was installed as the new party leader. The events sparked international criticism and sanctions against China. In return, China became more closely associated with the faltering regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, but when these collapsed in 1989-90, China’s international isolation increased dangerously. However, international sanctions were eased again during 1990-92, and China’s leaders maneuvered out of isolation with great skill, prioritizing China’s place in the East Asian growth region at the top of its foreign policy agenda.

The Chinese leadership pursued a tight economic policy in 1989-91, which brought inflation under control, but in the spring of 1992, Deng Xiaoping called for new reform initiatives and increased growth.

1992-96 was characterized by an extremely rapid economic development, so that China by the end of 1900-t. must be counted among the countries in the world with the highest economic growth. At the same time, economic reforms have come a long way; the state sector is no longer dominant and prices are mainly determined by the market. However, the political system is still authoritarian, although the intellectual and spiritual climate has become somewhat freer since the 1989-91 setback. Deng’s death 19.2. 1997 had no immediate effect on the political stability of the country, as the age-impaired leader in his last years of life did not actively participate in political life.

Overall, the Deng era transformed China from a totalitarian society that demanded the active support of all citizens to an authoritarian system that limits oppression to the most outspoken critics. Despite the CCP’s continued political dominance, the state apparatus has been significantly modernized. Internationally, China has managed not only to secure its borders, but also to engage in rapidly growing economic cooperation, especially in relation to neighboring countries in East and Southeast Asia.

After Deng

From 1997 to 2002, Jiang Zemin was in charge. He belonged to the “third generation” (after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping) of leaders. On July 1, 1997, Jiang, as China’s representative, was able to oversee the British Crown Colony of Hong Kongreturn to Chinese sovereignty, and in September of that year, at the 15th Congress of the Communist Party, he presented a plan for the privatization of the bulk of state-owned industry. However, the great financial crisis in Asia, which began in the autumn of 1997, made it more difficult to sell the often deeply indebted state-owned companies. China’s economic growth was not affected by the financial crisis to the same extent as a number of other countries in East Asia, but in the late 1990’s the economy was characterized by deflation and rising unemployment. At the same time, large income disparities have become commonplace.

Political control is zealously maintained, and all approaches to independent organizations or the media have been severely cracked down on. When a group of citizens applied for permission to form China’s Democratic Party in 1998, they were sentenced to long prison terms. However, a far greater and quite surprising challenge to the Chinese leadership came from the neo-religious Falun Gong movement, which in 1999 organized a sit-in with about 10,000 participants in front of the government headquarters in Beijing; the movement was subsequently banned and massively suppressed. A third challenge to the system comes from thousands of local protests across China targeting corruption, taxes or lack of unemployment benefits.

Only on one occasion has the government allowed protest demonstrations. When US bombs hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May 1999 during the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, it triggered a wave of rage and agitated nationalism among Chinese youth, and the US embassy in Beijing was besieged by protesters for days. A new crisis between China and the United States arose in 2001, when a US surveillance plane collided with a Chinese fighter over the South China Sea. China’s self-esteem, in turn, was rectified by the IOC’s decision the same year to host Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, just as China’s accession to the WTO, finally confirmed in 2001, heralds new progress for China’s integration into the world community.

Economically, developments in China have been successful, and the reforms, although their course has been tortuous and without a clear plan, have contributed to progress. The flip side of the coin is environmental destruction, corruption, millions of itinerant freelancers and major social inequalities. The official socialist ideology is eroded and lacks credibility, just as the CCP’s rule in the eyes of many Chinese lacks legitimacy. The challenges posed by the 1900’s. has faced China, has been taken up, but far from all hopes have been fulfilled.

Jiang Zemin resigned as party leader at the 16th Congress of the Communist Party in the autumn of 2002 and as president in 2003. A “fourth generation”, led by Hu Jintao, took over the leadership of the country. The soaring economic growth rates continued into the middle of the decade that began in the year 2000, as did reports of ecological devastation and disasters, unprecedented social polarization, and thousands of protest demonstrations by poor farmers and workers. However, new signals from the Communist Party’s top leadership in 2005 and 2006 suggest that better environmental protection and greater social justice have actually been placed at the top of the leadership’s agenda. Internationally, since the beginning of the decade, China has aligned itself closely with the United States in the “war on terror”, as the Chinese government’s repression of Muslim “separatists” in China’s western province of Xinjiang has been linked to the anti-terrorism struggle. Precisely the fight against “separatists” in Xinjiang and Tibet has led to criticism from the outside world. In the spring of 2008, there was ethnic unrest in Tibet between Han Chinese and Tibetans; there were several killed and the regime struck down with a heavy hand. In July 2009, there was violent unrest in Xinjiang; officially 156 were killed. In the middle of the decade in particular, Japan has been the target of new, short-lived, outbursts of nationalist anger in Chinese youth. In March 2005, the Chinese People’s Congress passed an anti-secession law aimed at Taiwan, which is threatened with military action if the “peaceful reunification” of Taiwan with China is not realized. outbursts of nationalist anger in Chinese youth. In March 2005, the Chinese People’s Congress passed an anti-secession law aimed at Taiwan, which is threatened with military action if the “peaceful reunification” of Taiwan with China is not realized. outbursts of nationalist anger in Chinese youth. In March 2005, the Chinese People’s Congress passed an anti-secession law aimed at Taiwan, which is threatened with military action if the “peaceful reunification” of Taiwan with China is not realized.