By the late 19th century, the Chinese Empire was growing weak, and foreign nations were controlling its trade. In 1911 the last emperor, Puyi, was overthrown in a nationalist revolution. Many years of turmoil followed.

Table 57. CHINA 1912–1949

1912 Chinese republic founded
1919 Japan gains Shandong
1931 Japan occupies Manchuria
1934–1935 The Long March
1937–1945 Japan invades China
1949 Communist victory


Many forces fought to control China. First there were the nationalists, who founded a republic in 1912. Then there were the generals and regional warlords and, in 1921, the Chinese Communist Party. Finally, there was Japan, which gained Chinese territory in 1919.


After 1925, Chiang Kai-Shek became nationalist leader. Nationalists and communists became rivals but were forced into alliances as Japan overran China. Japan’s defeat in 1945 was followed by civil war. By 1949, the communists had defeated the nationalists.


The nationalists fled to Taiwan, and the communist leader Mao Zedong proclaimed a people’s republic. Its successes in the 1950s included better education, literacy, and health. However, unrealistic agricultural and industrial reforms caused hardship, leading to political chaos during the CULTURAL REVOLUTION.


Economic failures caused dispute within the Chinese Communist Party. Fearing that the ideals of the revolution would be lost, Mao Zedong called for a “cultural revolution,” a change in public attitudes.


Students and young people took up Mao’s ideas with fervor. They declared themselves “Red Guards,” dedicated to never-ending revolution. They tore down temples, denounced their teachers, and rooted out “traitors.” The suffering was immense. By 1967, the regular army was clashing with the Red Guards, and Mao had little choice but to disband them in 1968.


When Mao died in 1976 there was a struggle for power. In the years that followed, China was still governed by the Communist Party, but it started to adopt some capitalist economic policies.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley


Special Books for the Kids You Love
Celebrate 20 years of sharing love to the moon and back with the anniversary edition of Guess How Much I Love You, one of the world’s best-loved picture books. Plus, search our Book Finder for more great book picks. Brought to you by Candlewick Press.

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks