Timeline of Events in China

1839-1842

First Opium (First Anglo-Chinese) War.  Treaty of Nanking signed (1842) ending the First Opium War.  China to pay large indemnity and  extraterritoriality and most favored nation principle established in China

1856-1860

The Second Opium (Anglo-Chinese)War.  Convention of Peking signed ending the war, opening eleven more Chinese cities to foreign trade, freedom of religion now allowed in China, legalized opium, Britain, France, Russia and U.S. est. diplomatic legations in Peking, foreign commercial vessels allowed on Yangtze and the right of foreigners to travel throughout China.

1850-1864

Taiping Rebellion-most deadliest civil rebellion to date.  Approximately 20 million killed.

1861

Tongzhi reign.  Rise of power of Empress Dowager Cixi.

1882

Chinese Exclusion Act passed in the United States severely limiting immigration.

1884-1885

China defeated in war with France.  Establishment of French Indo-China.

1894-1895

Sino-Japanese War.  China defeated.  Treaty of Shimonoseki signed. 

1895-1900

Establishment of concessions in Shanghai and other coastal cities.

1900

Boxer Siege (Boxer Rebellion) of Beijing; lifted by eight allied armies.  A year later Boxer Protocol signed.

1905

Sun Yat-sen establishes the Revolutionary Alliance, precursor to GMD (Guómindӑng-Nationalist Party).  Abolition of the civil service examination. 

1911

The First People’s Republic of China Proclaimed, fall of the Manchu Qing Dynasty (founded in 1644.)

1912

Sun inaugurated as first president of Republic of China (ROC).  He abdicates. 

1914

World War I begins.  China is allied with United States and Great Britain.

1915               

Yuan Shikai (Sun’s successor as President) negotiates Japan’s Twenty-one Demands.

1915               

New Youth magazine launched, New Culture movement begins .

1916-1926      

Warlord period.

1919               

Treaty of Versailles signed – Shandong in dispute.

1919               

May 4th Movement (student-led anti-Japanese, anti-warlord, multi-class movement) Sparked in protest to China’s treatment at Versailles.

1921               

Founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Shanghai.

1926-1927      

First United Front alliance between Nationalists and CCP.

1924               

Johnson-Reed Immigration Act excluding all immigration from Asia.

1925               

Sun Yat-sen dies; May 30th Movement begins (multi-class, anti-imperialist struggle.)

1926-1927      

Northern Expedition (anti-warlord military campaign) begins. Led by General Chiang Kai-shek reunifies China under Nationalist government.

1927               

Nationalists launch anti-communist purge.  Nanjing Decade begins.

1931               

Japanese expansion in Manchuria (Mukden Incident.)

1934               

Chiang Kai-shek’s New Life Movement begins. 

1934               

Long March  Communist headquarters in Yenan under leadership of Mao Zedong (1893-1976.)

1936               

Xian Incident (Chiang Kai-shek kidnapped until he agrees to ally with CCP.)

1937               

July 7th: Marco Polo Bridge Incident in China initiates invasion of mainland China.  Battle of Shanghai follows from mid August-November followed by the occupation of Beijing and the then capital city, Nanjing.

December 13, 1937 Nanjing occupied.  Height of mass violence lasts until February 1938.  Nanjing remains an occupied city throughout World War II in China.

1937-1945      

Span of World War II in mainland Asia. 

1938               

Chiang Kai-shek moves capital to Chungking in early 1938.

1939               

Outbreak of World War II in Europe.

1941               

U.S. enters war after Imperial Army attack on Pearl Harbor-December 7th.

1945               

Soviet Union enters war against Japan (August 9th) invading Manchuria.  First atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (August 7th) and Nagasaki (August 9th.)  Japan surrenders August 15, 1945.  End of World War II in Asia. 

1946               

International Military Tribunal for the Far East, or the Tokyo Trials begins. The United States occupies Japan under provisions of surrender.  Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal also begins.

1945-1949      

Civil War between Nationalists and Communists

1949   

People’s Republic of China begins

This timeline is not comprehensive but dates and events selected align with the content explored in Facing History and Ourselves’ The Nanjing Atrocities:  Crimes of War.   Adapted from Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, Twentieth century China:  New Approaches, (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2013) p. xiv; Sources of Chinese Tradition, Volume II, Compiled by WM. Theodore De Bary, Wing-Tsit Chan and Chester Tan, (New York:  Columbia University Press, 1960) p. xii-xii and http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/timelines/china_modern_timeline.htm, accessed January 9, 2014.

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