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Order of Events
- 1. Fall of the Qing (1912)
- 2. First PRC Marriage Law (1950)
- 3. Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957-1959)
- 4. Great Leap Forward (1958-1961)
- 5. Great Famine (1958-1961)
- 6. Launch of the Third Front (enacted in 1964)
- 7. Start of the Cultural Revolution (1966)
- 8. Death of Lin Biao (1971)
- 9. Death of Mao (1976)
- 10. One Child Policy (1979)
- 11. June 4 Massacre in Tiananmen (1989)
- 12. Deng’s Southern Inspection Tour (Spring 1992)
- 13. China’s Entry to WTO (2001)
- 14. SARS Outbreak (Nov 2002)
- 15. Beijing Olympics (2008)
- 16. Wukan Incident (September 2011 - December 2011)
Fall of the Qing (1912)
Collapsed due to complex interplay between internal and external factors: Internal: Ordinary Han Chinese began to feel little loyalty to Qing rulers, who were Manchus from the north. Calamitous events throughout the dynasty proved that it had lost the Mandate of Heaven and needed to be overthrown. Chinese peasants raised a huge anti-foreigner movement in 1900 (Boxer Rebellion). External: Pressures from Europe’s leading countries, which resulted in the Opium Wars of 1839-42 and 1856-60, after which Britain imposed unequal treaties on the defeated Chinese and took control of Hong Kong. Humiliation showed all of China’s neighbors and tributaries that the once-mighty China was weak and vulnerable. After being exposed, China began to lose power over peripheral regions to countries like France and Japan. By 1900, foreign powers including Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Japan had established “spheres of influence” along China’s coast - areas in which the foreign powers essentially controlled trade and the military. Balance of power had tipped decidedly away from the imperial court and toward the foreign powers. Fall of the Qing Dynasty ultimately signified the end of China’s millennia-long imperial period. From class notes: The late Qing was a very strong and powerful premodern state. After the fall, the country did not experience stable leadership until Mao came into power. People turned to family for stability in the midst of political upheaval.
First PRC Marriage Law (1950)
- Marked an important, radical change from existing patriarchal Chinese marriage traditions, in which marriages up until this time were often arranged/forced, concubinage was commonplace, and women could not seek divorce. This marriage law provided civil registry for legal marriages, raised the marriageable age to 20 for males and 18 for females, and banned marriage by proxy; both parties had to consent to a marriage. Immediately became an essential part of land reform as women in rural communities stopped being sold to landlords. China’s divorce rate increased, and Chinese women have increased financial importance in the household. Some other provisions (listed by Davis):
- -Parents responsible for their children (and vice versa); assured that elderly wouldn’t be abandoned
- -Five guarantees: shelter, food, medical care, funeral, clothing
- -Prohibited concubines, arranged marriages -Divorces allowed through court
- -Prostitution illegal. Before it was not always considered taboo (sometimes a necessity)
- -Birth control began to be used in cities
Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957-1959)
This was a reaction to the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” which promoted freedom of expression and criticism of the government. The Anti-Rightist campaign was a Series of campaigns to purge alleged “rightists” within the Communist Party of China (CPC) and abroad. Definition wasn’t always consistent and sometimes included critics to the left of the government, but officially referred to those intellectuals who appeared to favor capitalism and were against collectivization. Instigated by Mao and saw the political persecution of an estimated 550,000.
Great Leap Forward (1958-1961)
Utopian economic and social campaign launched by Mao on the backs of labor and revolutionary enthusiasm. Goal was to accelerate the country’s economic development through rapid industrialization and collectivization, as well as prepare China for total communism (complete social and economic equality).However, this would ultimately result in catastrophe as the collapse of agriculture led to the deaths of up to 45 million people (Great Chinese Famine); industrial depression also followed.
Great Famine (1958-1961)
(caused by great leap forward, so this would come after) Period characterized by widespread famine; caused primarily by drought, poor weather, and the policies of the CCP; at least 15 million deaths (mostly by starvation and starvation-related diseases), but estimates have varied up to 45 million. Liu Shaoqi (chairman of PRC after the famine) claimed that it was due to “30% natural disaster, 70% policy.” During the Great Leap Forward, farms were consolidated into communes that must meet grain quotas. Therefore, officials met quotas by taking grain from peasants while they starved. In addition, many farmers were removed from the countryside to work in iron and steel production industries, decreasing necessary manpower in the rural areas.
Launch of the Third Front (enacted in 1964)
Massive development of industry by China in its south-western interior, where it would serve as a strategically secure and self-sufficient industrial base in the event of a war. Primary impetus was China’s fear of war with the Soviet Union following the Sino-Soviet split in the late 1950s.
Start of the Cultural Revolution (1966)
Social political movement set in motion by Mao to enforce communism in China by removing capitalist, traditional and cultural elements from Chinese society, and to impose Maoist orthodoxy within the Party. Marked the return of Mao to power after the failed Great Leap Forward. Revolution was backed by China's youth, who responded to Mao's appeal by forming Red Guard groups around the country. Many Chinese citizens were persecuted, and widespread factional struggles ensued in all walks of life. Led to mass purge of senior officials who were accused of taking a "capitalist road," most notably Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. A large portion of the population was displaced: urban youth were transferred to the countryside in an effort to re-educated them. The Cultural Revolution also brought the educational system to a halt. Movement as a whole paralyzed China politically and significantly affected the country economically and socially.
Death of Lin Biao (1971)
Lin died from a plane crash, following what appeared to be a failed coup to oust Mao (allegedly tried to assassinate him and then defect to the USSR). Exact events preceding his death have been speculated. Following his death, he was officially condemned a traitor by the CPC. Lin and Jiang Qing are still considered to be the two “major Counter-revolutionary cliques” blamed by the CPC for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. His death marked the end of the Cultural Revolution (according to Wikipedia)
Death of Mao (1979)
Probably important for some reason (IS THIS SOME KIND OF JOKE? ← lol). Millions around the country grieved. Death also led to a power struggle for control of China, with the left wing led by the Gang of Four, who wanted to continue the policy of revolutionary mass mobilization, and the right wing opposing these policies. Right wing restorationists advocated a return to central planning along the Soviet model, whereas the right-wing reformers, led by Deng, wanted to overhaul the Chinese economy based on market-oriented policies and to de-emphasize the role of Maoist ideology in determining economic and political policy. Mao’s death allowed the beginning of a new era led by Deng, who reformed China’s economy and ended the madness of the cultural revolution.
One Child Policy (1979)
Population control policy introduced to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China that were caused largely by overpopulation. Controversial due to concerns about the manner in which it has been implemented, and also because of its negative social consequences (e.g. aging population, imbalanced sex ratios, etc.) Relaxations to the policy have since been implemented, but China continues to face the long-term social repercussions.
June 4 Massacre in Tiananmen (1989)
Stemmed from the Tiananmen Square protests, which were student-led popular demonstrations in Beijing that exposed deep splits within China's political leadership. Triggered by the death of Hu Yaobang, a liberal reformer who was deposed after losing a power struggle with hard-liners over the direction of political and economic reform. University students swarmed the streets and gathered in the Square to mourn Hu; also voiced grievances against inflation, limited career prospects, and corruption of the party elite. Called for government accountability, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the restoration of workers' control over industry. Protests were forcibly suppressed by hardline leaders who ordered the military to enforce martial law in Beijing. June 4 crackdown resulted as troops with assault rifles and tanks inflicted thousands of casualties on unarmed civilians. Chinese government condemned the protests as a "counter-revolutionary riot" and has prohibited all forms of discussion or remembrance of the events since. On the other hand, the Chinese government was widely condemned internationally for the use of force against protesters; Western governments imposed economic sanctions and arms embargoes.
Deng's Southern Inspection Tour (Spring 1992)
Deng visited Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Shanghai, using his travels as a method of reasserting his economic policy after his retirement from office; generated large local support for his economic/openness reform platforms; was instrumental in the opening of Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, revitalizing the city as China’s economic hub. Deng’s policy rhetoric gave way to a new political storm between factions in the Politburo, eventually, his southern tour aided his reformist allies’ climb to the apex of national power and permanently changed China’s direction toward economic development. After the tour, China’s entrepreneurs were encouraged to start businesses.
China's Entry to WTO (2001)
Admission was preceded by a lengthy process of negotiations and required significant changes to the Chinese economy (e.g. tariff reductions, open markets and industrial policies). Signified deeper integration of China into the world economy. Emergence of China as a superpower
SARS Outbreak (Nov 2002)
Viral respiratory illness. Outbreak in Southern China caused an eventual 8,273 cases and 775 deaths reported in multiple countries, with the majority of cases in Hong Kong. China was criticized for not informing the World Health Organization of the first reported case of SARS (Nov 2002) until February 2003; lack of openness caused delays in efforts to control the epidemic. The entire crisis basically revealed problems plaguing the aging mainland Chinese healthcare system, including increasing decentralization, red tape, and inadequate communication.
Beijing Olympics (2008)
Big event that drew a lot of attention/criticism towards China due to their history of human rights abuses and other controversies. However, the event was important in showcasing China’s growth as a rapidly modernized country and global superpower to the rest of the world.
Wukan Incident (September 2011-December 2011)
Anti-Corruption protest that resulted in the expulsion of officials by villagers, the siege of the town by police, and subsequent detente in Wukan; protests began after officials sold land to real estate developers without properly compensating the villagers. However, the village implemented some democratic measures such as elections. However, the land issue remains unresolved still.