1909–12: democratic upheaval. Abdication of the last Emperor, formation of the Guomindang (1912), followed by a period dominated by the rule of regional warlords.
1919: May 4th Movement — student protests at Japan’s acquisition of German rights in China under the Versailles Treaty.
1920: Formation of Chinese Communist Party.
1924: Communist Party (under pressure from Stalin and his friends in Moscow) joins Guomindang. USSR sends military advisers to help Guomindang.
1927: Guomindang, led by Chiang Kai Shek, seizes Shanghai and massacres Communist workers there. In December 1927 CP attempts an uprising to seize power in Canton, which is heavily defeated. After that, CP organisers retreat to rural areas.
1931: Japan occupies Manchuria.
1933: Japan occupies China north of the Great Wall; withdraws from the League of Nations.
1934: Communist Party, under leadership of Mao Zedong, undertakes “Long March” to retreat to more remote areas.
1936: New alliance formed between Guomindang and Maoists to fight the Japanese.
1937: Capture and sack of Nanjing by Japanese troops. Huge massacre.
1939–45: Second World War. From 1941 Japan is in the war, allied with Germany, and US aids Chiang Kai Shek’s Guomindang as an ally.
1945: Japan surrenders unconditionally at end of World War 2. Soviet Union occupies Manchuria; then withdraws, but takes industrial equipment as ‘war booty’.
1946: Maoists break alliance with Guomindang and launch civil war against it. US initially seeks to act as mediator between Guomindang and Maoists.
1949: Maoists capture Beijing (Jan.); Shanghai (May); proclaim “People’s Republic of China” (October). Chiang Kai Shek and Guomindang retreat to Taiwan.
1958: Mao launches “Great Leap Forward”, an attempt at forced-march industrialisation and collectivisation of agriculture, which results in 20 million or more deaths through famine.
1961–2: Growing tensions between Mao and the Russian government lead to open diplomatic split. Over the 1960s, the Chinese government helps to organise “Maoist” splits from Communist Parties across the world.
1966–7: “Cultural Revolution” in China. Mao mobilises the army and youth to beat down a faction of the bureaucracy favouring more gradualist and market-oriented policies. Terror, many deaths, huge dislocation of education and economy.
1976: Mao dies. Soon after his death, the “Gang of Four”, ultra-Maoist leaders, are deposed and arrested. From 1978 Deng Xiaoping, a leader of the anti-Maoist faction in the Cultural Revolution, achieves supremacy. China opens up to the world market.
1980s: Chinese government dismantles agricultural collectives and returns land effectively to individual ownership; expands foreign direct investment.
1990s: Large-scale privatisation of Chinese industry.