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Imperial China Collapses

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Nationalists Overthrow Qing Dynasty

The early 20th century was a time of change in China. Many Chinese resented the great control that foreign nations had over their economy. Some wanted to modernize China. They hoped it could regain power.

One of the leaders of this push was Sun Yixian. His group was called the Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party. In 1912, he led a revolt that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. A republic was established, and he was made the president.

Sun wanted political and economic rights for all Chinese people. He also wanted an end to the foreign control of China. But Sun did not have the support of the military. Six weeks later, he turned over his presidency to Yuan Shikai, a powerful general. Yuan became a military dictator. After he died in 1916, civil war broke out. The people suffered terribly from famine and brutal attacks.

China's leaders hoped to win the support of the Allies during World War I. They declared war on Germany. When the war ended, though, they were disappointed. The Treaty of Versailles did not give China freedom from foreign influence. It only changed masters. The parts of China that had been controlled by Germany were handed over to Japan.

Angry Chinese protested during the May Fourth Movement. Protesters included Mao Zedong. He later became the leader of China’s Communist revolution.

What did China's Nationalists want?
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The Communist Party in China

In the 1920s, revolutionaries began to look to Marxism and the Russian Revolution for a solution to China's problems. Meanwhile, Sun Yixian became disappointed in the Western democracies. They refused to support his struggling government. He decided to become allies with the newly formed Communist Party. Sun sought Soviet help, too. He died in 1925. Jiang Jieshi became leader of the Kuomintang.

At first, Jiang Jieshi joined with the Communists to try to defeat the warlords. These warlords ruled as much of the Chinese countryside as their armies could conquer. Together the Nationalists and Communists successfully fought the warlords.

What role did Jiang Jieshi play in creating the civil war?
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Civil War Rages in China

Jiang had promised democracy and political rights to all Chinese. But his government had become less democratic and more corrupt. Nothing was done to improve the life of the rural peasants. Many of them gave their support to the Chinese Communist Party.

Communist leader, Mao Zedong, built an army of peasants. In 1933, Jiang’s army surrounded them. But the Communists got away. They began the famous Long March of 6,000 miles to the north. Thousands died. The Communists settled in caves in Northwest China.

At the same time, China had other problems. In 1931, Japan invaded the part of China called Manchuria. Japan took control there and six years later began invading other areas. With this new threat, Jiang and the Communists agreed to unite temporarily to fight the Japanese.

Who fought the civil war AND what was the outcome?
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