Republic of China

General Introduction to Republic of China

Republic of China Frustrated by the Qing court's resistance to reform and by China's weakness, young officials, military officers, and students—inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Sun Yat-sen —began to advocate the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty and the creation of a republic.

 

Sun Yat-sen, founder and first president of the Republic of China. Slavery in China was abolished in 1910.[26] A revolutionary military uprising, the Wuchang Uprising, began on October 10, 1911 in Wuhan. The provisional government of the Republic of China was formed in Nanjing on March 12, 1912 with Sun Yat-sen as President, but Sun was forced to turn power over to Yuan Shikai, who commanded the New Army and was Prime Minister under the Qing government, as part of the agreement to let the last Qing monarch abdicate (a decision Sun would later regret).

 

Over the next few years, Yuan proceeded to abolish the national and provincial assemblies, and declared himself emperor in late 1915. Yuan's imperial ambitions were fiercely opposed by his subordinates; faced with the prospect of rebellion, he abdicated in March 1916, and died in June of that year. His death left a power vacuum in China; the republican government was all but shattered. This ushered in the warlord era, during which much of the country was ruled by shifting coalitions of competing provincial military leaders. In 1919, the May Fourth Movement began as a response to the terms imposed on China by the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I, but quickly became a protest movement about the domestic situation in China.

 

The discrediting of liberal Western philosophy amongst Chinese intellectuals was followed by the adoption of more radical lines of thought. This in turn planted the seeds for the irreconcilable conflict between the left and right in China that would dominate Chinese history for the rest of the century. In the 1920s, Sun Yat-Sen established a revolutionary base in south China, and set out to unite the fragmented nation. With Soviet assistance, he entered into an alliance with the fledgling Communist Party of China.

 

After Sun's death from cancer in 1925, one of his protégés, Chiang Kai-shek, seized control of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party or KMT) and succeeded in bringing most of south and central China under its rule in a military campaign known as the Northern Expedition. Having defeated the warlords in south and central China by military force, Chiang was able to secure the nominal allegiance of the warlords in the North. In 1927, Chiang turned on the CPC and relentlessly chased the CPC armies and its leaders from their bases in southern and eastern China.

 

In 1934, driven from their mountain bases such as the Chinese Soviet Republic, the CPC forces embarked on the Long March across China's most desolate terrain to the northwest, where they established a guerrilla base at Yan'an in Shaanxi Province. During the Long March, the communists reorganized under a new leader, Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung). The bitter struggle between the KMT and the CPC continued, openly or clandestinely, through the 14-year long Japanese occupation (1931–1945) of various parts of the country. The two Chinese parties nominally formed a united front to oppose the Japanese in 1937, during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), which became a part of World War II.

 

Following the defeat of Japan in 1945, the war between the KMT and the CPC resumed, after failed attempts at reconciliation and a negotiated settlement. By 1949, the CPC had occupied most of the country. (see Chinese Civil War) At the end of WWII in 1945 as part of the overall Japanese surrender, Japanese troops in Taiwan surrendered to Republic of China troops giving Chiang Kai-shek effective control of Taiwan. When Chiang was defeated by CPC forces in mainland China in 1949, he fled to Taiwan with his government and the remnants of his army, along with most of the KMT leadership and a large number of their supporters.