Republic of China (1912–49) | Wikipedia audio article

The Republic of China, in the period up to 1949, was a sovereign state in East Asia that occupied the territories of modern China, and for part of its history Mongolia and Taiwan It was founded in 1912, after the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty, was overthrown in the Xinhai Revolution The Republic’s first president, Sun Yat-sen, served only briefly before handing over the position to Yuan Shikai, former leader of the Beiyang Army His party, then led by Song Jiaoren, won the parliamentary election held in December 1912 Song was assassinated shortly after, and the Beiyang Army led by Yuan Shikai maintained full control of the government in Beijing Between late 1915 and early 1916, Yuan tried to reinstate the monarchy, before abdicating after popular unrest After Yuan’s death in 1916, members of cliques in the former Beiyang Army claimed their autonomy and clashed with each other During this period, the authority of the Beiyang government was weakened by a brief restoration of the Qing dynasty In 1921, Sun’s Kuomintang (KMT) established a rival government in the southern city of Guangzhou together with the fledgling Communist Party of China (CPC) The economy of the north, overtaxed to support warlord adventurism, collapsed between 1927 and 1928 General Chiang Kai-shek, who became KMT leader after Sun’s death, started his military Northern Expedition campaign in order to overthrow the government in Beijing The central government was overthrown in 1928 and Chiang established a new nationalist government in Nanjing In April 1927, he massacred communists in Shanghai, which forced the CPC into armed rebellion, marking the beginning of the Chinese Civil War There was industrialization and modernization, but also conflict between the Nationalist government in Nanjing, the CPC, remnant warlords, and the Empire of Japan Nation-building took a backseat to war with Japan when the Imperial Japanese Army launched an offensive against China in 1937 that turned into a full-scale invasion After the unconditional surrender of Japan in 1945, fighting quickly resumed between the KMT and the CPC, with both sides receiving foreign assistance due to the ongoing friction between the Soviet Union and the United States In 1947, the Constitution of the Republic of China replaced the Organic Law of 1928 as the country’s fundamental law In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party established the People’s Republic of China, overthrowing the Nationalist government on the Chinese mainland, which retreated to Taiwan, and relocated its capital from Nanjing to Taipei == History == A republic was formally established on 1 January 1912 following the Xinhai Revolution, which itself began with the Wuchang Uprising on 10 October 1911, successfully overthrowing the Qing Dynasty and ending over two thousand years of imperial rule in China From its founding until 1949 it was based on mainland China Central authority waxed and waned in response to warlordism (1915–28), Japanese invasion (1937–45), and a full-scale civil war (1927–49), with central authority strongest during the Nanjing Decade (1927–37), when most of China came under the control of the Kuomintang (KMT) under an authoritarian one-party military dictatorship.At the end of World War II in 1945, the Empire of Japan surrendered control of Taiwan and its island groups to the Allies, and Taiwan was placed under the Republic of China’s administrative control The communist takeover of mainland China in the Chinese Civil War in 1949 left the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) with control over only Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and other minor islands With the 1949 loss of mainland China in the civil war, the ROC government retreated to Taiwan and the KMT declared Taipei the provisional capital The Communist Party of China took over all of mainland China and founded the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing === Founding === In 1912, after over two thousand years of imperial rule, a republic was established to replace the monarchy The Qing Dynasty that preceded the republic experienced a century of instability throughout the 19th century, suffered from both internal rebellion and foreign imperialism The ongoing instability eventually led to the outburst of Boxer Rebellion in 1900, whose attacks on foreigners led to the invasion by the Eight Nation Alliance China signed the Boxer Protocol and paid a large indemnity to the foreign powers: 450

million taels of fine silver (around $333 million or £67 million at the then current exchange rates) A program of institutional reform proved too little and too late Only the lack of an alternative regime prolonged its existence until 1912.The establishment of the Chinese Republic developed out of the Wuchang Uprising against the Qing government on 10 October 1911 That date is now celebrated annually as the ROC’s national day, also known as the “Double Ten Day” On 29 December 1911, Sun Yat-Sen was elected president by the Nanjing assembly with representatives from seventeen provinces On 1 January 1912, he was officially inaugurated and pledged “to overthrow the despotic government led by the Manchu, consolidate the Republic of China and plan for the welfare of the people”.Sun, however, lacked the necessary military strength to defeat the Qing government by force As a compromise, the new republic negotiated with the commander of the Beiyang Army, Yuan Shikai, with the promise of presidency in the republic if he was to remove the Qing emperor force Yuan agreed to the deal, and the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Puyi, was forced to abdicate in 1912, and Yuan was officially elected president of the ROC in 1913 He ruled by military power and ignored the republican institutions established by his predecessor, threatening to execute Senate members who disagreed with his decisions He soon dissolved the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, banned “secret organizations” (which implicitly included the KMT), and ignored the provisional constitution An attempt at a democratic election in 1912 ended with the assassination of the elected candidate by a man recruited by Yuan Ultimately, Yuan declared himself Emperor of China in 1915 The new ruler of China tried to increase centralization by abolishing the provincial system; however, this move angered the gentry along with the provincial governors, usually military men Many provinces declared independence and became warlord states Increasingly unpopular and deserted by his supporters, Yuan gave up being Emperor in 1916 and died of natural causes shortly after.China declined into a period of warlordism Sun, forced into exile, returned to Guangdong province in the south with the help of warlords in 1917 and 1922, and set up successive rival governments to the Beiyang government in Beijing; he re-established the KMT in October 1919 Sun’s dream was to unify China by launching an expedition to the north However, he lacked military support and funding to make it a reality.Meanwhile, the Beiyang government struggled to hold on to power, and an open and wide-ranging debate evolved regarding how China should confront the West In 1919, a student protest against the government’s weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, considered unfair by Chinese intellectuals, led to the May Fourth movement These demonstrations were aimed at spreading Western influence to replace Chinese culture It is also in this intellectual climate that the influence of Marxism spread and became more popular It eventually led to the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1921 === Nanjing decade === After Sun’s death in March 1925, Chiang Kai-shek became the leader of the KMT In 1926, Chiang led the Northern Expedition through China with the intention of defeating the Beiyang warlords and unifying the country Chiang received the help of the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communists; however, he soon dismissed his Soviet advisers He was convinced, not without reason, that they wanted to get rid of the KMT (also known as the Chinese Nationalists) and take over control Chiang decided to strike first and purged the Communists, killing thousands of them At the same time, other violent conflicts were taking place in China; in the South, where the Communists had superior numbers, Nationalist supporters were being massacred These events eventually led to the Chinese Civil War between the Nationalists and Communists Chiang Kai-shek pushed the Communists into the interior as he sought to destroy them, and established a government with Nanking as its capital in 1927 By 1928, Chiang’s army overturned the Beiyang government and unified the entire nation, at least nominally, beginning the so-called Nanjing Decade.According to Sun Yat-sen’s theory, the KMT was to rebuild China in three phases: a phase of military rule through which the KMT would take over power and reunite China by force; a phase of political tutelage; and finally a constitutional democratic phase In 1930, the Nationalists, having taken over power militarily and reunified China, started the second phase, promulgating a provisional constitution and beginning the period of so-called “tutelage” The KMT was criticized for instituting authoritarianism, but claimed it was attempting to establish

a modern democratic society Among other things, it created at that time the Academia Sinica, the Central Bank of China, and other agencies In 1932, China sent a team for the first time to the Olympic Games Laws were passed and campaigns mounted to promote the rights of women The ease and speed of communication also allowed a focus on social problems, including those of the villages The Rural Reconstruction Movement was one of many which took advantage of the new freedom to raise social consciousness.Historians such as Edmund Fung argue that establishing a democracy in China at that time was not possible The nation was at war and divided between Communists and Nationalists Corruption within the government and lack of direction also prevented any significant reform from taking place Chiang realized the lack of real work being done within his administration and told the State Council: “Our organization becomes worse and worse… many staff members just sit at their desks and gaze into space, others read newspapers and still others sleep.” The Nationalist government wrote a draft of the constitution on 5 May 1936.During this time a series of massive wars took place in western China, including the Kumul Rebellion, the Sino-Tibetan War and the Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang Although the central government was nominally in control of the entire country during this period, large areas of China remained under the semi-autonomous rule of local warlords, provincial military leaders or warlord coalitions Nationalist rule was strongest in the eastern regions around the capital Nanjing, but regional militarists such as Feng Yuxiang and Yan Xishan retained considerable local authority The Central Plains War in 1930, the Japanese aggression in 1931 and the Red Army’s Long March in 1934 led to more power for the central government, but there continued to be foot-dragging and even outright defiance, as in the Fujian Rebellion of 1933–34 === Second World War (1937–45) === Few Chinese had any illusions about Japanese desires on China Hungry for raw materials and pressed by a growing population, Japan initiated the seizure of Manchuria in September 1931 and established ex-Qing emperor Puyi as head of the puppet state of Manchukuo in 1932 The loss of Manchuria, and its vast potential for industrial development and war industries, was a blow to the Kuomintang economy The League of Nations, established at the end of World War I, was unable to act in the face of the Japanese defiance The Japanese began to push from south of the Great Wall into northern China and the coastal provinces Chinese fury against Japan was predictable, but anger was also directed against Chiang and the Nanking government, which at the time was more preoccupied with anti-Communist extermination campaigns than with resisting the Japanese invaders The importance of “internal unity before external danger” was forcefully brought home in December 1936, when Chiang Kai-shek, in an event now known as the Xi’an Incident, was kidnapped by Zhang Xueliang and forced to ally with the Communists against the Japanese in the Second Kuomintang-CCP United Front against Japan The Chinese resistance stiffened after 7 July 1937, when a clash occurred between Chinese and Japanese troops outside Beiping (Later Peking and Beijing) near the Marco Polo Bridge This skirmish led to open, though undeclared, warfare between China and Japan Shanghai fell after a three-month battle during which Japan suffered extensive casualties, both in its army and navy The capital of Nanking fell in December 1937 It was followed by an orgy of mass murders and rapes known as the Nanking Massacre The national capital was briefly at Wuhan, then removed in an epic retreat to Chongqing, the seat of government until 1945 In 1940 the collaborationist Wang Jingwei regime was set up with its capital in Nanking, proclaiming itself the legitimate “Republic of China” in opposition to Chiang Kai-shek’s government, though its claims were significantly hampered due to its nature as a Japanese puppet state controlling limited amounts of territory, along with its subsequent defeat at the end of the war The United Front between the Kuomintang and CCP took place with salutary effects for the beleaguered CCP, despite Japan’s steady territorial gains in northern China, the coastal regions and the rich Yangtze River Valley in central China After 1940 conflicts between the Kuomintang and Communists became more frequent in the areas not under Japanese control The entrance of the United States into the Pacific War after 1941 changed the nature of their relationship The Communists expanded their influence wherever opportunities presented themselves through

mass organizations, administrative reforms and the land- and tax-reform measures favoring the peasants and the spread of their organizational network, while the Kuomintang attempted to neutralize the spread of Communist influence Meanwhile, northern China was infiltrated politically by Japanese politicians in Manchukuo using facilities such as Wei Huang Gong In 1945, the Republic of China emerged from the war nominally a great military power but actually a nation economically prostrate and on the verge of all-out civil war The economy deteriorated, sapped by the military demands of foreign war and internal strife, by spiraling inflation and by Nationalist profiteering, speculation and hoarding Starvation came in the wake of the war, and millions were rendered homeless by floods and the unsettled conditions in many parts of the country The situation was further complicated by an Allied agreement at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 that brought Soviet troops into Manchuria to hasten the termination of war against Japan Although the Chinese had not been present at Yalta, they had been consulted and had agreed to have the Soviets enter the war in the belief that the Soviet Union would deal only with the Kuomintang government After the end of the war in August 1945, the Nationalist Government moved back to Nanjing With American help, Nationalist troops moved to take the Japanese surrender in North China The Soviet Union, as part of the Yalta agreement allowing a Soviet sphere of influence in Manchuria, dismantled and removed more than half the industrial equipment left there by the Japanese The Soviet presence in northeast China enabled the Communists to move in long enough to arm themselves with the equipment surrendered by the withdrawing Japanese army The problems of rehabilitating the formerly Japanese-occupied areas and of reconstructing the nation from the ravages of a protracted war were staggering === Post-World War II === During World War II, the United States has become increasingly involved in Chinese affairs As an ally, it embarked in late 1941 on a program of massive military and financial aid to the hard-pressed Nationalist Government In January 1943, both the United States and the United Kingdom led the way in revising their unequal treaties with China from the past Within a few months a new agreement was signed between the United States and the Republic of China for the stationing of American troops in China for the common war effort against Japan In December 1943 the Chinese Exclusion Acts of the 1880s and subsequent laws enacted by the United States Congress to restrict Chinese immigration into the United States were repealed The wartime policy of the United States was initially to help China become a strong ally and a stabilizing force in postwar East Asia As the conflict between the Kuomintang and the Communists intensified, however, the United States sought unsuccessfully to reconcile the rival forces for a more effective anti-Japanese war effort Following the Surrender of Japan, the administration of Taiwan was handed over from Japan to the Republic of China on 25 October 1945 Toward the end of the war, United States Marines were used to hold Beiping (Beijing) and Tianjin against a possible Soviet incursion, and logistic support was given to Kuomintang forces in north and northeast China To further this end, on 30 September 1945 the 1st Marine Division arrived in China, charged with security in the areas of the Shandong Peninsula and the eastern Hebei Province During the war, China was one of the Big Four Allies of World War II and later became the Four Policemen, which was a precursor to the United Nations Security Council.Through the mediating influence of the United States a military truce was arranged in January 1946, but battles between the Kuomintang and Communists soon resumed Public opinion of the administrative incompetence of the Nationalist government was escalated and incited by the Communists in the nationwide student protest against mishandling of the Shen Chong rape case in early 1947 and another national protest against monetary reforms later that year Realizing that no American efforts short of large-scale armed intervention could stop the coming war, the United States withdrew the American mission, headed by Gen. George C. Marshall, in early 1947 The Chinese Civil War became more widespread; battles raged not only for territories but also for the allegiance of cross-sections of the population The United States aided the Nationalists with massive economic loans and weapons but no combat support Belatedly, the Republic of China government sought to enlist popular support through internal reforms The effort was in vain, however, because of rampant government corruption and the accompanying political and economic chaos By late 1948 the Kuomintang position was bleak The demoralized and undisciplined National Revolutionary Army proved to be no match for

the motivated and disciplined Communist People’s Liberation Army, earlier known as the Red Army The Communists were well established in the north and northeast Although the Kuomintang had an advantage in numbers of men and weapons, controlled a much larger territory and population than their adversaries and enjoyed considerable international support, they were exhausted by the long war with Japan and in-fighting among various generals They were also losing the propaganda war to the Communists, with a population weary of Kuomintang corruption and yearning for peace In January 1949, Beiping was taken by the Communists without a fight, and its name changed back to Beijing Following the capture of Nanjing on 23 April, major cities passed from Kuomintang to Communist control with minimal resistance through November In most cases the surrounding countryside and small towns had come under Communist influence long before the cities Finally, on 1 October 1949, Communists led by Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China During those periods, Chiang Kai-shek declared martial law in May 1949 whilst a few hundred thousand Nationalist troops and two million refugees, predominantly from the government and business community, fled from mainland China to Taiwan; there remained in China itself only isolated pockets of resistance On 7 December 1949 Chiang proclaimed Taipei, Taiwan, the temporary capital of the Republic of China During the civil war both the Nationalists and Communists carried out mass atrocities with millions of non-combatants killed by both sides during the civil war Benjamin Valentino has estimated atrocities in the Chinese Civil War resulted in the death of between 1.8 million and 3.5 million people between 1927 and 1949 Atrocities include deaths from forced conscription and massacres == Government == The first Chinese national government was established on 1 January 1912, in Nanjing, with Sun Yat-sen as the provisional president Provincial delegates were sent to confirm the authority of the national government, and they later also formed the first parliament The power of this national government was limited and short-lived, with generals controlling both central and northern provinces of China The limited acts passed by this government included the formal abdication of the Qing dynasty and some economic initiatives The parliament’s authority became nominal; violations of the Constitution by Yuan were met with half-hearted motions of censure, and Kuomintang members of the parliament that gave up their membership in the KMT were offered 1,000 pounds Yuan maintained power locally by sending military generals to be provincial governors or by obtaining the allegiance of those already in power When Yuan died, the parliament of 1913 was reconvened to give legitimacy to a new government However, the real power of the time passed to military leaders, forming the warlord period The impotent government still had its use; when World War I began, several Western powers and Japan wanted China to declare war on Germany, in order to liquidate German holdings There were also several warlord governments and puppet states sharing the same name The government of the Republic of China was founded on the Constitution of the ROC and its Three Principles of the People, which states that “[the ROC] shall be a democratic republic of the people, to be governed by the people and for the people.”In February 1928, the Fourth Plenary Session of the 2nd Kuomintang National Congress held in Nanjing passed the Reorganization of the Nationalist Government Act This act stipulated that the Nationalist Government was to be directed and regulated under the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang, with the Committee of the Nationalist Government being elected by KMT Central Committee Under the Nationalist Government were seven ministries – Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Transport, Justice, Agriculture and Mines, Commerce in addition institutions such as the Supreme Court, Control Yuan and the General Academy With the promulgation of the Organic Law of the Nationalist Government in October 1928, the government was reorganized into five different branches or Yuan, namely the Executive Yuan, Legislative Yuan, Judicial Yuan, Examination Yuan as well as the Control Yuan The Chairman of the National Government was to be the head-of-state and commander-in-chief of the National Revolutionary Army Chiang Kai-shek was appointed as the first Chairman of the Nationalist Government, a position he would retain until 1931 The Organic Law also stipulated that the Kuomintang, through its National Congress and Central Executive Committee, would exercise sovereign power during the period of political tutelage, and the KMT’s Political Council would guide and superintend the Nationalist Government in the execution of important national affairs, and that the council has the power to interpret or amend the organic law.Shortly after the Second Sino-Japanese War, the long-delayed

constitutional convention was summoned to meet in Nanking in May 1946 Amidst heated debate, this convention adopted many demands from several parties, including the KMT and the Communist Party, into the Constitution This Constitution was promulgated on 25 December 1946 and came into effect on 25 December 1947 Under it, the Central Government was divided into the President and the five Yuans, each responsible for one power of the Government None was responsible to the other except for certain obligations such as the President appointing the head of the Executive Yuan Ultimately the President and the Yuans reported to the National Assembly, which represented the will of the Citizens The first elections for the National Assembly occurred in January 1948, and the Assembly was summoned to meet in March 1948 It elected the President of the Republic on 21 March 1948, formally bringing an end to the KMT party rule started in 1928—though the President was a member of the KMT These elections, though praised by at least one US observer, were poorly received by the Communist Party, which would soon start an open, armed insurrection === Foreign relations === Before the Nationalist government was ousted from the mainland, the Republic of China had diplomatic relations with 59 countries such as Australia, Canada, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Panama, Siam, Soviet Union, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, and Vatican City Most of these relations continued at least until the 1970s, and the Republic of China remained a member of the United Nations until 1971 === Administrative divisions === The ROC had complicated relations with Mongolia (Outer Mongolia) As the successor of the Qing dynasty, the ROC claimed Outer Mongolia, and for a short time occupied it by Beiyang government The Nationalist government of ROC recognised Mongolia’s independence in the 1945 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship due to pressure from Soviet Union but the recognition was rescinded in 1953 during the Cold War == Economy == In the early years of the Republic of China, the economy remained unstable as the country was marked by constant warfare between different regional warlord factions The Beiyang government in Beijing were also experiencing constant change of leadership, and this political instability led to stagnation in economic development until Chinese reunification in 1928 by the Kuomintang.After the Kuomintang reunified the country in 1928, China entered a period of relative stability despite of ongoing isolated military conflicts and in the face of Japanese aggression in Shandong eventually Manchuria in 1931 The 1930s in China were alternatively known as the “Nanjing Decade”, in which economic growth was ongoing due to relative political stability compared to the previous decade Chinese industries grew considerably from 1928 to 1931 While the economy was hit again by Japanese occupation of Manchuria in 1931 and the Great Depression from 1931 to 1935, industrial output recovered to their earlier peak by 1936 This is reflected by the trends in Chinese GDP In 1932, China’s GDP peaked at 28.8 billion, before falling to 21.3 billion by 1934 and recovering to 23.7 billion by 1935 By 1930, foreign investment in China totaled 3.5 billion, with Japan leading (1.4 billion) and the United Kingdom at 1 billion By 1948, however, the capital stock had halted with investment dropping to only 3 billion, with the US and Britain leading.However, the rural economy was hit hard by the Great Depression of the 1930s, in which an overproduction of agricultural goods lead to massive falling prices for China as well as an increase in foreign imports (as agricultural goods produced in western countries were “dumped” in China) In 1931, imports of rice in China amounted to 21 million bushels compared with 12 million in 1928 Other goods saw even more staggering increases In 1932, 15 million bushels of grain were imported compared with 900,000 in 1928 This increased competition lead to a massive decline in Chinese agricultural prices (which were cheaper) and thus the income of rural farmers

In 1932, agricultural prices were 41 percent of 1921 levels Rural incomes had fallen to 57 percent of 1931 levels by 1934 in some areas.In 1937, Japan invaded China and the resulting warfare laid waste to China Most of the prosperous east China coast was occupied by the Japanese, who carried out various atrocities such as the Rape of Nanjing in 1937 In one anti-guerilla sweep in 1942, the Japanese killed up to 200,000 civilians in a month The war was estimated to have killed between 20 and 25 million Chinese, and destroyed all that Chiang had built up in the preceding decade Development of industries was severely hampered after the war by devastating conflict as well as the inflow of cheap American goods By 1946, Chinese industries operated at 20% capacity and had 25% of the output of pre-war China.One effect of the war was a massive increase in government control of industries In 1936, government-owned industries were only 15% of GDP However, the ROC government took control of many industries in order to fight the war In 1938, the ROC established a commission for industries and mines to control and supervise firms, as well as instilling price controls By 1942, 70% of the capital of Chinese industry were owned by the government.Following the war with Japan, Chiang acquired Taiwan from Japan and renewed his struggle with the communists However, the corruption of the KMT, as well as hyperinflation as a result of trying to fight the civil war, resulted in mass unrest throughout the Republic and sympathy for the communists In addition, the communists’ promise to redistribute land gained them support among the massive rural population In 1949, the communists captured Beijing and later Nanjing as well The People’s Republic of China was proclaimed on 1 October 1949 The Republic of China relocated to Taiwan where Japan had laid an educational groundwork == Military == The Republic of China Army takes its roots in the National Revolutionary Army, which was established by Sun Yat-sen in 1925 in Guangdong with the goal of reunifying China under the Kuomintang Originally organized with Soviet aid as a means for the KMT to unify China against warlordism, the National Revolutionary Army fought major engagements in the Northern Expedition against the Chinese Beiyang Army warlords, in the Second Sino-Japanese War against the Imperial Japanese Army, and in the Chinese Civil War against the People’s Liberation Army.During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the armed forces of the Communist Party of China were nominally incorporated into the National Revolutionary Army (while retaining separate commands), but broke away to form the People’s Liberation Army shortly after the end of the war With the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic of China in 1947 and the formal end of the KMT party-state, the National Revolutionary Army was renamed the Republic of China Armed Forces, with the bulk of its forces forming the Republic of China Army, which retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after their defeat in the Chinese Civil War Units which surrendered and remained in mainland China were either disbanded or incorporated into the People’s Liberation Army == See also == Economic history of China (1912–49) Five Races Under One Union Sino-German cooperation 1926–1941 Sino-Soviet relations Three Principles of the People == References == === Citations === === Sources === == External links == Chinese Revolutionary Destinations travel guide from Wikivoyage Media related to Republic of China (1912-1949) at Wikimedia Commons