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China, 1911-49

Revision Notes

1: China, 1911-1916
Why was China weak in 1911?

The emperors had resisted change and China had become backward, especially its
technology, industry and armed forces.
Foreign countries had begun to exploit China and its trade.
The great majority of Chinese people were very poor peasants.

Why was there a revolution in 1911? (p7)

Because China was already weak! (see reasons above)

The emperor (Puyi) was very young and the Manchu dynasty was very unpopular and
seen as a failure.
The army did not support the emperor.
The harvest failed and there was a famine.
Even the rich, who normally supported the emperor, were angry about high taxes.

Dr Sun Yatsen, the GMD and the Three Principles (p7)

The GMD was a political party started in 1905 by Dr. Sun Yatsen (its leader till 1925)
Dr Sun and the GMD stood for the Three Principles of the People. These were;
o Nationalism (stop foreigners interfering in China)
o Socialism (give the peasants land)
o Democracy (get rid of the Emperors and have a Parliament and President
elected by the people instead)
Why could Dr Sun Yatsen not continue as President of China? (p8)

General Yuan Shikai agreed to help Dr. Sun and the GMD to get rid of the emperor,
but only if he became President instead of Dr. Sun
Dr. Sun agreed to this because otherwise there might have been a bloody civil war
Yuan Shikai had control of the army, so was more powerful
Dr. Sun thought that Yuan would keep his promise to obey the Three Principles

Why was Yuan Shikai such a bad ruler? (p8-9)

He ignored the Three Principles and tried to make China into an empire again, with
himself as emperor (going against the principle of democracy).
He gave in to the Japanese over the Twenty One Demands, which gave Japan
control over the control of industry and trade in Manchuria and Mongolia (going
against nationalism).
He seemed to care more about the rich people in China than the peasants (going
against socialism).
He was not a strong enough leader to stop the warlords taking over different parts
of China.
2: Warlord China,

Who were the warlords? (p10)

They were rulers of local areas of China and were often army generals with private
They were not all bad, but many of them were brutal and greedy
They existed because there was no strong central government powerful enough to crush

Why was the time of the warlords so bad for China? (p10-11)

The peasants suffered terribly, paying increased taxes and being ill-treated by the
warlords and their private armies
Many peasants were forced to grow opium poppies and so food production suffered and
there were famines in some areas.
China's industry and transport began to collapse - attempts to modernise the country
ended because the warlords were too busy fighting each other and would not co-
China was no longer a united country and there was no real central government to keep
law and order.

What was the May Fourth Movement? (p12)

It began as a protest against foreigners, especially the Japanese.

It began on 4 May, 1919, when there was a huge demonstration in Beijing against the
Treaty of Versailles (the peace treaty at the end of WW1) because the Treaty
gave Chinese land to Japan.
The May Fourth Movement led to strikes and prevented the government from signing
the Treaty.
The New Cultural Movement grew out of the May Fourth Movement. It was based in
Beijing University. Many of its members joined the GMD and CCP because they
thought these parties could make China strong again. It was very important in
boosting the size of the CCP in its early years.
These groups can be called nationalist movements - they wanted to make China
powerful and to get rid of foreign influence in China.

Why was the First United Front formed? (p14)

The first United Front was when the GMD and the CCP joined forces
The Russian Revolution of 1917 meant that the Russian government was keen to help
other countries form communist parties too, so the CCP was set up in 1921 with the help
of Comintern.
At first the Russians told the Chinese communists to join up with the GMD because;
o The CCP was only small
o It was thought that communism could only develop through industrial workers
in cities and China did not have many of these at this time
Both sides thought they needed to join up to defeat the warlords.
The Russians helped the United Front by sending money and army equipment.

What was the May 30 Incident in 1925? (p15)

This was when a demonstration led to deaths in the crowd caused by foreign troops.
Many protests followed and lots of people joined the GMD and the CCP. (Similar to the
May 4th incident in 1919 but don't get them muddled!)

What was the Northern Expedition? (p15)

This was big journey to attack on the warlords in the north by a GMD army led by
Chiang Kaishek (he became leader of the GMD after Dr. Sun's death in 1925).
It started in 1926 and by 1927 the GMD had defeated many of the warlords. In 1928
they took over Beijing.
The CCP also helped, as part of the first United Front.
Many peasants helped the GMD/CCP army against the warlords by rebelling.

Why did the First United Front end? (p15-16)

Chiang Kaishek did not like communists and ordered attacks on them, such the
Shanghai Massacre of 1927. Thousands of people were killed.
The CCP was becoming more and more popular and Chiang Kaishek was worried about this.
Chiang's supporters were better off Chinese (e.g. landowners and businessmen).
They expected Chiang to crush the CCP, which threatened their wealth and power.
3: The CCP and the GMD

Why did the CCP win more support?

Concentrated on workers and peasants, who the GMD ignored

CCP promised to give land to peasants
The Red Army always treated the Chinese people very well e.g. on the Long March
The Long March enabled the CCP to spread their ideas across China
In CCP-controlled areas (e.g. Yanan) the land was shared out among people, women were
treated equally (e.g. foot-binding banned) and everyone was given education). The
peasants liked all this.

Why did the GMD lose support?

GMD were supported by rich landlords and there werent many of them (c.f. millions of
Never defeated warlords completely
Attacks on CCP lost support
The GMD was more worried about staying in power than improving conditions for
Chinese people
Chiang was a very brutal leader
The GMD left landlords in control of local areas and they were v. unpopular
Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and the GMD did nothing. The proud Chinese people
were very angry at this.

How did Chiang Kaishek try to get rid of the CCP?

The Shanghai Massacre (1927) led into the White Terror this was a campaign by the
GMD to kill all communists.
Chiang tried to destroy the soviet set up by the CCP the Jiangxi Soviet
He did this by launching military attacks on the area - The Extermination Campaigns
of 1930
1933 the GMD put a strangle-hold around the Soviet until they gave in. Slowly starved
the communists of food, fuel, weapons and ammunition.
4: The Long March and Extermination
(pages 18-22)
What were the Extermination Campaigns?

They were a series of army attacks, by the GMD, on the Jiangxi Soviet, aimed at
destroying the communists for good.
Mao suggested that the communists should avoid direct battle unless the enemy is
running away; guerrilla tactics

What caused the Long March?

Chiang and the GMD army surrounded the Jiangxi Soviet, starving those inside of food,
weapons, ammunition and fuel.
60,000 communist soldiers and 1 million peasants died.
Mao decided they needed to break out of the trap October 1934 100,000 communists

What happened during the Long March?

Travelled over 5000miles over very tough ground Great Snow Mountains, swamps,
desolate grasslands often no food or drink. Many dies along the way.
One of the key events was the crossing of the Luding footbridge. This event was used
by the CCP for propaganda purposes to show the heroic bravery of the communists.
The March ended when the CCP reached a Soviet at Yanan.

What were the consequences of the Long March?

It helped the CCP to spread communist ideas.

It secured Maos position as leader of the CCP.
It was good propaganda material for the CCP. It made them seem strong and heroic-
extremely appealing to the downtrodden masses.
It enabled the CCP to survive without it communism in China probably would have been
5: The War with Japan and
Civil War
What was the Second United Front?

Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 after which Mao and the CCP declared war against
Mao also called for the GMD and CCP to unite against the Japanese.
Chiang Kaisehek saw the Japanese invasion as less of a threat to the GMDs power than
the CCP and so initially refused to join forces with them.
It was not until 1937 that the GMD agreed to join forces in a Second United Front
against the Japanese.

How did the war with Japan affect the Chinese people?

The war was extremely brutal. The Chinese people were subject to extreme terror.
Chinese people were raped, tortured and murdered in extremely high numbers. Over 4
million Chinese were killed and 60 million made homeless.

How did the war with Japan affect the CCP?

Because the Japanese controlled the coastal areas, the GMD government had to
move to
Chonquing. This was important for the CCP as it allowed them to move to northern
areas and gain further support.
The CCPs policy of driving the Japanese out of China was popular and attracted
further support.
The bravery and determination of the CCP also increased support.

How did the war with Japan affect the GMD?

GMD officials shown to be very corrupt - only interested in their own positions and
The power of the warlords increased, loosing the GMD more support.

How did the war with Japan end?

USA declared war on Japan after the Japanese attacked Pearl Habour. The Japanese
left China in 1945. America did no want the communists to take power in China so they
had been supplying the GMD military and financial support.
By November 1946 a full scale civil war had begun. The GMD were in a much stronger
position, having control of many key areas and backing from America.

How did the CCP win the Civil War?

The CCP controlled Manchuria from 1946 - taking over GMD troops and weapons;
plenty of raw materials such as iron - helped by the Russians, who obviously wanted the
CCP to win
The CCP used guerrilla tactics effectively.
The majority of peasants supported the CCP.
The People's Liberation Army was well-disciplined.
The CCP had tough, effective leaders.

Why did the GMD lose the Civil War?

The Americans would not send in troops to help the GMD.

In spite of a much bigger army at the start, the GMD was not successful at fighting.
They were badly organised.
The GMD army treated its soldiers very badly so they didnt want to fight.
GMD officials were brutal and corrupt - they were only interested in making money.
The GMD lost support in the cities as inflation soared and there were shortages of
many goods
Section 2:
1: How did the CCP
control China?
(see pages 2-5 in your booklet)

What happened in 1949?

The CCP had won the civil war against the GMD and declared the Peoples Republic
of China in 1949.
Mao became President of China and Chairman of the CCP.
The CCP moved very quickly to make sure they fully controlled China (remember, no-
one had been able to do this since 1911)

How did Mao and the CCP keep control of China? (p2-3)

The CCP kept control through a mixture of carrot and stick. One the one hand, they tried
to win peoples support. For example;
Land Reform (the first stage), where land was taken from the landlords and given to
the peasants the peasants were very grateful.
Propaganda. For example, plays would be performed that spread the communist
message and posters were displayed all over China. Sometimes, loudspeakers blared
out messages as people worked.
Policies towards women. For example, the Marriage Law banned bigamy and women
were also allowed to do jobs they had never done before. Lots of them supported the
CCP as a result.
Education. The CCP brought education to millions of people for the first time. This
was very popular. But they also used education to indoctrinate Chinese schoolchildren.
Teachers had to teach about communist beliefs and children were brought up to
worship Mao and the CCP.

On the other hand, the Mao made sure that no-one dared oppose him. For example;
After the CCP came to power in 1949, thousands of suspected GMD supporters were
killed especially in the cities - or sent to prison camps.
Up to a million landlords were killed in the early 1950s during the first stage of land
reform (landlords would obviously have opposed the CCP).
The Red Army (CCPs army) kept tight control of the country and was ready to arrest
anyone who showed signs of opposing the CCP.
No political parties other than the CCP were allowed to exist.
All organisations apart from the CCP were banned e.g. churches and religion were
People were terrified of being labeled a counter-revolutionary and didnt dare speak
out against the CCP in case they were arrested.
What was Thought Reform? (p3)

Thought reform was started in the early 1950's.

People studied Mao's ideas and were made to give up any "wrong" ideas.
There was a great deal of bullying and pressure, and stubborn people were sent to
labour camp for "re-education".
2: Land Reform
(see pages 2-5 in your booklet)

What were Peoples Courts and Speak Bitterness

Meetings? (p4-5)

On of the first things the CCP did when they came to power was start the
process of land reform with the Land Reform Law, 1950.
Land was forcibly taken off the landlords and given to the peasants.
At the same time, peasants were encouraged to come to meetings and display
their anger at the way their landlords had treated them in the past. These were
called speak bitterness meetings. Often they ended up with landlords being
beaten up and killed.
Peoples Courts were very similar. Here, ex-landlords would be accused of
crimes and were virtually always found guilty and executed (see the sources of
page 4-5 of your booklet).

Why did Mao introduce Land Reform?

To win the support of the peasants by giving them land.

To enable him to get rid of the landlords (who would have opposed him).
To make farming more efficient. Previously, there was no incentive for landlords to
use modern techniques because they could just use the peasants. Equally, there was
no incentive for the peasants to work hard because they couldnt keep or sell all the
crops they produced.
The speak bitterness meetings and Peoples Courts were a way of getting the
peasants to blame landlords for their problems, not the CCP.

What was the next stage in Land Reform?

After the Land Reform Law, 1950, the CCP completely changed the direction of
agricultural policy.
Instead of peasants being allowed to own their own land and make profits on it, they
were gradually forced to share land between them. This process was called
collectivisation (i.e. the land being collected into bigger areas).
Eventually, most people lived in massive Peoples Communes (see the section on the
Great Leap Forward).
Remember, collectivisation happened all through the 1950s and 1960s including what
happened during the Great Leap Forward!
Why was Collectivisation used?

The collectives (or communes) were more efficient because modern machinery (e.g.
tractors) could be shared. Peasants would not have been able to afford it on their
Collectives also allowed the CCP to control the peasants. CCP members could keep a
close eye on them in the communes and feed them with propaganda.
It was also part of communist ideology everything should be shared by the people
and there should be no private property.
3: Women
How did the role of Women change under the CCP?

Traditionally in China, women were not regarded as equal to men.

Often, baby girls were killed because their families could not afford to keep them.
They were also forced to have their feet bound, in an ancient custom, if they were to
ever find a husband
The CCP did a lot to bring equality to women.
The Marriage Law, 1950 banned bigamy and foot-binding was stamped out. The CCP
also tried to stop the practice of killing unwanted babies.
Women were given education as well as men and many got jobs such as doctors and
Creches (places for children to be looked after) were introduced in work places so
women could work while their children were looked after.
4: The 5 Year Plan
What was the First Five-Year Plan?
It started in 1952 and was an attempt to improve China's economy (which was in a bad
state) quickly.
A new currency (the yuan) was introduced and prices and wages were fixed to
reduce inflation.
Heavy industries like coal, steel and oil were the focus and targets were set for their
Russia sent thousands of expert advisers to help improve industry.
Millions went to live in cities to find work in the new factories. In some cities, there was
a shortage of housing and sometimes of food.
Overall, it was a success. A very high growth of 9% was achieved and most of the
production targets were met. Industry especially heavy industry significantly
improved over the 5 years between 1952 and 1957.
5: 100 Flowers
In 1957 Mao asked for criticism and discussion about China's problems and the
ways the government were using to change things

Why did Mao start the campaign?

No-one really knows, but

Maybe he really wanted more freedom of discussion and for ordinary people to get
involved in politics (and didnt expect much criticism).
Maybe he wanted people to criticise local communist leaders, some of whom he had
heard had not been treating the local people fairly.
Maybe he wanted to catch out people who were against him (lure snakes out of

What happened when the campaign began?

There was a lot of criticism of the Five Year Plan and its effects, especially by
middle class people such as teachers, writers and artists.
Party leaders and officials were criticised for being corrupt or inefficient.
Even Mao himself was criticised by some people.

What were the consequences of the campaign?

He ended the campaign and punished people who had been critical.
He began an Anti-Rightist movement, which was directed by Deng Ziaoping.
Most of the critics were arrested, lost their jobs and were sent to labour camps for
Altogether, about 500,000 people were punished.
6: The Great Leap
What was the Great Leap Forward?

This was the name given to the Second Five-Year Plan, starting in 1957. It had
two main aims.
First, it was a plan to modernise Chinas industry and make it into a powerful
industrial country within fifteen years.
Second, it was meant to modernise Chinese agriculture so that enough food could be
grown to feed the population.

What happened during the Great Leap Forward?

Mao believed the key to its success was to use the millions of peasants in China
to do the work instead of machinery and experts, who he distrusted.
Instead of building big factories in cities, the CCP encouraged peasants to set up
small-scale industries in the countryside (called the industrialisation of the
countryside). For example, they had to make steel in backyard blast furnaces.
To improve agriculture, massive schemes of irrigation and dams were planned, to be
built by enormous armies of labourers.
People were forced to live in People's Communes, units of up to 30,000 peasants. In
a Commune, peasants lived in barracks, ate in canteens and gave up their small
plots of land. (see pages 10-11 for more details).
Targets were set for every village, commune and factory. These targets were
extremely high and people were too scared to argue with them.

Why was the Great Leap Forward such a failure?

The Great Leap Forward was a terrible disaster.

The peasant industries did not work properly no-one had the expertise to run
them properly. E.g. the steel produced in the backyard furnaces was so poor it could
not be used.
People lied about the amount they had produced because they were scared of
what would happen to them if they did not meet their targets. This meant that
even crazier targets were set.
Foolish ideas like ploughing deep, planting crops too closely together and killing birds
led to poor harvests.
Peasants neglected the farms to look after the industries and a disastrous famine
began (1959-1961). At least 16 million people died of starvation. (see pages 12-13
No-one dared criticise the plan for fear of being labelled a rightist or a counter-

What effect did the failure of the Great Leap Forward have on
Mao and the CCP?

Mao eventually admitted that mistakes had been made and had to resign as
President of China - but kept his job as Chairman of the CCP.
In 1962 Deng Ziaoping and Liu Shaoqui took over the running of the economy and
changed it a lot. E.g. they allowed peasants to have their private plots of land again
so that more food could be produced.
7: The Cultural
Why did Mao start the Cultural Revolution in 1966? (p15)

Mao said he started the Cultural Revolution because;

He thought that China was becoming too westernised (following the capitalist road)
and that CCP leaders were better off than ordinary people.
There were too many experts in China and they were damaging the country .

However, the real reasons he started it were that;

He wanted to regain the power he lost after the failure of the Great Leap
Forward (he complained he was being treated like a dead ancestor).
He wanted to get rid of Deng and Liu.
He may have been influenced by his wife, Jiang Qing.

What happened during the Cultural Revolution?

Mao knew that ordinary Chinese, especially the young, idolised him so he set up the
Red Guards. These were groups of young people who studied his ideas (in the
Little Red Book) and basically worshipped Mao almost like a god (or emperor!)
Huge demonstrations were held in Tiananmen Square, Beijing and posters and
pictures of Mao were put up everywhere
The Red Guards were told to attack anyone in authority - teachers, parents,
intellectuals, scientists, civil servants, doctors They were forced to confess to
being class enemies or capitalist roaders. Many were tortured and killed (see
pages 16-17)
Liu and Deng were sacked and humiliated; Liu died in prison in 1969. Many local
CCP leaders and officials were attacked.
The Four Olds (anything to do with traditional China) were attacked and often
destroyed (e.g. temples, art, tea houses).
Anything western was attacked (e.g. western music, plays, writing). Jiang Qing
ordered new operas and plays to glorify the revolution instead

What were the effects of the Cultural Revolution?

Schools and universities closed for two years or more - a whole generation
lost their education.
Industry suffered and production almost stopped by 1968 - the economy was in
Rival gangs of Red Guards began to clash and many old personal scores were settled.
Law and order virtually broke down between 1966 and 1968
Many CCP leaders were arrested and sent into the countryside to work as peasants
Probably at least a million people died as a result of the Cultural Revolution
See page 18 of your booklet for more effects.

How did the Cultural Revolution end?

Mao ordered the Red Guards to stop their attacks in 1969, and the PLA was brought in
to restore order. Mao announced that the Cultural Revolution was over, but it took years
to bring everything back to normal in factories, schools and farms.