Baylor College Medical School

108 3. Upheavals In China

108. 3. When the Qing dynasty collapsed in 1911, Sun Yixian became president of China's new republic. He hoped to rebuild China, but he made little progress. The country fell into chaos when local warlords seized power and the economy fell apart. Millions of peasants suffered severe hardships. Sun Yixian stepped down as president in 1912.

Amid the upheaval, foreign imperialism increased in China. During World War I, Japan presented Chinese leaders the Twent-One Demands. These were intended to give Japan control over China, and the Chinese gave into some of the demands. After the war, the Allies gave Japan control over some former German possessions in China. This infuriated Chinese nationalists. AS PROTESTS SPREAD, STUDENTS LED A CULTURAL AND INTELLECTUAL REBELLION KNOWN AS THE MAY FOURTH MOVEMENT. LEADERS OF THIS MOVEMENT REJECTED CONFUCIAN TRADITION AND LOOK TO WESTERN KNOWLEDGE AND LEARNING. Other Chinese people embraced Marxism . Also at this time, the Soviet Union trained Chinese students and military officers, hoping they become the vanguard of a communist revolution in China.

In 1921, Sun Yixian led the Guomindang, or Nationalist party, as it established a government in south China. To defeat the warlords he joined forces with the Chinese communists. After Sun's death, Jiang Jieshi assumed leadership of the party. Jiang felt the Communists threatened his power. He ordered his troops to slaughter Communists and their supporters. Led by Mao Zedong, the Communist army escaped north in what became known as the Long March. During the March, Mao's soldiers fought back using guerrilla tactics. Along the way, Mao's soldiers treated the peasants kindly. They paid for the goods they needed and were careful not to destroy crops. Many peasants had suffered because of the Guomindang, so they supported the Communists.

While Jiang pursued the Communists across China, the Japanese invaded Manchuria, adding it to their growing empire. Then, in 1937, Japanese planes bombed Chinese cities and Japanese soldiers marched into Nanjing, killing hundreds of thousands of people. In response, Jiang and Mao formed an alliance to fight the invaders. The alliance held up until the end of the war with Japan.


3. What group of people spearheaded the May Fourth Movement?

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Students who rejected Confucian traditions and looked toward the west for knowledge and education spearheaded the May Fourth Movement.