China's Republican Era, 1911 to 1949
Grade Level: High School – Community College
Includes curriculum unit + CD-ROM
The establishment of the Republic of China in 1911 did little to solve China’s domestic and international problems. The country remained in political, economic, and social turmoil despite the presence of an entirely new governing structure. Sun Yatsen’s best efforts to carry out his visionary plan for a republican style of government were repeatedly thwarted by President Yuan Shikai and his own dictatorial quest for power. But even Yuan’s death in 1916 did little to improve the situation.
The world continued to change and evolve in ways that directly impacted China’s welfare and future. World War I, the continued bullying by Western powers, and Japan’s increased aggression further encroached upon China’s sovereignty and fueled feelings of nationalism. Meanwhile, some Chinese intellectuals saw hope for China in the Bolsheviks’ success in the Russian Revolution. China’s dismal circumstances fomented an intellectual revolution in China that spawned two new political groups—the Nationalist Party (Guomindang) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—whose rivalry would shape and dominate most of the Republican Era.
When Chiang Kaishek unified China and proclaimed the establishment of the Nationalist government in 1927, the change brought neither peace nor harmony. In fact, for the next two decades the Guomindang government would never achieve much peace or harmony in China. As Chiang struggled to rebuild China, Mao Zedong rose to power and orchestrated a revolution, Japan invaded, China was drawn into World War II, and the communists eventually prevailed and led China into the Communist Era.
This unit takes students through Chinese history from the end of the Qing Dynasty, through the Republican Era, and up to the Communist Era, and presents historical events against the backdrop of an ever-changing world.
Lesson One provides students with a background on China’s decline and disintegration from the 1840s to 1911, as well as the impotent years from 1911 until Nationalist victory in 1927.
Lesson Two introduces students to the rebuilding years of China from 1927 to 1949, during which the new Nationalist government struggled to firmly establish itself in the face of significant internal and external challenges.