The revolutionary republican ideas of exiled Dr. Sun Yatsen -in United States- had inspired to officials, military officers and students in whole China, who initiate an military uprising in 1911 at Wuhan. |
The next year, the provisional government of the new Republic of China was established in Nanjing with Sun Yatsen as President who formed the Nationalist Party also known as Guomindang to rule the country.
Almost immediately the novel republic was in problems because the parliament -elected in 1913-, lacked of a real political or military power.
Sun was obligated to renounce and left the Presidency to Yuan Shikai, the leader of the Imperial Army, who had achieved the abdication of the last Manchu emperor, Pu Yi.
After that Shikai eradicated the national and provincial assemblies, and the political opposition, he declared himself emperor in 1915, but he didn’t get the support oh the military commanders, and lost the power few months before his death. Then, China suffered a warlord era with military leaders and coalitions fighting for the control of the country. The north was immersed in a terrible civil war, while in the south, Sun Yatsen had returned again to establish a southern Guomindang government.
At that time, Japan had invaded the port of Qingdao. In 1917 China entered World War I on the side of the Allies (integrated by Britain, France, and the United States) in order to retrieve the territory occupied by Japanese. However, at the end of the war, the Allies signed the Treaty of Versailles confirming Japan's rights in China. This caused the fair Chinese indignation and in 1919, the May Fourth Movement, initialized by Beijing students, was a strong response to the affront imposed on China, which rapidly became a protest across the nation in support of the students and their cause.
In the 1920s, Sun Yat-Sen tried to reunite the fragmented country with Soviet assistance from his revolutionary base in south China. He made an alliance between his party Guomindang and the Communist Party of China (CPC) recently formed in Shanghai, but he didn’t succeed in his purpose of transform the grave situation of China.
Chiang Kaishek seized control of the Guomindang after Sun's death in 1925. He organized successful military campaigns in south and central China, and assured the nominal allegiance of the northern warlords.
In 1927, Chiang ended the alliance with the Communists. CPC leaders where insistently chased –many of them where publicly executed- and had to escape to the mountains.
In 1934, driven from their mountain bases, the CPC armies initiated the Long March - a 9,500 km trek on foot across eighteen mountain ranges, 24 rivers and twelve provinces – until they reached Yan'an in Shanxi Province, where they established their guerrilla base. 80,000 Communists troops participated in this epic retreat, led by Mao Zedong, who became the main ideological leader during this long period of persecution.
For decades, both CPC and Guomindang had fought constantly without any significant change aside from the numerous people killed. The internal war continued even when the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931. Mao Zedong and Chiang Kaishek made a pact to create a United Front against the threat but they didn't carry out the agreement.
The second Sino-Japanese War began in 1937, when the Japanese army took most of eastern China from Beijing to Guangzhou, establishing the capital-in-occupation at Nanjing. After the defeat of Japan in World War II in 1945, Chinese could recuperate the control of their mainland.
By 1949, Mao’s Red Army occupied most of the country and Guomindang was almost destroyed.