People's Republic of China 1949- present

China after one hundred years of conflict (Taiping and Boxer Rebellions, Opium Wars, Japanese invasion, Civil War) was in a parlous condition. By any measure it had become a Third World country with little industrial development, dominated by the huge agrarian population eking out an existence with gruelling manual labour in the fields. The average life expectancy was less than 40 years. Chairman Mao sought to rebuild China as a 'modern' nation and at the cost of immense suffering great advances were made. The People's Republic of China was proclaimed on 1st October 1949 in Beijing. Initially help came from the Soviet Union but when Mao made it clear he wanted to found his own Chinese version of Communism a split was inevitable. In the following years of Mao's regime China went it alone, closed to the outside world, gradually building up the essentials to form a modern industrial nation (communications, railways, iron and steel, coal and oil). Mao modelled himself on the great Qin emperor who unified China and lent heavily on Confucian ideals, in this way Mao was a modern leader in a decidedly Chinese style. Indeed in his later years he lived a rather sad life, entrapped by a coterie of mistresses and carers much in the style of the former Emperors.

After Mao, China has continued to grow as a modern industrial power and is likely to be the dominant nation in the world within the next fifty years. It is too early to pass judgement on the last few decades, after all what is thirty years in a history that stretches back 5,000 years?

See Also : Map of present day China
Provinces of China


Mao Zedong1949-1976
Deng Xiaoping 1976-1997
Jiang Zemin1997-2003
Hu Jintao 2003-present

Mao poster
A poster from the early days of the People's Republic of China. © Sally & Richard Greenhill Photo Library

Here are some photographs reflecting People's Republic of China times, click on the thumbnail to see the photograph in full

Mao's Long March
Gang Of Four
Qing Hua University Posters
Dazhai Revolution
Red Flag Canal
Maoist Rally
Little Red Soldiers

Mao Mausoleum
Posters against Deng Xiaoping
Mao and Lin Biao

See also :
China sage guide to People's Republic

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