Republic of China 1911-1949

The distinction between the Republic of China rather than the People's Republic of China is something that confuses many who have not studied 'modern' Chinese History. The fall of the Qing Dynasty was quickened by the continued rapacious demands of the Western Powers which after the Opium Wars had already extorted money and land from an Imperial order no longer able to control the whole country. Individual provinces were increasingly under the control of local Warlords whose fealty to the 'foreign' Manchu Emperor was no longer guaranteed. The republican revolution led by Sun Yatsen initially brought great hope that China was at last to become a modern democratic state.

In this tumultuous period it was the aggressive moves of Japan that controlled events.

After Sun Yatsen fled to Japan to escape internal scourges led by Yuan Shikai the guomindang (kuomintang or KMT) party started taking a militarist stance to counter Japanese aggression. On the death of Sun Yatsen , the new leader Chiang Kaishek had also to combat Warlords who had taken control of many areas of China. Uneasy alliances between the Communists and Nationalists came and went even in the face of Japanese invasion and massacre. Brutal suppression of the Communists by Chiang Kaishek led to the Long March and the emergence of Mao Zedong as leader. The Second World War really began in 1937 with the Japanese-Chinese War not in Europe. Anglo-American aid to China was invaluable in keeping the Japanese at bay. After Hiroshima the pain continued with a brutal and bloody civil war between the Nationalist and Communists who had never been able to form a lasting united front against the Japanese. The Communists took care to keep the people on their side, particularly in the countryside, and it was principally this factor that allowed them to overcome a superior force backed by a huge amount of American money.

The large island of Taiwan is still run by the Nationalists 'Guomintang' (KMT) and you may see goods manufactured in Taiwan marked as Taiwan R.O.C. (Republic of China). For many years after 1949 the United Nations gave a seat to Taiwan rather than the People's Republic to represent China.


Sun Yatsen (Sun Zhongshan) 1911-1925
Chiang Kaishek (Jiang Jieshi) 1925-1949

Sun Yatsen and Song Qingling
Sun Yatsen and his wife Song Qingling in Japan 1915.

Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai provisional president of the Republic of China, 1912

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

Guomindang Troops
Sun Yatsen
Sun Yat Sen Memorial

See also :
China sage guide to Republic of China

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