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  • For those of you who are just starting

  • to learn about the history of China

  • in the first half of the 20th century,

  • it can be a little bit confusing.

  • So the goal of this video is really to give you an overview,

  • to give you a scaffold, of the history of the first half

  • of the 20th century in China.

  • So as we go into the early 1900s,

  • you have the end of imperial dynastic rule in China.

  • This is a big deal.

  • China has been ruled by various dynasties

  • for multiple thousands of years.

  • But as you get into the 1900s, the dynastic rule,

  • in particular the Qing Dynasty, was getting weaker and weaker.

  • It had suffered at the hands of the Japanese

  • during the first Sino-Japanese War at the end of the 1800s.

  • There was growing discontent amongst the opposition

  • that the dynasty, that the emperors,

  • were not modernizing China enough.

  • Remember, this is the early 1900s.

  • The rest of the world was becoming a very, very modern

  • place.

  • China in the 1800s had suffered at the hands of Western powers

  • who were essentially exerting their own imperial influence

  • in China.

  • Many people felt that this was because China was not

  • as modernized economically, politically,

  • technologically as it needed to be.

  • And so you fast-forward to 1911.

  • You have what is known as the Wuchang Uprising, which

  • led to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty.

  • By 1912, a Republic of China was established in Nanjing.

  • So Nanjing right over here was where it was established.

  • Beijing was, of course, the seat of dynastic rule in China.

  • And the first provisional president

  • of the Republic of China was Dr. Sun Yat-sen, right over here.

  • And he actually did not directly participate

  • in this final uprising that finally

  • led to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty.

  • He was actually in Denver at the time, Denver, Colorado.

  • But he was a leading or one of the leading figures in the run

  • up to this uprising, one of the leading figures

  • who was providing opposition and had tried

  • multiple times to overthrow the dynasty.

  • Now along with Sun Yat-sen, he was essentially in cahoots

  • with Yuan Shikai, who was a general in the old dynasty.

  • And he has his own fascinating history.

  • And Sun Yat-sen struck a deal with Yuan Shikai,

  • who was very politically ambitious.

  • Yuan Shikai said, hey, if I can get the emperor Puyi, who

  • was the last emperor of China, if I can get him to officially

  • abdicate, I want to become the president.

  • So Sun Yat-sen agrees to this.

  • So Yuan Shikai becomes the president

  • of the Republic of China.

  • But that wasn't enough for him.

  • He declares himself emperor in 1915,

  • which you could imagine did not make many people happy

  • because they were tired of having emperors.

  • And by 1916, he abdicates and he passes away, actually.

  • And this actually begins a period

  • of extremely fragmented rule for China.

  • Even under imperial rule, the Chinese military

  • was not one consolidated body.

  • The military was controlled by various warlords

  • in various regions that all had allegiance to the emperor.

  • Once you have Yuan Shikai abdicating and then dying

  • in 1916, and even prior to that, when

  • he declared himself emperor, people

  • did not want to pledge allegiance to Yuan Shikai.

  • And so you had what is known as the beginning of the Warlord

  • Era in China.

  • And this is a fragmented period where you did not

  • have any centralized leadership.

  • This map over here shows kind of the rough picture

  • of what the Warlord Era looked like.

  • Each of these regions were controlled

  • by a different warlord who was in charge

  • of a different military.

  • When this was going on during the Warlord Era,

  • especially as we go back to the early '20s, in 1921

  • in particular, Sun Yat-sen hasn't given up.

  • He goes to the south in Guangzhou

  • and sets up, essentially, a revolutionary government,

  • essentially a desire from there to try

  • to consolidate power in China again and reestablish

  • the Republic of China.

  • So he goes there.

  • But unfortunately he passes away in 1925 from cancer.

  • And the hands or the power of the movement that he started,

  • which is now being referred to as the Kuomintang-- Let me

  • write that down.

  • Essentially, the power there passes on

  • to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

  • And Chiang Kai-shek, the reason why

  • we say the power essentially goes to him

  • is because he was in control of the major part

  • of the military forces of the Kuomintang.

  • And this is essentially the very nascent early stages

  • of what would essentially be the Chinese Civil

  • War because in the period from 1921 until Sun Yat-sen's death,

  • you actually had a lot of collaboration

  • between the Chinese nationalists, the Kuomintang,

  • and the Soviet Union, and the Chinese Communist Party.

  • They were trying to collaborate in order

  • to think about how China would unify.

  • But then once Sun Yat-sen dies and the power of the Kuomintang

  • essentially goes into the hands of Generalissimo Chiang

  • Kai-shek, he starts to consolidate power.

  • And right from the get-go, he doesn't

  • antagonize the communists.

  • But by 1927, he's starting to consolidate,

  • he's starting to merge these various factions

  • in the rest of China.

  • So he's able to consolidate power.

  • But he also starts to go after the communists.

  • So Chiang Kai-shek, by '27, also starts

  • to go after the communists.

  • And the communists are saying, hey, we

  • are the ones that really represent the spirit of what

  • Sun Yat-sen represented, while the Kuomintang

  • under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek said, no, no, no.

  • We represent what Sun Yat-sen represented when he first

  • established the Republic of China.

  • And so in 1927, you have the beginning of the Chinese Civil

  • War.

  • This is when the Kuomintang, as part of its efforts

  • to consolidate power, not only tries

  • to consolidate power of the warlords,

  • but also goes after the Communist Party.

  • Now while all of this is happening,

  • as we get into the early 1930s, Japan once again

  • is trying to exert its imperial, its military,

  • might on the Chinese mainland.

  • They had already captured Formosa,

  • which is now known as Taiwan, and Korea

  • during the first Sino-Japanese War at the end of the 1800s.

  • And then in 1931, the Japanese start to encroach on Manchuria.

  • And this would essentially become a multi-year occupation

  • and infiltration of Japan into China.

  • And this continues all the way until 1937,

  • when it becomes an official all-out war

  • between the Japanese and the Chinese.

  • And I have a map here that shows kind

  • of the maximum Japanese control over this period.

  • And so in east Asia between the Chinese and the Japanese,

  • World War II was really just part of the Sino-Japanese War.

  • The Japanese had already encroached

  • on the mainland of China well before World War

  • II had officially begun.

  • Now while all this is happening, Japan

  • is encroaching into Manchuria, in 1934, you have to remember,

  • the Kuomintang, the Nationalist Party under Chiang Kai-shek

  • is going after the communists.

  • And in 1934, he almost has them, or he does.

  • The communists are nearly defeated.

  • They're surrounded by the Nationalist Party.

  • And this becomes what is a fairly famous event

  • in Chinese history, the famous Long March, where

  • the Chinese Communist Party, their military,

  • is marched through extremely tough terrain

  • all the way to the northwest of China.

  • So this right over here is a map of the Long March.

  • The Chinese Communist Party seemed to be on the ropes

  • here in 1934.

  • And it was during this Long March

  • that Mao Zedong really started to exert and show leadership.

  • The leadership during this Long March,

  • during this retreat to the northwest of China,

  • is really what allowed Mao Zedong to eventually take

  • control of the Chinese Communist Party.

  • Now as we fast forward, we know that the Sino-Japanese War--

  • you could view this as one theater, eventually, of World