Browse Exhibits (19 total)


The Great Leap Forward (大跃进)

The ‘Great Leap Forward’ occured at the start of Mao’s Second Five Year Plan which was anticipated to run from 1958-1963. The main impetus behind the Great Leap was to ‘catch-up’ with the industrialised economies of the West and transform China into a collectivised society based on socialist principles. The Great Leap equally emerged from Mao’s anti-rightist campaign as a re-assertion of his authority in the wake of the Hundred Flowers Movement which allowed criticism of the regime. While the first five-year plan certainly succeeded in forging economic growth, the subsequent great leap was overambitious, triggering one f the greatest famines in human history. The plan was abandoned in 1961.

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The Korean War 1950-1953 (朝鲜战)

Precisely one year after the People’s Republic of China was founded, Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party were drawn into an international conflict of epic proportions: The Korean War. In 1950, the North Korean army crossed the divide in the hope of controlling the entire country. Prompted by Stalin and fearing a US attack, China sent a volunteer army to North Korea in October 1950, intending to demonstrate loyalty to the Soviet Union who supplied them with aid and expertise, counter the threat of the United States and achieve a sense of national pride in a fledgling, new-born nation.


The Nanjing Decade (南京时期)

The Nanjing decade is a ten-year period in which the Nationalist party or Guomindang led by Chiang Kai-Shek formed a government having ousted warlord-led factions from power.


The Nationalist Party (国民党)

The Nationalist Party came to power after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty which was supported by their founder, Sun Yet-sen. After ceding the presidency to Yuan Shikai who controlled a large army, the party struggled to reunite China during the warlord era but would do so under Sun's successor Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang purged the party of communists but re-entered into a united front with them in order to combat the Japanese menace. During the Second Sino-Japanese War the Nationalists suffered heavy losses but the tide turned once the US entered the conflict. The party lost the subsequent Civil War to the Communists and retreated to the island of Taiwan.


The Sino-Japanese War (抗日战争)

In 1937, fully-fledged war broke out with Japan. The Japanese initially won many victories, but the tide turned after Pearl Harbour in 1941 when the US army joined allied forces. During the war, the Japanese committed several atrocities, the worst of which would become known as 'The Rape of Nanjing' where the Japanese army pillaged, raped and murdered innocent Chinese civilians. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the conflict.

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The Warlord Era 军阀时代

After the Xinhai Revolution, a military general, Yuan Shikai ruled over China in a dictatorial manner before briefly reinstating himself as emperor. This sowed popular discontent and many regions began to declare themselves independent, and China was ruled by warlords after Yuan's death in 1916. The country was reunited just over a decade later by another military general Chiang Kai-shek whose Nationalist Party defeated the warlord factions in 1928.

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The Xi'an Incident (西安变事)

The Xian incident refers to the kidnapping of General Chiang Kai-Shek, leader of the Nationalist Party, by two of his own generals Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng. The aim of the kidnapping on the 12th December 1936 was to force Chiang into a united front against Japan with the Communists.

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The Yan'an Period (延安时期)) (1936-1947)

The Yan'an period refers to the establishment of a base in Northern China beyond Nationalist control. From here, the Chinese Communist Party expanded rapidly in size and developed their own ideology of Maoism which adapted Marxist thought to a Chinese context.


Xinhai Revolution 1911 (辛亥革命)

At the beginning of the 20th century, China, the most populous nation in the world was ruled by an emperor. The rise of foreign concessions and their involvement in railway lines along with a new ideology of republicanism, prompted armed uprisings against the Qing dynasty, leading to the abdication of the child Emperor Puyi.