- The Communist Red Army defeats the Nationalists
in a civil war. The People's Republic of China (PRC) is established
on October 1.
- Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists retreat to the
island of Taiwan.
- Signing of Sino-Soviet Treaty.
- China enters
the Korean War.
- Marriage Law promulgated, providing freedom of
marriage and divorce.
- Basic land reform completed after a five-year
campaign. All land deeds destroyed and land redistributed (roughly
two million landlords executed).
- Korean War armistice.
- Inauguration of PRC's
First Five-Year Plan, relying on Soviet model of industrial development.
- Zhou Enlai plays a major role at the Geneva
Convention and the Bandung Conference, establishing a new diplomatic
prominence for the PRC.
- First constitution of the PRC is promulgated.
- Collectivization of agriculture is stepped up.
- In the wake of Khrushchev's denunciation of
Stalin and political explosions in Poland and Hungary, Mao calls
for a "Hundred Flowers Movement" to improve the relationship
between the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and the people.
soon attack the legitimacy of CCP rule. The Party responds with
- Mao promotes a "Great Leap Forward" in
economic development, relying on mass mobilization, the commune
system, and indigenous methods. The effort fails for the most
part because of administrative weakness aggravated by bad weather.
- PRC attacks offshore islands under Nationalist control (September,
- In August, 1959, Defense Minister Peng Dehuai is ousted after
he criticizes Mao's sponsorship of the Great Leap Forward; Peng
replaced by Lin Biao.
- Withdrawal of the Soviet technical advisors,
widening the Sino-Soviet rift.
- Return to more conventional economic
development policies to deal with the post-Great Leap Forward
- The polity and economy recover, but the CCP
becomes increasingly divided over how to pursue economic development,
with Mao and his more radical associates pitted against Liu Shaoqi,
Deng Xiaoping, and other moderate leaders.
- Lin Biao, defense minister
and one of Mao's allies, leads campaigns to increase political
consciousness in the military by stressing the study of Mao's
- China detonates its first nuclear device (1964).
- Mao leads the "Great Proletarian Cultural
Revolution," to attack the Party bureaucracy that was frustrating
his initiatives and to revive revolutionary commitment.
of youths (the Red Guards) are mobilized, the Party-state machinery
is crippled and a host of Party veterans — most notably Liu Shaoqi
and Deng Xiaoping — are purged. Mao is forced to call the army
in to end the resultant disorder.
- The Ninth National Congress of the CCP issues
a new Party Constitution that names Lin Biao as "Comrade
Mao Zedong's close comrade-in-arms and successor."
- The beginning of Sino-American rapprochement.
- Death of Lin Biao after alleged coup attempt (September).
succeeds to China's seat in the United Nations (October).
- Nixon visits the PRC.
- Shanghai Communiqué signed.
- Deng Xiaoping reappears in public for the
first time since the Cultural Revolution (April).
- In August, the
CCP's Tenth Congress issues a new Party Constitution, eliminating
a clause naming Lin Biao as Mao's successor.
- Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, and other moderate
leaders chip away at policies introduced during the Cultural
- Radical forces mount a campaign to "criticize Confucius," ostensibly
to eliminate feudal ways of thought but actually to defend the
Cultural Revolution and indirectly attack Zhou.
- Fourth National People's Congress is convened.
- Zhou Enlai outlines
an economic modernization plan for the PRC, but radical opposition
- Deng Xiaoping is elected to Politburo Standing Committee.
However, his approach to economic development, education, and
science comes under increasing attack by Mao's more radical followers.
- Zhou Enlai dies (January 8).
- Hua Guofeng is
named acting premier (February 7) amid expectations that Deng
Xiaoping would succeed Zhou.
- A mass demonstration occurs in Beijing's
Tiananmen Square over the removal of wreaths honoring Zhou Enlai
- The Politburo strips Deng of all his posts and names
Hua Guofeng full premier and first vice chairman of the CCP (April
- Zhu De dies (July 6).
- The northern city of Tangshan is struck
by a massive earthquake (July 28) that kills close to a million
- Mao Zedong dies (September 9). Four weeks later (October
6), Hua Guofeng leads the arrest of influential radicals, including
Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Wang Hongwen and Yao Wenyuan (soon
labeled the "gang of four"). Hua, already Premier,
now becomes chairman of the CCP and chairman of its Military
Affairs Commission, thus officially succeeding Mao.