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World News

TIMELINE - Sixty years of the People's Republic of China

REUTERS - China will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule on Oct. 1 with flowers, fireworks, performances and a military parade.

The 60 years since the end of the civil war, in which Communists and Nationalists, or Kuomintang (KMT), fought to control the territories vacated by the invading Japanese, have been nearly as tumultuous as those that came before.

China has been through a series of wrenching social changes as it veered from a planned economy to a failed experiment with radical collectivisation to today’s free-wheeling, often messy mix of bare-knuckled competition and crony capitalism, all supervised by the Communist Party.

Following are some of the key moments in the history of the world’s most populous country since 1949:

1949: Mao Zedong proclaims the People’s Republic of China.

1950-1953: China backs North Korea against U.S.-backed South Korea. At least 100,000 Chinese “volunteers” die.

1957: The Anti-Rightist Movement purges intellectuals and reformers with liberal economic and political views. Veteran Communists are later purged for opposing the Great Leap Forward.

1958-1961: The Great Leap Forward attempts to catapult China into the modern industrial age by collectivising agriculture and creating steel in ‘backyard furnaces.’ An estimated 30 million, mostly peasants, starve to death before the experiment ends.

1959: Chinese troops crush an uprising in Lhasa, following widespread Tibetan resistance against forced collectivisation policies. The Dalai Lama flees to India, where he remains today.

1966-1976: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution unleashes the teenage Red Guards, who with fanatical devotion to Mao set out to destroy all vestiges of China’s “feudal” culture. Schools close and the country disintegrates to near anarchy, before youths decamp to the countryside to “learn from peasants”.

1971: China joins the United Nations, displacing Taiwan.

1972: U.S. president Richard Nixon visits China.

1976: Tangshan earthquake. An estimated 300,000 die.

1976: Mao dies. Veteran Party members defeat a power grab by his wife, paving the way for Deng Xiaoping to take charge.

1978: “Reform and Opening up” policy revives agriculture as peasants regain the right to farm their own plots. Over the next decade, food shortages vanish and foreign investment begins.

1978-1979: “Democracy wall” posters support political reform

1979: U.S. and China reestablish diplomatic relations

1985: China runs a trade surplus with U.S. for the first time

1989: Students and workers protest for political reform and against inflation on Tiananmen Square for weeks, before the army crushes the movement on June 4, killing hundreds.

1992: Deng revives economic reform with his Southern Tour.

1997: Deng dies.

1998: Asian financial crisis coincides with reform of state-owned firms, throwing an estimated 30 million out of work.

2001: China joins the World Trade Organization.

March 2008: Protests erupt across the Tibetan plateau, after deadly riots in Lhasa, triggering a crackdown on Tibetans.

May 12, 2008: An earthquake in Sichuan province kills 80,000.

Aug. 8, 2008: Olympic Games open in Beijing.

July 5, 2009: Riots by Uighurs in Xinjiang kill 197 people.

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