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A Reader's Guide

Becoming Madame Mao

Timeline of Modern Chinese History

Mao Tse-tung is born.

The Ch'ing Dynasty, which has held power since 1644, ends; the period of instability that follows, characterized by feuding warlords, lasts until 1927.

August 1912
The National People's Party, or Kuomintang, is founded.

Jiang Ching, the future Madame Mao, is born.

World War I begins; Japan seizes German holdings in Shantung Province.

The Peking government recognizes Japan's authority over the Shantung territory, southern Manchuria, and eastern Inner Mongolia; Germany and Britain also lay claim to Chinese territory.

China declares war on Germany.

Peking signs a secret deal with Japan accepting Japan's claim to Shantung.

May 4, 1919
In response, massive student demonstrations against the Peking government take place.

July 1, 1921
The Chinese Communist Party founded, with Mao as one of its key members.

Chiang Kai-shek becomes leader of the National People's Party.

The Communist Party seizes control of the southeastern province of Kiangsi; Nationalist forces surround the province and institute a blockade; an estimated one million people die of starvation and disease.

October 1934
The Long March of 86,000 Communists from Kiangsi propels Mao Tse-tung to power.

July 1937
Japan invades China; Mao Tse-tung uses World War II and nationalistic fervor to further communism in China.

Jiang Ching marries Mao Tse-tung.

August 1945
World War II ends.

October 1, 1949
China's Independence Day. The People's Republic of China is established, and Mao Tse-tung is elected chairman.

February 1950
China signs the Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union.

China initiates its first Five-Year Plan, the Transition to Socialism.

The Great Leap Forward is marked by propaganda championing human willpower as the means to industrialization and economic growth.

The Cultural Revolution, led by Mao and the Red Guard, causes great suffering and unrest; the Gang of Four comprising Jiang Ching, Mao's wife; Chang Ch'un-ch'iao, a Shanghai Propaganda Department official; Yao Wen-yüan, a literary critic; and Wang Hung-wen, a Shanghai security guard — rises to power.

Lin Piao, the leader of the People's Liberation Army and Mao's official successor, plots Mao's assassination, is exposed, and dies.

Mao Tse-tung dies; Hua Kuo-feng succeeds him; Cho En-lai, premier of the People's Republic, dies.

Teng Hsiao-p'ing, as head of the People's Republic, begins economic modernization.

The members of the Gang of Four are tried in court and sentenced to prison.

Jiang Ching dies.

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