c. 6500 BCE
Rice cultivation begins in the Yangtze River valley in China.
Villages arise in China around the Yellow River. Terraced farming begins and rice is cultivated.
Evidence of the surgical procedure of trephination found in China.
c. 5000 BCE
Dead buried with grave goods at Banpo Village, China.
c. 4800 BCE
Neolithic village of Banpo in China built.
c. 4500 BCE - c. 3750 BCE
The Neolithic village of Banpo is inhabited.
4500 BCE - 3000 BCE
The Hongshan culture in China produces a jade figurine which is the oldest known depiction of a dragon.
c. 3600 BCE
First appearance of silk in China.
c. 3000 BCE - c. 1700 BCE
The Longshan culture flourishes in north-east China.
c. 2700 BCE
The earliest known examples of woven silk from Qianshanyang, China.
c. 2070 BCE - c. 1600 BCE
c. 1789 BCE - 1758 BCE
Kong Jia of the Xia Dynasty rules in China.
1728 BCE - 1675 BCE
Jie is the last ruler of the Xia Dynasty in China.
1600 BCE - 1046 BCE
Shang Dynasty in China.
1600 BCE - 1046 BCE
Writing develops in China during the Shang Dynasty.
c. 1300 BCE
The chariot is introduced to China from the northwest.
c. 1300 BCE
The Chinese Shang dynasty moves its capital to Yin (modern Anyang).
c. 1250 BCE - c. 1150 BCE
The I-Ching, the Book of Changes, is written.
1250 BCE - 1192 BCE
Reign of the great Emperor Wu Ding of the Shang Dynasty in China.
c. 1050 BCE
King Wen of Zhou is the first Chinese ruler to claim a Mandate of Heaven.
1046 BCE - 771 BCE
772 BCE - 476 BCE
The Spring and Autumn Period in China.
Following nomadic attacks in the west, the Chinese Zhou dynasty moves its capital east to Luoyang. Beginning of Eastern Zhou Period.
771 BCE - 256 BCE
551 BCE - 479 BCE
512 BCE - 506 BCE
The Wu Chu wars in China between the States of Wu and Chu.
The Battle of Boju at which the Wu forces under Sun-Tzu defeated the Chu.
c. 500 BCE
Life of the Chinese Relativist Philosopher Teng Shih (probable date of death 522 or 502 BCE).
c. 500 BCE
Probable life of the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu, founder of Taoism and author of the Tao-Te-Ching.
c. 500 BCE
Probable life of Sun-Tzu, Military Strategist, author of The Art of War.
c. 481 BCE - 221 BCE
Warring States Period in China.
470 BCE - 391 BCE
Life of the Chinese pacifist philosopher Mo Ti, founder of Mohism.
440 BCE - 360 BCE
Life of Chinese Hedonist Philosopher Yang Zhu.
372 BCE - 289 BCE
Life of the Confucian philosopher Mencius (Mang-Tze).
Duke Xin, ruler of Qin, is awarded the title of Hegemon by the Zhou state.
Xiao, ruler of Qin, is awarded the title of Hegemon by the Zhou state.
328 BCE - 308 BCE
Rise of the Chinese state of Qin.
Huiwen, ruler of Qin, is awarded royal status by the Zhou state.
c. 280 BCE - c. 233 BCE
Life of Han Feizi who developed Legalism in China.
The Qin state captures Ying, the capital of the Chu state.
262 BCE - 260 BCE
The Battle of Changping, one of the most important battles in the Warring States Period in China between Zhao and Qin.
259 BCE - 210 BCE
Life of Ying Zheng of Qin, Shi Huangdi, First Emperor of China.
The army of the state of Qin captures the city of Chengzhou and the last Zhou ruler, King Nan, is killed. End of the Zhou Dynasty.
The Qin absorbs the remains of the Zhou state.
The Qin state defeats the Han state during the Warring States Period.
The Qin state defeats the Wei state during the Warring States Period.
The Qin state absorbs the Chu state during the Warring States Period.
221 BCE - 210 BCE
First emperor of a united China, Shi Huangti, rules.
221 BCE - 206 BCE
The Qin state defeats the Yan and Qi states during the Warring States Period.
220 BCE - 210 BCE
Emperor Shi Huangti initiates building the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal.
c. 218 BCE
Construction of the Great Wall of China is initiated.
The Burning of the Books and the Burying of Philosophers Period in China.
213 BCE - 206 BCE
Qin Dynasty elevates Legalism as state philosophy and bans all others.
210 BCE - 206 BCE
China rises in rebellion against crumbling Qin Dynasty.
Chinese Qin empire collapses following the death of emperor Shi Huangti. Civil War begins.
206 BCE - 9 CE
The Western Han dynasty rules China from their capital in Chang'an.
The Emperor Shi Huangti is buried with a terracotta army of more than 8,000 soldiers in a palace tomb.
Liu-Bang of Han establishes the Han Dynasty in China.
The Battle of Gaixia in which the Han forces defeat the Chu.
Liu Bang is proclaimed emperor of China after defeating the rival general Xiang Yu.
Mar 202 BCE
Emperor Gaozu (Liu Bang) becomes the first Han ruler.
Liu Bang dies. His empress Lü Zhi (also known as Lü Hou) rules through puppet kings for her own benefit for the next fifteen years.
141 BCE - 87 BCE
Reign of Emperor Wu (Wu the Great), the most effective and influential of the Han monarchs.
141 BCE - 87 BCE
Han Emperor Wu abandons Legalism in favor of Confucianism.
140 BCE - 87 BCE
Han emperor Wu rules and expands Han territory in China.
138 BCE - 126 BCE
Zhang Qian, as envoy of Emperor Wu, opens up the 'Silk Road' trading route between China and central Asia.
117 BCE - 100 BCE
Han emperors extend the western part of the Great Wall of China.
Kingdom of Nan-Yueh (northern Vietnam) comes under Chinese administration.
Chinese Han Empire conquers the kingdom of Tien.
104 BCE - 101 BCE
The War of the Heavenly Horses, general Li Guangli forces the city of Da Yuan (Alexandria Eschate) into tributary status.
Chang'an, the imperial capital of China, had a population of nearly 250 thousand people.
9 CE - 23 CE
Emperor Wang Mang, known as a reformist, reigns in China, founds Xin Dynasty.
Wang Mang takes control of the empire by usurping the throne and proclaiming his innovative dynasty called Xin ("new").
The sack of Chang'an, imperial capital of China.
c. 23 CE
After the sack of Chang'an, Liu Xiu led his loyal officials to the city of Luoyang, where the Chinese imperial capital was relocated.
25 CE - 220 CE
The Eastern Han dynasty rules China.
The Han dynasty of China invades Mongolia.
c. 155 CE - 220 CE
Life of Cao Cao, Chinese military dictator and founder of the Wei state.
Chinese Han empire in decline.
168 CE - 189 CE
Ling is emperor in China.
184 CE - 192 CE
The 'Yellow Turban' rebellion is quashed by the Han in China.
A large peasant uprising known as the Yellow Turban Rebellion (sometimes referred to as the Yellow Scarves Rebellion) threatened the city of Luoyang.
The Yellow Turban rebellion breaks out when local government offices are attacked across China.
Luoyang, the Han capital, is sacked by the Chinese warlord Dong Zhuo.
Luoyang, the Han capital in China, is burned.
Dong Zhou seized control of the Chinese imperial capital and placed a child, Liu Xie, as the new ruler.
Cao Cao takes over the former Han government and appoints himself chancellor, in effect, a military dictator.
China is divided into three regional kingdoms.
Cao Cao represses for good the Yellow Turban rebellion in China.
Liu Xie abdicated the throne. Wars between warlords and states continued and China would have to wait about 350 years to be unified again.
Death of the North China military dictator Cao Cao.
The nomadic Xiongu break through the Great Wall of China.
Murong Huang invades Korea from China and sacks the Goguryeo capital of Gungnae, taking 50,000 inhabitants prisoner.
413 CE - 478 CE
Japanese kings send ambassadors and tribute to China.
c. 494 CE
The first Buddhist caves are carved at Longmen Grottoes, China.
The Northern Wei select Luoyang as their capital in China.
Steppe hordes attack the Chinese capital Luoyang.
581 CE - 618 CE
Sui Dynasty in China.
581 CE - 601 CE
Reign of Wen (aka Wendi), first Sui emperor in China.
604 CE - 618 CE
Reign of Yang (aka Yangdi), second and last Sui emperor in China.
618 CE - 907 CE
618 CE - 626 CE
Reign of Gaozu, 1st Emperor of Tang Dynasty in China.
626 CE - 649 CE
Reign of Emperor Taizong in China.
Taizong signs peace treaty between Tibet and China.
649 CE - 683 CE
Reign of Emperor Gaozong in China.
The Goguryeo kingdom of northern Korea collapses following an attack by the Tang Dynasty of China.
683 CE - 704 CE
Reign of Empress Wu Zetian, only female monarch of China.
690 CE - 704 CE
Reign of Empress Wu Zetian in China.
712 CE - 756 CE
Taoism becomes official religion of China under the Emperor Xuanzong.
768 CE - 824 CE
Life of Han Yu, "the Shakespeare of China".
842 CE - 845 CE
The Chinese state persecutes Buddhist monks and their monasteries.
The Tang empire attacks and kills 10,000 Uyghur tribespeople in Inner Mongolia.
907 CE - 960 CE
The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period in China.
Zhu Wen establish Later Liang Dynasty in China. The start of the Five Dynasties.
907 CE - 1125 CE
The Khitan tribes form the Liao dynasty and rule parts of Mongolia, Manchuria and northern China.
937 CE - 975 CE
First mention of foot-binding in Chinese texts.
The Khitan Liao dynasty invades northern China.
960 CE - 1279 CE
Song Dynasty in China.
960 CE - 1125 CE
The Northern Song Dynasty in China.
960 CE - 976 CE
Reign of Emperor Taizu, founder of the Song dynasty in China.
976 CE - 997 CE
Reign of Emperor Taizong of the Song dynasty in China.
c. 990 CE - 1030 CE
Life of Chinese painter Fan Kuan.
997 CE - 1022 CE
Reign of Emperor Zhenzong of the Song dynasty in China.
Treaty of Shanyuan which brings peace between the Liao dynasty and Song dynasty of China with the latter compelled to pay annual tribute.
1022 CE - 1063 CE
Reign of Emperor Renzong of the Song dynasty in China.
Defeat to the Xia state results in China's Song dynasty paying tribute.
1063 CE - 1067 CE
Reign of Emperor Yingzong of the Song dynasty in China.
1067 CE - 1085 CE
Reign of Emperor Shenzong of the Song dynasty in China.
1085 CE - 1100 CE
Reign of Emperor Zhizong of the Song dynasty in China.
1100 CE - 1126 CE
Reign of Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty in China.
The Jurchen (Jin state) attack the Liao state in northern China.
1115 CE - 1234 CE
The Jurchen Jin state rules in Mongolia and northern China.
1115 CE - 1123 CE
Reign of Emperor Taizu, founder of the Jurchen Jin state.
1125 CE - 1279 CE
The Southern Song Dynasty in China.
The Jin state attacks Song China.
The Jurchen Jin state invades Song China necessitating the latter to move south and form the Southern Song dynasty.
1127 CE - 1162 CE
Reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Song dynasty in China.
Hangzhou (aka Linan) is made the capital of the Song Dynasty, now known as the Southern Song.
A peace treaty is signed betwwen the (southern) Song Dynasty and Jin state.
The Jurchen Jin dynasty and Southern Song dynasty sign a formal peace treaty.
The Jurchen Jin state capital is moved from Shangjing (Harbin) to Yanjing (Beijing).
1162 CE - 1189 CE
Reign of Emperor Xiaozong of the Song dynasty in China.
1189 CE - 1194 CE
Reign of Emperor Guangzong of the Song dynasty in China.
1194 CE - 1224 CE
Reign of Emperor Ningzong of the Song dynasty in China.
The Mongols attack the Jurchen Jin state in northern China.
The Mongols attack the Jurchen Jin state in northern China.
The Mongols attack the Jurchen Jin state in northern China.
The Mongols attack the Jurchen Jin state in northern China.
1224 CE - 1264 CE
Reign of Emperor Lizong of the Song dynasty in China.
Feb 1234 CE
The Mongols attack and conquer the Jurchen Jin State in northern China.
1264 CE - 1274 CE
Reign of Emperor Duzong of the Song dynasty in China.
1271 CE - 1368 CE
Xiangyang falls into Mongol hands.
1274 CE - 1275 CE
Reign of Emperor Gongzong of the Song dynasty in southern China.
1275 CE - 1279 CE
The Mongols led by Kublai Khan attack and conquer the last remnants of Song China.
1275 CE - 1277 CE
Reign of Emperor Duanzong of the Song dynasty in southern China.
1278 CE - 1279 CE
Reign of Emperor Dibing of the Song dynasty in southern China.
1368 CE - 1644 CE
Reign of the Ming Dynasty in China.
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U.S. Relations With China
Since 1949, U.S.-China relations have evolved from tense standoffs to a complex mix of intensifying diplomacy, growing international rivalry, and increasingly intertwined economies.
Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong establishes the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on October 1 after peasant-backed Communists defeat the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang and thousands of his troops flee to Taiwan. The United States—which backed the Nationalists against invading Japanese forces during World War II—supports Chiang’s exiled Republic of China government in Taipei, setting the stage for several decades of limited U.S. relations with mainland China.
The Soviet-backed North Korean People’s Army invades South Korea on June 25. The United Nations and the United States rush to South Korea’s defense. China, in support of the communist North, retaliates when U.S., UN, and South Korean troops approach the Chinese border. As many as four million people die in the three-year conflict until the United Nations, China, and North Korea sign an armistice agreement in 1953 [PDF].
President Dwight Eisenhower lifts the U.S. navy blockade of Taiwan in 1953, leading Chiang Kai-shek to deploy thousands of troops to the Quemoy and Matsu islands in the Taiwan Strait in August 1954. Mainland China’s People’s Liberation Army responds by shelling the islands. Washington signs a mutual defense treaty with Chiang’s Nationalists. In the spring of 1955, the United States threatens a nuclear attack on China. That April, China agrees to negotiate, claiming a limited victory after the Nationalists' withdrawal from Dachen Island. Crises erupt again in 1956 and 1996.
Nine years after the People’s Republic of China asserts control over Tibet, a widespread uprising occurs in Lhasa. Thousands die in the ensuing crackdown by PRC forces, and the Dalai Lama flees to India. The United States joins the United Nations in condemning Beijing for human rights abuses in Tibet, while the Central Intelligence Agency helps arm the Tibetan resistance beginning in the late 1950s.
China joins the nuclear club in October 1964 when it conducts its first test of an atomic bomb. The test comes amid U.S.-Sino tensions over the escalating conflict in Vietnam. By the time of the test, China has amassed troops along its border with Vietnam.
Differences over security, ideology, and development models strain Sino-Soviet relations. China’s radical industrialization policies, known as the Great Leap Forward, lead the Soviet Union to withdraw advisors in 1960. Disagreements culminate in border skirmishes in March 1969. Moscow replaces Washington as China’s biggest threat, and the Sino-Soviet split contributes to Beijing’s eventual rapprochement with the United States.
In the first public sign of warming relations between Washington and Beijing, China’s ping-pong team invites members of the U.S. team to China on April 6, 1971. Journalists accompanying the U.S. players are among the first Americans allowed to enter China since 1949. In July of 1971, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger makes a secret trip to China. Shortly thereafter, the United Nations recognizes the People’s Republic of China, endowing it with the permanent Security Council seat that had been held by Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China on Taiwan since 1945.
President Richard Nixon spends eight days in China in February 1972, during which he meets Chairman Mao and signs the Shanghai Communiqué with Premier Zhou Enlai. The communiqué sets the stage for improved U.S.-Sino relations by allowing China and the United States to discuss difficult issues, particularly Taiwan. However, normalization of relations between the two countries makes slow progress for much of the decade.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter grants China full diplomatic recognition, while acknowledging mainland China’s One China principle and severing normal ties with Taiwan. Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, who leads China through major economic reforms, visits the United States shortly thereafter. However, in April, Congress approves the Taiwan Relations Act, allowing continued commercial and cultural relations between the United States and Taiwan. The act requires Washington to provide Taipei with defensive arms, but does not officially violate the U.S.’s One China policy.
The Reagan administration issues the “Six Assurances” to Taiwan, including pledges that it will honor the Taiwan Relations Act, it would not mediate between Taiwan and China, and it had no set date to terminate arms sales to Taiwan. The Reagan administration then signs in August 1982 a third joint communiqué with the People’s Republic of China to normalize relations. It reaffirms the U.S. commitment to its One China policy. Though Ronald Reagan voices support for stronger ties with Taiwan during his presidential campaign, his administration works to improve Beijing-Washington relations at the height of U.S. concerns over Soviet expansionism. President Reagan visits China in April 1984 and in June, the U.S. government permits Beijing to make purchases of U.S. military equipment.
In the spring of 1989, thousands of students hold demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, demanding democratic reforms and an end to corruption. On June 3, the government sends in military troops to clear the square, leaving hundreds of protesters dead. In response, the U.S. government suspends military sales to Beijing and freezes relations.
In September 1993, China releases Wei Jingsheng, a political prisoner since 1979. That year, President Bill Clinton launches a policy of “constructive engagement” with China. However, after Beijing loses its bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games, the Chinese government imprisons Wei again. Four years later, Clinton secures the release of Wei and Tiananmen Square protester Wang Dan. Beijing deports both dissidents to the United States.
The Nationalist Party’s Lee Teng-hui wins Taiwan’s first free presidential elections by a large margin in March 1996, despite Chinese missile tests meant to sway Taiwanese voters against voting for the pro-independence candidate. The elections come a year after China recalls its ambassador after President Clinton authorizes a visit by Lee, reversing a fifteen-year-old U.S. policy against granting visas to Taiwan’s leaders. In 1996, Washington and Beijing agree to exchange officials again.
NATO accidentally bombs the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during its campaign against Serbian forces occupying Kosovo in May 1999, shaking U.S.-Sino relations. The United States and NATO offer apologies for the series of U.S. intelligence mistakes that led to the deadly bombing, but thousands of Chinese demonstrators protest throughout the country, attacking official U.S. property.
President Clinton signs the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000 in October, granting Beijing permanent normal trade relations with the United States and paving the way for China to join the World Trade Organization in 2001. Between 1980 and 2004, U.S.-China trade rises from $5 billion to $231 billion. In 2006, China surpasses Mexico as the United States’ second-biggest trade partner, after Canada.
In April 2001, a U.S. reconnaissance plane collides with a Chinese fighter and makes an emergency landing on Chinese territory. Authorities on China’s Hainan Island detain the twenty-four-member U.S. crew. After twelve days and a tense standoff, authorities release the crew, and President George W. Bush expresses regret over the death of a Chinese pilot and the landing of the U.S. plane.
In a September 2005 speech, Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick initiates a strategic dialogue with China. Recognizing Beijing as an emerging power, he calls on China to serve as a “responsible stakeholder” and use its influence to draw nations such as Sudan, North Korea, and Iran into the international system. That same year, North Korea walks away from Six-Party Talks aimed at curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. After North Korea conducts its first nuclear test in October 2006, China serves as a mediator to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.
In March 2007, China announces an 18 percent budget increase in defense spending for 2007, totaling more than $45 billion. Increases in military expenditures average 15 percent a year from 1990 to 2005. During a 2007 tour of Asia, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney says China’s military buildup is “not consistent” with the country’s stated goal of a “peaceful rise.” China says it is increasing spending to provide better training and higher salaries for its soldiers, to “protect national security and territorial integrity.”
In September 2008, China surpasses Japan to become the largest holder of U.S. debt—or treasuries—at around $600 billion. The growing interdependence between the U.S. and Chinese economies becomes evident as a financial crisis threatens the global economy, fueling concerns over U.S.-China economic imbalances.
China surpasses Japan as the world’s second-largest economy after it is valued at $1.33 trillion for the second quarter of 2010, slightly above Japan’s $1.28 trillion for that year. China is on track to overtake the United States as the world’s number one economy by 2027, according to Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill. At the start of 2011, China reports a total GDP of $5.88 trillion for 2010, compared to Japan’s $5.47 trillion.
In an essay for Foreign Policy, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlines a U.S. “pivot” to Asia. Clinton’s call for “increased investment—diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise—in the Asia-Pacific region” is seen as a move to counter China’s growing clout. That month, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, U.S. President Barack Obama announces the United States and eight other nations have reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a multinational free trade agreement. Obama later announces plans to deploy 2,500 marines in Australia, prompting criticism from Beijing.
The U.S. trade deficit with China rises from $273.1 billion in 2010 to an all-time high of $295.5 billion in 2011. The increase accounts for three-quarters of the growth in the U.S. trade deficit for 2011. In March, the United States, the EU, and Japan file a “request for consultations” with China at the World Trade Organization over its restrictions on exporting rare earth metals. The United States and its allies contend China's quota violates international trade norms, forcing multinational firms that use the metals to relocate to China. China calls the move “rash and unfair,” while vowing to defend its rights in trade disputes.
Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng escapes house arrest in Shandong province on April 22 and flees to the U.S. embassy in Beijing. U.S. diplomats negotiate an agreement with Chinese officials allowing Chen to stay in China and study law in a city close to the capital. However, after Chen moves to Beijing, he changes his mind and asks to take shelter in the United States. The development threatens to undermine U.S.-China diplomatic ties, but both sides avert a crisis by allowing Chen to visit the United States as a student, rather than as an asylum seeker.
The 18th National Party Congress concludes with the most significant leadership turnover in decades as about 70 percent of the members of the country’s major leadership bodies—the Politburo Standing Committee, the Central Military Commission, and the State Council—are replaced. Li Keqiang assumes the role of premier, while Xi Jinping replaces Hu Jintao as president, Communist Party general secretary, and chairman of the Central Military Commission. Xi delivers a series of speeches on the “rejuvenation” of China.
President Obama hosts President Xi for a “shirt-sleeves summit” at the Sunnylands Estate in California in a bid to build a personal rapport with his counterpart and ease tense U.S.-China relations. The leaders pledge to cooperate more effectively on pressing bilateral, regional, and global issues, including climate change and North Korea. Obama and Xi also vow to establish a “new model” of relations, a nod to Xi’s concept of establishing a “new type of great power relations” for the United States and China.
A U.S. court indicts five Chinese hackers, allegedly with ties to China’s People’s Liberation Army, on charges of stealing trade technology from U.S. companies. In response, Beijing suspends its cooperation in the U.S.-China cybersecurity working group. In June 2015, U.S. authorities signal that there is evidence that Chinese hackers are behind the major online breach of the Office of Personnel Management and the theft of data from twenty-two million current and formal federal employees.
On the sidelines of the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, President Obama and President Xi issue a joint statement on climate change, pledging to reduce carbon emissions. Obama sets a more ambitious target for U.S. emissions cutbacks, and Xi makes China’s first promise to curb carbon emissions’ growth by 2030. These commitments by the world’s top polluters stirred hopes among some experts that they would boost momentum for global negotiations ahead of the 2015 UN-led Climate Change Conference in Paris.
At the fourteenth annual Shangri-La Dialogue on Asian security, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter calls on China to halt its controversial land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea, saying that the United States opposes “any further militarization” of the disputed territory. Ahead of the conference, U.S. officials say that images from U.S. naval surveillance provide evidence that China is placing military equipment on a chain of artificial islands, despite Beijing's claims that construction is mainly for civilian purposes.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump says he will honor the One China policy in a call with President Xi. After winning the presidential election, Trump breaks with established practice by speaking on the telephone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and questioning the U.S. commitment to its One China policy. Washington’s policy for four decades has recognized that there is but one China. Under this policy, the United States has maintained formal ties with the People’s Republic of China but also maintains unofficial ties with Taiwan, including the provision of defense aid. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, visiting Beijing in March, describes the U.S.-China relationship as one “built on nonconfrontation, no conflict, mutual respect, and always searching for win-win solutions.”
President Trump welcomes China’s Xi for a two-day summit at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where bilateral trade and North Korea top the agenda. Afterward, Trump touts “tremendous progress” in the U.S.-China relationship and Xi cites a deepened understanding and greater trust building. In mid-May, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross unveils a ten-part agreement between Beijing and Washington to expand trade of products and services such as beef, poultry, and electronic payments. Ross describes the bilateral relationship as “hitting a new high,” though the countries do not address more contentious trade issues including aluminum, car parts, and steel.
The Trump administration announces sweeping tariffs on Chinese imports, worth at least $50 billion, in response to what the White House alleges is Chinese theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property. Coming on the heels of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the measures target goods including clothing, shoes, and electronics and restrict some Chinese investment in the United States. China imposes retaliatory measures in early April on a range of U.S. products, stoking concerns of a trade war between the world’s largest economies. The move marks a hardening of President Trump’s approach to China after high-profile summits with President Xi in April and November 2017.
The Trump administration imposes fresh tariffs totaling $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. More than eight hundred Chinese products in the industrial and transport sectors, as well as goods such as televisions and medical devices, will face a 25 percent import tax. China retaliates with its own tariffs on more than five hundred U.S. products. The reprisal, also valued around $34 billion, targets commodities such as beef, dairy, seafood, and soybeans. President Trump and members of his administration believe that China is “ripping off” the United States, taking advantage of free trade rules to the detriment of U.S. firms operating in China. Beijing criticizes the Trump administration’s moves as “trade bullying” and cautions that tariffs could trigger global market unrest.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivers a speech marking the clearest articulation yet of the Trump administration’s policy toward China and a significant hardening of the United States’ position. Pence says the United States will prioritize competition over cooperation by using tariffs to combat “economic aggression.” He also condemns what he calls growing Chinese military aggression, especially in the South China Sea, criticizes increased censorship and religious persecution by the Chinese government, and accuses China of stealing American intellectual property and interfering in U.S. elections. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounces Pence’s speech as “groundless accusations” and warns that such actions could harm U.S.-China ties.
Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom and electronics company Huawei, is arrested in Canada at the United States’ request. The U.S. Justice Department alleges Huawei and Meng violated trade sanctions against Iran and committed fraud and requests her extradition. In apparent retaliation, China detains two Canadian citizens, who officials accuse of undermining China’s national security. Calling Meng’s arrest a “serious political incident,” Chinese officials demand her immediate release. U.S. officials emphasize an unbiased and apolitical legal process, but Trump implies Meng’s charges could be used as leverage in ongoing U.S.-China trade talks.
Amid legal proceedings against Meng, Huawei sues the United States in a separate lawsuit for banning U.S. federal agencies from using the telecom giant’s equipment. In a battle with Beijing for technological supremacy, the Trump administration launches an aggressive campaign warning other countries not to use Huawei equipment to build 5G networks, claiming the Chinese government could use the company to spy.
After trade talks break down, the Trump administration raises tariffs from 10 to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. China retaliates by announcing plans to increase tariffs on $60 billion worth of American goods. President Trump says he believes the high costs imposed by tariffs will force China to make a deal favorable to the United States, while China’s Foreign Ministry says the United States has “extravagant expectations.” Days later, the Trump administration bans U.S. companies from using foreign-made telecommunications equipment that could threaten national security, a move believed to target Huawei. The U.S. Commerce Department also adds Huawei to its foreign entity blacklist.
After China’s central bank lets the yuan weaken significantly, the Trump administration designates China a currency manipulator. The designation, applied to China for the first time since 1994, is mainly symbolic, but it comes less than a week after Trump announced higher tariffs on $300 billion worth of goods. That means everything the United States imports from China now faces taxes. Beijing warns that the designation will “trigger financial market turmoil.”
A Brief History of the Uighurs
Uighur dancer performs to music in Siniang, China on January 1, 1943.
The violence that has claimed at least 156 lives in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang this week is rooted in long-standing grievances among China's Uighur minority. The Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs were traditionally the dominant ethnic group in the region whose Mandarin name, Xinjiang, means simply "New Frontier" perhaps a reflection of the fact that the region was only brought under Beijing's control in its entirety during the 19th century rein of the Qing dynasty. And this week they have found themselves in violent confrontation with Han Chinese, who have become a significant majority in the capital, Urumqi, thanks to Beijing's settlement policies.
Despite an official ideology that recognized them as equal citizens of the communist state, Uighurs have always had an uncomfortable relationship with the authorities in Beijing. In 1933, amid the turbulence of China's civil wars, Uighur leaders in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar declared a short-lived independent Republic of East Turkestan. But Xinjiang was wholly subsumed into the new state forged by China's victorious Communists after 1949, with Beijing steadily tightening its grip on the oil rich territory. Its official designation as an "autonomous region" belies rigid controls from the central government over Xinjiang, and a policy of settling hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese there that has left the Uighurs comprising a little less than half of the region's roughly 20 million people. (See pictures of the race riots in China.)
The Uighurs have deep roots in the region, descending from the ancient Sogdian traders once observed by Marco Polo. Unlike many of the nomadic tribes of Central Asia, the Uighurs are an urban people whose identity crystallized in the oasis towns of the Silk Road. A walk through the bazaars of old Uighur centers such as Kashgar, Khotan or Yarkhand reveals the physical legacy of a people rooted along the first trans-contintental trade route: an astonishing array of hazel and even blue eyes, with blonde or brown or black hair typically tucked beneath headscarves or the customary Uighur felt cap.
Its cosmopolitan setting also gave the Uighurs' homeland a rich mix of religious and cultural traditions. Xinjiang is the home to some of China's oldest Buddhist temples and most celebrated monks, while Islam arrived in the tenth century and became dominant in the subsequent centuries. Most Uighurs today practice a brand of Islam that is peaceful and tolerant and mixed with the mystical strains of Sufism. One of their holiest sites is the tomb of an 18th century concubine who, according to legend, naturally exuded an overwhelming and intoxicating musk. (Read "Palau: Next Stop After Gitmo?")
The discovery of dozens of Uighurs at guerrilla camps in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion of 2001 highlighted the fact that some have, in recent years, been lured by a more fundamentalist form of Islam. Many analysts believe this development has been a reaction to the strict controls imposed by the communist authorities who have restricted religious freedoms: The numbers of Uighurs permitted to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca has been limited Uighur government employees are forbidden from fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan the political authorities appoint the Imams at every mosque, and often dictate the sermons preached during Friday prayers.
Curbs on religious freedom have been accompanied by cultural restrictions. The Uighur language, written in Arabic script, has been steadily phased out of higher education, having been once deemed by Xinjiang's Communist leader to be unsuitable for China's "scientific development." Uighurs in Xinjiang are often denied the right to travel outside of China, or even within it. Those who do manage to move to China's major cities eke out a desperate living as migrant workers, often viewed with distrust and suspicion by the larger Chinese population. The immediate cause of Sunday's protest in Urumqi appears to have been a mass attack on a community of Uighur laborers in a southern Chinese factory town thousands of miles away from Xinjiang.
Widespread Uighur alienation has prompted some to resort to violence. Following the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., Beijing convinced Washington to list the little-known East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organization. Some Uighurs were captured by coalition forces in Afghanistan and sent to Guantánamo, but many have subsequently been released. The specter of Uighur terrorism loomed over Xinjiang after a series of attacks and bombings hit the province during the build-up to last year's Beijing Olympics. The extent of the ETIM's tactical capabilities and its connections to other more prominent terrorist outfits remains unclear. Other exiled Uighur movements are avowedly secular, such as the World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer, accused by Beijing of fomenting the recent riots.
Beijing casts its own role in Xinjiang as that of a benevolent force for progress, citing the economic development spurred by its billions of dollars of investment. To be sure, Urumqi is now a city of skyscrapers, but its population is almost 75% Han Chinese, and the Uighurs claim they're frozen out of jobs and see themselves as the victims of China's own westward expansion.
China's approach to the region is captured in a recent plan to bulldoze much of Kashgar's historic Old City an atmospheric, millennia-old warren of mosques and elaborate mud-brick houses and replace it with a tourist-oriented theme park version, resettling its Uighur population (who were not consulted) in "modern" housing miles away from the city.
But the events in Urumqi seem to suggest that as long as Uighurs feel helpless in the face of what they see as encroachment by an often-hostile culture, the potential remains high for new outbreaks of violence.
China’s Maritime Disputes
Disputes over overlapping exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea have intensified in recent decades, while the territorial row over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea dates back to the nineteenth century.
The Sino-Japanese war, fought primarily over control of Korea, ends with the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, in which China cedes territories including Formosa (Taiwan) to Japan. The treaty does not mention the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands [PDF], which were not discussed during negotiations. Beijing maintains that this transfer included the islands, while Tokyo claims that it had owned them since January 1895, when it officially annexed the uninhabited land. This distinction comes into play after World War II, when China says the islands must be returned to Chinese rule as a result of the Cairo and Potsdam declarations, which oblige Japan to renounce claims to all territories seized through war.
After claiming exclusive rights over several South China Sea archipelagos, Japan occupies the Pratas Islands. The Japanese Imperial Navy lands on the Spratlys in December 1938 and invades Hainan Island the following February. Japan’s moves follow the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 1937—a battle between the Republic of China’s National Revolutionary Army and the Japanese Imperial Army—which marks the Japanese invasion of China. Japan’s military foray into the South China Sea [PDF] takes place during a decade in which France’s Indochina forces have also been present in the area, surveying the islands in the early 1930s and occupying the Paracel Islands in 1938.
After Tokyo’s surrender at the end of World War II, the United States assumes control of Japan. This includes the Ryukyu Islands, which Washington later interprets to include the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. The greater Ryukyu Islands are seen as being of strategic significance at a time when communism is spreading in the region. The Kuomintang-led government of China makes repeated claims to the islands and in April 1948 calls for their return. The U.S. occupation of Japan’s main islands lasts until the end of the Korean War in 1952, but the United States continues to occupy Okinawa until 1972.
China, under the rule of the nationalist Kuomintang party, demarcates its territorial claims in the South China Sea with an eleven-dash line on a map. The claim covers the majority of the area, including the Pratas Islands, the Macclesfield Bank, and the Paracel and Spratly Islands, which China regained from Japan after World War II. In 1953, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-led government removes the portion encompassing the Gulf of Tonkin, simplifying the border to nine dashes. To this day, China invokes the nine-dash line as the historical basis for its territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Communist leader Mao Zedong declares the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), ending the civil war that breaks out shortly after World War II between forces loyal to the Chinese Communist Party and those backing the Kuomintang. Defeated Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek flees to Taiwan, where he establishes a government in exile. The United States recognizes it as the sole legitimate government of China, and does not establish formal diplomatic ties with the PRC until 1979.
The United States and forty-seven other nations sign the Treaty of Peace [PDF] with Japan in San Francisco, officially ending World War II. Japan renounces all claims to Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), the Pescadores, and the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are not explicitly mentioned in the treaty, though there is a tacit understanding that Japan will administer them as a part of Okinawa Prefecture. Japan is granted “residual sovereignty”—meaning full sovereignty would eventually be transferred to Japan—over the Ryukyu Islands in turn, the United States is permitted to open military bases on Okinawa. Whether the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands were considered part of Okinawa or ceded to Taiwan after the treaty remains a contentious issue in the present-day debate over sovereignty in the East China Sea.
The United States and Japan sign the bilateral Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, a ten-year, renewable agreement stipulating that any attack on territories under Japan’s administration would require action by both countries to “meet the common danger.” (In an analogous situation, the United States is bound by a 1951 mutual defense treaty with the Philippines.) Washington has consistently asserted that the treaty covers the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, though it has refrained from explicitly endorsing Japan’s sovereignty claim over the islands. Some analysts believe the U.S.-Japan treaty presents the biggest deterrent to a takeover of the islands by force.
After extensive geological surveys in 1968 and 1969, a report published by the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East finds “substantial energy deposits” in the seabed between Taiwan and Japan—the waters off the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. The paper marks one of the first credible findings of hydrocarbon resources there, reigniting interest in the region. Although China has not previously disputed Japanese claims to the islands, it asserts its own sovereignty over them in May 1970, after Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan hold talks on joint energy exploration in the East China Sea.
The United States and Japan sign the Okinawa Reversion Treaty, in which Washington effectively returns full control of the Ryukyu Islands to Japan. The move is seen as reinforcing the U.S.-Japan security alliance, which U.S. President Richard Nixon considered to be the “linchpin” for peace in the Pacific. The boundaries set by the agreement [PDF] appear to include the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands since there was an understanding within the U.S. government that the territories were administered as parts of Okinawa. But the Nixon administration takes a neutral stance on their sovereignty its priorities are retaining bases in Okinawa and normalizing relations with the PRC, which it hopes will help end the Vietnam War. In response to the reversion treaty, the ROC and PRC begin issuing claims to the islands, saying they have belonged to the Chinese since ancient times and have been administered by the province of Taiwan. Meanwhile, Japan views the reversion agreement with the United States as further validation of its sovereignty over the disputed islands.
China and Japan formally reestablish diplomatic relations after gradually rebuilding economic ties. In China, the failure of Mao’s Great Leap Forward (1958–1962) preceding the Cultural Revolution resulted in mass starvation that forced Beijing to reevaluate its domestic policies and look to Japan for aid. The Sino-Japanese reconciliation dovetails the rapprochement between the United States and China—a change in official political allegiance from Taipei to Beijing that is a crucial factor in the establishment of diplomatic ties between Japan and China. Nixon, whose administration has made normalizing relations with the PRC a diplomatic priority, visits Beijing the same year, establishing de facto relations with the country after U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s visit in July 1971. Trade between Japan and China surges in the period after normalization, deescalating the first round of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands disputes.
A year after the Paris Peace Accords, which end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, Chinese forces occupy [PDF] the western portion of the Paracel Islands, planting flags on several islands and seizing a South Vietnamese garrison. Vietnamese troops flee south and establish the first permanent Vietnamese occupation of the Spratly Islands. Meanwhile, Beijing builds a military installation, including an airfield and artificial harbor, on Woody Island, the largest of the Paracels. After the fall of Saigon and the reunification of Vietnam, the newly formed Socialist Republic of Vietnam upholds the South’s former claims to the Spratlys and Paracels. To this day, China maintains around one thousand troops in the Paracels.
After an extensive exploration program, the Philippines finds the Nido oil field off the coast of Palawan Island, marking the first oil discovery in the Northwest Palawan Basin. The discovery comes four years after the government passes the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972, which provides the legal basis for exploring and developing petroleum resources as Manila pushes for energy independence. Philippine Cities Service, Inc., the country’s first oil company, begins drilling a well in the Nido oil field and launches commercial production in 1979, yielding 8.8 million barrels that year. In 2012, the IMF notes [PDF] that the Philippines’ petroleum industry may have “significant potential” in the South China Sea, which is adjacent to the Northwest Palawan Basin.
China wages a short but bloody war with Vietnam, launching an offensive in response to Vietnam’s invasion and occupation of Cambodia in 1978, which ended the reign of the communist, Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge. The conflict marks the apex of tensions between Beijing and Hanoi, which were already running high after Vietnam established ties with the Soviet Union, China’s Cold War rival, the previous November. China had aided Vietnam in its wars against both France and the United States. Although both sides claim victory, China withdraws from Vietnam after less than a month, having failed to coerce Vietnam to leave Cambodia. Roughly thirty thousand are killed in the short-lived conflict, which marks the beginning of many border disputes between Beijing and Hanoi and bolsters Vietnam’s lingering distrust of China.
After three decades of negotiations, the third and final United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, culminates in a resolution that defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of surrounding waters based on exclusive economic zones and continental shelves. The measure comes into force on November 14, 1994, a year after Guyana becomes the sixtieth nation to sign the treaty. UNCLOS does not address sovereignty issues related to the South and East China Seas, and its vague wording has prevented it from serving as a credible body of law in resolving territorial disputes. Although the United States recognizes UNCLOS as customary international law, it has yet to ratify the treaty—a move that would give Washington a greater platform from which it could advance its economic and strategic interests.
After roughly a decade of relative calm in the South China Sea, China and Vietnam clash on the Johnson Reef, marking China’s first armed conflict over the Spratly archipelago. The Chinese navy sinks three Vietnamese vessels, killing seventy-four sailors in one of the most serious military confrontations in the South China Sea. The incident occurs after Beijing, pursuing a more assertive stance in the area, establishes a physical presence on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys in January 1987. In response, Vietnam occupies several reefs to monitor China’s moves. The incident unfolds amid Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms of the 1980s, when Chinese economic activity begins shifting to the coastal provinces, and maritime resources become increasingly prized as hydrocarbons are needed to sustain growth.
China passes the Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, which lays claim to the entire South China Sea based on its historical right to the area dating from the Xia dynasty, which ruled between the twenty-first and sixteenth centuries BCE. The law employs more generous methods of territorial determination that would not necessarily be recognized [PDF] and justified by UNCLOS, signed a decade earlier. The move is seen by some as a bid by China to obtain greater maritime security for itself, as Beijing was one of the most active countries at UNCLOS in attempting to obstruct the United States and Soviet Union’s efforts to secure freedom of navigation for warships.
Three Chinese naval vessels fight a ninety-minute battle with a Philippine navy gunboat near Capones Island in the Mischief Reef, part of the Spratly chain of islands claimed by Manila. The incident marks the first time China engages in military confrontation with an ASEAN member other than Vietnam. The clash, which triggers a crisis in Sino-Philippine relations, revives U.S.-Philippine military ties soon after the incident, U.S. Navy SEALs conduct a joint exercise with their Philippine counterparts on Palawan Island, although Philippine President Fidel Ramos denies that this is connected to Manila’s row with Beijing. Tensions over the occupation subside by midyear, when the Philippines and China sign a nonbinding code of conduct that calls for a peaceful resolution to the territorial dispute and the promotion of confidence-building measures.
China and the United States sign the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement [PDF], the first bilateral military agreement between the two countries, which serves as a confidence-building measure after a period of frozen relations following the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. From the mid-to-late 1990s, the Clinton administration works toward security engagement with Beijing as China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) begins to shift from being a mostly coastal defense force to operating a blue-water fleet beyond Chinese territorial waters. The accord aims to promote defense dialogue between naval forces to prevent misunderstandings. However, its efficacy is questioned in April 2001, when a Chinese F-8 interceptor and a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft collide over the South China Sea, killing a Chinese pilot.
China and the ten ASEAN states reach an agreement in Phnom Penh on the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea [PDF], a code of conduct that seeks to ease tensions and creates guidelines for conflict resolution. The agreement comes after six years of negotiations. Beijing had previously insisted on bilateral negotiations with claimants China’s signing marks the first time it accepts a multilateral approach to the issue. Though the declaration falls short of a binding code of conduct, as the Philippines had sought, it signals China’s recognition that such an agreement could work in its favor by limiting the risk of conflict in the area, which could involve the United States in the dispute.
After years of dispute over gas fields in the East China Sea, Japan and China sign a Joint Energy Development Agreement that includes the potentially gas-rich Chunxiao/Shirakaba field. The two countries agree to explore four fields jointly, halt development in contested waters, and collaborate on joint surveys and investment. While the accord is hailed as a major step toward maritime cooperation on energy resources—a strategic priority for both countries—China soon begins to develop the Tianwaitian/Kashi field unilaterally in 2009, stirring protest from Japan. A year later, Japan threatens to bring China to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea if China begins producing from the Chunxiao/Shirakaba field. Despite the milestone agreement, little has been done since then to increase joint resource development.
Malaysia and Vietnam file a joint submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to extend their continental shelves beyond the standard two hundred nautical miles from their coastlines, renewing friction over maritime sovereignty in the South China Sea. China views this as a challenge [PDF] to its territorial claims and objects to the submission, saying it “has seriously infringed” on China’s “indisputable sovereignty” over the islands in the South China Sea. Vietnam’s claims are viewed as part of a campaign to bring the South China Sea issue to an international forum, beginning with a conference held in November 2009 in Hanoi.
The International Energy Agency reports that China has surpassed the United States as the largest consumer of energy worldwide, consuming roughly 2.3 billion tons of total energy in 2009, approximately 4 percent more than the United States. China also becomes the second-largest consumer and net importer of oil, heightening the strategic importance of trade routes in the East and South China Seas for tanker shipments. The United States had been the world’s largest energy consumer since the early 1990s.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterates Washington’s neutrality on sovereignty in the South China Sea in a speech at an Asian regional security meeting in Hanoi, but affirms American interests in the “open access to Asia’s maritime commons.” The speech represents a rebuke to China, which had insisted on its rights to the islands and a bilateral approach to resolving disputes. It also comes at a time when military-to-military talks between Beijing and Washington are suspended and diplomatic relations are at a nadir, with China rescinding an invitation to host former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in June and Chinese officials announcing in March that they would not tolerate outside interference. Clinton’s comments are viewed as an expansion of U.S. involvement in the disputes and a boon to Vietnam, which had been attempting to internationalize the conflict in hopes of a resolution.
A Chinese fishing boat collides with two Japanese Coast Guard vessels near the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, prompting Japan to arrest the crew. Beijing protests the move, enforcing an unofficial embargo on rare earth minerals and arresting four Japanese businessmen for trespassing on a Chinese military facility. China also refuses a meeting between Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the UN General Assembly. After two weeks of escalating tension, the two countries agree to release their respective citizens. Diplomatic relations finally thaw when Japan’s prime minister and China’s premier meet “coincidentally” on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in Brussels in October, 2010. The incident underscores the fragility of the management of the territorial dispute, and sparks debate over Japan’s ability to defend its interests in the face of China’s rise.
The Philippines summons a Chinese envoy to express its mounting concern about naval incursions in its claimed territory after recording at least five incursions by Chinese ships in the past year near the Spratly Islands and the Amy Douglas Bank, off the coast of Palawan Island. These incursions begin in early March, when Chinese surveillance ships force a Philippine vessel conducting surveys in the Reed Bank to leave the area. Both parties declare the incident as violations of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and the event sets off a series of skirmishes in the region between the two countries. The diplomatic standoff in June comes days after Vietnam protests China’s alleged harassment of its oil exploration ships Vietnam had been working with multinational corporations, including ExxonMobil and Chevron, to develop hydrocarbon assets.
In response to a spate of skirmishes with Chinese vessels, the Philippine government begins referring to the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea in all official communications and in October 2012 signs an administrative order asserting its “inherent power and right to designate its maritime areas.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also begins referring to the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea, affirming in a November 2011 joint press conference with her Philippine counterpart the “vigor” of the two countries’ alliance, particularly “at a time when the Philippines is facing challenges to its territorial integrity” in the oceanic region.
U.S. President Barack Obama makes a landmark speech to the Australian parliament, announcing the United States will pivot its strategic attention to the Asia-Pacific, particularly the southern part of the region. The Obama administration announces new troop and equipment deployments to Australia and Singapore and pledges that reductions in defense spending would not come at the expense of commitments to the region. Negotiations continue on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement seen as a significant step toward greater U.S. economic integration with the Asia-Pacific. Notably, China is excluded from the talks.
2012 heralds a landmark year for leadership transition in Northeast Asia, raising questions about how territorial disputes will factor into each administration’s agenda. Following a hearty election win, Shinzo Abe takes office as Japan’s prime minister for the second time on December 26. Shortly thereafter he publishes an op-ed in which he warns of the South China Sea transforming into “Lake Beijing,” and proposes a “democratic security diamond” comprising Japan, the United States, India, and Australia that would “safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the Western Pacific.” China also undergoes its high-profile, once-a-decade leadership transition in November, electing Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang as president and premier, respectively. Its military strategy continues to shift from land-based power to a maritime one, which its new leaders reinforce through an expansion and consolidation of marine agencies as well as rhetoric that refers to maritime rights as part of the country’s “core interests.” South Korea elects Park Geun-hye as its first female president in February 2013 amid heightened tensions over nuclear tests by the North.
Diplomatic relations between Manila and Beijing decline further after the Philippines dispatches a warship to confront Chinese fishing boats in the Scarborough Shoal, north of the Spratlys. China subsequently dispatches its own surveillance vessels to protect its fishermen and a two-month standoff ensues. As China quarantines some fruits from the Philippines and warns against tourism to the country, regional observers worry that tensions will impede economic relations Philippine losses in banana exports in May are estimated at $34 million. Bilateral talks stall repeatedly over withdrawal from the shoal, and the Philippine government claims it is pursuing various avenues, including ASEAN involvement, legal options under UNCLOS, and an appeal to the United States for a guarantee of assistance in the case of military confrontation. Beijing maintains regular patrols that prevent Philippine fisherman from accessing these waters.
Vietnam passes a maritime law asserting its jurisdiction over the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands, demanding notification from any foreign naval ships passing through the area. China issues a strong response, announcing the establishment of a city, Sansha, on the Paracels that would administer the Paracels, Spratlys, and Macclesfield Bank. Relations between Hanoi and Beijing had been fluctuating in May–June 2011, Chinese surveillance ships cut the cables of oil and gas survey vessels operated by Vietnam’s state-owned energy firm, PetroVietnam, but tensions eased the following October after a high-level visit by Vietnam’s general party secretary to Beijing produced a bilateral agreement outlining measures for handling maritime disputes. Hanoi had also been stepping up its defense budget, reportedly increasing it by 70 percent to $2.6 billion in 2011.
For the first time in its forty-five-year history, ASEAN fails to issue a communiqué at the conclusion of its annual meeting in Cambodia. Its ten members reach an impasse over China’s claims in the South China Sea, and member countries disagree over whether to include the territorial issue in the joint statement. This diplomatic freeze follows a maritime standoff between China and the Philippines in the Scarborough Shoal three months prior, and is widely seen as a failure for the regional body. Some observers view China’s influence on Cambodia, the 2012 rotating chair of the conference, as having caused the exclusion of the Scarborough Shoal and EEZ issues from the text, resulting in the deadlock.
The government of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda signs a contract, worth $26 million, to purchase three of the five disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands from private landowner Kunioki Kurihara. The move comes after Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara announces in April his intention to purchase the islands to protect their sovereignty. Japan defends the decision, saying it was to prevent Kurihara from developing the islands, but the purchase provokes an angry response from China just a month before its November leadership transition. In the subsequent weeks, some of the largest anti-Japanese protests since the countries normalized relations in 1972 erupt across China. Thousands march in more than eighty-five cities. The rupture has economic consequences, with Japanese companies in China reporting significant losses and air travel between the two countries dipping dramatically. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warns that the protests have the potential to harm the global economy, calling the two countries “key economic drivers” and urging them to be “fully engaged.”
In response to Japan’s nationalization of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Beijing declares territorial sea baselines around the land, announcing Chinese administration of the disputed islands and directly challenging Tokyo’s control. The move ends what analysts consider the status quo of Japanese administration of the area. As a result, two of China’s maritime agencies gain increased power over the waters and begin to increase their patrol in areas previously dominated by the Japan Coast Guard. In December, China submits to the UN an explanation of its claims to the disputed area in the East China Sea, arguing that “geological characteristics” show a natural prolongation of China’s land territory. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urges both sides to let “cool heads” prevail amid the flare-up.
China puts its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, into service, saying the vessel will protect national sovereignty, although for the near future it will only be used for training and testing purposes. The public launch comes a month before China’s once-a-decade leadership transition, indicating an effort by the Chinese government to forge national unity ahead of the high-profile event. The aircraft launch also marks a continuation of Beijing’s substantial naval modernization, which a U.S. Congressional report [PDF] notes is of concern, given its venture into the global maritime domain—a sphere long dominated by the U.S. Navy.
Newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet increases the country’s defense budget for the first time in eleven years, approving a $51.7 billion (4.68 trillion yen) defense package for 2013, marking a 0.8 percent uptick. The spending increase, in addition to a 1.9 percent hike in the Coast Guard budget, comes as Abe’s administration bolsters Japan’s maritime capabilities and ability to monitor and protect the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. The move worries some about Japan’s increasing nationalist rhetoric, which Abe fuels with his party’s April visit to the controversial Yasukuni shrine, viewed by China and South Korea as a memorial to war criminals, as well as references to overhauling his country’s status as a pacifist nation. Japan’s reticence to apologize for its historic militarism has also contributed to regional tensions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicks off his first overseas trip in Vietnam, going on to visit Thailand and Indonesia in a push to diplomatically engage the region. Abe points to a “dynamic change” in the strategic environment of the Asia-Pacific, saying closer relations with ASEAN countries was in “Japan’s national interest” and contributes to the region’s peace and stability. Japan’s finance minister announces in May that Tokyo will strengthen its financial cooperation with ASEAN nations by buying government bonds, financing infrastructure development, and helping Japanese companies access funding in Southeast Asia. In the backdrop are ongoing negotiations for TPP talks, which Japan joins in March. Japan’s inclusion lends momentum to the free trade pact, which some observers see as the economic centerpiece of Washington’s Asia pivot and Japan’s push to ally itself more closely with Southeast Asia. The twelve-party talks include Southeast Asian nations such as Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. In late May, China’s Ministry of Commerce announces it is studying the possibility of joining TPP negotiations.
The Philippines initiates an international arbitration case under UNCLOS over Chinese claims of sovereignty to the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal originating from the April 2012 clashes, acting on decades of stalled attempts at resolution. China rejects the process, forcing the court and its arbitration to continue without its participation. The case marks the first time a country has brought a claim against China under UNCLOS regarding the issue.
Chinese Revolution timeline: 1912 to 1927
This Chinese Revolution timeline lists significant events and developments between 1912 and 1927. This timeline has been written and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest an event for inclusion in this timeline please contact Alpha History.
January 1st: The Republic of China is officially proclaimed and Sun Yixian is sworn in as its first president.
January: Republican politicians negotiate with the Qing, using Yuan Shikai as an intermediary. Yuan Shikai agrees to provide the republic with military support against the Qing, provided Sun Yixian cedes the presidency to Yuan.
February 12th: Abdication of the infant emperor Puyi and the end of the Qing dynasty.
February 14th: Sun Yixian resigns from the presidency in favour of Yuan Shikai.
March 10th: Yuan Shikai is inaugurated as president.
August 25th: The Guomindang is formed as a political party, after the consolidation of various revolutionary and anti-monarchist groups.
October: Foreign powers recognise Yuan Shikai’s government.
February: Elections for a new National Assembly return a significant Guomindang majority.
March 22nd: Song Jiaoren, the Guomindang’s leader in the assembly, is assassinated, probably on the orders of Yuan Shikai.
July: Sun Yixian launches a ‘second revolution’, an attempt to remove Yuan Shikai from the presidency.
September: Yuan Shikai’s troops retake Nanjing. Sun Yixian’s revolution attempt fails and he is forced into exile.
November 4th: Yuan Shikai declares the Guomindang an illegal organisation.
January: Yuan Shikai dissolves the National Assembly and implements a self-appointed cabinet. Provincial governors are replaced with military governors.
January 18th: The Japanese issue the Twenty-One Demands to Yuan Shikai, who accepts them with little change or resistance.
September 15th: Chen Duxiu begins publishing the New Youth magazine, a starting point for the New Culture movement.
November 20th: A national assembly, largely handpicked by Yuan Shikai, recommends the restoration of the monarchy with Yuan at its head.
December 12th: Yuan Shikai proclaims himself Emperor of China.
December 25th: Provincial uprisings erupt in response to Yuan Shikai’s declaration that he intends to restore the monarchy.
January 1st: This date marks the formation of the Emperor of China and the imperial rule of Yuan Shikai, according to Yuan’s decree of December 12th.
March 22nd: Facing military opposition in the provinces and a shortage of funds, Yuan Shikai abandons his plans to revive the monarchy.
June 6th: The death of Yuan Shikai. This further weakens the national government and increases the power of provincial warlords.
1916-27: the Warlord Era. China is disunited and divided into fiefdoms, ruled by several powerful warlords who act in their own self-interest. There is no effective national government.
February: Sun Yixian finishes writing his political manifesto Principles for National Reconstruction.
August 14th: The Provisional government in Guangdong declares war on Germany in World War I.
July: Former president Sun Yixian arrives in Guangzhou from Shanghai and invites politicians from the former National Assembly to form a republican government there.
August 25th: Republicans in Guangzhou form a military government there, aimed at eliminating warlordism and reestablishing a national republican government.
September 1st: Sun Yixian is elected generalissimo of the Guangzhou military government.
November 8th: The Bolshevik Revolution brings Vladimir Lenin and his communist followers to power in Russia.
May 21st: Sun Yixian goes into exile in Shanghai, after warlordists gain control of the Guangzhou military government.
November 11th: An armistice on the Western Front in Europe brings an end to World War I.
April 30th: At the Paris peace conference, the United States, Britain and France decide to transfer German interests in Shandong province to Japan, ignoring China’s claims to sovereignty.
May 4th: The May Fourth Movement erupts among students in Beijing. They protest against China’s treatment at the Paris peace conference and the continued undermining of Chinese sovereignty by Western powers.
May 6th: In Paris, Lu Zhengxiang lodges a strong protest against the granting of Shandong to the Japanese. As a consequence, China refuses to sign the Treaty of Versailles.
July 25th: Now under communist control, Russia surrenders all its colonial claims and territory in China.
Delegates from the Soviet Comintern visit Shanghai and meet with left-wing activists. Chen Duxiu, later a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party, is appointed as a delegate to the Comintern. Communist study groups founded in various cities.
July 1st: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is formed. Thirteen delegates attend the party’s first congress in Shanghai.
November: Comintern representatives from Moscow enter China to assist and advise the CCP.
August 22nd: Sun Yixian begins talks with Comintern agents Henk Sneevliet and Adolf Joffe. On their advice he makes changes to the Guomindang command structure.
January 16th: Nationalist forces led by Sun Yixian regain control of Guangzhou province.
January 26th: Sun Yixian and Russian socialist Adolph Joffe sign a statement of co-operation in Shanghai.
May: Henk Sneevliet, a Dutch communist, is appointed as a Comintern advisor to the CCP.
June: The third CCP congress adopts a policy of co-operation with the Guomindang.
September 2nd: Jiang Jieshi arrives in Moscow and meets with Russian leaders including Stalin and Trotsky. He concludes that Soviet policy aims to “make the CCP its chosen instrument”.
October 6th: Comintern agent Mikhail Borodin arrives to advise both the CCP and the Guomindang.
1924-27: the First United Front: The Guomindang and Chinese Communist Party work together to form a military academy and a national army. Their aim is to suppress warlords and reunite China.
January: The Guomindang National Congress is attended by several communists, including Mao Zedong (Wade-Giles: Mao Tse-tung).
May: Instruction and training begin at the Huangpu Military Academy in Guangzhou, with lectures given by Guomindang, CCP and Comintern agents. Jiang Jieshi is appointed commandant of the Academy and commander in chief of the Nationalist Revolutionary Army.
June: General Pavlov arrives from the USSR to act as Sun Yixian’s military adviser.
July: Zhou Enlai returns to China after several years abroad, most notably working with the Soviet government and Comintern in Moscow.
December 31st: Three warlords invite Sun Yixian to Beijing to discuss the peaceful reunification of China. Sun dies before these negotiations are completed.
March 12th: Sun Yixian dies of cancer in Beijing.
May: A general strike in Shanghai. Eleven people are killed when British troops fire on a crowd of students.
August 20th: Liao Zhongkai, a prominent Guomindang leader and an architect of the First United Front, is assassinated in Guangzhou. This leaves Jiang Jieshi and Wang Jingwei to vie for the leadership of the Guomindang.
August 26th: The Guomindang forms the National Revolutionary Army. Graduates of Huangpu are commissioned as its first officers.
July 1st: The National Revolutionary Army begins mobilising in preparation for the Northern Expedition, a campaign to end warlordism and reunify China.
July 27th: The Northern Expedition begins.
October 10th: The Nationalist army gains control of Wuhan.
January: The Nationalist government relocates to Wuhan, which is declared the provisional national capital.
March: Mao Zedong, then a little known provincial leader, delivers a report on the peasant movement in Hunan, highlighting the revolutionary potential of the Chinese peasantry.
March 21st: As Nationalist troops approach Shanghai, they are assisted by Zhou Enlai and other communists, who organise a general strike and urban uprising.
March 22nd: Nationalist troops led by Jiang Jieshi take control of Shanghai.
March 23rd: Following violence, looting and attacks on foreigners, British and American warships open fire on Nanjing, shelling parts of the city. Jiang Jieshi blames the Nanjing Incident on agents of the CCP.
March 26th: In Shanghai, Jiang Jieshi meets with wealthy businessmen who promise him financial support, provided he dissolves his ties with the CCP.
April 2nd: Fearing political instability and danger to British citizens in China, Great Britain declares an increase in its troop presence there (from 17,000 to 22,000).
April 7th: A Guomindang meeting determines that communists are plotting to take over the party.
April 12th: On the orders of Jiang Jieshi, police and soldiers carry out a series of raids, arrests and executions in Shanghai. Hundreds of CCP members are detained, executed or go missing. It becomes known as the Shanghai Massacre (CCP terminology) or the April 12th Incident (Nationalist terminology). The suppression of communists from April 12th becomes known as the ‘White Terror’.
April 17th: In Wuhan, prominent Guomindang leader Wang Jingwei attempts to take control of the party by expelling Jiang Jieshi.
April 18th: Jiang Jieshi declares himself chairman of the National Government Committee and President of China. He decrees Nanjing as the national capital.
April 28th: Li Dazhou, a founding member of the CCP, is executed by a pro-Nationalist warlord in Beijing.
June: The Comintern orders the recall of its advisors, in protest to the massacre of communists in Shanghai.
August 1st: CCP forces attempt to seize control of Nanchang from the Guomindang. This marks the first engagement of the Chinese Civil War.
August 7th: Chen Duxiu is replaced as leader of the CCP.
September 7th: The Autumn Harvest Uprising in Hunan. Mao Zedong forms a soviet in his home province but it is overrun after a week.
December 11th: Communists launch the Guangzhou uprising, another short-lived attempt to form a communist Soviet. It is defeated after a few days.
A Brief History of China: Democracy or Communist Bureaucracy?
Just recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article stating the incredible growth in automotive component manufacturing in China, as well as other industries. Many people are mystified by the details of how to do business in China. In particular, many people ask me about the chances for reform, and what it means as growth continues to occur. Is China a democracy? What is the impact of communism? What do I need to know if I do business in China?
One of the important elements that any visiting executive should think about before going to China is an understanding of the political history that has led to the position of China today. One of my recently graduated MBA students, Hao Xie, educated me with a brief history lesson that I will share with you. Hao is now dutifully employed at Chevron, working on procurement best practices with the company’s CPO .
Before 1911, China was still characterized as a feudalistic economy run by the Qing authorities. Even by 1949, China was primarily an agricultural economy. However, colonial capitalism did have a long and significant impact in some coastal cities, Shanghai and Guangzhou in particular.
The general economic condition of the nation was terribly bad because of the World War II and continuous civil wars. A crucial reason why Jiang Jieshi did not defeat Mao Zedong was that the capitalist economy was just forming and the industrial power was still very weak in most parts of China.
From 1949 – 1978, China, for the first time, systematically built its industrial base and transformed itself from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. The period between 1949 and 1956 was recognized as the golden period of Chinese industrialization, as the country established its primary industries including steel, automobile, textile, chemical, and defense. The GDP grew at the rate of over 20% per year.
Because of over-optimism, Mao made his first huge mistake by summoning his nation to speed up the industrialization. This was the “Great Leap”, which resulted in the significant economic recession in 1958 and 1959 and also the disaster in early 1960s.
The economy recovered, however, under the leadership of Liu Shaoqi in the early 1960s. As Liu accumulated much power in the communist party, Mao felt a threat from him and made his second huge mistake by starting the famous “Cultural Revolution” to suppress Liu and his followers, including Deng Xiaoping.
Nevertheless, it was during this period when China as a nation, rather than in a few cities, started its industrialization, though a lot of ups and downs. China created its college system and built hundreds of national labs throughout the country, and developed its most advanced technology under Mao’s dictation, such as nuclear weapons, satellites and rocket science, and super computers. Under his dictation, the most talented Chinese students chose science and engineering majors instead of law or economics, which Mao saw as trouble-making majors. This, maybe unintentionally, prepared today’s China with many talented scientists and engineers, many of whom became the technocrats in the government.
If Mao was the person who led the Chinese to the entrance of the industrial highway, Deng was the one who led the Chinese to drive on the highway. During this period, China has grown at a rate of over 10% per year. It is a common mistake that many Americans believe the rapid growth in China only happened in recent years. Jiang basically continued Deng’s philosophy, and harvested the fruits of the economic reform started by his predecessors.
During this period, China started to migrate from the economy of import-substituting to export-led. Jiang, originally from the Shanghai area, also did a lot of favors to his home city, and helped it overshadow the rapid development of Guangdong Province, where Deng first tested his pro-capitalism economic policy and has been open to the West since 1979.
Like Japan and the US, the power of China was not built overnight, but was a cumulative growth over the past 50 years. Though China has experienced rapid economic growth for over 25 years, most western countries paid attention to it only after its entry into WTO and the hosting of the 2008 Olympics.
Further, the CIA World Fact Book confirms the impact of these changes on the economy and its growth. Specifically, they note that:
The restructuring of the economy and resulting efficiency gains have contributed to a more than tenfold increase in GDP since 1978. Measured on a purchasing power parity ( PPP ) basis, China in 2005 stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US, although in per capita terms the country is still lower middle-income and 150 million Chinese fall below international poverty lines.
Economic development has generally been more rapid in coastal provinces than in the interior, and there are large disparities in per capita income between regions. The government has struggled to: (a) sustain adequate job growth for tens of millions of workers laid off from state-owned enterprises, migrants, and new entrants to the work force (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes and© contain environmental damage and social strife related to the economy’s rapid transformation.
From 100 to 150 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time, low-paying jobs. One demographic consequence of the “one child” policy is that China is now one of the most rapidly aging countries in the world.
Another long-term threat to growth is the deterioration in the environment – notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table, especially in the north. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. China has benefited from a huge expansion in computer Internet use, with more than 100 million users at the end of 2005. Foreign investment remains a strong element in China’s remarkable expansion in world trade and has been an important factor in the growth of urban jobs.
In July 2005, China revalued its currency by 2.1% against the US dollar and moved to an exchange rate system that references a basket of currencies. Reports of shortages of electric power in the summer of 2005 in southern China receded by September-October and did not have a substantial impact on China’s economy. More power generating capacity is scheduled to come on line in 2006 as large scale investments are completed. Thirteen years in construction at a cost of $24 billion, the immense Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River will be essentially completed in 2006 and will revolutionize electrification and flood control in the area.
The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in October 2005 approved the draft 11th Five-Year Plan and the National People’s Congress is expected to give final approval in March 2006. The plan calls for a 20% reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP by 2010 and an estimated 45% increase in GDP by 2010. The plan states that conserving resources and protecting the environment are basic goals, but it lacks details on the policies and reforms necessary to achieve these goals.
Whew! That was a very brief lesson, but enough to help you understand the diverse set of political and economic forces at work.
Chinese health authorities announced they had isolated the pathogen. 2019-nCoV as it is called, belongs to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), and spreads via airborne droplets.
Officials announce the first 2019-nCoV-related death, recorded in Wuhan. To date, there have been 171 deaths, all in China. While that makes for a relatively low mortality rate compared to SARS, for example, it’s still alarming.
A day later, the Chinese government posts the genetic blueprint for 2019-nCoV online. Meanwhile, as people travel around China, the virus spreads outside Hubei province.
Timeline: Seven decades of Communist China
(Reuters) - China will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule on Oct. 1 with flowers, speeches, performances and a massive military parade through central Beijing.
The 70 years since the end of the civil war, in which Communists and Nationalists, or Kuomintang, fought to control territory vacated by the invading Japanese, have been tumultuous.
China went through wrenching social changes as it veered from a planned economy to a failed experiment with radical collectivization to today’s free-wheeling, often messy mix of bare-knuckled competition and crony capitalism, all supervised by the Communist Party.
People's Republic of China @70:
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 on Oct. 1 in Beijing. Chiang Kai-shek’s defeated Nationalist-led government flees to Taiwan in December.
1950-1953: China supports North Korea against U.S.-backed South Korea in the Korean War. 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 collectivizing agriculture and creating steel in “backyard furnaces.” An estimated 30 million people, mostly peasants, starve to death.
1959: Chinese troops crush an uprising in Lhasa after widespread Tibetan resistance against forced collectivization. The Dalai Lama flees to India, where he remains.
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: The People’s Republic of China joins the United Nations, displacing the Nationalist-led government in Taiwan, which had held the China seat.
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: United States and China reestablish diplomatic relations.
1985: China runs a trade surplus with United States 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, if not more.
1992: Deng revives economic reform with his Southern Tour.
1997: British colony Hong Kong returns to Chinese rule. Tiny Portuguese-run Macau follows suit two years later.
1998: The 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 around 80,000.
August 8, 2008: Olympic Games open in Beijing.
2009: Ethnic riots in China’s far western region of Xinjiang kill 197 people.
2012: Xi Jinping becomes head of the Communist Party, and president the next year, kicking off a massive crackdown on corruption and civil society, with dozens of senior officials jailed for graft and rights activists jailed on charges that include subversion.
2013: Xi unveils landmark initiative to re-create the old Silk Road, now called the Belt and Road Initiative.
2013: China jails once-rising political star and contender for top leadership Bo Xilai for life for corruption, in a dramatic scandal kicked off by his wife’s murder of a British businessman.
2015: China’s fearsome former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang jailed for life for crimes including corruption and leaking state secrets.
2017: U.S. President Donald Trump visits Beijing, but the next year the two countries embark on a trade war, underscoring deteriorating ties between the world’s two largest economies.
2018: China changes its constitution to lift presidential term limits, meaning Xi can remain president until he dies.
2019: Mass and at times violent protests in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong against a contested extradition bill morph into demands for greater freedom from Beijing.
Chinese history timeline
The Chinese civilization begins. Farming methods become more efficient and the population increases.
The Shang dynasty comes to power in China.
The Shang dynasty is overthrown and the Zhou dynasty begins.
Spring and Autumn period. Zhou dynasty kings ruled China, but real power was held by powerful nobles.
Birth of the philosopher Confucius.
Period of unrest across China as separate states gradually become independent and begin to fight each other (Warring States period).
Qin rule begins in China. Qin Shi Huangdi becomes the first emperor. Work on the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army begins.
206 BC–AD 220
The Han dynasty rules China.
Zhang Qian travels around central Asia.
The first Chinese merchants journey west along the Silk Road.
Indian monks bring Buddhism to China.
China splits into three kingdoms: Wei, Shu and Wu.
The Jin dynasty rules China.
Chinese monk Faxian visits India and Sri Lanka to study Buddhism.
China is ruled by Southern and Northern dynasties.
The Sui dynasty unites China.
The Tang dynasty rules China.
Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk, travels around Central Asia and India. He returns with a large collection of precious religious texts and sacred relics.
The Song dynasty rules in China.
Life of Genghis Khan.
The Mongols invade China under the command of Genghis Khan.
The Mongols capture Beijing.
Life of Kublai Khan.
The Mongol (Yuan) dynasty rules China.
The Ming dynasty rules China.
Building starts on the Forbidden City.
The Manchu (Qing) dynasty rules China.
1839–42 and 1856–60
The Opium Wars: war between China and Britain after British merchants try to illegally import the drug opium into China. China is forced to accept European trade in its territories.
The Chinese Revolution overthrows the Qing dynasty. The Republic of China is established, with Nationalist leader Sun Yat-sen briefly China's first president.
The Chinese Communist Party is founded. A year later, Mao Zedong joins the party.
The Chinese Civil War: war breaks out between forces loyal to the government of the Republic of China and the Communist Party.
Mao Zedong leads 100,000 Communists on the Long March.
Japan invades China. Nationalists and Communists join forces to fight against them.
The Chinese Civil War resumes, ending in Communist victory.
Mao proclaims the People's Republic of China. Defeated Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek sets up a Nationalist government in Taiwan.
The Great Leap Forward: a five-year plan to modernize industry is launched. Millions die in famine.
The Cultural Revolution: Mao's attempts to get rid of the "impure" elements in society result in great social upheaval and the deaths of more than a million people.
Mao dies, and China's leaders begin to loosen control over their citizens' lives and allow some private ownership of land and businesses.
Student protests in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, are violently suppressed.
China's economy has grown to be the world's second largest, after the USA's, and it is the world's largest exporter and importer of goods.
Timeline: The early days of China's coronavirus outbreak and cover-up
Axios has compiled a timeline of the earliest weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in China, highlighting when the cover-up started and ended — and showing how, during that time, the virus already started spreading around the world, including to the United States.
Why it matters: A study published in March indicated that if Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier than they did, the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its geographic spread limited.
This timeline, compiled from information reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post and other sources, shows that China's cover-up and the delay in serious measures to contain the virus lasted about three weeks.
Dec. 10: Wei Guixian, one of the earliest known coronavirus patients, starts feeling ill.
Dec. 16: Patient admitted to Wuhan Central Hospital with infection in both lungs but resistant to anti-flu drugs. Staff later learned he worked at a wildlife market connected to the outbreak.
Dec. 27: Wuhan health officials are told that a new coronavirus is causing the illness.
- Ai Fen, a top director at Wuhan Central Hospital, posts information on WeChat about the new virus. She was reprimanded for doing so and told not to spread information about it.
- Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang also shares information on WeChat about the new SARS-like virus. He is called in for questioning shortly afterward.
- Wuhan health commission notifies hospitals of a “pneumonia of unclear cause” and orders them to report any related information.
- Wuhan health officials confirm 27 cases of illness and close a market they think is related to the virus' spread.
- China tells the World Health Organization’s China office about the cases of an unknown illness.
Jan. 1: Wuhan Public Security Bureau brings in for questioning eight doctors who had posted information about the illness on WeChat.
- An official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission orders labs, which had already determined that the novel virus was similar to SARS, to stop testing samples and to destroy existing samples.
Jan. 2: Chinese researchers map the new coronavirus' complete genetic information. This information is not made public until Jan. 9.
Jan. 7: Xi Jinping becomes involved in the response.
Jan. 9: China announces it has mapped the coronavirus genome.
Jan. 11–17: Important prescheduled CCP meeting held in Wuhan. During that time, the Wuhan Health Commission insists there are no new cases.
Jan. 13: First coronavirus case reported in Thailand, the first known case outside China.
Jan. 14: WHO announces Chinese authorities have seen "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus."
Jan. 15: The patient who becomes the first confirmed U.S. case leaves Wuhan and arrives in the U.S., carrying the coronavirus.
- The Wuhan Health Commission announces four new cases.
- Annual Wuhan Lunar New Year banquet. Tens of thousands of people gathered for a potluck.
Jan. 19: Beijing sends epidemiologists to Wuhan.
- The first case announced in South Korea.
- Zhong Nanshan, a top Chinese doctor who is helping to coordinate the coronavirus response, announces the virus can be passed between people.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the first coronavirus case in the United States.
- CCP flagship newspaper People’s Daily mentions the coronavirus epidemic and Xi's actions to fight it for the first time.
- China's top political commission in charge of law and order warns that “anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of [virus] cases out of his or her own self-interest will be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity."
Jan. 23: Wuhan and three other cities are put on lockdown. Right around this time, approximately 5 million people leave the city without being screened for the illness.
Jan. 24–30: China celebrates the Lunar New Year holiday. Hundreds of millions of people are in transit around the country as they visit relatives.
Jan. 24: China extends the lockdown to cover 36 million people and starts to rapidly build a new hospital in Wuhan. From this point, very strict measures continue to be implemented around the country for the rest of the epidemic.
The bottom line: China is now trying to create a narrative that it's an example of how to handle this crisis when in fact its early actions led to the virus spreading around the globe.
Editor's note: This story will be updated as more information is reported.