Immortality Historical Context

Yiyun Li
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Chinese History in the Twentieth Century

China's two thousand years of imperial rule by various dynasties, the last of which was the Qing dynasty, ended in 1912 when the army overthrew the dynasty and established a short-lived republic. This change in power was followed by a ten-year period of fragmentation in which various “warlords,” provincial military leaders, competed with one another for power. This period lasted from 1916 to 1927. During the 1920s, the great struggle between the nationalist movement and the communists to gain control of China began. In the 1930s, the nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975), gained the upper hand and expelled the communists from southern and eastern China. In what became known as the Long March, the communists trekked across China and established a base in the northwest. It was during this period that Mao Zedong (1893-1976) emerged as the communist leader.

In the 1930s, the impoverished...

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