17.4 New Forces in China and Japan

A new Chinese republic took shape after the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911. Nationalists like Sun Yixian set the goal of “catching up and surpassing the powers, east and west.” But that goal would remain a distant dream as China suffered the turmoil of civil war and foreign invasion.

Photo of a man in military field uniform standing in front of a podium, holding a banner in Mandarin. The man is speaking to a large audience outdoors.

Mao was introduced to communist ideas while he was working at Peking University as a librarian's assistant. He later became the leader of the Chinese Communist Party.


  • Explain the key challenges faced by the Chinese republic in the early 1900s.
  • Analyze the struggle between nationalists and Communists in China.
  • Summarize the effects of liberal changes in Japan in the 1920s.
  • Describe the rise of extreme nationalism and militarism in Japan.
  • Describe the impact of the Japanese invasion of China.

Key Terms

  • Twenty-One Demands
  • May Fourth Movement
  • vanguard
  • Guomindang
  • Jiang Jieshi
  • Mao Zedong
  • Long March
  • ultranationalist
  • Manchuria
  • Hirohito

Trouble in the Chinese Republic

Struggles for Power

Sun Yixian, the “father of modern China,” hoped to rebuild China on the Three Principles of the People—nationalism, democracy, and economic security for everyone. But he made little progress. One problem, he noted, was that the Chinese people felt more loyalty to families and clans than to the nation.

Therefore, even though we have four hundred million people gathered together in one China, in reality they are just a heap of loose sand. Today we are the poorest and weakest nation in the world and occupy the lowest position in international affairs. Other men are the carving knife and serving dish, we are the fish and the meat.

—Sun Yixian

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments