China. The summer floods in southern, eastern and central
China became the worst since 1954. The torrential downpour
caused the Chang Jiang River to flood. the city of Wuhan.
Countryaah, millions of Chinese abandoned their houses, and soldiers and
villagers struggled with failing dams. In the northeast, the
country's largest oil field Daqing was partially submerged.
In the autumn it had over 230 million. people were affected
in a dozen provinces, more than 3,600 had died and more than
20 million. lose their homes. The regime admitted that the
floods were aggravated by neglect and soil erosion following
unrestrained logging. However, the dam construction at San
Xia in Chang Jiang continued; the government believes that
the giant dam will reduce the problems, the opponents that
it can aggravate them.
Despite major material losses in various natural
disasters, the government maintained its target of an annual
economic growth of 8%. New Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, who
succeeded Li Peng at the National People's Congress session
in March, said the goal must be reached if unemployment does
not get worse. The People's Congress appointed Li Peng as
its new chairman and re-elected Jiang Zemin as president.
In April, 29-year-old regime critic Wang Dan was released
from prison for health reasons and sent into exile in the
United States. Wang, the student leader of the 1989 Beijing
uprising, had been sentenced in 1996 to eleven years in
prison for "overthrowing activities".
The Western world's criticism of China's view of human rights
was repeated during official visits by US President Bill
Clinton in June, UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson
in September and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in
October. President Jiang Zemin told Robinson that the regime
must provide food and housing to the country's population,
but also promised a development towards more of the rule of
law and democracy. Shortly thereafter, China wrote on the
United Nations Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
Oppositionists in six provinces challenged the Communist
Party's power monopoly from June by trying to form an
independent party: China's Democratic Party (KDP). Several
activists were arrested, and Li Peng ruled that no party
operating for multi-party systems will be allowed. The
leading dissidents Xu Wenli, Qin Yongmin and Wang Youcai -
all active for KDP - were arrested and sentenced in December
to 13, 12 and 11 years in prison respectively. The judges
were condemned by the western world.
The country's most talked about corruption target ended
July 31, when 67-year-old Chen Xitong, Beijing's deputy
party chief and mayor, received 16 years in prison for
embezzling billions out of the city's cash register. His
punishment was seen as mild in light of the fact that the
death penalty is often punished for significantly lesser
Former President Yang Shangkun died in September, 91
years old. The war veteran Yang became president in 1988 and
in June 1989 supported the army's attack on the democracy
revolution in Beijing. After a failed attempt to challenge
Deng Xiaoping to the utmost power, he was allowed to leave
all his posts in 1993.
1800 The English invade. The old culture breaks down
The stability of Chinese society and China's dominant
position in its part of the world reinforced the
agricultural bureaucracy's belief that Chinese civilization
was superior to all others. The clash with Western
civilization in the mid-19th century led to a dramatic
change in Japan. Japan managed in the 1860s to adapt, which
through fascism and imperialism developed Japan into a
modern industrial power. In China, contact with Western
imperialism led to collapse and chaos. There were no strong
groups that could force modernization and industrialization,
and at the same time China was not able to completely shut
itself down. Some trade dominated by foreign businessmen was
developed; Initially, the foreign traders were referred to a
single port - Canton. The regime tried to prevent contact
with foreigners, and there was a death penalty for traveling
to overseas countries.
The opium war of 1839-1842 became a pivotal turning point
in China's history. At the beginning of the century, England
had already begun to buy silk, tea and porcelain from the
Chinese, and wanted to sell opium produced in India to
achieve a more favorable trade balance with China. But opium
imports were banned. China tried to enforce the ban, and
this triggered the opium war in which China suffered defeat.
It is characteristic that Chinese leaders expected that they
could easily win over "the foreign barbarians." But
gradually China was forced to grant ever greater rights to
the Western powers - the so-called treaties that gave China
a semi-colonial status.
China had to open more ports for trade. Foreigners in
China were not subject to Chinese laws but their own.
Foreigners gained control of customs and it was forbidden
for China to charge foreign goods with more than 5% duty.
During the latter half of the 19th century, China went from
one defeat to another in its conflicts with foreign
The empire was shaken and suffered another defeat with
the Taiping uprising in 1853-64. The rebels managed to bring
large parts of southern China under their control before
being crushed with the support of Western troops.
The huge import of opium was paid for with Chinese
silver, which reduced the state's revenues, while increasing
numbers of the population became drug addicts and thus
weakened society in general. A new war in 1856-60 against
Franco-British forces ended with Beijing falling. The
emperor had to give new concessions and allow missionaries
to penetrate the country. France occupied Indochina, which
had been a Chinese-sounding one, and in 1895 Japan conquered
Korea and Taiwan and Russia secured two port cities.
In 1898, a riot erupted against the foreign influence -
the so-called boxer revolt. It was knocked down by
an expeditionary group of Englishmen, Russians, Germans,
Frenchmen, Japanese and North Americans. The victors divided
the occupied territory into "zones of influence" and
demanded that China pay a huge compensation. In Shanghai,
the building of a trading port was linked to the extensive
foreign investment, which in hundreds of factories exploited
the cheap Chinese labor.
The foreign exchange also opened up new ideas. The
government allowed small groups of students to study abroad.
At the same time, nationalist groups emerged who were
vehemently opposed to foreign progress.
In 1911, the empire almost collapsed from the inside,
under pressure from officers who had received a modern
education and from intellectuals who were influenced by
Western ideas and who were aware of China's decay. The
leader of this intellectual group was Sun Yat-sen.