Chinese Revolution timeline: 1949 to 1961

This Chinese Revolution timeline lists significant events and developments from October 1949 (the formation of the People’s Republic) to 1961 (the end of the Great Leap Forward). 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.

October: The Soviet Union recognises the new regime in China.
October 25th: The PLA launches an amphibious assault on the island of Jinmen, between mainland China and Taiwan. The attack fails and 9,000 PLA soldiers are killed or taken prisoner, and the invasion of Taiwan is put on hold.
November: The new government of the People’s Republic of China founds a scientific academy.
December 10th: Jiang Jieshi flees to Taiwan, where he establishes the Republic of China in exile.
December: Mao Zedong travels to Moscow to negotiate a treaty and an alliance with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

January: Britain formally recognises the People’s Republic of China as a sovereign nation.
February 14th: The signing of Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance.
March-April: The first Speak Bitterness campaigns begin in rural areas; landlords are publicly accused, denounced, ridiculed and often killed.
May 1st: New Marriage Law passed, outlawing polygamy, arranged and child marriages, and facilitating easier divorces.
June 25th: North Korean Army launches an attack on South Korea, at the order of its dictator-president Kim Il Sung.
June 30th: Agrarian Reform Law passed, formalising the transfer of farmland from landlords to peasant communities.
September: US forces land in Inchon and beginning driving the North Koreans back to the Chinese border.
October 6th: Following negotiations about Tibetan autonomy, PLA forces cross the border and invade Tibet. After some border fighting and around 300 deaths, the Tibetans surrender on October 19th.
October 8th: Mao Zedong agrees to Chinese intervention in the Korean War. Peng Dehuai named as commander of Chinese volunteer forces in Korea.
November: Lin Biao travels to USSR to receive medical treatment for an unspecified illness.

May: Armed resistance in Tibet ends. China now claims sovereignty over Tibet, which becomes an autonomous province.
July: Beijing and the Vatican formally cut ties, after persecution of Christians within the PRC.
November: The Three Antis campaign (san fan) is launched.

January: The Five Antis campaign (wu fan) is launched.
February: The CCP government claims to have received 210,000 letters accusing individuals and businesses of the Five Antis.
October 10th: Gao Gang is appointed head of the State Planning Commission.

March 5th: The death of Soviet Russian leader Joseph Stalin.
July 27th: A multinational armistice ends fighting in the Korean War.
September 16th: The People’s Daily outline the principles of the CCP government’s Five Year Plan.

September 8th: Several Western nations, including the US, form the South East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) to “contain communism”.

A year of widespread famine across China.
February 25th: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gives his ‘Secret Speech’, publicly denouncing Stalin and his political violence and suppression.

February 27th
: The Hundred Flowers campaign is formally announced by Mao.
June: Millions of letters pour into the government’s offices, most strongly critical of its policies.
July: Mao orders a halt to the Hundred Flowers campaign.

March: Mao gives a speech announcing the second Five-Year Plan, also dubbed the Great Leap Forward.
April: An experimental ‘people’s commune’, a gigantic farming collective, is established in Henan.
August: The CCP Politburo decides to adopt a policy of collectivised ‘people’s communes’ in rural areas.
September: Mao unveils a scheme to establish and run backyard furnaces for producing steel. Lin Biao is elevated to Politburo Standing Committee. Iron production increases by 45 percent.

The first of the ‘Three Bitter Years’, called the ‘Three Years of Natural Disasters’ by the party.
January: Mao visits a steel factory in Manchuria and learns that backyard furnaces are impractical.
April 28th: Liu Shaoqi is appointed as president of the People’s Republic of China.
July 2nd: The Lushan Conference begins. Mao’s policies are heavily criticised by Peng Dehuai.
July: Flooding of the Yellow River drowns thousands and causes massive crop devastation.
August: Peng Dehuai sacked as defence minister and held under house arrest.
September: Lin Biao replaces Peng Dehuai as defence minister. China’s annual grain production drops 15 percent from the previous year (1958).

China’s grain production drops another 15 percent, a total reduction of 30 percent in two years. Officials also record a population decrease of 13.48 million from the previous year. Iron production continues to increase by 30 percent over the previous two years (1959-60). Soviet advisors and technical experts are gradually withdrawn from China.

January: The CCP government begins a reversal of Great Leap Forward policies.
February: Grain exports halted and importation of foreign grain begins, alleviating some famine. Iron production plummets to below the levels of 1958.

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