Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 December 2019
The fall of the Qing dynasty was followed by the successive creation of two republics: the Republic of China (‘ROC’), established in 1912 and ultimately dominated by the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek, and the People’s Republic of China (‘PRC’), established in 1949 by the Chinese Communist Party (‘CCP’) headed by Mao Zedong. Treatment of the two Chinas in the international arena could hardly have been more different. Never exercising more than nominal control over the entirety of the territory it claimed, the ROC was riven by an endless succession of warlords, an even greater number of Westerners holding onto semi-colonial privileges they claimed to have inherited from the Qing, a civil war between Nationalists and Communists, and a brutal occupation by Japan. Nevertheless, while there was no shortage of people in China rejecting the claims of the Nationalist Government, internationally no one doubted its legal existence, even when contradicted by facts.