We have recently added Foreign Office Files for CHINA (1930-1937) to our online collections.
The twentieth century in China was one of constant change. The post-revolutionary 1920s were a time of political confusion bordering on chaos, and the 1930s were dominated by a simplified civil war between Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang and the Communist parties’ armies. The Kuomintang found themselves driven from the mainland by 1949 to seek refuge on the island of Taiwan, from where the Republic of China government, protected by the US Navy, continued to claim sovereignty over the whole country. In the rest of China the new authorities of the People’s Republic enacted immensely wide-ranging political and economic change to reflect, initially, Stalinist ideology. However, Sino-Soviet relations worsened towards the end of the 1950s, with Mao’s ideas diverging from Soviet practice on the issue of how China could best make the transition to true communism. Despite his eventual marginalisation in the party, Mao was able to reassume control with the Cultural Revolution of 1966, in which ‘revisionists’ were purged from the party and from wider Chinese society. Only with Mao’s death in 1976 was the grip of his thinking on China’s governance loosened, ushering in economic reform and growth under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping.
This resource, published in six parts, makes available the complete British Foreign Office files dealing with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan during these decades.
The documents combine eyewitness accounts, weekly and monthly summaries, annual reviews, reports and analyses with a synthesis of newspaper articles and conference reports, economic assessments and synopses on leading Chinese personalities. There is a constant exchange of information between London and British diplomatic outposts in China and a continual dialogue on issues relating to East Asia between Britain and America as well as with European and Commonwealth partners. Sino-Soviet relations also become a very important consideration in the Cold War era.