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of China . Rebellion inevitably bubbled up once more in the south, and Yuan resumed the
mantle of president in March 1916; he died a few months later. China fell under the control
of warlords, with eight presidents in the twelve years following Yuan's death, together with
a twelve-day resuscitation of Manchu rule. Amazingly, the city managed to grow and mod-
ernize itself during this period of chaos, with streets widened, city gates smartened up, and a
new tram system inaugurated.
The Guomindang
In 1928, Beijing came under the military dictatorship of the Nationalist Guomindang party,
led by Chiang Kaishek (1887-1975), losing its mantle as capital to Nanjing, and nine years
later was taken by Japanese forces during the second Sino-Japanese War (often referred to as
World War II in China). The war known as such by most of the rest of the world began im-
mediately afterwards, and at its close Beijing was controlled by an alliance of Guomindang
troops and American marines.
World war was followed by civilwar - the Nationalists and Chinese Communists had been
allies during the fight against Japan, but following a hastily arranged, oft-broken truce they
entered a full state of war as soon as 1947. The Communist People's Liberation Army
(PLA) took Beijing in early 1949, and advanced south; despite appeals from Nanjing for a
truce, they crossed the Yangtze soon afterwards, and took southern China from the National-
ists too.
The Communist era
On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong , Chairman of the Communist Party, proclaimed the in-
auguration of the People'sRepublicofChina from Tian'anmen gate, in the process making
Beijing the nation's capital once more. The city that Mao inherited for the Chinese people
was in most ways primitive. Imperial laws had banned the construction of houses higher than
the official buildings and palaces, so virtually nothing was more than one storey high. The
roads, although straight and uniform, were narrow and congested, and there was scarcely any
The rebuilding of the capital, and the erasing of symbols of the previous regimes, was an
early priority for the Communists. They wanted to retain the city's sense of ordered planning,
with Tian'anmen Square , laid out in the 1950s, as its new heart. Initially their inspiration
was Soviet, with an emphasis on heavy industry and a series of poor-quality high-rise hous-
ing programmes. Most of the traditional courtyard houses, which were seen to encourage in-
dividualism, were destroyed. In their place anonymous concrete buildings were thrown up,
often with inadequate sanitation and little running water. Much of the new social planning
was misguided; after the destruction of all the capital's dogs - for reasons of hygiene - in
1950, it was the turn of sparrows in 1956. This was a measure designed to preserve grain,
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