This Is What China Looked Like 70 Years Ago

In 1949, Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People's Republic of China, ushering in 70 years of massive social and political upheaval under communist rule.

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For the last 70 years, China has undergone massive social and political upheaval under communist rule. The influence of China’s Communist Party grew steadily throughout the early 20th century with support from the Soviet Union, causing a sporadic but deadly civil war between Communists and Nationalists and resulting in the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The Chinese Civil War reached a watershed moment following the Second Sino-Japanese War, in which the Communists had grown to overwhelming numbers and negotiations between the two parties had broken down. As the Soviet-backed Red Army maintained a tactical foothold throughout the countrysides of northern China, the US-backed Nationalists focused its forces on defending the cities of Shenyang, Changchun, and Jinzhou. By fall 1948, these cities were captured by the Red Army in a decisive defeat for the Nationalists.

On Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong, the leader of the Communist Party, declared the founding of the People's Republic of China from atop the Tiananmen in the former Nationalist-held capital of Beijing. These pictures show what China looked like during this pivotal moment in its history.