Japan controlled northeastern China since 1905 when they defeated Russia. Rise in Chinese nationalism in the 1920's made the Japanese fearful. Junior Japanese officers took out the aggression on the Japanese and Guomindang. They blew up their own railroads near Shenyang and rushed in more soldiers as "self-defence". In 1932 Manchuria was declared an independent state by Japan. Japan tried to establish a defensive wall against the Soviets.
Many Chinese people wanted technological and political reforms but wanted to preserve traditions. This was shattered when the Dynastic system destroyed those hopes.
After Yuan Shigai's death. Political power was in the hands of local warlords. Japan acquired most of Chinese territory in 1914. Japan expanded it's colonized territories which aggravated the young Chinese and the growing middle class.
The New Culture Movement was against traditional Chinese thoughts and customs and pushed China into the modern world. It started in the May 4th Era. The original scholars attacked Chinese Confucian ethics. They promoted any-Confucian virtues such as; individualism, democratic equality and scientific method. They also promoted a clear, simplified language that was to be more understandable.
Intellectuals thought that Marxian socialism was what China needed. Marxism gave the Chinese pride as it criticized western dominance. Capitalist Imperialists were to blame for Chinas weakness in the international arena.
The Chinese thought this appealed to the majority of the population which were peasants.
It started with 5000 students at Tiananmen Square protesting the decision to let Japan keep it's territories. It ended up a strong nationalist movement against foreign imperialism. It also opposed warlord governments.
Japan is defeated in 1945.
Mao Zedong quickly realized the revolutionary potential of the huge peasant population. He, himself, was a hard working peasant as a child and converted to Marxist Socialism in 1918. He then started as an urban labor organizer. In 1925, protest by Chinese agains Japanese employers spread from the cities to the rural areas of China. Mao seized the opportunity to unify the peasants. After a failed attempt of a revolt, he split his army into mini guerrilla warfare groups and advocated equal land distribution. He built up a self-governing communist soviet centralized in Southeast China and defended against Nationalist attacks.
After the 1911 Revolution Chinese women got more equality and freedom as well. Foot binding was illegal etc.
Sun Yat-Sen aligned his Nationalist Party (Guomindang) with the new Chinese Communist Party and another Communist Party. Soon after, there were many national liberation fronts. He was not a Communist however. He had "Three Principals of the Peopl" according to the National Party ideology. Nationalism, Democracy and Livelihood and Nationalism was the most important of these 3. His definition of democracy isn't the usual, he thought that democracy was achieved by strict Nationalist rule while improving welfare and people's lives through land reform etc. He planned on reuniting the country under one strong central government. Then he died in 1925.
Took over Sun Yat-Sen when he suddenly died. He was young especially compared to his 2 predecessors. He was the director of the army's training school before. he was successful in overthrowing warlords in '26 & '27 in North and Central China. In '28 he changed the capital to Nanjing and foreign powers recognized him and his party as the government of China. It appeared as if though China was reunified. WRONG! China was still plagued by regional differences and lack of modern communication. A lethal rivalry between the Guomindang and the Communists had sparked. Chiang naturally liquidated his "allies" in a bloody purge. The Communists went into hiding promising revenge upon the Nationalists.
He was the central figure in the revolution. He was an old military man that came out of retirement and convinced revolutionaries that he could unite the country and prevent foreign intervention. He was elected president but focused on getting his own power instead.
He used military force to dissolve the parliament and failed as a dictator.