Asia Pacific 1959: China under Mao
Following the end of the Korean War in 1953 and France’s Indochina War in 1954, China began to move away from its dependence on the Soviet Union. From 1958-61, Mao Zedong attempted to rapidly modernize China with the Great Leap Forward, only to trigger famines which killed tens of millions of people. At the same time, Tibet unsuccessfully attempted to throw off Chinese rule, forcing its leader, the Dalai Lama, to take sanctuary in India.
21 Jul 1954 Partition of Vietnam▲
By the terms of the Geneva Conference ending the First Indochina War, Vietnam was partitioned into two zones - a Viet Minh controlled zone in the north and a zone controlled by the State of Vietnam in the south. The zones were separated by a provisional military demarcation line roughly following the 17th parallel, with a 4.8 km demilitarized zone on each side of this line. The partition was meant to be temporary until nationwide elections could be held to unify the country under a common government.
8 Sep 1954 SEATO▲
Manila Pact signed, creating South East Asia Treaty Organization.
11 Oct 1955 Return of Dairen▲
Having agreed to transfer the port to the People’s Republic of China without compensation in 1950, Soviet troops left Dairen (formerly Port Arthur, now Lüshun).
31 Aug 1957 Independence of Malaya▲
British grant Federation of Malaya independence
Apr 1958-Jan 1961 Great Leap Forward▲
Mao Zedong, Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, launched the Great Leap Forward - a campaign of rapid industrialization and collectivization in an attempt by China to overtake the United Kingdom’s economy in fifteen years. To facilitate this, farms were made communal, each neighborhood built ‘backyard furnaces’ to produce steel, and alleged pests such as sparrows were systematically exterminated. The result was economic regression and the Great Chinese Famine - a disaster which killed from 15 to 55 million people.
10-28 Mar 1959 Tibetan uprising▲
Following severe unrest in the Chinese-administered Tibetan regions of Kham and Amdo starting in 1956, hostility to the Chinese presence in Tibet increased. In March 1959, Lhasa broke out in revolt, lasting for several days until it was brutally suppressed by the People’s Liberation Army. Fearing that the Chinese government was planning to abduct him, the 14th Dalai Lama fled to exile in India.