World History 1949
About the history of the world in 1949, Germany is split into two, South Africa adopts apartheid.
TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978
* Chinese Communist forces under Mao Tsetung consolidated their victory over Nationalist troops in Manchuria and swept south into the Chinese heartland. The Nationalist stronghold at Tientsin collapsed on Jan. 15, and on the 21st, two days before the fall of Peking, Pres. Chiang Kai-shek was forced to resign in favor of Vice-President Li Tsung-jen, who tried in vain to salvage southern China through a negotiated settlement with Mao. Driven from Nanking (Apr. 21), from Canton (Oct. 13), and from Chungking (Dec. 8), the weary Nationalist government fled across the strait to Taiwan and asylum. Meanwhile, on Oct. 1, Mao proclaimed the birth of the People's Republic of China. Now came the hard part. Somehow Mao had to mobilize a quarter of the world's population into a force for radical social change while at the same time stabilizing the disjointed Chinese economy. The civil war coming on top of the Japanese occupation had crippled the nation's industry and agriculture, and a third of the arable land lay under floodwaters. With the Organic Law, Mao set himself up as chairman of the Central People's Government Council with powers equivalent to those of the U.S. president, the chief justice, and congressional leaders all rolled into one. The nuts and bolts of statecraft, however, he left to the state Administrative Council, headed by his trusted lieutenant Chou En-lai. What transpired inside China at mid-century was ignored, diplomatically at least, by the U.S. While Great Britain, France, India, Burma, Pakistan, Ceylon, and all the Communist countries promptly recognized the red government in Peking, Washington refused to do so.
* The British, French, and American zones of occupied Germany became th Federal Republic of Germany (West), while the Soviet-occupied zone emerged as the German Democratic Republic (East).
* The Nationalist Afrikaner party, swept into power in South Africa on a platform of apartheid (racial segregation), wasted no time in carrying out its campaign pledge. Although the white establishment generally rationalized apartheid by insisting that division of the races benefited both black and white, some were more frank. Said Prime Minister Strijdom: "Call it paramountcy, or what you will, it is still domination. I am being as blunt as I can. I am making no excuses. Either the white man dominates or the black man takes over." Nonwhites, i.e., blacks, Indians, and Coloureds (mixed blood), were herded into the seamier quarters of towns and were denied access to white transportation systems and other white public facilities. They were denied the vote, habeas corpus, and the right to strike. Marriage between Europeans and blacks was banned. Unlike the American black, who in the face of similar discrimination could find some comfort and ultimately redress in the letter of the law, South African blacks reading their nation's statutes discovered apartheid upheld in bold strokes. Eventually education, too, was distorted to bolster apartheid. As the South African minister of native affairs put it, "[Racial relations] cannot improve if the result of Native education is the creation of frustrated people who as a result of the education they receive have expectations in life which circumstances in South Africa do not allow to be fulfilled immediately, when it creates people who are trained for a profession not open to them."
Sept. 23 President Truman issued a statement: "We have evidence that within recent weeks an atomic explosion occurred in the U.S.S.R." Russia had the bomb. It marked the end of any real hope to stuff the nuclear genie back in the bottle. For the Soviet Union, it evened the score and freed its foreign policy from U.S. nuclear threat. For the American people, it meant bomb shelters and talk of doomsday. For the world in general, it spelled a balance of terror which might tip at any moment.
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