How the movement of May Fourth marked a new beginning in China?

The May Fourth Movement refers to the movement that broke out in 1919 due to the weak response of the then-government to the Treaty of Versailles which imposed unfair treatment on China and undermined China’s sovereignty after World War I.

Why Chinese felt betrayed?

After the First World War the Western Powers ignored the widespread sentiment demanding the return to China the colonial territory in Shandong that Japan had seized from Germany in the war. Massive protests erupted in Beijing against the perceived betrayal by both the West and China’s leaders. This resentment led to the May Fourth Movement.

Why it is seen as a New Beginning?

  • The movement is widely considered a great patriotic and revolutionary campaign pioneered by young intellectuals and joined by people from all walks of life to fight imperialism and feudalism in China.
  • The movement which saw the Treaty of Versailles as west’s ‘betrayal’ drove large numbers of Chinese nationalists to look to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution as a way to achieve national renewal.
  • The movement led to the establishment of the Communist Party in 1921 and May Fourth became a part of its iconography.
  • May Fourth has also continued to inspire generations of student protesters and dissenting intellectuals and is often seen as a potential trigger for social unrest.
  • The massive pro-democracy demonstrations by students and activists at Tiananmen Square in 1989 which attracted an estimated 1 million people at its height claimed inspiration from the May Fourth era.

Hence, the May Fourth Movement is seen by many as a turning point in China’s modern history.

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