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Foreign Office Files for China, 1919-1948

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Complete FO 371, FCO 21 and additional files from The National Archives, Kew


The three parts of this collection make available all British Foreign Office files dealing with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan between 1919 and 1948:

  • 1919-1929: Kuomintang, CCP and the Third International
  • 1930-1937: The Long March, Civil War in China and the Manchurian Crisis
  • 1938-1948: Open Door, Japanese War and the Seeds of Communist Victory [due in 2014]

The revolution which overthrew the millennia-old imperial system heralded a period of upheaval in China which would last for the best part of forty years. Encapsulated by the rivalry between the Nationalist Chiang Kai-shek and the Communist Mao Zedong, the turmoil of warlordism, competing governments, civil wars and Japanese invasion ended only when the Communist Party emerged as masters of a reunified China in 1949. Throughout most of this period the major European powers, the United States and Japan maintained considerable political and economic interests in China, most notably in the foreign concessions in Shanghai and other ‘treaty ports’.

Due to the unique nature of the relationship between Britain and China, these formerly restricted British government documents, consisting of diplomatic despatches, letters, maps, reports of court cases, biographies of leading personalities, summaries of events and diverse other materials, provide unprecedented levels of detail into one of the most turbulent periods of Chinese history.

Foreign Office Files for China, 1919-1948 is an Archives Direct series. Please see this link for further information on our other Archives Direct collections.

See also Foreign Office Files for China, 1949-1980