1972 - Richard Nixon makes the first visit to communist China by a US president. The summit ends with both countries declaring a desire to normalise relations.
|Nixon's historic meeting with Mao paved |
the way for US-China relations
1976 - The premier, Zhou Enlai, dies in January and Mao's own health deteriorates. A power struggle is unleashed within the party.
The city of Tangshan is devastated by an earthquake.
Mao's death on September 9 begins a new era for China. His widow and three of her colleagues - the so-called Gang of Four - are arrested and convicted of crimes against the state.
1977 - Deng Xiaoping emerges as the dominant figure in the leadership. Under him, China embarks on far-reaching economic reforms.
1979 - Beijing and Washington establish full diplomatic relations.
China formally introduces the one-child policy in an effort to slow population growth, seen as a block to economic development.
1986 - China's "open-door policy" begins, opening the country to foreign investment and encouraging development of a market economy and private sector.
The phrase "to get rich is glorious" is widely attributed to Deng Xiaoping, although it is unclear if he ever actually said it.
1987- Hu Yaobang, chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and a hero to many reformers, is forced to resign.
1989 – The ideological struggle within the party grows and in May thousands of demonstrators - mostly students and workers - occupy Tiananmen Square in Beijing, calling for democratic reforms.
On June 3 the government orders the military to clear the square. Officially 200 people are killed. Unofficial death tolls put the number nearer to 3,000.
International outrage leads to sanctions against China.
1992 - Russia and China formally end more than 30 years of enmity, signing a declaration restoring friendly ties.
1993 - Jiang Zemin replaces Yang Shangkun as president while hard-liner Li Peng - seen as the main advocate behind the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown - is re-elected to another five-year term as prime minister.
|The Three Gorges dam is the world's |
biggest hydroelectric project [GALLO/GETTY]
Work begins on the construction of the massive Three Gorges Dam - a project first envisaged by Mao as a way of controlling the annual flooding of the Yangtze and generating electricity.
1995 - China conducts missile tests and military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, apparently to intimidate voters during the island's presidential elections.
The United States sends two aircraft carrier groups to the region as a show of force to deter any Chinese attack on the island.
1996 - China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan hold a landmark summit in Shanghai. The so-called "Shanghai Five" agree to increase military trust and reduce military forces along their shared borders.
1997 - Deng Xiaoping dies, aged 92, shortly before the handover of Hong Kong from British colonial rule.
1998 - Zhu Rongji succeeds Li Peng as premier, introducing a programme to privatise state-run businesses and further liberalise China's economy.
1999 - The Falun Gong spritual group is outlawed as a threat to stability.
The Portuguese colonial territory of Macao reverts to Chinese rule, ending five centuries of colonialism in China.
2001 - China joins the World Trade Organisation, ending a 15-year debate over whether it is entitled to the full trading rights of capitalist countries.
China is awarded the hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games.
2002 - Hu Jintao, the vice-president, becomes head of the Communist Party, replacing Jiang Zemin, the outgoing president, and beginning a two-year handover of power.
This is seen as transferring the reins to a more technocratic generation of Chinese leaders.
|Yang Liwei became China's first astronaut, |
orbiting the Earth 14 times in late 2003 [EPA]
2003 - An outbreak of the previously unknown Sars virus spreads from the southern province of Guangdong. Over the course of the outbreak, 774 people die, mostly in Hong Kong and mainland China.
China becomes only the third country in the world - after Russia and the US - to send a human into space. Yang Liwei orbits the Earth 14 times aboard the Shenzhou V spacecraft.
2005 - Anti-Japanese protests take place in a number of Chinese cities after the publication in Japan of a school textbook said to gloss over its World War II record.
China and Russia hold their first joint military exercises.
2006 - Structural work is completed on the Three Gorges Dam energy and flood control project, the largest in the world. Construction of the dam and its vast reservoir has displaced more than a million people and required the relocation of entire cities.
China-Tibet railway line begins operations - the world's highest rail service.
2007 - Chinese missile destroys an osolete orbiting Chinese weather satellite in an apparent test of a space weapon. Test draws criticism from several countries and warnings that it risks triggering a space arms race.
Series of product safety scandals raise international alarm about the safety of Chinese exports.