This Month in History (AUGUST)
August 25, 1227
Genghis Khan (1162-1227), founder of the Mongol Empire which spanned from Eastern Europe across Asia, died from an illness. He came to power by uniting nomadic tribes of northeast Asia and founded the Mongol Empire in 1206. He then launched various invasions, by the end of his life extending the empire to include a substantial portion of Central Asia and China. His descendants went on to stretch the empire across most of Eurasia, bridging the eastern and western world so that various commodities and ideologies were disseminated and exchanged across cultures. The Washington Post named Genghis Khan “the most important man” of the last millennium.
August 14, 1900
An Eight-nation Alliance made up of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States invaded and occupied Beijing. Foreign aggression in China was resisted by an anti-colonialist peasant movement referred to as the Boxer Uprising. Hoping to continue their imperialist expansion, the foreign powers forced the Qing government to suppress the Boxers, and at the same time brought in their own troops to defeat the Boxers and occupy the capital. The armies ransacked countless historical and cultural artifacts and set fire to the imperial palaces.
August 1, 1941
American volunteer flyers, nicknamed the Flying Tiger Squadron, took on the mission of helping China drive out the Japanese invaders during World War II. The airmen, under the leadership of U.S. General Claire Lee Chennaults (1893-1958), flew planes painted with grinning sharks. The squadron won great respect and affection from the Chinese people and has remained a symbol of U.S.-China friendship for its generous assistance to the Chinese air force.
August 15, 1950
Soong Ching Ling (1893-1981) announced the renaming of China Welfare Fund (CWF) as the China Welfare Institute (CWI). The CWF grew out of the China Defense League (CDL) founded by Soong Ching Ling in Hong Kong in 1938. The CDL actively appealed to peace-loving people to help China’s resistance against Japanese aggression. In 1945, the CWF moved its headquarters to Shanghai, where it continued to support the liberation of Chinese people and promote children’s welfare through cultural and educational programs. Today the institute focuses on maternal and child health, preschool education and children’s culture.
August 8, 1952
The Program for the Implementation of Ethnic Regional Autonomy of the People’s Republic of China was issued, setting down the rules for the implementation of regional autonomy for national minorities. The policy, applied to areas with big ethnic populations, allows local authorities greater power and freedom in handling local and ethnic affairs. To preserve the cultures and promote economic and social development of ethnic minorities, China has so far established five autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures, 120 autonomous counties/banners and 1,500 autonomous towns.
August 8, 1961
Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), a world famous Peking Opera star, died from heart disease. As a son and grandson of noted opera singers, Mei began studying the art at eight and made his debut performance at 11. He played female roles on the stage, a tradition that today is on the verge of extinction, and gradually established his own style of singing that was named after him. Mei also made enthusiastic efforts to promote Peking Opera in the rest of the world. During his life he entertained over 6,000 distinguished foreign guests at his residence in Beijing, and visited and performed in many countries including the U.S., Japan and the Soviet Union. In 2008 director Chen Kaige made a film about Mei Lanfang’s life, Forever Enthralled, probing into the private world of this master performer and revealing aspects of his powerful personality.
August 19, 2000
The Sanjiangyuan (headwater of three rivers) Preserve was established in Qinghai Province. The preserve is the largest in China, covering a total area of 366,000 square kilometers. It is also the reserve with the greatest diversity of high-altitude species in the world. The region supplies 25 percent of the water in the Yangtze River, 49 percent of the water in the Yellow River and 15 percent of the water in the Lancang River. Degradation of the local eco-system prompted the government to set up the preserve.
August 8, 2008
The opening ceremony of the 29th summer Olympic Games kicked off in the National Stadium in Beijing. Chinese President Hu Jintao declared the opening of the Games, which came after a performance highlighting the major achievements of 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, and a parade of more than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries and regions. The Games took place from August 8 to 24, 2008. For the first time, China dominated the Olympic gold medal podium with 51 golds.
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