1840 Opium war breaks out, putting an end to a long period of self-imposed Chinese isolation.
1850-1864 The Taiping rebellion against the Qing government, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, sees southern China descend into civil war. It becomes an inspiration for Sun Yat-sen, who will lead the 1911 revolution decades later.
1861-1895 The Self-Strengthening Movement, a period of institutional reform, is initiated during the late Qing dynasty. Some of the ruling elite believe China can learn about military technology and armaments from foreigners and then surpass them.
1890s More intellectuals and members of the elite, mostly students studying abroad, vow to overthrow the Manchu Qing dynasty and build a republic.
1894 Sun Yat-sen founds the Xing Zhong Hui, or Revive China Society, in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the oath 'Expel Manchus, revive China and establish a unified government'. It is later merged into the Tong Meng Hui, or Chinese United League, which turns into the Kuomintang.
1895 China is defeated in the first Sino-Japanese war, revealing the severe military weakness of the Qing dynasty. It also demonstrates the modernisation of Japan and the power it has achieved through embracing reform.
1895 The Gongche Shangshu Movement - or petition of the civil service candidates - becomes the first modern political movement, with intellectuals and members of the elite petitioning the Qing government for political reform. The leaders of the movement later become the key figures of the Hundred Days' Reform.
1895 The first Guangzhou uprising is organised by The Revive China Society, now based in Hong Kong. Sun Yat-sen is forced into exile after the uprising fails.
1898 The Hundred Days' Reform sees the young Guangxu Emperor initiate 103 days of reform, ended by conservative opponents led by Empress Dowager Cixi. Many reformists are forced to leave the country.
1898-1901 The Boxer rebellion highlights hostility to foreigners and frustrations about the Qing dynasty, which has failed to protect national integrity. The movement targets foreign concessions and missionaries in China.
Early 1900s The Revive China Society and other revolutionary groups stage abortive coups across the country, including the Huizhou uprising in 1900, Pingliuli uprising in 1906 and Huanggang uprising in 1907. Japan becomes the most popular destination for Chinese students as revolutionary thoughts spread among them. Many later become revolutionaries.
1905 Sun Yat-sen and Song Jiaoren found the Tong Meng Hui, an alliance of many Chinese revolutionary groups, in Tokyo. Its oath is 'To expel Tatar barbarians and to revive China, to establish a republic, and to distribute land equally among the people'.
1911 Railway Protection Movement begins in response to public anger over the Qing government's sale of railway construction rights to foreigners. Violence spreads in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Hunan. The Qing government mobilises troops to put down unrest in Hubei.
April 27, 1911 Second Guangzhou uprising, or the Yellow Flower Mound revolt. Led by Tong Meng Hui leader Huang Xing, over a hundred revolutionaries force their way into the residence of the viceroy of Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. The uprising ends with a catastrophic defeat and most revolutionaries are killed.
October 10, 1911 Revolutionary groups organise Wuchang uprising in the Hubei city of Wuchang. It serves as a catalyst for the 1911 revolution, which leads to the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China.
January 1, 1912 Sun Yat-sen announces the establishment of the Republic of China in Nanjing and is inaugurated as the provisional president of the republic.
February 12, 1912 The Qing emperor, Pu Yi, abdicates.
February 14, 1912 Yuan Shikai is elected provisional president of the Republic of China by the Nanjing provisional senate and is sworn in on March 10.