China's 1.4 billion people have gone through periods of tremendous upheaval and change under 70 years of Communist rule.

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The once impoverished war-torn country has grown into the world's second-largest economy. In between, tens of millions died in the Great Leap Forward, which was anything but that; the Cultural Revolution ushered in a decade of chaos and a brutal crackdown on student protesters snuffed out hopes for democracy.

It has been a long march for the Chinese Communist Party, which came to power on Oct. 1, 1949, after defeating the Nationalist Party in a civil war. The Nationalists retreated to Taiwan, moving their rival government there.

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