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Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation’s political, cultural and educational center. It is home to the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned companies, and is a major hub for the national highway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks. The Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic.

The photos were taken by Ukranian photojournalist Dmitri Kessel in 1947 – 68 years ago.

In the time these photos were taken China was in midst of a Civil war. The Nationalists and Chinese Communists were allies during the Sino-Japanese War, but their domestic rivalry resumed after the defeat of Japan. To prevent the resumption of civil war, the U.S. government sent George C. Marshall to China to mediate.

The Marshall Mission was headquartered in Beiping where a truce was brokered on January 10, 1946, and a three-person committee, consisting of a Nationalist, a Communist and an American representative, was created to investigate breaches in the ceasefire in North China and Manchuria.The truce began to unravel in June 1946 and the Marshall Mission ultimately failed to create a coalition government.

The rape of Peking University student Shen Chong by two U.S. Marines in Dongdan on Christmas Eve 1946 sparked student demonstrations against the U.S. military presence in China. After Marshall’s departure in February 1947, full-scale civil war erupted.

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