History After 1949
Pinyin was developed as part of a Chinese government project in the 1950s. One of the central people was Zhou Youguang, who is often called "the father of Pinyin", as he led a government committee in developing the romanization system. Zhou was working in a New York bank when he decided to return to China to help rebuild the country after the establishment of the PRC in 1949. Believing he was helping Mao Zedong build a democracy, Zhou became an economics professor in Shanghai. In 1954 China's Ministry of Education created a Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language. Zhou was assigned the task of helping to develop a new romanization system.
Hanyu Pinyin was based on several preexisting systems: (Gwoyeu Romatzyh of 1928, Latinxua Sin Wenz of 1931, and the diacritic markings from zhuyin). "I’m not the father of pinyin," Zhou said years later, "I’m the son of pinyin. It’s a long tradition from the later years of the Qing dynasty down to today. But we restudied the problem and revisited it and made it more perfect."
A first draft was published on February 12, 1956. The first edition of Hanyu pinyin was approved and adopted at the Fifth Session of the 1st National People's Congress on February 11, 1958. It was then introduced to primary schools as a way to teach Standard Chinese pronunciation and used to improve the literacy rate among adults.
Beginning in the early 1980s, in regards to people from Mainland China, Western publications began using the Hanyu Pinyin romanization system instead of earlier romanization systems; this change followed the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and the PRC in 1979. In 2001, the PRC Government issued the National Common Language Law, providing a legal basis for applying pinyin.
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