From 1920 to 1949 in the Republic of China, "Chinese popular music" was used to describe all contemporary music sung in Chinese dialects in Shanghai. It was founded by Li Jinhui. Buck Clayton is credited with bringing American jazz influence to China. The music gained popularity in hangout quarters of nightclubs and dancehalls of major cities in the 1920s. A number of privately-run radio stations were spawned from the late 1920s to 1950s to play c-pop music.
Around the time of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the Chinese Civil War, pop music was seen as a leftist distraction. After the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, c-pop has been marketed, produced and branded regionally.
The Communist Party of China remained in mainland China after establishing the People's Republic of China in 1949. One of its first actions was to label the genre "Yellow Music", where the color is associated with pornography. Baak Doi would take pop music to Hong Kong, and develop cantopop.
The Kuomintang, relocated to Taiwan, discouraged the use of the native Taiwanese language (Min Nan) from the 1950s to the late 1980s. As a result, mandopop became the dominant musical genre in Taiwan.
The immortal legends award was honored to C-pop stars who died a legend.At the end of 2007 RTHK began promoting a tribute called (不死傳奇) literally "Immortal Legends" in honor of the singers who died a legend in the industry. The honor was given to Roman Tam, Anita Mui, Teresa Teng, Leslie Cheung, Wong Ka Kui and Danny Chan. All six pop stars played a major role in developing the Hong Kong or Taiwan music industry.
The gap between cantopop and mandopop has been narrowing in the new millennium. C-pop covers many musical styles, including R&B, ballads, pop, light rock and some variation of hip hop. Chinese rock branched off as a separate genre during the early 1990s. Chinese hip hop has started to come to its own in the 2000s. Chinese R&B was pioneered by Alex To in the 90s, but has since been used as the major composition style for artists such as Jay Chou, David Tao, Khalil Fong and Lee-Hom Wang.