IB Extended Essay: Why was the Chinese Communist Party able to achieve victory over the Kuomintang in the Chinese Civil War?
Word Count: 4067
The Chinese Civil War, which took place from the end of World War II up to October 1, 1949, directly led to the creation of the People's Republic of China, the world's most populous communist nation. The purpose of this essay is to explain why the Chinese Communist Party was able to achieve victory over the Kuomintang in the Chinese Civil War. In this paper, the role of international powers, namely the Soviet Union and the United States, Kuomintang policy, and Chinese Communist Party policy and will be explored.
The essay begins by giving a brief background of the conditions of the Chinese Civil War. Historical ranges of view are then discussed. The role of the Soviet Union in the earlier years of the Chinese Communist Party is discussed and how the Soviet policy towards China began to change.
It also explores the American attitude towards the Soviet Union and China and how it is related to the beginnings of the Cold War. Marshall's mission to China in 1946 and 1947 is discussed. A section on the military and economic policies of the Kuomintang during the war follows. Finally, the military, economic, and political policies of the Chinese Communist Party are discussed. A brief section on the course of the war follows. The essay concludes that in spite of alienation by the Soviet Union and opposition from the U.
S. due to growing fears of Soviet expansion, the Chinese Communist Party was able to achieve victory over the Kuomintang partly because of the Kuomintang's apparent weaknesses, but primarily because of the superior military strategy employed by the Communists and the economic and political reforms carried out by the party. Table of Contents Chapter I. Introduction Chapter II. The Soviet Attitude Towards the Chinese Civil War 1. History of Soviets with Chinese Communist Party 2.
Soviet Policy in Manchuria after W. W. II Chapter III. The American Attitude Towards the Chinese Civil War 1.
Marshall's mission to China 2. American aid to the Kuomintang during the war Chapter IV. The Kuomintang and the Civil War 1. Occupation of former Japanese territories 2. Peace talks of 1945 and 1946 3.
Economic Problems 4. Military Policy Chapter V. The Chinese Communist Party and the Civil War 1. Military Policy 2. Rural Land Reforms 3.
Urban Reforms Chapter VI. Brief Summary of the Course of the War Chapter VII. Conclusion Bibliography I. Introduction The Chinese Civil War, which may be chronologically defined as the period of conflict between the Communists and the Nationalists that occurred between the end of World War II and 1949, can be seen as the last phase of the Communist revolution in China. Four years after the end of the Japanese occupation, the Communist victory in 1949 resulted in the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the world's most populous communist nation. It remains to be explored why the Chinese Communist Party was ultimately able to achieve victory over the Nationalists, who had officially taken power in 1911 after the abdication of Emperor Pu Yi.
The greatest threat to Nationalist, or Kuomintang, power came into existence with the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921. The years of struggle against each other that ensued ended with the Chinese Civil War. There have been several different explanations for the communist victory and nationalist defeat in the Chinese Civil War. At the time, the Republican party of the United States felt that it was the direct result of U. S. actions that led to the Nationalist defeat.
1 In another view, others, such as the Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai Shek, placed a great deal of emphasis on the aid of the Soviets in the Chinese Communist victory. Conversely, some have placed a great deal of significance on the apparent weaknesses of the Kuomintang. However, to attribute the Communist victory of the Chinese Civil War to merely one factor would be unduly simplistic. Several factors, which concern both the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang, influenced the outcome of the Chinese Civil War. Still, one must not overlook international factors and the role of the United Sates and the Soviet Union. Despite Soviet alienation of the Chinese Communist Party and foreign opposition from United States, the Chinese Communist Party achieved victory over the Nationalists through superior military strategy and the implementation of socio-political programmes.
It will be discussed how each of these factors affected the outcome of the Chinese Civil War and ultimately led to the victory of the Chinese Communist Party and the creation of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. II. The Soviet Attitude Towards the Chinese Civil War 1. History of Soviets with Chinese Communist Party Although the role the Soviet Union played in the Chinese Civil War is relatively small, it must be discussed since it largely influenced the American view of the situation in China. From the birth of the Chinese Communist Party, the Soviets had played a great role in the party's development. In order to combat the Japanese, the Chinese Communist Party was directed by the Soviets to seek a united front with the Kuomintang in 1923.
It was the Soviet goal that the Communist Party would eventually absorb the Kuomintang into the Communist Party through their alliance. However, the alliance was quickly broken when Chiang Kai-Shek lead a coup against the Communists in Shanghai during the Northern Expedition in 1927. Since a stable government could not exist until the elimination of the Japanese, another alliance was formed in 1937 to finally defeat the Japanese, but after, the Communists and the Kuomintang again split. However, the Soviet guidance often conflicted with the policies of the Chinese Communist Party. For example, in the beginning, the Chinese Communist Party was directed to seek revolution in the manner that the Soviets had, through a mass urban revolution. However, this strategy proved to be ineffective since only a very small amount of the Chinese population, less than one percent in 1921, was concentrated in the urban areas.
Moreover, the large cities were the strongholds for the Nationalists and were to great extent controlled by the Japanese and Western powers. Many Chinese Communist Party members, including Mao Tse Tung, were reluctant to follow the Soviet directives. The Communists were badly defeated in urban warfare. Only a few Communist Party members were able to escape from the cities and go into hiding.
After the failure of the urban uprisings, the Chinese Communists made a decisive shift from the cities to the countryside. This lead to the establishment of a rural communist base in Yanan. The Communist campaign for rural support eventually led to the Long March in October 1934. In this year long trek across rural China, peasant support for the Communists was firmly established. The Chinese Communists abandoned the Soviet idea of the urban worker's revolution. 2.
Soviet Policy in Manchuria after W. W. II The Soviet attitude toward the Chinese Communist Party altered after the defeat of the Japanese. At the end of World War II, the seeds of the Cold War were beginning the develop. In July of 1945, the U. S.
War Department made the conclusion that, "There is reason to believe that Soviet Russia plans to create Russian-dominated areas in Manchuria, Korea, and probably North China." 2 There is a degree of truth in the U. S. War Department's conclusion. It may be interpreted that the Soviet Union was more a competitor in Manchuria than an ally to the Chinese Communist Party. The aid that the Chinese Communists received was limited. It may be argued that to Soviet's most important aid to the Chinese Communists was delaying the arrival of the Nationalists to Manchuria for six weeks.
The Soviets had their own goals in Manchuria, the most industrially developed area of China. The Soviets dismantled industrial plants and shipped them back into the Soviet Union. The Soviet seizure of industrial materials in Manchuria hindered the progress of the Chinese Communists, since the lack of industrial materials would prove to be one of the Chinese Communist Party's shortcomings in the battle against the Kuomintang. Moreover, the Chinese Communist Party was criticised by the public for allowing the Soviets to plunder Manchuria. "What exactly did the Russian army's aid amount to? Marshal Malinovsky, the commander of the Soviet occupying army in Manchuria, let the Chinese Communists spread through the countryside and seize whatever Japanese weapons they could find." 3 Also, there is reason to believe that the Soviets were not confident that the Chinese Communists would succeed. The Kuomintang outnumbered the Communist forces four fold.
During the Civil War, the Soviets maintained proper relations with the Nationalists. Instead of promoting world wide communist revolution, the Soviets followed policy that was in the best interests of the U. S. S. R.
Thus, it appears that the Soviets alienated the Chinese Communist Party and left the Communists to fight against the Kuomintang without any foreign aid. Chapter III. The American Attitude Towards the Chinese Civil War As previously mentioned, the U. S. attitude towards China was directed by the U. S.
government's policy towards the Soviet Union. In some respects, one may interpret the international context of the Chinese Civil War part of the beginning of the Cold War. It was previously mentioned that the U. S. believed that the Soviet Union would try to dominate North East Asia. The U.
S. argued that if the Soviet Union was allowed to dominate North East Asia, it would be a direct threat to China's ability to become an independent nation. The U. S. could not allow this to happen. From the U.
S. War Department's Report of July, 1945, "In order to prevent the separation of Manchuria and North China from China, it is essential that, if Soviet Russia participates in the war, China not be divided (like Europe) into American-British and Russian zones of military operations." 4 To achieve its goal, the United States attempted to mediate talks between the Kuomintang and the Communists in hopes of unifying China without a war. In December 1945, the United States sent General George Marshall to accomplish this task. 1. Marshall's mission to China Despite negotiating a truce between to Communists and the Kuomintang, Marshall's mission to China was a failure; no final agreement between the two factions could be made. It may be argued that, considering the policies and circumstances of Marshall's mission, failure was inevitable.
For example, even though Marshall tried to maintain neutrality throughout the negotiations, one may argue that it was contradictory for the U. S. to be supplying weapons and supplies to the Kuomintang at the same time. The Communists brought this to attention and condemned the Americans for intruding in Chinese affairs. Perhaps, the most important reason for Marshall's failure was the Chinese people's general mistrust for the Americans. China had been under the control of foreign powers, including Britain and the U.
S. , for centuries and the people wanted this to end. To some extent, the failure of the Marshall mission can be attributed to a sense of nationalism within the Chinese people. If the two sides had come to an agreement under mediation, it would have appeared to the Chinese people that they had done so due to American pressure.
Since Mao had gained support because the public viewed him as the one who had fought the Japanese, he would have to take a similar stance against any other imperialist power, including the U. S. Both the Chinese Communists and the Kuomintang knew that, if public opinion were to be satisfied, an agreement could not be made during Marshall's mission. One might argue that Civil War was inevitable.
2. American aid to the Kuomintang during the war After the end of World War II, the United States gradually withdrew its troops from China. American military advisers remanded in China after the end of the second World War, however their advice was often ignored by Chiang Kai Shek. During the Chinese Civil War, the United States helped finance the Kuomintang's military campaign. However, it appears that the U.
S. was more concerned with the reconstruction of Western Europe and consequently spent more of its resources in Europe. The Chinese Nationalists received funding from both the United States government and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency. In April 1948, the China Aid Act offered 460 million dollars for the year to the Nationalists.
However, the Kuomintang had requested more funding and found the amount specified in the China Aid Act to be inadequate. The Kuomintang felt that they had been betrayed by the United States. The Communists used the assistance from the United States against the Kuomintang and accused the nationalists of being American imperialist lackeys. In addition to financial aid, the United States provided to the Kuomintang weapons and the means, trucks and aircraft, to transport their troops. Yet, the American aid hindered the Kuomintang; the transportation equipment provided by the United States allowed the Nationalists to move their troops more easily and ultimately extend the troops beyond serviceable capacity. To some extent, one may argue that the Kuomintang alliance with the United States impeded the Nationalists more than it helped them.
Chapter IV. The Kuomintang and the Civil War 1. Occupation of former Japanese territories At then end of World War II, the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai Shek was the officially recognised government, by both the United States and the U. S. S.
R. By 1949, just four years after the end of World War II, the Nationalist government collapsed and was forced to retreat to the island of Taiwan. The Kuomintang's first task after World War II was to successfully gain control over the formerly Japanese occupied areas, namely Manchuria. The Nationalists handled the situation poorly. The Chinese inhabitants of Manchuria were not treated as victims of war, but with contempt. Land in the former Japanese territories became property of the government; it was not returned to the original owners.
Moreover, the puppet leaders that had been installed by the Japanese often kept their positions or became members of the Kuomintang. The industrial areas that had been developed by the Japanese were also squandered. Instead of being used for industrial production, often, machinery was broken down and sold as scrap. Moreover, the monetary assets of the puppet states were virtually eliminated, since the currency that had been issued in the puppet states went through extreme inflation. Puppet currency was redeemed at a rate of two hundred to one. 5 In Taiwan, another area that was previously under the mandate of imperialist Japan, a revolt against the Kuomintang was staged in Mach of 1947.
The insurrection was forcefully vanquished by the Kuomintang. The Kuomintang's action was criticised one the mainland, where the Chinese people were already growing weary of the Nationalist rule. It is evident that the take over of formerly Japanese occupied areas was not carried out effectively. 2. Peace talks of 1945 and 1946 From a political perspective, the Kuomintang's goal was, in theory, to follow the Sun Yat Sen's vision of a united democratic and constitutional China.
The opportunity to create a united China presented itself during the talks between Mao Tse Tung and Chiang Kai Shek in 1945 and 1946. In January 1946, an agreement had been reached among the representatives of each faction, including a much smaller party than the Chinese Communist Party or the Kuomintang, the Democratic League. The agreement still required ratification from the leaders of each party. In the meeting of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee, under pressure from right wing members, the conditions of acceptance of the agreement, for example provincial autonomy, were changed. Because of this action, the Chinese Communists and the Democratic League felt that the agreement had been violated and that the Nationalists had betrayed them.
The actions of the Kuomintang did not appear to be supporting the formation of a united China. Despite the reaction of the Communists and the Democratic League, the Nationalists continued the constitutional revision without the other two parties present. Also, the Kuomintang used more extreme measures in eliminating criticism from other, smaller, parties. In July of 1946, the poet Wen Yi duo and another, prominent members of the Democratic League, were assassinated. The Kuomintang carried out the Constitution of 1946 and held elections in November of the following year. A National Assembly met in April 1948.
The Chinese Communist Party boycotted the Nationalist government. It is apparent that the Kuomintang government was imposed and therefore undemocratic. It may be interpreted that the Kuomintang led by Chiang Kai Shek did not achieve Sun Yat Sen's goal of creating a unified democratic China and, at the same time, alienated the Chinese people. 3. Economic Problems Inflation was an extremely large problem for the Nationalist government after the Second World War. After the World War II, the Nationalist government returned to the coastal areas and large cities in hopes of developing the urban economy.
An important area of economic development that the Nationalist government compromised for urban industrial development was agriculture, which would have provided a solid base for industrial development. It may be argued that the Kuomintang did not carry out agricultural reforms in fear of losing the support of the landlord class in China who still controlled the majority of the farming lands of China. Thus, agriculture was not taxed. Instead, the government sought industrial development in the cities. The government relied on the printing of more money to finance the expenses of industrial development. In 1948, in comparison to pre-war values, government expenditure increased to 30 times, the deficit increased 30 times, and note issues increased 22.
4 times. 6 Some sources say that inflation was increasing at a rate of approximately thirty percent a month. Remarkably, the inflation did not completely ruin urban industry, since the government had indexed wages according to the cost of living. The Kuomintang did this under the belief that, if the workers were contented, there would be less probability of a successful Communist revolution. As previously mentioned, by 1948, inflation had reached extreme levels. The Nationalists attempted to curb inflation by issuing a new currency that was backed by foreign currency, gold, and silver.
Also, the government pledged to restrict the volume of bank notes being issued. These measures managed to stabilise the currency for some time, however the currency again fell. "Prices held in Shanghai for several weeks and then the currency collapsed totally, dropping almost a million fold against the US dollar over a nine-month period." 7 The Kuomintang government faced imminent financial doom. 4. Military Policy Pertaining to the actual military aspects of the Chinese Civil War, many have judged the military of the Kuomintang to have been under poor leadership. Chiang Kai Shek rewarded loyalty above all else.
The highest military posts were reserved for those, who like him, had graduated from the Wham poa military academy. This often meant that more talented officers were turned away. General Barr of the United States said of the Kuomintang that, "Their military debacles in my opinion can all be attributed to the world's worst leadership and many other morale destroying factors that lead to a complete loss of will to fight." 8 For example, during the Hwa i-hai campaign, General Tu Yu-ming allowed his men to be encircled be Communist troops. As a result of the poor military leadership, Kuomintang troops often deserted and defected to the Communists. Also, the Kuomintang's troops were spread out, as previously, mentioned due to the US airlifts.
The Nationalist troops could not defend specific areas because of their dispersion. Moreover, the Nationalists were not able to control roads and other transport routes. Evidently, the Kuomintang military strategy was poor. In retrospect of the Kuomintang rule of China from 1911 to 1949, one must not overlook the accomplishments made by the party. In the 1920's the Nationalist government carried out important reforms, which included unification of the currency system, establishment a system of taxation, and development of industry and infrastructure.
However, in the 1930's the Kuomintang became increasingly dominated by the military. The Chinese people were discontented by the Kuomintang's use of excessive force in the suppression of insurrections. Some have placed a great deal of importance on the Kuomintang weaknesses, lack of leadership in economic, political, and social areas, for the Communist victory and Nationalist defeat. However, it would be incorrect to attribute the collapse of the Kuomintang government solely to weaknesses in their policies and actions.
"Several books have stressed the collapse of the Nationalists, without admitting that what resulted was not a political vacuum which the Communists just happened to fill... ." 9 Granted the weaknesses of the Kuomintang, the Chinese Communist Party's actions in the Chinese Civil War were well planned and developed, and thus ultimately led to victory. Chapter V. The Chinese Communist Party and the Civil War 1. Military Policy Although, in the beginning, the Chinese Communist armies were considerably smaller those of the Kuomintang, they had considerable advantages over the Kuomintang, which compensated for the size difference and would eventually lead to victory. The leadership of the Communist armies was considerably better than that of the Kuomintang.
In contrast to the Kuomintang leaders, the Communist generals were not concerned with personal gain or pleasing their leader. The generals of the Chinese Communist Party co-operated with eachother and worked under a united goal. The officers of the army went through regular training where they were reminded of the political goals, which included land reforms and the elimination of foreign powers from China, that the Communist Party was trying to reach through the war. Often, the Kuomintang soldiers that were taken prisoner went through retraining and defected to the Chinese Communists. In addition, the all members of the Communist army were supplied with medical services and food. The Communist army utilised guerrilla warfare tactics.
Earlier, Mao had been criticised for his guerrilla tactics and was replaced by Soviet trained officers whose conventional tactics failed miserably. The main goal of the Communist strategy was to reduce the numbers of the Kuomintang troops. They were not concerned with holding specific geographical areas. This strategy allowed the Communists the be more flexible in their attacks. Mao Tse Tung stated that the Americans and Nationalists would never be able to understand the guerrilla warfare tactics, since the only way guerrilla warfare can succeed is if the army has the support of the people, which the Communist Army did. 10 As previously mentioned, the support of the Chinese people was more or less on the side of the Communists, since the people saw the Nationalists as imperialist American supporters.
Moreover, the Communist troops were ordered to avoid large battles and to engage the enemy only when there was a high probability of victory. The Communists had the qualities that the Kuomintang lacked, responsible leadership and party unity. 2. Rural Land Reforms A very important factor in the Chinese Communist Party's victory was the support of the people from rural areas.
In his On Coalition Government, Mao Tse Tung states that, "peasants are the basic foundation of a democratic China." 11 The directives for land reform were announced by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on March 4, 1946. The main purpose of the reform was to transfer land from the landlords to the peasants. Many methods of reform were introduced. Land was confiscated directly, land was sold to the tenants, and landlords voluntarily donated land. During the land reforms, village meetings were often held where peasants were permitted to recall all the exploitation conducted by their landlord.
After, the peasants demanded repayments, which were often more than the landlord could afford. Also, in the villages, voluntary conscription in the Chinese Communist army was encouraged by party members. It may be argued that the Chinese Communist Party conducted the land reforms in order to show its commitment to the poorer rural areas of China. Perhaps, it was not truly the Communist Party's intention to eliminate the economic power of the landlords, but instead to show the peasants that they could exercise their power locally and play an active role in the revolution. 3.
Urban Reforms By 1948, the Communists had made significant gains in the war. The Communists forces moved out from their base rural areas into the cities. In the cities, the party made efforts to eliminate drug abusers, beggars, prostitutes, and thieves. Outside visitors looked highly upon these changes. However, the Communist Party's main goal in the urban areas was to increase the productive capacity. The Communists created labour unions where workers were rewarded for efficiency and productivity.
Also, to reduce the effects of inflation, which were very evident in the cities, the Chinese Communist Party introduced its own currency that was not associated with the Nationalist currencies. To some extent, the changes made by the Chinese Communists improved the situation in the previously Nationalist dominated cities. Through reforms the Communists had gained considerably support in both rural and urban areas by 1948. Chapter VI. Brief Summary of the Course of the War To quickly summarise the course of the Chinese Civil War, starting from July 1946, the Chiang Kai Shek and the Kuomintang appeared to be making advances. They captured nearly all of Central and South China and, in March 1947, captured the Communist capital, Yanan.
However, as previously mentioned, the Kuomintang troops were dispersed and unable to take control of transportation routes. The momentum of the war began to shift in April 1947 and by November 1948 the Communists had captured all of Manchuria. After battle, the Communists seized large amounts of Nationalist weapons and supplies. Also in 1948, the Communists began to push south of the Yang zi river. In the decisive Xuzhou campaign, which lasted for two months starting in late 1948, over 500000 casualties were suffered by each side.
On January 10, 1949, the Communists finally ended the campaign and took over 300000 Kuomintang troops prisoner. After this, the Communists moved into the South and West and easily captured cities, such as Shanghai and Guangzhou. On October 1, 1949, Mao Tse Tung proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Chapter VII.
Conclusion Through the victory of the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese Communist Party's struggle for the creation of a unified Communist nation was completed. Numerous factors affected the course and outcome of the Chinese Civil War, which would lead to the creation of the People's Republic of China. At the time of the Chinese Civil, the late 1940's, the Cold War pressures were just beginning to build between the Soviet Union. This affected how each of the nations reacted to the situation in China.
It appears that the Soviet Union was a greater competitor than ally during the Chinese Civil War. However, the United States did not see this, and foresaw the creation of a large Soviet sphere in North East Asia if the Chinese Communists won. The many weaknesses of the Kuomintang have been illustrated, but one must not neglect the military planning and extensive reforms carried out by the Chinese Communist Party. In spite of estrangement by the Soviet Union and opposition from the United States, the Chinese Communist Party was able to achieve victory over the Kuomintang because of, to a certain extent the military, economic, and political weaknesses of the Kuomintang, but to a greater degree, the Chinese Communist Party's superior military policies and its implementation of social, economic, and political reforms, which brought the party wide spread support from the Chinese people. Footnotes 1 Richard T. Phillips, China Since 1911 (New York: St.
Martin's Press, 1996), 151. 2 Lyman P. Van Slyke, ed. , The Chinese Communist Movement: A Report or the U. S. War Department, July 1945, rev.
ed. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1968), 258. 3 Lucien Bianco, ed. , Origins of the Chinese Revolution, 1915-1949, rev. ed. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1971) 173.
4 Van Slyke, 258. 5 Phillips, 158. 6 Chang Kia-Ngu a, "War and Inflation," in The Kuomintang Debacle of 1949, ed. Pichon P. Y.
Loh (Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1965), 23. 7 Phillips, 159. 8 Bianco, 180. 9 Phillips, 151.
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