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ResearchNote Who Lost China? Chiang Kai-shek Testifies LloydE. Eastman
" To tell the truth, never, in China or abroad, has there been a revolutionary party as decrepit (tuitang) and degenerate (fubai) as we [the Guomindang] are today; nor one as lacking spirit, lacking discipline, and even more, lacking standards of right and wrong as we are today. This kind of party should long ago have been destroyed and swept away! "'
The time was January 1948; the speaker was Chiang Kai-shek. Frequently during 1947-50, the climactic years of struggle with the Communists for control of the Chinese mainland, Chiang addressed his military commanders and civilian cadres in similarly scathing, forthright language. His purpose, he asserted, was to identify the causes of Nationalist errors and weakness so that he could " turn defeat into victory." Chiang's speeches from that period - readily available in published form for years, but until now ignored by all - shed light from an entirely new direction on the controversial question of why the Nationalists were defeated by the Communists. During 1947 the Nationalist offensive against the Communists had reached a high tide. Government troops had pushed deeply into Manchuria, past Changchun on the road to Harbin; large areas of Shandong were retaken; and on 19 March in a loudly proclaimed victory, they also occupied Mao Zedong's headquarters at Yan'an. Exultantly the Nationalist high command predicted that the communist bandits would be routed within six months.2 But then, during 1947 and 1948, the strategic advantage passed rapidly to the Communists. Chiang Kai-shek was surprised and humiliated by the accumulating series of defeats. " Regardless of what aspect we discuss," he declared in June 1947, " we hold an absolute superiority; in terms of the troops' equipment, battle techniques and experience, the Communists are not our equal. .. . And we are also ten times richer than the communist army in terms of military-supply replacements, such as food, fodder, and ammunition."3 Seven months later, in January 1948, Chiang still claimed 1. Jiang Zongtong sixiang yanlunji (Collection of the Thoughts and Speeches of President Chiang) (Taipei, 1966), Vol. 19, p. 291. The author gratefully acknowledges the comments and criticisms on an earlier draft of this article by Professors John K. Fairbank (Harvard University), Thomas Krueger (University of Illinois), and Steven I. Levine (The American University). 2. United States Relations with China (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949), p. 238. 3. Jiang Zongtong, Vol. 19, p. 241. See also ibid. p. 261.
Who Lost China? Chiang Kai-Shek Testifies that " with regard to material, we have very good equipment and excellent weapons; one could say that we possess all the conditions necessary for victory."4 " But why," he continued, "does our communist-suppression [campaign] still suffer defeats and suffer losses?"5 During 1947 and 1948 Chiang...