Chinese Civil War

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The Chinese Civil was fought from 1946 to 1949 by the Chinese Communist Party and the governing

Chinese National Party or Kuomintang. The two parties began initially by working

together during the Northern Expedition, which were a Kuomintang military campaign

unifying communists and nationalists from 1926 to 1928. The death of the revolutionary

republican leader of the Kuomintang, Sun Yat sen, however, caused power struggle

between the two opposing parties. There were multiple factors that lead to Mao’s success

in the Civil war, which were caused by both the weaknesses of Jiang Jie shi’s

Kuomintang and Mao’s overwhelming strengths as leader of the Chinese Communist

Party.
Two parties developed in the 1920s, the Chinese Communist Party and the

Kuomintang. The Kuomintang - Communists United Front had formed first and then

divided into the two separate units. Mao had encouraged peasant activities against

landlords, and this had hastened the split. The Kuomintang was allied with the warlords

and was thus stronger militarily than the Chinese Communist Party, leaving the Chinese

Communist Party struggling in the rural areas. This was one of the reasons for Mao's

development of a rural strategy for the Chinese revolution. This involved more than

surrounding the cities from the countryside; instead it became a complex and

interdependent synthesis of military, political, and economic elements, utilizing

techniques of guerrilla warfare. One measure of the effectiveness of Mao's thought is the

degree to which it served to resolve the intellectual conflict underlying it

During the war, China had lost 2.2 million military men, and it had lost more than

20 million civilians. More than 100 million Chinese had been made refugees. Families

had been torn apart and a countless number of widows were left to make do as best they

could, many of them destitute with children. The war had traumatized the Chinese

people, creating a passion for peace and stability, but the nation was torn and without

prospect of an easy transition to a new tranquil order.

In 1946, President Truman sent George Marshall to China to prevent a civil war

between Chiang Kai-shek's forces and the forces led politically by Mao Zedong. The

Truman administration was hoping that the Communists would accept Chiang's authority

and that Chiang would allow them their rights to participate in elections, as Communists

were doing in France and Italy for example. The Truman administration was hoping for a

democratic China, but it did not work out that way. Talks between the two sides in 1946

broke down, and civil war erupted.

Mao was a ‘Man of the People’. One factor that was absolutely crucial to Mao’s

success from 1927 onwards was his ability to relate to the common people. Without

support from the public, Mao’s revolutionary techniques in strategic warfare would have

been completely unsuccessful. It could also be argued that Jiang’s faults, which lead to

him losing support, forced the people to turn to Mao and his extremist ideas. Jiang’s

leadership of the Kuomintang was flawed and his popularity with the Chinese public

suffered increasingly from 1930 onwards. The Kuomintang was faced with numerous

problems, especially after the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931. Jiang’s soldiers were

not receiving food, leading to corruption among party officials. The conditions in which

his soldiers had to live were appalling and he initiated a conscription policy that was...
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