Chinese Revolution

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The Chinese Civil War was one of the most turbulent, chaotic, and effective series of events during the Cold War Era. It is difficult to conceive of any fashion in which the under-equipped CPC forces would be able to match and eventually overcome a powerful political regime with support vast support from the United States. However, even with limited aid from their Soviet allies, Mao was able to pull the marginalized, the poor, and the oppressed together to strengthen the communist cause. Although many of the issues from which the war stemmed were presented well before any real violence took place between Chinese Nationalists and Mao’s Communist Party the strategies employed by the communists and the emotional vigor with which they clung to their hopes of progress remain the center points Mao’s eventual victory. When carefully assessed; it is evident the CCP victory in the Chinese Civil War was due to the ability of Mao to mobilize the peasantry and institute land reform, the mismanagement of the Guomindang by Chiang Kai-Shek during the Japanese invasion of China and the Chinese Civil War, and the proclivity to violence (inspired by intense hatred of the enemy) that was deemed necessary in order to bring power to the CCP. It is arguable that the KMD should have been at its strongest during the decade preceding the Chinese Civil War. Chiang Kai-Shek had been quite successful in his campaign against the independent warlords and had recaptured many key areas of Chinese territory. However, June Grasso argues that Chiang made a key mistake in his treatment of his defeated opponents. She details this folly, writing “…Chiang absorbed, rather than eliminated, many warlords and their armies, in effect swallowing but not digesting them,” (Grasso, 90). Chiang’s army was growing at a rapid pace and the KMD was claiming large territorial victories. To an outsider, the party may have seemed at its strongest. However, the KMD “…remained faction-ridden into the 1930’s,” (Grasso, 91) and party unity began a major concern. Grasso continues to explain that the eventual oppression of the communist base in China would be a monumental mistake from which the party would never fully recover. At first glance, the expulsion of radical communists to the fringes of China seemed almost necessary in order to secure political control for the KMD. In reality the communist purge concentrated most of the Nationalist power in major urban areas and disallowed the spread of KMD support. Eventually Mao would make the most of his wide-spread supporters which allowed for a larger base of communism in the country. Considering his small numbers and the rural beginnings of his revolution, Mao worked incredibly well with what he had. Mao evidently knew that he had little choice in the matter of battle strategy. As Maurice Meisner reports in Mao’s China and After, “…the Maoist forces learned to employ the tactics of guerilla warfare upon which their survival was dependent.” (Meisner, 31) Mao also presented the peasantry of Jiangxi with a reform to the oppressive feudal system which granted redistribution of land to tenants. Through the implementation of revolutionary agrarian policies, Mao was able to secure the beginnings of a unified opposition to the Nanjing regime. Policies that were deemed too radical by the middle peasantry were thought to be “…politically and economically counterproductive in a situation that demanded a broad base of popular support in a rural society…” (Meisner, 32) Although Mao seemed to have many of the necessary ingredients to effect change among his countrymen, the Guomindang armies were too strong to be defeated this early in the development communist response to Chinese nationalism. Mao would lead the First Front Army, out of necessity, from their now obsolete home of Jiangxi to mountainous Northwest regions of China. The Long March devastated the numbers of Chinese Communism and left the party disbanded and broken. Amazingly, the...
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