Ever since 1934, two main political parties in China, Communist Party of China and Nationalists, were in a constant struggle for power. This animosity led to the Chinese Civil War, which started after the defeat of Japan in 1945 and lasted until 1949. Throughout those years KMT gradually lost its support because they were brutal and were corrupt. In the end the Communist Party of China (CCP) won.
Although the surrender of Japan meant a great victory for China, the situation had not developed as expected for the head of KMT, Chiang Kai Shek. First of all, the war ended too early. Had the Japanese resisted longer, Chiang believed that the Americans would set up their air bases and armies in China and as a result they would defeat not only the Japanese but also overwhelm the Communist party.
However, the Americans chose the Pacific Islands instead of China and Chiang´s plans fell apart. Another problem was the Russian occupation of Manchuria after their declaration of war on Japan, issued after the bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 9. Furthermore, CCP resistance disabled KMT to claim the liberated areas. All of these factors undermined the power of KMT and contributed to the rise CCP.
Although CCP was much weaker when it came to military power, their strategy, morale and public support was considerably higher than those in KMT. Chiang´s incapability to destroy CCP when they were considerably weakened in 1945 proved fatal in the following years, when their popularity and numbers rose. During the war against the Japanese, KMT did not participate as much as CCP, because he didn’t want to interfere. Chiang´s expectations were that the Communist and Japanese would destroy each other. However the only outcome of this policy was that CCP, not the KMT, was viewed as the protector of China against the Japanese.
Furthermore, in areas that they owned, Communists introduced various reforms, which included confiscating land from landlords and giving it to peasants. Instead of the KMT who focused only on the needs of rich urban classes, CCP showed a real interest in the welfare of common people, for example the peasants, farmers, factory and railway workers, students, teachers policemen, etc.. In fact, Mao´s party was much closer to fulfilling the 3 Principles of People (to make China a free, prosperous and powerful nation) than KMT had ever been. Those 3 principles were set by the first KMT leader Dr. Sun Yat Sen. Once Sun Yat Sen died, Chiang Kai Shek took over and didn’t want to rule China like that.
It is said, that CCP won the war already in 1945 in the hearts of the people, because the soldiers from the CCP were more disciplined and the civilian population were treated with respect so they supported the CCP instead of the KMT.
Moreover, Chiang had to face crisis even within the party, which split into several rival factions and faced increasing number of desertions which included high-ranked officials. This showed that even the members themselves did not believe their leaders and went over to the CCP. He had poor judgement of character and he trusted the wrong people, he didn’t like to promote talented people, so instead he promoted people because they were loyal to him. Which was a huge mistake for him, because they might eventually turn against him.
The last of the major factors of KMT´s defeat was economy. The war against Japan was a huge financial drain, which Chiang wanted to solve by printing more money. However, the result of this action was inflation, the value of money rapidly dropped and even more Chinese were put into poverty.
KMT had simply too many failures – inflation and also the failure in defeating the Japanese as well as CCP, loss of support from the Americans and inability to gain the support of peasants. The latter is from the most part the result of. On the other hand, CCP provided effective administration and political structure in the countryside.
I believe that the main reason for the Communist Party of China’s victory in the Civil War in 1949 was because of Mao Zedong and his ability to win the hearts of the people and gain their support.