Template:Infobox War

The Chinese Civil War (Template:Zh-tspl) was a conflict in China between the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It began in 1927 after the Northern Expedition when the right-wing faction of the KMT, led by Chiang Kai-shek, purged the Communists from a KMT-CCP alliance. It went on intermittently until the looming Second Sino-Japanese War interrupted it. Full scale war resumed in 1946 and ended in 1950 with an unofficial cessation of major hostilities, with the Communists controlling mainland China (including Hainan Island) and the Nationalists restricted to their remaining territories of Taiwan, Penghu, and several outlying Fujianese islands.

The First United Front[edit | edit source]

To defeat the warlords who had seized control of much of Northern China since the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, Kuomintang leader Sun Yat-sen sought the help of foreign powers. His efforts to obtain aid from the Western democracies were ignored, however, and in 1921 he turned to the Soviet Union. For political expediency, the Soviet leadership initiated a dual policy of support for both Sun and the newly established Chinese Communist Party. The Soviets hoped for Communist consolidation but were prepared for either side to emerge victorious. Thus the struggle for power in China began between the Nationalists and the Communists.

In 1923 a joint statement by Sun and Soviet representative Adolph Joffe in Shanghai pledged Soviet assistance for China's national unification, and issued the Sun-Joffe Manifesto, calling for a unified and independent China, and arranged an alliance between the KMT and CCP. Soviet advisers, the most prominent of whom was an agent of the Comintern, Mikhail Borodin, began to arrive in China in 1923 to aid in the reorganization and consolidation of the KMT along the lines of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The CCP was under Comintern instructions to cooperate with the KMT, and its members were encouraged to join while maintaining their party identities, forming the First United Front between the two parties.

The policy of working with the Kuomintang was also recommended by the Dutch Communist Henk Sneevliet, chosen in 1923 to be a Comintern representative in China due to his revolutionary experience in the Dutch Indies, where he had a major role in founding the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) - and who felt that the Chinese party was too samll and weak to act on its own (see Henk Sneevliet#Working for the Comintern).

Chinese Communist Party members were allowed to join the KMT on an individual basis. The CCP was still small at the time, having a membership of 300 in 1922 and only 1,500 by 1925. The KMT in 1922 already was 150,000 strong. Soviet advisers also helped the Nationalists set up a political institute to train party cadres in mass mobilization techniques and in 1923 sent Chiang Kai-shek, one of Sun's lieutenants from Tongmeng Hui days, for several months' military and political study in Moscow. After Chiang's return in late 1923, he participated in the establishment of the Whampoa Military Academy outside Guangzhou, which was the seat of government under the KMT-CCP alliance. In 1924 Chiang became head of the academy and began the rise to prominence that would make him Sun's successor as head of the KMT. However, the "party within party" situation and the Soviet meddling in Chinese political affairs irked Chiang, causing him to begin purging the communists from KMT ranks, and led to the Civil War.

Northern Expedition (1926–1928) and KMT split[edit | edit source]

Just months after Sun's death in 1925, Chiang, as commander-in-chief of the National Revolutionary Army, set out on the long-delayed Northern Expedition against the northern warlords to unite China under KMT control.

By 1926, however, the KMT had divided into left- and right-wing factions, and the Communist bloc within it was also growing. In March 1926, after thwarting an alleged kidnapping attempt against him, Chiang abruptly dismissed his Soviet advisers, imposed restrictions on CCP members' participation in the top leadership, and emerged as the preeminent KMT leader. The Soviet Union, still hoping to prevent a split between Chiang and the CCP, ordered Communist underground activities to facilitate the Northern Expedition, which was finally launched by Chiang from Guangzhou in July 1926.

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Government troops round up prisoners.

In early 1927 the KMT-CCP rivalry led to a split in the revolutionary ranks. The CCP and the left wing of the KMT had decided to move the seat of the Nationalist government from Guangzhou to Wuhan. But Chiang, whose Northern Expedition was proving successful, set his forces out to destroy the Shanghai CCP apparatus. Arguing that communist activities were socially and economically disruptive, Chiang turned on Communists and unionists in Shanghai, arresting and executing hundreds on April 12, 1927 (this is the background to the novel Man's Fate). The purge widened the rift between Chiang and Wang Jingwei's Wuhan government (a contest won by Chiang) and destroyed the urban base of the CCP. Chiang, expelled from the KMT for his actions, formed a rival government in Nanjing. There now were three capitals in China: the internationally recognized warlord regime in Beijing; the Communist and left-wing civilian-military regime at Wuhan; and the right-wing Kuomintang regime at Nanjing, which would remain the Nationalist capital for the next decade.

The Comintern cause appeared bankrupt. A new policy was instituted calling on the CCP to foment armed insurrections in both urban and rural areas in preparation for an expected rising tide of revolution. Unsuccessful attempts were made by Communists to take cities such as Nanchang, Changsha, Shantou, and Guangzhou, and an armed rural insurrection, known as the Autumn Harvest Uprising, was staged by peasants in Hunan Province. The insurrection was led by Mao Zedong.

But in mid-1927 the CCP was at a low ebb. The Communists had been expelled from Wuhan by their left-wing KMT allies, who in turn were toppled by a military regime.

The KMT resumed the campaign against warlords and captured Beijing in June 1928, after which most of eastern China was under Chiang's control, and the Nanjing government received prompt international recognition as the sole legitimate government of China. The Nationalist government announced that in conformity with Sun Yat-sen's formula for the three stages of revolution — military unification, political tutelage, and constitutional democracy — China had reached the end of the first phase and would embark on the second, which would be under KMT direction.

Anti-Communist campaigns (1927–1937)[edit | edit source]

During the 1920s, Chinese Communist Party activists retreated underground or to the countryside where they fomented a military revolt, beginning the Nanchang Uprising on August 1, 1927. They combined the force with remnants of peasant rebels, and established control over several areas in southern China. Attempts by the Nationalist armies to suppress the rebellion were unsuccessful but extremely damaging to the Communist forces. This marked the beginning of the ten year's struggle, known in mainland China as the Ten Year's Civil War (Template:Zh-sp). It lasted until the Xi'an Incident when Chiang Kai-shek was forced to form the Second United Front against the invading Japanese.


A Communist leader addressing Long March survivors.

After Chiang Kai-shek had foiled the coup to oust him launched by Feng Yü-hsiang, Yen Hsi-shan, and Wang Ching-wei (1929–30) in the Central Plains War, he immediately turned his attention on rooting out the remaining pockets of communist activity. The first and second campaigns failed and the third was aborted due to the Mukden Incident. The fourth campaign (1932-1933) achieved some early successes, but Chiang’s armies were badly mauled when they tried to penetrate into the heart of Mao’s Soviet Chinese Republic. During these campaigns the Nationalist columns struck swiftly into communist areas, but were easily engulfed by the vast countryside and were not able to consolidate their foodthold.

Finally in late 1933 Chiang launched a fifth campaign that involved the systematic encirclement of the Jiangxi Soviet region with fortified blockhouses. Unlike in previous campaigns in which they penetrated deeply in a single strike, this time the Nationalist troops patiently built blockhouses, each separated by five or so miles, to surround the communist areas and cut off their supplies and food source. Villages in the region were organized into units known as baojia, as a security measure to prevent communists from obtaining supplies and intelligence from the locals. Once the front line had been secured, a new ring of blockhouses were built to close in on the communist base areas. This strategy was very successful, and by the fall of 1934, the Communists faced the possibility of total annihilation. It seemed that the time was now ripe to finish off the communists, then turn against the remaining warlords.

In October 1934, the communists took advantage of gaps in the ring of blockhouses (manned by the troops of a warlord ally of Chiang Kai-shek's, rather than the Nationalists themselves) to escape Jiangxi. The warlord armies were reluctant to challenge communist forces for fear of wasting their own men, and did not pursue the communists with much fervor. In addition, the main Nationalist forces were preoccupied with annihilating Zhang Guotao's army, which was much larger than Mao's. The massive military retreat of communist forces lasted a year and covered 6000 km, and was touted as the Long March, which ended when the Communists reached the interior of Shaanxi. Zhang Guotao's army, which took a different route through northwest China, was largely destroyed by the forces of Chiang Kai-shek and his Chinese Muslim ally, the Ma clique. Along the way, the Communist army confiscated property and weapons from local warlords and landlords, while recruiting peasants and the poor, solidifying its appeal to the masses. Of the 80,000 people who began the Long March from the Soviet Chinese Republic, only around 7000 made it to Shaanxi, and this included those who later joined the Red Army on the way. The remnants of Zhang's forces eventually joined Mao in Shaanxi, but with his army destroyed, Zhang, even as a founding member of the CCP, was never able to challenge Mao's authority. Essentially, the great retreat made Mao the undisputed leader of the Chinese Communist Party.

Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945)[edit | edit source]

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Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (pictured here in March 1945) was severely weakened in power by the Second Sino-Japanese War.

During the Japanese invasion and occupation of Manchuria, Chiang Kai-shek, who saw the Communists as a greater threat, refused to ally with the Communists to fight against the Japanese. On December 12, 1936, Kuomintang Generals Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng kidnapped Chiang Kai-shek and forced him to a truce with the Communists. The incident became known as the Xi'an Incident. Both parties suspended fighting to form a Second United Front to focus their energies and fighting against the Japanese. In 1937 Japanese airplanes bombed Chinese cities and well-equipped troops overran north and coastal China.

The alliance that was created with the Communists was in name only and the Communists hardly ever engaged the Japanese in major battles but proved efficient in guerilla warfare. The level of actual cooperation and coordination between the CCP and KMT during the Second World War was minimal. In the midst of the Second United Front, the Communists and the Kuomintang were still vying for territorial advantage in "Free China" (i.e. those areas not occupied by the Japanese or ruled by puppet governments). The situation came to a head in late 1940 and early 1941 when there were major clashes between the Communist and KMT forces. In December 1940, Chiang Kai-shek demanded that the CCP’s New Fourth Army evacuate Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces. Under intense pressure, the New Fourth Army commanders complied, but they were ambushed by Nationalist troops and soundly defeated in January 1941. This clash, which would be known as the New Fourth Army Incident, weakened the CCP position in Central China and effectively ended any substantive cooperation between the Nationalists and the Communists and both sides concentrated on jockeying for position in the inevitable Civil War.

In general, developments in the Second Sino-Japanese War were to the advantage of the Communists. Kuomintang's resistance to the Japanese proved costly to Chiang Kai-shek. The war against Japan greatly sapped the KMT's military resource, and Chiang's own central army was never to recover from the devastating losses it had sustained in the early stages of the war. In addition, in the last major Japanese offensive, Operation Ichigo of fall 1944, the Japanese were able to maneuver far inland and destroy much of what remained of Chiang's material strength. In contrast, thanks to the brutal mass retaliation policies of the Imperial Japanese Armies, huge numbers of dispossessed villagers were able to be recruited to the Communist ranks. Although the guerrilla operations conducted by the Communists inside occupied China were of limited military value, they greatly heightened popular perception that the Communists were at the vanguard of the fight against the Japanese. By the end of the war large portions of the peasant masses of occupied China were politically mobilized in support of the Communists; however, the Communists had a severe shortage of war material, including small arms.

Immediate post-war clashes (1945–1946)[edit | edit source]

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Chiang and Mao met during the peace negotiation held from Aug 28, 1945 thru Oct 11, 1945 in the wartime capital of Chongqing, China to toast to the Chinese victory over Japan, but their shaky alliance was short-lived.

The dropping of the atomic bomb caused Japan to surrender much more quickly than anyone in China had imagined. Under the terms of the Japanese unconditional surrender dictated by the United States, Japanese troops were ordered to surrender to Kuomintang troops and not to the communists present in some of the occupied areas, especially in Manchuria. However, as the Kuomintang had no forces in Manchuria and very little or no forces in the most of the rest of the Japanese occupied area, while the communist guerillas were the only Chinese force present in the area, the communists were able to takeover most of the Manchuria before the Nationalists could send troops there. Even after sending sufficient forces, it would still take the Nationalists months of fighting to drive the communists out of major cities in Manchuria. As the communists were the only Chinese force left in the region that had engaged the Japanese in guerilla warfare, it was difficult for the Kuomintang to receive local popular support in Manchuria and other parts of China because local Chinese residents blamed the Kuomintang for allowing the Japanese invaders to conquer the local area, such as the case of Manchuria 14 years previously.

Immediately after World War II, Chiang Kai-shek had made a fatal mistake in trying to simultaneously solve the warlords problem plagued China for so long together with the extermination of communism. Many of the warlords sided with Kuomintang were only interested in keeping their own power and defected to the Japanese side when Japanese invaders offered to let them keep their power in exchange for their corporations. After the World War II, these forces of former Japanese puppet regimes once again joined the Kuomintang. Obviously, it was difficult for Chiang to immediately get rid of these warlords for good as soon as they surrendered to Chiang and rejoined Kuomintang, because such move would alienate other factions within Kuomintang, and these former Japanese puppet regime's warlords could still help Kuomintang to gain more territories. As Chiang had neither the sufficient force nor the sufficient time to deploy his own troops into the former Japanese controlled regions, these former Japanese puppet regime's warlords were given the titles and ranks in Kuomintang and ordered to "keep order" in their areas of control along with the Japanese invaders by not surrendering to the communists, and fighting off the communists in necessary. Chiang and his followers had hoped that these former Japanese puppet regime's warlords who rejoined the Kuomintang would be able to hold on to the regions long enough for Chiang to deploy his own troops by holding off communists. If the communists were victorious in such conflicts, however, the result would still benefit to Chiang and China because the power of these warlords would be reduced as their military forces were smashed by the communists, and the warlord problem plagued China for so long could thus be greatly reduced, while at the same time, communists would be weakened by the fights and Chiang's own troops would have easier time to take control. The ensuing battles between the communists and these former Japanese puppet regime warlords who rejoined Kuomintang resulted mostly in communist victories, exactly like Chiang and his followers had predicted, and their attempt to greatly reduce the problem of warlords that plauged China for so long resulted in success. However, this success come at a huge cost in Kuomintang's loss of popular support in the Japanese dominated regions because the local population already blamed Kuomintang for losing the regions to the Japanese invaders, while reassigning these former Japanese puppet regime forces as Kuomintang forces to fight along the side of Japanese invaders against the communists, the only Chinese force left in the regions, only further alienated the local populace and strengthened the popular resentment to Chiang Kai-shek and Kuomintang. The first post war peace negotiation attended by both Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong in Chongqing from Aug 28, 1945 thru Oct 11, 1945 had little effect in stopping these clashes between the communists and the former Japanese puppet regime's warlords who rejoined the nationalists, and battles between the two sides continued even as the peace negotiation was in progress until the agreement was reached in January 1946, however, large campaigns and battles of full scale confrontation between the communists and Chiang's own troops were temporarily avoided.

In the last month of World War II in East Asia, Soviet forces launched the mammoth Operation August Storm in Manchuria. This operation destroyed the fighting capability of the Kwantung Army and left the USSR in occupation of all of Manchuria at the end of the war. Consequently, the 700,000 Japanese troops still stationed in the region surrendered. Later in the year Chiang Kai-shek came to the painful realization that he lacked the resources to prevent a CCP takeover of Manchuria following the scheduled Soviet departure; he therefore made a deal with the Russians to delay their withdrawal until he had moved enough of his best-trained men and modern materiel into the region. Nationalist troops were then airlifted by the United States to occupy key cities in North China, when the countryside had been already dominated by the Chinese communists. The Soviets spent the extra time systematically dismantling the entire Manchurian industrial base (worth up to 2 billion dollars) and shipping it back to their war-ravaged country. [1]

Post-war power struggle (1946–1947)[edit | edit source]

American General George Marshall arrived in China and was part of negotiations over a ceasefire between the KMT and the CCP, the terms of which would build a coalition government that would include all of the contending political/military groups in China. Neither the Communists (represented by Zhou Enlai) nor Chiang Kai-shek's representatives were willing to compromise on certain fundamental issues or relinquish the territories they had seized in the wake of the Japanese surrender.

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In the front row, Mao Zedong is on the right and Chiang Kai-shek is in the middle.

The Nationalists demilitarized 1.5 million troops ostensibly to support the Marshall Mission, which turned out to be a fatal mistake for Chiang Kai-shek and Kuomintang, because in reality, Chiang and his associates used this excuse to reduce the power and influence of warlords who allied with Kuomintang. Nearly none of the 1.5 million troops discharged belonged to Chiang's own force, and all of them belonged to that of warlords, including those who collaborated with the Japanese invaders during the Second Sino-Japanese War and pledged their allegiance to Chiang Kai-shek and Kuomintang after World War II. This move alienated many within the Kuomintang. As for the ordinary soldiers who were discharged, their prospects changed for the worse as nothing effective was done to help them integrate into civilian life. Many protests and riots by the discharged soldiers broke out, particularly in Chongqing by discharged former soliders of the Sichuan warlords. Faced with such desperate situations, these former soldiers turned against Chiang and the Nationalist government, and while some turned to banditry, most of them decided to join the communists. The communists welcomed these new recruits because their resentment towards the Kuomintang made them easily susceptible to communist indoctrination. The largest Nationalist defection to the communists occurred in Manchuria, where over half a million discharged Kuomintang soldiers (mostly former Japanese puppet governmental troops) joined the communist force, which previously had never exceeded 50,000, a more than 1000% boost for Lin Biao's forces.

In addition to this, the Nationalist demilitarization also provided communists with much needed weaponry. When Chiang Kai-shek attempted to solve the problem of warlords that plagued China by reducing their troops after World War II via demilitarization, the action backfired badly for him and Kuomintang in Manchuria when it was combined with other critical mistakes the Nationalists made. The Japanese strategy had been to give up Japan rather than give up Manchuria because the latter was so vital, and thus, they had stockpiled large amount of weaponry (enough to sustain more than 700,000 troops for several years) in hidden remote and hard-to-reach areas all over Manchuria. Although the Soviets captured a large quantity of Japanese weaponry, the majority of the Japanese stock survived. The Kuomintang was infatuated with obtaining as many urban centers as possible; therefore, the rural and hard-to-reach areas were ignored. Militarily, the Kuomintang did not have any incentives to recover and destroy this large stockpile of weaponry because the American weaponry used by Nationalist forces was superior. More importantly, since operating modern weaponry needed considerable knowledge and training, the Kuomintang believed that even if these weapons were to reach Communist hands, it would be impossible for the Communists to use them because most of their troops were illiterate. Therefore, the Kuomintang regime generally ignored the information on these Japanese secret depots because they deemed it not worth the effort to recover or destroy the weapons. Furthermore, since the information was provided by those former warlords' troops turned Japanese puppet regime troops who rejoined Nationalist force after World War II, and they were to be discharged, Kuomintang considered their actions no other than attempting to show their importance and to ask for financial rewards, and thus failed to take proper actions to prevent these weapons falling into the wrong hands. Chiang and Kuomintang were correct on the matter originally but when Nationalist demilitarization began, things turned out to be completely opposite. Because those discharged warlords' troops were former Japanese puppet regime forces that rejoined Kuomintang after World War II and had the experience and training needed to handle the weaponry, communists in Manchuria had hit a gold mine when these troops joined them en masse. Not only these valuable troops were able to teach the rest of communists who had no knowledge on how to operate these weapons, but more importantly, these new troops knew exactly where the Japanese secret depots were and contrary to their old Kuomintang master, the communists were extremely appreciative to the information and weaponry obtained, because what was less advanced to Kuomintang was of great value to the poorly equipped communist troops.

Contrary to the Nationalist propaganda that the Soviets had given huge quantity of weapons to the communists in Manchuria, the actual amount was extremely low: the total Soviet weaponry and Japanese weaponry captured by Soviet given to the communists was merely enough to equip 30 infantry regiments and 2 mountain gun battalion, equipping a mere 20,000 communist troops out of a total of 400,000 (as of the end of 1947), and the Soviet aids to communists completely stopped by the end of 1947. The communists originally expected the Soviets to play a much larger role and Lin Biao personally wrote a letter to Joseph Stalin on June 25, 1947 asking for Japanese weaponry to be turned over to the communists, and he even asked for captured German weaponry. Stalin, however, did not even bother to respond. On December 28, 1947, Lin Biao wrote another letter directly to Stalin, asking for more weaponry, including: 200,000 rifles, 15,000 light machine guns, 7,000 heavy machine guns, 700 heavy mortars, 1,000 light mortars, 100 anti-aircraft artilleries, 200 mountain guns, and communication gears for 20 divisions. Again, Lin Biao also appealed to Stalin in the letter that if such demand could not be met with captured Japanese weaponry, then captured German weaponry could fill the gap. Stalin, just like he had done previously, did not respond. However, the nearly nonexistent Soviet help proved not to be a problem for the communists, because in the mean time, the huge communist need was filled by an unexpected source, its adversary, Kuomintang. Thanks to the fatal mistake Kuomintang made in its demilitarization, communists were able to pinpoint nearly every Japanese secret depot with the help of former Kuomintang troops in its rank, and the total amount of Japanese weaponry recovered was enough to sustain the communists for 2 years before relying on captured American weaponry from Kuomintang in the later stage of the war. For example, a single secret depot typically contained as much as 150,000 artillery rounds. By February 1947, hundreds of artillery pieces were recovered by the communists included: 49 howitzers, 300 heavy mortars, 137 anti-aircraft artilleries, 141 anti-tank guns, 108 mountain guns, 97 cannons, and many other smaller artillery pieces. More importantly, due to the rapid expansion of its ranks filled by former Kuomintang troops discharged from the demilitarization, the sudden increase of troops of the communists meant that the original Communist peasantry army that was largely illiterate had suddenly became an army with 90% of its force being well trained, technically capable and combat hardened veterans that was more than a match for the Kuomintang force, who now had only three-quarters of the amount of Communist weaponry, with a handful of tanks and aircraft. However, even at this stage, Kuomintang troops still greatly underestimated their communist adversary because the American weaponry used by Kuomintang troops was superior to the Japanese weaponry used by the communist troops. Thus, the huge qualitative advantage of the Kuomintang would, they believed, be more than enough to make up for the numerical superiority of the Communists, a heavy price for which they would have to pay later.

During the Kuomintang demilitarization, the Communists did not sit idly either; it also reduced its troops by a million both in the regular army and in militia to ostensibly support the Marshall Mission. However, such reduction was the result of Mao Zedong's class struggle theory, and in fact, most were discharged due to political persecution and "rectification" campaigns. As a result, the Communist force reduction was much harsher than that of Kuomintang because it was a political purge. Most of those targeted in the Communist force reduction were from the wealthy, land owning and middle classes, and despite their loyalty to the Communists, they were considered unreliable due to their background and thus were purged. These unfortunate souls did not have the luxury like those discharged Nationalist soldiers who at least were able to live on the streets. Those discharged by the Communists were considered "class enemies" and were targeted by their former comrades, and were often executed, jailed, or forced to commit suicide. As a result, most Communist members from well-to-do family backgrounds chose to desert, with the majority defecting to the Kuomintang and becoming ardent anti-Communists. The defection rate was particularly high in those Communist-controlled regions where the struggles of persecutions were brutal, and in Mao's own admission, "in Shandong alone, over 300,000 (former Communists) were driven to the enemy (Kuomintang) side." In addition to joining the regular Nationalist force, Communist defectors also formed their own militias to help the Kuomintang to exterminate the Communists in the civil war that soon followed. The Communists also used the cease-fire period ushered by Marshall to arm and train huge numbers of peasants who had joined the People's Liberation Army during the war with Japan. The political persecution and purges during of this era was an extension of Mao's Rectification Movement and was kept a secret by the Chinese government, and it was not until 1990s did the bloody details were allowed to surface in the domestic Chinese media.

The truce fell apart in June 1946 when full scale war broke out on June 26, and although negotiations continued, Marshall was recalled in January 1947, the same time when the last communist envoys in Kuomintang controlled regions were recalled back to Yan'an.

Final stage of fighting (1946–1950)[edit | edit source]

With the breakdown of talks, an all out war resumed. This stage is referred to in Communist media and historiography as the War of Liberation (Template:Zh-tsp).

The United States assisted the Nationalists with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new surplus military supplies and generous loans of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military equipment.[2] They also airlifted many Nationalist troops from central China to Manchuria. Nevertheless, the Communists, who had already situated themselves in the north and northeast, were poised to strike.

General Marshall himself stated that he knew of no evidence that the Chinese communists were being supplied by the Soviet Union [3]. However, Soviet Union provided some aid, modest compared to the American efforts but important as well to the Chinese communists. Arms included hundreds of thousands of rifles, 3,700 artillery pieces and ammunition, 900 aircraft, 700 tanks, and 12,000 machine guns made available from Japanese arms depots. However, due to communists' lack ability to maintain advanced hardware, most of the aircraft and tanks were cannibalized, and it was not until large numbers of well trained nationalist troops joined the communist force did the communists were finally able to master these hardware. [4] In other Soviet assistance, tens of thousands of Japanese POWs were sent to train the CCP, and many also directly participated in fightings. [5] The Japanese soldiers who died for the communists in Tianjin Campaign (1949) alone numbered hundreds. According to the communists, there are also additional equal number of Japanese civilians were enlisted in the arms factories for the communists, whom in addition to producing the badly needed weaponry, also trained large numbers of communist workers. North Korea also played an important role, with 30-40 thousand Korean troops from Soviet-occupied North Korea were provided [6] in addition to allowing the CCP to use North Korea as a sanctuary in general, [7] and repairing Manchurian railroads and bridges which were used by Mao. [8]

Belatedly, the Nationalist government sought to enlist popular support through internal reforms. The effort was in vain, however, because of rampant corruption in government and accompanying political and economic chaos including massive hyperinflation. By late 1948 the Nationalist position was bleak. The Nationalists had already taken the brunt of heavy fighting against the Japanese during World War II, while the Communists (for the most part) took part in guerrilla warfare. As a result, the demoralized Nationalist troops proved unable to stop the People's Liberation Army's advance. Although the Nationalists had an advantage in their numbers and weapons, and benefitted from considerable international support, their low morale hindered their ability to fight. Furthermore, though they administered a larger and more populous territory, their corruption effectively stifled any civilian support.

The Communists were ultimately able to seize Manchuria after struggling through numerous set-backs while trying to take the cities, with the decisive Liaoshen Campaign. The capture of large Nationalist formations provided them with the tanks, heavy artillery, and other combined-arms assets needed to prosecute offensive operations south of the Great Wall. The Huaihai Campaign (Template:Zh-tsp) of late 1948 and early 1949 secured east-central China for communist forces, while the Pingjin Campaign (Template:Zh-tsp) resulted in the Communist conquest of northern China, including Beiping (now Beijing), which was taken by the Communists without a fight on January 31, 1949. On April 21, Communist forces crossed the Yangtze River, capturing Nanjing, capital of the Nationalist's Republic of China, two days later. In most cases the surrounding countryside and small towns had come under Communist influence long before the cities.

By late 1949, the People's Liberation Army was pursuing remnants of Nationalist forces southwards in southern China. On October 1, 1949 Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China with its capital at Beiping, which was renamed Beijing. Chiang Kai-shek and 600,000 Nationalist troops and 2,000,000 refugees, predominantly from the government and business community, retreated from the mainland to the island of Taiwan, and there remained only isolated pockets of resistance, particularly in the far south. A PRC attempt to take the ROC controlled island of Kinmen was thwarted in the Battle of Kuningtou halting the PLA advance towards Taiwan. In December 1949 Chiang proclaimed Taipei, Taiwan, the temporary capital of the Republic of China and continued to assert his government as the sole legitimate authority in China. The last of the fighting ended with the Communist conquest of Hainan Island in May 1950.

Relationship between the two sides since 1950[edit | edit source]

Most observers expected Chiang's government to eventually fall in response to a Communist invasion of Taiwan, and the United States initially showed no interest in supporting Chiang's government in its final stand. Things changed radically with the North Korean invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950, thus triggering the Korean War. At this point, allowing a total Communist victory over Chiang became politically impossible in the United States, and President Harry S. Truman ordered the U.S. 7th Fleet into the Taiwan straits, ending any immediate possibility for a successful Communist invasion.

Some American historians have theorized that the loss of mainland China to the Communists enabled Joseph McCarthy to purge the China Hands from the U.S. State Department. In turn, it is possible that John F. Kennedy lacked the advice of any real experts on East Asia when he was trying to formulate a policy on Vietnam, which would imply that the Chinese Civil War can be linked causally to the Vietnam War. In addition, Lyndon Johnson's belief that the loss of China cost Truman and the Democratic Party its political support made Johnson determined to uphold South Vietnam at all costs.

Meanwhile, on Taiwan, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, intermittent skirmishes occurred throughout the mainland's coastal and peripheral regions, though American reluctance to be drawn into a larger conflict left Chiang Kai-shek too weak to "retake the mainland" as he constantly vowed. ROC fighter aircraft bombed mainland targets and commandos, sometimes numbering up to 80, landed repeatedly on the mainland to kill PLA soldiers, kidnap CCP cadres, destroy infrastructure, and seize documents. The ROC lost about 150 men in one raid in 1964.

The ROC navy conducted low intensity naval raids, and lost some ships in several small battles with the PLA. In June 1949, the ROC declared a "closure" of all mainland ports and its navy attempted to intercept all foreign ships, mainly of British and Soviet-bloc origin. Since the mainland's railroad network was underdeveloped, north-south trade depended heavily on sea lanes. ROC naval activity also caused severe hardship for mainland fishermen.

After losing the mainland, a group of approximately 1,200 KMT soldiers escaped to Burma and continued launching guerrilla attacks into south China. Their leader, General Li Mi, was paid a salary by the ROC government and given the nominal title of Governor of Yunnan. Initially, the United States supported these remnants and the Central Intelligence Agency provided them with aid. After the Burmese government appealed to the United Nations in 1953, the U.S. began pressuring the ROC to withdraw its loyalists. By the end of 1954, nearly 6,000 soldiers had left Burma and Li Mi declared his army disbanded. However, thousands remained, and the ROC continued to supply and command them, even secretly supplying reinforcements at times. Raids into mainland China gradually ended by the late 1960s as PLA infrastructure improved. Remnants of these KMT loyalists remain in the area and are active in the opium trade.

After the Republic of China complained to the United Nations against the Soviet Union supporting the Chinese communists, the UN General Assembly Resolution 505 was adopted on February 1, 1952 to condemn the Soviet Union.

Though viewed as a military liability by the United States, the ROC viewed its remaining islands in Fujian as vital for any future campaign to retake the mainland. On September 3, 1954, the First Taiwan Strait crisis began when the PLA started shelling Quemoy and threatened to take the Dachen Islands. On January 20, 1955, the PLA took nearby Yijiangshan Island, with the entire ROC garrison of 720 troops killed defending the island. On January 24 of the same year, the United States Congress passed the Formosa Resolution authorizing the President to defend the ROC's offshore islands. Instead of committing to defend the ROC's offshore islands, President Eisenhower pressured Chiang Kai-shek to evacuate his 11,000 troops and 20,000 civilians from the Dachen Islands, leaving them for PLA takeover. Nanchi Island was abandoned as well, leaving Quemoy and Matsu the only major islands remaining. The First Taiwan Straits crisis ended in March 1955 when the PLA ceased its bombardment, amid United States threats of escalation and use of nuclear weapons.

The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis began on August 23, 1958 with another intense artillery bombardment of Quemoy and ended on November of the same year. PLA patrol boats blockaded the islands from ROC supply ships. Though the United States rejected Chiang Kai-shek's proposal to bomb mainland artillery batteries, it quickly moved to supply fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles to the ROC. It also provided amphibious assault ships to land supply, as a sunken ROC naval vessel was blocking the harbor. On September 7, the United States escorted a convoy of ROC supply ships and the PRC refrained from firing. On October 25, the PRC announced an "even-day ceasefire" — the PLA would only shell Quemoy on odd-numbered days. By the end of the crisis, Quemoy had been struck with 500,000 artillery rounds and 3000 civilians and 1000 soldiers had been killed or wounded. Quemoy and Matsu were major campaign issues in the 1960 U.S. presidential election. Gradually through the 1960s live artillery was replaced by propaganda.

In January 1979, the PRC announced it would stop shelling Quemoy and Matsu. Though the PRC conducted missile tests in 1995–96 and escalated tensions, armed clashes between the two sides have ceased. Since the late 1980s, there has been growing economic exchanges on both sides while the Taiwan straits remain a dangerous flashpoint.

People[edit | edit source]

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Kuomintang[edit | edit source]


Chinese Communist Party[edit | edit source]


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Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Lilley, James. China hands : nine decades of adventure, espionage, and diplomacy in Asia , PublicAffairs, New York, 2004
  2. p23, U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, William Blum, Zed Books 2004 London.
  3. New York Times, 12 Jan 1947, p44.
  4. Zeng Kelin, Zeng Kelin jianjun zishu (General Zeng Kelin Tells his story), Liaoning renmin chubanshe, Shenyang, 1997. p. 112-3
  5. Gillin, Donald G. with Etter, Charles, "Staying On: Japanese Soldiers and Civilians in China 1945-1949." JAS, vol. 42 no. 1 (1983), p. 511-15
  6. Chen Jian, China's rode to the Korean War, Columbia University Press, New York, 1994, pp. 107-9
  7. Allan R. Millet, The War for Korea: 1945-1950 (2005) p. 230
  8. Tikhomirov, V.V., & Tsukanov, A. M., "Komandirovka v Manchzhuriyu" (Assignment to Manchuria), in Akimov

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