Chinese Civil War

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Original Republic of China Flag
Two cousins fight for their uncle's inheritance, after they both killed their uncle. One's called Chiang and the other is called Mao - and they continued to fight each other, even when their aunt, Japan, has been taking the uncle's inheritance. After a year of their aunt taking many valuables do the two cousins finally try to fight Japan off - but the Mao spends much of his effort throwing kicks and punches. Chiang, on the other hand, takes the opportunity to lie down and rest.

In the beginning, since the 1911 Xinhai Revolution, the Kuomintang (KMT), known in Chinese as the Guo Min Dang (GMD) (国民党), had been allied to the Communist Party of China (CPC). This was because Sun Yatsen (孙逸仙, or better known as 孙中山 in China) believed that all Chinese revolutionaries should band together to form a better China.

Why did the KMT lose?

However, an anti-communist faction emerged in the KMT, led by Chiang Kaishek (called Jiang Jieshi in Chinese). Chiang oversaw the purge of both leftists in the KMT and an attempted purge of the CPC throughout the parts of China that he controlled. In fact, one of the biggest problems with the KMT was that it didn't control all of China - warlords controlled many parts.

The parts that the KMT controlled were further oppressed by corruption in the KMT, which proved to be the ultimate reason for the downfall of Chiang for several reasons:
  1. Corruption in the military was far reaching. Common soldiers often sold their equipment on the black market and would require new ones. Corruption by generals and higher ups was less common but much worse for the war effort. Generals would claim that 'whole shipments of weapons' were lost - and would require new ones, also selling the equipment on the black market. Imagine a thousand weapons disappearing - and having to pay for them, with prices ranging from several hundred to more than a thousand. In addition, this meant that the troops often had no weapons against either the Japanese during World War II or against the Communists.
  2. Corruption among the bureaucrats was a lot more common. Already in the late Qing dynasty, bureaucrats had attempted to save money by sabotaging important operations. Some replaced gunpowder for artillery with sawdust to save money. Other tore up railway tracks and sold them. In addition to these forms of corruption, the bureaucrats were the ones expected to enforce laws. In exchange for a hefty bribe or two, these often looked the other way when the common people were exploited.
  3. Corruption among the KMT elite was the worst part of the KMT. Though most of the high elite was idealistic and abhorred corruption, they just didn't fight corruption as well as they should have. In addition, several members of the influential Soong family were corrupt in particular. TV Soong is generally regarded to not be corrupt, especially after balancing China's budget and deficit, extremely difficult considering China's economy, inability of taxation, and how much money was required for the military.
  4. Plain moral corruption among the landlords that controlled China's agrarian sector is the biggest reason why the KMT failed. Unlike the Communists, the KMT co-opted the landlords - bringing them into the administration. These landlords weren't all rotten and corrupt, but they were one of two reasons why the agricultural economy was not able to sustain itself. Their exploitation of the peasants that tilled the land for them (and made them rich) was not sustainable. The other reason was that China didn't have the industrial tools to mechanize agriculture. With peasants being more than 90% of China's population, it was a mistake to disenfranchise them. The Communists killed the landlords and redistributed the land to everyone, which solved one of the immediate problems at hand.
While corruption and disenfranchisement of the peasants were the biggest problems confronting the KMT, there were other problems.
  1. Chiang Kaishek sacrificed his best, German-trained troops in the Battle of Shanghai and threw everything he had at the Japanese in conventional warfare, which he had to do since the KMT was the conventional government (until the later months of the war, when it was clear the Japanese were going to lose). On the other hand, Mao Zedong had no such 'best troops', and his pockets of guerilla resistance all around China were able to resist with less losses.
  2. In addition, TV Soong negotiated with Stalin for a Soviet withdrawal and turning over of Manchuria to China. Unfortunately for the KMT, Stalin chose to turn over Manchuria to Mao Zedong. By this point in time, Manchuria was a heaven compared to wartorn China. Manchuria had reached steel production higher than that of all of Japan during the war and was generally a lot more prosperous, but the Soviets dismantled all $2 billion of it and shipped it back to the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the Soviets turned weapons over to the CPC.

The Chinese Civil War begins!

The conflict between the CPC and KMT began when the KMT was purged on April 12 of 1927 in Shanghai. Led by General Bai Chongxi, the Shanghai Massacre arrested and killed hundreds of CPC members, who were based in Shanghai. At the time, the CPC was like the Russian Soviets - they believed they any socialist revolution would have to come from the cities.

The communist rebellions first started on August 1, 1927, in Nanchang, Jiangxi, and created a Communist rebel army. A few days later, the KMT recaptured Nanchang. A Guangzhou commune controlled Guangzhou for three days.

The Central Plains War started in 1930 to try to attempt to kill the last Communists, with four early campaigns that all failed. In the fifth one, the Jiangxi Soviet region was surrounded with fortified blockhouses, which cut off their supplies and food sources. Unfortunately for the KMT, the warlords that manned the blockhouses did not pursue Mao when his forces fled in the Long March starting in December 1934 because they didn't want to lose troops. The Long March ended when they finally reached Shaanxi.

Zhang Guotao, who tried to flee through another route, was destroyed by Chiang. The Communist army confiscated property and weapons along its way while still recruiting peasants. Out of the hundred thousand who started from Jiangxi, only around seven or eight thousand made it to Shaanxi. Mao became the leader of the CPC.

Second United Front against Japan:

Japan first took over parts of China in 1931, where they occupied Manchuria, which had been previously controlled by warlord Zhang Xueliang (northeast China which includes the present-day provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, as well as eastern Inner Mongolia). Japan created the puppet state of Manchukuo, ruled by former Qing Emperor Puyi (who had abdicated). Unfortunately for them, Han Chinese were already the dominant majority in Manchukuo, and Manchus were in the minority already.

Chiang ordered his generals Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng to suppress the Communists. Disgruntled with Chiang's senseless (and stupid) priorities, Zhang and Yang rebelled against his authority and arrested him in the Xi'an Incident, forcing him to form the Second United Front against the Japanese invaders. After Chiang was released, Chiang tried Zhang in a military court, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison. Chiang granted amnesty to Zhang, but he was kept in custody for almost fifty years - almost half of his whole life. In fact, Zhang was likely susceptible to CPC influences (who supported his actions), considering that he applied for membership in CPC, which Stalin opposed because he was a warlord. In 1941, the Second United Front broke apart again when KMT forces attacked a CPC army leaving Jiangsu and Anhui.

Japan was ordered to surrender to the KMT in its unconditional surrender to the U.S. However, since the KMT wasn't in Manchuria, they surrendered to the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the Double Tenth Agreement 'agreed' in supporting peace negotiations, but battles between the two continued. Then the Soviets dismantled Manchuria's factories (almost $2 billion) and shipped it back to their country. Stalin handed over Japanese weapons to the CPC.

The Civil War begins and ends:

The CPC grew with more than 3.2 martial supporters. The Soviets turned over all of northern Manchuria before withdrawing. Meanwhile, the KMT conscripted troops and hoarded troops in industrialized areas, hurting people in the cities too. Shanghai's unemployment rate became 37.5%. America supported the KMT, with more than 150,000 US troops send to China. They trained more than 500,000 KMT troops, transported KMT to newly liberated areas by airlift, and $4.43 billion was sent to the KMT.

Chiang Kaishek sent a large force to assault Communist territory, with more than 1.6 million people. The CPC chose to wear out the KMT - after a year, they had wiped out 1.12 million KMT troops, while they had around 2 million men. In March 1947, the KMT took Yan'an, the CPC capital, but the Commmunists counterattacked. CPC troops crossed the Yellow River on June 30, 1947. By late 1948, the CPC captured Shenyang and Changchun, and many KMT troops surrendered, providing the CPC with tanks, heavy artillery, and many arms. The Pingjin Campaign meant a Communist northern China, which lasted from November 21, 1948 to January 31, 1949 (64 days). They had wiped out 1.54 million KMT veteran soldiers.

On April 21, the CPC crossed the Yangtze. Two days later, they captured Nanjing, the KMT capital. The KMT retreated to Guangzhou until October 15, Chongqing (until November 25), ending up in Chengdu for a while. On December 10, Taiwan was established as their last retreat. Only Tibet was left (which the KMT didn't really control either). On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China - the present form of government. On December 1949, Chiang declared Taipei, Taiwan, to be the temporary capital of the Republic of China. The Republic proclaimed the war to be over in 1991.
Red is nations voting against the PRC's entrance.
Green is nations voting for the PRC's entrance.
Blue is nation's that abstained and did not vote.

Expulsion of the Republic:

On October 25, 1971, despite resistance from the U.S., the UN General Assembly voted to admit the People's Republic of China and kick out the Republic of China by Resolution 2758. Mao got China's permanent status on the UN Security Council. The Republic of China has tried to admit itself into the UN under various names, but all were defeated. The Republic of China is recognized by 21 UN member states and the Holy See. The United States stopped recognizing the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the official government of China in 1979.

Nowadays, Taiwan is a successful nation with limited resources. It depended on manufacturing before, but it has since switched to more service related industries. Many people argue that it would benefit China if the Republic of China won. I find that I must disagree.

Considering Chiang's beliefs, he dislike corruption - but he believed that communism was a greater threat. He didn't realize that corruption fueled the growth of Mao's forces and served to weaken his own forces. Even if he won, it would only be temporary. Since then, Communism has served to allow for China's tremendous economic surge.

Before communism landed in China, there was no such thing as eminent domain - you would have to manually buy each strip of land from each individual person in order to build a railroad. Industrialization would be difficult in China without a dictatorship precisely for this reason. That's not to say that Mao Zedong was good for China - the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward obviously were not, considering how many people died and suffered (including several of my family members). But other officials, like Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai, definitely helped China along.

This is all open to debate, however. If you believe that China would have been better with the KMT, feel free to explain why in the comments below!

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