My topic is Mao and his rise to power. The specific research questions is to what extent did social and political conditions lead to Mao’s rise to power. I will specifically look into the conditions in Chiang Kai Shek’s regime which led to the rise of Mao. I am interested in this topic due to my personal family history. My mother’s maiden name is Chiang and lived in Taiwan until migrating to the United States, where her name was changed to Jeang due to phonetic spelling. To answer my research question I will be visiting different college libraries for strong sources as well as getting books from used sites and using the internet. From the sources I will take notes to help organize my paper as well as outlining my paper with note cards. In section B I will summarize my evidence that I have gathered from my sources. In section C I will evaluate my two best sources which are: The Unknown Story of Mao and China: A New History for their validity. In Section D I will analyze and answer my research question. In section E I will write a conclusion and in section F I will have a list of my sources.
Summary of the Evidence
To strengthen the newly formed communist party within China, Moscow ordered the small group of communists in China, including Mao, to join the nationalist party. To add greater number to the hope of the nationalist leader, Sun Yat-sen of building a Chinese army and overthrowing the imperialist Chinese(Stuatt and Schram) Sun was hoping to use Moscow to fund and train the army while Moscow was using Sun to overthrow the imperialists (Chen). After triumphs in revolution Ch’en Ch’i-mei was name the president of the Chinese republic until his assassination in 1916. Sun fell out of favor and returned to canton while Chiang Kai Shek stayed as the Sun’s chief of staff. In this position he rose in favor among the Moscow leaders of the communists and nationalists. While in military positions, Sun died leaving behind a power struggle. Winning the fight, Chiang became the foremost leader of the nationalists along with the help of newly gained support from the Moscow representative, Michale Borodin (Brandt). While in power Chiang got rid of leading communists and tried to carry out Sun Yatsen’s dream of nationalizing China. In a series of military triumphs wealthy and heavily populated provinces of southern, central, and eastern china became nationalistic. In the beginning of Chiang’s reign he presided over a time of the most peaceful times in their most recent history without war (Lattimore). The cities made huge improvements focusing on building more modern and urban development. Despite the progress Chiang was unable to help the rural areas of China which remained extremely poor and getting support for his “New Life Movement” (Dolan). His social program to introduce the masses into military discipline and Confucius ideals failed and fermented resent. At the same time Japanese aggression toward the Republic of China increased. These situations allowed for communism to regain a foothold and regain its popularity (Chang and Halliday). When Nationalists were forced to join with the communists to hold back and form a united front against Japan, Chiang increased in popularity and became a national hero larger than before. After his victories Chiang was named the Tsung- tsai or party leader of the nationalists. But despite this problems were beginning to reemerge and grow. The economy began to fall out of control and a formal break was imminent between the nationalists and the Chinese communist party. At this time World War II was about to begin grow larger with the introduction of the United States against the Japanese. Despite attending world diplomatic councils with the Great Power Chiang was ignored. This escalation wearied the Chinese who had been fighting continuously. This led to the Communist party openly fighting with the nationalists in a civil war (Crozier). Overconfidence on behalf of Chiang led to serious mistakes that led to the fall in Peiping and eventually his exile to Taiwan.
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Mao rose through the rankings of the Chinese communist party with his ability to delegate jobs to those who were willinging (Fairbank and Goldmann). His first step toward major elevation within the party was being the first to willingly accept the order to join the nationalist party, which everyone else in the Chinese communist party did not agree with (Mao). This allowed him to gain the attention of Moscow representatives which helped him in the future.
Evaluation of Sources
The Unknown Story: Mao
By Jung chang and Jon Halliday
Jung Chang was born in 1952 in Yibin, Sichuan province in China. She was part of the Red Guard and later worked as one of the common people as a peasant and various works. She became an English-language student and became an assistant lecturer at Sichuan University. She later earned a doctorate in languages in Britain. John Halliday is a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College, University of London and has written and edited various books. This book offered many helpful insights into the workings of early Mao and how he started with communism. The book offered interviews of Mao’s inner circle as well as international figures with important ties with Mao. Although the book had very good information, there is extreme biased within the book against Mao. The diction is chosen very closely to cast a shadowy look on Mao saying that he “schemed, poisoned and blackmailed to get his way”.
China: A New History
By John King Fairbank and Merle Goldman
John King Fairbank was the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and Director of the East Asian Research Center at Harvard University. Merle Goldman is a Professor of History, Emerita, at Boston University and an associate to the John K. Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University. This book was very good in offering more help in learning about Chiang Kai Shek as well as previous leaders of China. There were no obvious biases.
The social and political conditions starting during the imperial era of china until chiang’s reign added up to the success of the communist party under Mao in China.
During the early 1800s foreign influence started becoming detrimental to the Chinese. The opium wars left the Chinese weakened and ashamed. The wars showed the vast differences between the strengths of the highly developed west and the east (Chang and Halliday). The inner turmoil and hatred for foreign devils grew in secret societies, eventually leading up to the boxer rebellion. The rebellion was lost due to lack of armies as well as provincial governors helping the foreigners. This showed the dividing forces, both within and with other countries, of the foreign intervention.(Fairbank and Goldman)
Wracked with political division, china’s government switched hands often and never had total control. After the imperial system fell, the republic had two major political powers: the Kuomintang and the Communist party of China. The republic never had full control over the entire country due to bad communication systems, this lead to the peasantry suffering (brandt). With economic failures and the poor conditions that the peasants lived in. Eventually the poor quality that the peasants lived in allowed Mao to gain their support while he was hiding for chiang in the hills (chen).
During Chiang Kai-Shek’s reign, there was political instability. Throughout his control of china there was fighting within between militarists, Nationalists, communists and the Japanese. Starting with a shaky truce, Chiang gained controlled based on pledges of loyalty with warlords as well as the wealthy giving him assistance if he turned away from the communists (Crozier). His promises lead to the persecution of the communists with the Northern Expedition as well as the Shanghai massacre. But despite his military attempts to destroy the communist party, the communists party managed to slip away in the long march and make strongholds among the peasantry. By pushing the communists to the peasants, the communists gained the support and loyalty of the peasants who they worked to improve their lifestyle. They often used force to redistribute the land to the peasants (mao).
Being stubborn Chiang ignored the aggressive actions of the Japanese. His slogan was “first internal pacification, then external resistance”. While the attacks from japan became more and more aggressive Chiang began the “New life Movement” which focused on confusion ideals as well as military discipline. His moral and idealistic actions seemed trivial during the beginnings of the second Sino-Japanese war. Warlords that he had pacified by letting them continue their control, began to panic as Manchuria was taken by Japan. Fearing invasion of the south Chang Hsueh-liang kidnapped Chiang and demanded that the crucification of the communists stopped so that a unified front against japan (lattimore) .
The union between the communists and the nationalists was very tenuous. With both sides untrusting of the other the pre-war differences emerged leading to civil war after the end of world war II( Dolan). The Chinese people began to distrust the government due to corruption and widespread nepotism. The enormous amount of financial aid given by the US, with persuasion by the Chinese lobby, that supported chiang, ended up taken by corrupt generals with much of the armament ending up in communist hands. When the fighting between the communists and the nationalists escalated during the civil war, chiang made serious mistakes leading to the fall of Mukden and Peiping. The fight continued to deteriorate due to the low morale and optimism within the nationalist army (Stuatt and Schram). The continuing defeats lead to the eventual exile of chiang to Taiwan as the seat of the Chinese nationalist government, until Nixon agreed that Taiwan was a part of China.
Without the worsening of social and political conditions, the communist power within China would not have risen to a single party state with Mao at the head. The instability within the political infrastructure lead to worsening social conditions for the common people leading to agitation as well as unrest with poor living conditions. The attentions that the communist party gave to the lower classes and the common people earned their trust and loyalty which allowed their survival despite Chiang’s persistent attempts to exterminate them. The actions that the communist party of china took for the middle class showed a vast difference between their goals and the nationalist government, which was ripe with corruption and inaction. The differences were also sharpened with the goals of the parties. The communist party wanted to help the lower classes and give back china to the people. The nationalist party focused on ideological and moral campaigns as evident in the campaigns before the action against the Japanese.
Crozier, Brian. The Man Who Lost China: The First Full Biography of Chiang Kai-shek. New York: Scribner, 1976.
Dolan, Sean. Chiang Kai-shek. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.
Lattimore, Owen. China Memoirs. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.
Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Manchuria Publishing
House, 1948, Translated By Stuart Gelder.
Jerome Chen, Mao and the Chinese Revolution, Oxford
University Press, 1965.
Stuart & Schram, Mao Tse- tung, Simon and Shuster – New
Cf. Conrad Brandt, Stalin’s Failure in China, 1924-1927,
Harvard University Press, 1958.
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