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Why Did Communist Win Chinese Civil War History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The Chinese civil war was a war between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) for the control of China. On October 1st 1949, Mao Ze Dong proclaimed the Chinese Communist Party as the outright leaders of China [1] . This essay will examine and analyze parties’ political leadership, structure, ideology, use of propaganda and the methods of gaining foreign support; corruption and hyperinflation, social reforms, military strategy and generalship, and the Sino-Japanese War. This essay will examine and argue that the GMD were more significant than the CCP success.

Militarily, although Chiang was not totally incompetent strategist, he was no match for Mao and his General’s military brilliance. During the Northern campaign, NRA occupied cities including Changchun, Kirin and Mukden were isolated and besieged by the PLA. These cities were located in the countryside where the CCP had wide support bases. So the PLA with their pervasive support in the countryside were able to sabotage NRA supplies and reinforcements lines with relative ease. Eventually, NRA troops either died of starvation or surrendered. The NRA poor generalship and low motivation combined to destroy the will and capacity to fight [2] . During the LiaoShen campaign, Chiang approved many of the plans of his commanders, only to change his mind and give new orders directly to divisions, bypassing the chain of command. The NRA commanders rarely knew about the change, and only found out after his subordinates had executed Chiang’s order. Such follies contributed to the defections and surrender of Zeng Zesheng and Zheng Dongguo to the PLA. While Chiang’s constant change of order resulted in the capture or death of 100,000 troops and Fan Hanjie, as Hanjie’s troops were unsure whether to follow his commands or Chiang’s. The uncertainty also resulted in his troops being unable to retreat from Jinzhou [3] . Chiang treated loyalty of ability, and since he was the commandant of the Whampoa Academy, all the top military post was occupied by his graduates. This often resulted in officers with more skills and talent to be rejected. Officers who opposed Chiang were demoted or fired [4] . While Chiang’s erroneous strategy, poor generalship and appointing people by loyalty over ability were problematic. The exemplary guerilla tactics of Mao and the cooperation and leadership by his Generals should not be overlooked. Guerilla warfare could only succeed if the army had the support of the people, which the CCP did [5] . It also allowed PLA troops to have more flexibility in their strategies. The LiaoShen campaign was fought mainly in the countryside, where the CCP had wide support bases. Chiang’s modern troops required roads and railroads for logistics and communications, without gasoline, spare parts and ammunitions, the tanks and guns were mere deadweights. The PLA with their pervasive support in the countryside were able to sabotage NRA supplies and reinforcements lines with relative ease. This resulted in the NRA troops holding strongholds to be besieged by PLA troops, and PLA soldiers easily ambushed any reinforcements sent [6] . The PLA Generals were not concerned with personal gains or trying to gain loyalty with Mao. Their main concern was to cooperate, work to achieve a united goal and succeed. Two historians have different views on the military issues during the Chinese Civil War. Dreyer emphasizes the ability of the PLA generals to use guerilla warfare and the CCP’s peasant support were reasons for their victory. While Fitzegerald states that the KMT lost because their strategies failed and were not flexible in adapting to new environment, not because the CCP were brilliant [7] . Fitzegarld’s argument is more convincing, as guerilla warfare would have been as successful if Chiang had not overstretched his troops. The reason being, if Chiang had gained support in the south and sent his troops compactly, the PLA would not have been able to use guerilla warfare to besiege cities or infiltrate railroads. In conclusion, the KMT in comparison to the CCP lacked qualities like generalship and bright strategist, and these disadvantages factored into the CCP’s victory in the Chinese civil war

The Sino-Japanese War, played a huge role in deciding who won the Chinese Civil War. The Sino-Japanese War proved to be a huge detriment for the KMT. Chiang originally refused to fight the Japanese, as he was more occupied on exterminating the CCP. This affected the KMT’s support, as what people saw was the KMT Government fighting their own countrymen, allowing the ‘foreign devils’ to invade China and an incompetent government. When the KMT finally fought the Japanese after the Xian incident, they suffered humiliating defeats to the Japanese. This was a military catastrophe for Chiang, as he lost many of his best troops, weapons and urban cities [8] . The Sino-Japanese War was an advantage to the CCP. The United Front signed during the war allowed Mao’s CCP to have time to rebuild its troops, safe from attacks by KMT troops and gain support from people in the countryside [9] . The Red Army fought the Japanese with inferior weapons and inadequate training. The Chinese saw the CCP as the defenders of China and many joined the Red Army, and gave them food and shelter. [10] . At the end of the Sino-Japanese War, the area controlled by the CCP grew; they liberated and captured areas under Japanese control. Lynch believed the Japanese Civil War which should have been a moment of triumph for Chiang, eventually proved to be his downfall [11] . Lynch’s opinion is convincing, as the Japanese War caused for KMT to suffer militarily and socially. All these factors were evident in their eventual demise in the Chinese Civil war, as NRA troops lacked the morale to fight and the KMT lost the support of the people. In Conclusion, the Sino-Japanese war was a disaster for the KMT, as it was depleted and damaged in terms of both military and social. While the CCP grew from being nearly defeated to power and support, and gained a great advantaged politically, socially and militarily. Economically, hyperinflation and corruption was problem in areas under the rule of the KMT Government. The main cause for hyperinflation was the cost of Sino-Japanese War. As the war progressed, the loss of tax revenue from the coastal and Yangtze River cities and the escalation of the military expenditure exacerbated the budgetary shortfall. Printing more money to cover the red ink fueled the Hyperinflation. With the economy already in tatters, the same policy was enforced in funding the military expenses for the civil war. These factors led to the inevitable conclusion of hyperinflation [12] . Hyperinflation affected the standard of living, as rising prices meant people paid more for the same goods and services [13] . It also disrupted business planning, as the uncertainty about the future made planning difficult and had an adverse effect on the level of planned capital investment [14] . Overall, hyperinflation destroyed the livelihood of hundreds of millions of Chinese, and totally discredited the government. This resulted in the majority of people who looked forward to a change in administration [15] . Corruption was evident in all levels of the KMT Government. KMT officials did permanent damage to Nationalist prestige. They were more interested in the enemy properties than the welfare of the citizens, but for personal benefits [16] . Officials monopolized profitable commodities and enterprises in auctions, and sold relief materials for personal gain. They also forced the conversion of Japanese currency to Fapi at an unfair rate This caused for immediate reaction and resentment towards the KMT, as their savings had been drastically reduced. People turned to the CCP who treated them with respect and were not corrupt. While the KMT were corrupt, the Communist created labor unions, and workers who displayed productivity were rewarded. This helped gain widespread support in cities, as people were grateful for the Communist help in easing the pain of Hyperinflation. The CCP introduced a new currency with no relations to the currency used by the KMT, and gave a fair exchange rate for the Japanese currency and the Fapi. This helped gain them large support, as they were portrayed as the party that cared for the citizens, especially the peasants. In conclusion, the corruption and the economy undermined the credibility of the KMT, and caused for hardship among peasants. While the CCP introduced rewards and a new currency, and helped the peasant ease the burden of hyperinflation.

Politically, the leadership, party structure, ideology and propaganda use were completely different, and the superiors’ aspects of the CCP were a factor in their victory in the Chinese Civil War. Chiang backseat management often disrupted battlefield management. He bypassed the chain of command, and sent orders directly to the officers. This caused for mismanagement during battles, as the troops were unsure whose orders to follow. Chiang did not fully understand the situation, so his strategies were often wrong. The KMT Government was full of nepotism, as relatives were often hired over people more capable to do the job. This undermined their ability to function, as many of these people were incapable of fulfilling their role. The KMT party had many years to fulfill the Three People’s Principles, which consisted of nationalist, democracy and socialism. However, Chiang’s main political ideology was to keep the support of the main business including landlords, businessmen, and other middle to high-class citizens. While Chiang’s politics were a complete failure, Mao and his CCP showed a far superior leadership, party structure, strategy, ideology and use of propaganda. Mao was able to understand how important the peasant support was, as they were 85% of the Chinese population. So he introduced the “Eight Points of Behavior” and the “Three Rules”, which helped his which ensured the humanitarian treatment of people under Communist rule. A subtle but strategic move, this allowed Mao to usher in support from the countryside [17] . Mao rewarded generals and soldiers with high-ranking posts, not for their loyalty towards him, but those who had contributed and served him well. This meant that Mao was getting officials who were capable and trustworthy and loyal to the CCP. The CCP party was both fair and productive, as only people with the capable skills and talents were allotted posts in the party. This allowed the CCP to function fluidly, and diminished the chances of corruption from the officials. The CCP’s Marxism-Leninism ideology was that land was shared out amongst those who had never owned land before, farmers were given financial assistance and every peasant was treated respectfully according to Mao’s policy [18] . The peasants saw how much care and respect they got from the CCP, unlike the KMT, and sided with them. Bianco sees the CCP victory as essentially a demonstration of the effectiveness of Marxism-Leninism, and it was a political victory won by peasant revolution. Hsu is a strong contrast to Blanco, as he sees the KMT’s internal shortcomings as the reason the CCP won the civil war. Bianco view is more convincing, as the KMT had been in power for 30 years, so a change was required. Peasants also saw the potential of Marxism-Leninism, and support swayed to the CCP. In Conclusion, the leadership of Mao was far superior to Chiang in many aspects, as he trusted and understood his officials. The KMT Government was also unable to live up to their promises, and was ineffective, while the CCP understood what the peasants needed, and were effective in fulfilling their promises.

Socially, the Lack of reforms and a minority support group and attitudes towards the peasants by the KMT was a significant problem. A fundamental failure by the KMT Government was the continuous retardation of social reform. The KMT relied on customs dues and city commercial taxes for its revenue, paying little attention to agrarian problems [19] . The KMT Government did not understand the peasants, looked down at the, as an inert nonentity, saw no urgency in solving the problem and were unsympathetic of their problems [20] . However, the KMT failed to realize the revolutionary potential of the peasant masses, and never attempted to organize them for support [21] . The peasants remained subjected to high land taxes and rent. The peasants made up 90% of China’s population in 1935 [22] Youth organizations and women organizations were never founded examples of how the KMT neglected social reforms and didn’t see the revolutionary potential of peasants. KMT troops traveling the countryside, ransacked, disrespected, stole, ill-treated peasants in the countryside. The CCP understood the importance of peasants unlike Chiang. So it was the stone that one builder had rejected became the cornerstone of the other’s house [23] . Mao stated that “peasants are the basic foundation of a democratic China.” [24] . The CCP introduced land reforms, which helped them, gained wide-spread support in the countryside. The Land Reforms consisted of the confiscation and transfer of land from the landlords to the peasants, many who had never owned land before. Farmers were given financial assistance by the CCP, and the peasants were treated according to Mao’s Three Main Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention [25] . Women organizations were founded in villages, and their job was to keep watch on inter-village travelers, assist in hospital work and produce handicraft to support the war. [26] Village peasants associations were responsible for army drives, and youth associations mobilized their members to join the army and perform rear-service work [27] . According to Johnson the CCP became an enormously popular mass movement because of its social programs, and won due to peasant nationalism. This statement is relatively convincing, because peasant nationalism played a significant role in the military aspect, however, KMT mistakes also factored into the reason why CCP won the civil war. In conclusion, the KMT were unable to understand the importance of the peasants, and did not have social reforms or try and gain peasant support. While the KMT didn’t capitalize on the uses of the peasants, the CCP fully understood how a peasant lead revolution would lead them to victory in the civil war.

In conclusion, this essay should show that the he GMD’s mistakes were more prominent than the CCP’s strength, and it was these factors that led to the CCP’s victory. The GMD’s downfall included the strategic errors and misguidance by Chiang and his Generals, the deficits suffered during the Sino-Japanese War, inflation and corruption in GMD controlled areas, the backseat management by Chiang, nepotism within the government, mistrust between Chiang and his generals, the lack of social reform and only a minority support group. While achievements by the CCP consists of, the brilliant strategy and generalship by Mao and his Generals, the advancements during the Sino-Japanese War, the introduction of rewards and new currency, the productivity and lack of corruption in the CCP government, the CCP’s ideology and the social reforms and respect for peasants. But a war is always won on a battlefield, and there are many examples of country with totalitarian leaders who won only due to their military. So Chiang’s reckless decision of overstretching his troops, allowed the CCP to successfully use guerilla warfare and win the Chinese civil war!

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