The Chinese civil war
Thomas Jemel Oldham
At that date the human race was in terrible conflicts because of its very nature from the world war two to the Cold War there has been millions of deaths which have only shown the very fact that we humans are imperfect this time though I will talk about the Chinese civil war.
The Chinese Civil War was fought between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China. The war began in April 1927, amidst the Northern Expedition,. The war represented an ideological split between the Western-supported Nationalist KMT and the Soviet-supported Communist CPC. In mainland China the war is more commonly known as the “War of Liberation”
The civil war carried on intermittently until the Second Sino-Japanese War interrupted it, resulting in the two parties forming a Second United Front. Japan’s campaign was defeated in 1945, marking the end of World War II, and China’s full-scale civil war resumed in 1946. After a further four years, 1950 saw a cessation of major hostilities—with the newly founded People’s Republic of China controlling mainland China (including Hainan Island), and the Republic of China’s jurisdiction being restricted to Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and several outlying Fujianese islands. To this day, since no armistice or peace treaty has ever been signed, there is controversy as to whether the Civil War has legally ended. Today, the two sides of the Taiwan strait have close economic ties.
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he Qing Dynasty, the last of the ruling Chinese dynasties, collapsed in 1911. China was left under the control of several major and lesser warlords in the Warlord era. To defeat these warlords, who had seized control of much of Northern China, the anti-monarchist and national unificationist Kuomintang party and the president of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen, sought the help of foreign powers. Sun Yat-sen’s 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 Communist Party of China, which would eventually found the People’s Republic of China. Thus the struggle for power in China began between the KMT and the CPC.
In 1923, a joint statement by Sun and Soviet representative Adolph Joffe in Shanghai pledged Soviet assistance for China’s unification. The Sun-Joffe Manifesto was a declaration for cooperation among the comintern, KMT and the Communist Party of China. Comintern agent Mikhail Borodin arrived 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 CPC joined the KMT to form the First United Front.
In 1923, Sun Yat-sen sent Chiang Kai-shek, one of Sun’s lieutenants from his Tongmeng Hui days, for several months’ military and political study in Moscow. By 1924, Chiang became the head of the Whampoa Military Academy, and rose to prominence as Sun’s successor as head of the KMT.
The Soviets provided much of the studying material, organization, and equipment including munitions for the academy. The Soviets also provided education in many of the techniques for mass mobilization. With this aid Sun Yat-sen was able to raise a dedicated “army of the party,” with which he hoped to defeat the warlords militarily. CPC members were also present in the academy, and many of them became instructors, including Zhou Enlai who was made a political instructor of the academy.
Communist members were allowed to join the KMT on an individual basis. The CPC itself was still small at the time, having a membership of 300 in 1922 and only 1,500 by 1925. The KMT in 1923 had 50,000 members.
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Fighting in mainland China (1946–1950)
The PLA enters Beijing in the Pingjin Campaign and control the later capital of PRC
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”.
The United States assisted the KMT 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.
They airlifted many KMT troops from central China to the Northeast (Manchuria).
President Truman was very clear about what he described as “using the Japanese to hold off the Communists”. In his memoirs he writes “It was perfectly clear to us that if we told the Japanese to lay down their arms immediately and march to the seaboard, the entire country would be taken over by the Communists. We therefore had to take the unusual step of using the enemy as a garrison until we could airlift Chinese National troops to that of South China and send Marines to guard the seaports”. Over 50,000 Marines were sent to guard strategic sites.
Although General Marshall himself stated that he knew of no evidence that the CPC were being supplied by the Soviet Union, the CPC were able to capture a large number of weapons abandoned by the Japanese, including some tanks but it was not until large numbers of well trained KMT troops surrendered and joined the communist forces that the CPC were finally able to master the hardware. But despite the disadvantage in military hardware, the CPC’s ultimate trump card was its land reform policy. The effective propaganda machine of the CPC continued to make the irresistible promise in the countryside to the massive number of landless and starving Chinese peasants that by fighting for the CPC they will be able to take farmland from their landlords. This strategy enabled the CPC to access an almost unlimited supply of manpower to use in combat as well as provide logistic support, despite suffering heavy casualties throughout many civil war campaigns. For example, during the Huaihai Campaign alone the CPC were able to mobilize 5,430,000 peasants to fight against the KMT forces.
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In March 1946 despite repeated requests from Chiang, the Soviet Red Army under the command of general Malinovsky continued to delay pulling out of Manchuria while he secretly told the CPC forces to move in behind them, because Stalin wanted Mao to have firm control of at least the northern part of Manchuria before the complete withdrawal of the Soviets., which lead to full scale war for the control of the Northeast.
In March 1947 the KMT achieved a symbolic victory by seizing the CPC capital of Yenan. But by late 1948 the CPC eventually captured the northern cities of Shenyang and Changchun and seized control of the Northeast after struggling through numerous set-backs while trying to take the cities, with the decisive Liaoshen Campaign. The New First Army, regarded as the best KMT army, had to surrender after the CPC conducted a deadly 6-month siege of Changchun that resulted in more than 300,000 civilian deaths from starvation. The capture of large KMT formations provided them with the tanks, heavy artillery, and other combined-arms assets needed to prosecute offensive operations south of the Great Wall. By April 1948 the city of Luoyang fell, cutting the KMT army off from Xi’an. Following a fierce battle, the CPC captured Jinan and Shandong province on September 28, 1948.
The Huaihai Campaign of late 1948 and early 1949 secured east-central China for the CPC. The outcome of these encounters were decisive for the military outcome of the civil war. The Beiping-Tianjin Campaign resulted in the Communist conquest of northern China lasting 64 days from November 21, 1948 to January 31, 1949. The People’s Liberation Army suffered heavy casualties from securing Zhangjiakou, Tianjin along with its port and garrison at Dagu, and Beiping. The CPC brought 890,000 troops from the Northeast to oppose some 600,000 KMT troops. There were 40,000 CPC casualties at Zhangjiakou alone. They in turned killed, wounded or captured some 520,000 KMT during the campaign.
On April 21, Communist forces crossed the Yangtze River, capturing Nanjing, capital of the KMT’s Republic of China. 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 KMT forces southwards in southern China. The KMT government retreated from Nanjing on April 23 successively to Canton (Guangzhou) until October 15, Chongqing until November 25, and Chengdu before retreating to Taipei on December 10.
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According to the Battle Summary in the 4 Years’ Liberation War, from July 1946 to June 1950, the PLA eliminated 8,071,350 KMT forces and bandits, among them over 6,360,000 surrendered/defected/captured. Another calculation put the total enemy eliminated to about 10,658,000, which is based on combined unit reports. The PLA suffered more than 260,000 KIA and 1,040,000 WIA.
KIA: Killed in action
WIA: Wounded in action
CPC: Communist Party of China
KMT: Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomitang)
New York Times, 12 Jan 1947, p44.
Zeng Kelin, Zeng Kelin jianjun zishu (General Zeng Kelin Tells his story), Liaoning renmin chubanshe, Shenyang, 1997. p. 112-3
Reading Chiang Kai-shek’s dairy from a macro-history perspective, Chinatimes Publishing Press, Taipei, 1994, p. 441-3