During the late 19th century, Qing China was screwed over by European superpowers and Japan. Unhappy being called as the "sick man of Asia", the common populace overthrew the emperor and installed a republic.
This republic however, was very weak. Yuan Shikai, the president of the Beiyang Government(republic) attempted to declare himself emperor but failed. After his death in 1916, the Kuomintang, led by Sun Yat-sen founded a new government, based on Guangzhou to resist the Beiyang Government.
Sun requested support from other countries but they refused, thus, Sun was forced to request aid from the Soviet Union and they agreed. However, the ideology of the USSRball spread among Chinese citizens, and the Communist Party of China was founded, who would later on found the People's Republic of China.
The Soviets helped both parties, providing them rifles, machine guns, ammunitions, artilleries, educational material, equipment, organization and many more. Utilizing what the Soviets provided them, Sun managed to raise a significant number of troops and this troops would be used to defeat the independent warlords. Some CPC members were also present and some became instructors for the Whampoa Military Academy.
Communists were also allowed to join the KMT, since the party lacks manpower, by 1923, the party had 50,000 members.
However, after Sun's death, the rift between the communists and nationalists grew larger and larger. The KMT feared that the Soviets were using the CPC to destroy them and make China a communist state. Soon, the KMT would be clearly divided.
The Soviet Union had a huge impact on the CPC. The Soviets gave them funds and spies to support the communists. If the Soviet Union never existed, the CPC would be defeated easily by the KMT.
Northern Expedition and KMT-CPC divide
In early 1927, the KMT-CPC rivalry led to a split in the revolutionary ranks. The CPC and the left wing of the KMT had decided to move the seat of the KMT government from Guangzhou to Wuhan, where communist influence was strong. However, Chiang and Li Zongren, whose armies defeated warlord Sun Chuanfang, moved eastward toward Jiangxi. The leftists rejected Chiang's demand to eliminate Communist influence within KMT and Chiang denounced them for betraying Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People by taking orders from the Soviet Union. According to Mao Zedong, Chiang's tolerance of the CPC in the KMT camp decreased as his power increased.
On April 7, Chiang and several other KMT leaders held a meeting, during which they proposed that Communist activities were socially and economically disruptive and had to be undone for the Nationalist revolution to proceed. On 12 April, in Shanghai, many Communist members in the KMT were purged through hundreds of arrests and executions on the orders of General Bai Chongxi. The CPC referred to this as the 12 April Incident or Shanghai Massacre. This incident widened the rift between Chiang and Wang Jingwei, the leader of the left wing faction of the KMT who controlled the city of Wuhan.
Eventually, the left wing of the KMT also expelled CPC members from the Wuhan government, which in turn was toppled by Chiang Kai-shek. The KMT resumed its campaign against warlords and captured Beijing in June 1928. Soon, most of eastern China was under the control of the Nanjing central government, which received prompt international recognition as the sole legitimate government of China. The KMT government announced, in conformity with Sun Yat-sen, the formula for the three stages of revolution: military unification, political tutelage, and constitutional democracy.
On 1 August 1927, the Communist Party launched an uprising in Nanchang against the Nationalist government in Wuhan. This conflict led to the creation of the Red Army. On 4 August, the main forces of the Red Army left Nanchang and headed southwards for an assault on Guangdong. Nationalist forces quickly reoccupied Nanchang while the remaining members of the CPC in Nanchang went into hiding. A CPC meeting on 7 August confirmed the objective of the party was to seize the political power by force, but the CPC was quickly suppressed the next day on 8 August by the Nationalist government in Wuhan led by Wang Jingwei. On 14 August, Chiang Kai-shek announced his temporary retirement, as the Wuhan faction and Nanjing faction of the Kuomintang were allied once again with common goal of suppressing the Communist Party after the earlier split.
Attempts were later made by the CPC to take the cities of Changsha, Shantou and Guangzhou. The Red Army consisting of mutinous former National Revolutionary Army (NRA) soldiers as well as armed peasants established control over several areas in southern China. KMT forces continued to attempt to suppress the rebellions. Then, in September, Wang Jingwei was forced out of Wuhan. September also saw an unsuccessful armed rural insurrection, known as the Autumn Harvest Uprising, led by Mao Zedong. Borodin then returned to the USSR in October via Mongolia. In November, Chiang Kai-shek went to Shanghai and invited Wang to join him. On 11 December, the CPC started the Guangzhou Uprising, establishing a soviet there the next day, but lost the city by 13 December to a counter-attack under the orders of General Zhang Fakui. On 16 December, Wang Jingwei fled to France. There were now three capitals in China: the internationally recognized republic capital in Beijing, the CPC and left-wing KMT at Wuhan and the right-wing KMT regime at Nanjing, which would remain the KMT capital for the next decade.
This marked the beginning of a ten-year armed struggle, known in mainland China as the "Ten-Year Civil War" (十年内战) which ended with the Xi'an Incident when Chiang Kai-shek was forced to form the Second United Front against invading forces from the Empire of Japan. In 1930 the Central Plains War broke out as an internal conflict of the KMT. It was launched by Feng Yuxiang, Yan Xishan and Wang Jingwei. The attention was turned to root out remaining pockets of Communist activity in a series of five encirclement campaigns. 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, KMT columns struck swiftly into Communist areas, but were easily engulfed by the vast countryside and were not able to consolidate their foothold.
Finally, in late 1934, Chiang launched a fifth campaign that involved the systematic encirclement of the Jiangxi Soviet region with fortified blockhouses. Unlike previous campaigns in which they penetrated deeply in a single strike, this time the KMT troops patiently built blockhouses, each separated by about eight kilometres (five miles), to surround the Communist areas and cut off their supplies and food sources.
In October 1934 the CPC took advantage of gaps in the ring of blockhouses (manned by the forces of a warlord ally of Chiang Kai-shek's, rather than regular KMT troops) and broke out of the encirclement. The warlord armies were reluctant to challenge Communist forces for fear of losing their own men and did not pursue the CPC with much fervor. In addition, the main KMT 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 what Mao estimated as 12,500 km (25,000 Li); it became known as the Long March. The Long March was a military retreat taken on by the Communist Party of China, led by Mao Zedong to evade the pursuit or attack of the Kuomintang army. It consisted of a series of marches, during which numerous Communist armies in the south escaped to the north and west. Over the course of the march from Jiangxi the First Front Army, led by an inexperienced military commission, was on the brink of annihilation by Chiang Kai Shek's troops as their stronghold was in Jiangxi. The Communists, under the command of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, "escaped in a circling retreat to the west and north, which reportedly traversed over 9,000 kilometers over 370 days." The route passed through some of the most difficult terrain of western China by traveling west, and then northwards towards Shaanxi. "In November 1935, shortly after settling in northern Shaanxi, Mao officially took over Zhou Enlai's leading position in the Red Army. Following a major reshuffling of official roles, Mao became the chairman of the Military Commission, with Zhou and Deng Xiaoping as vice-chairmen." This marked Mao's position as the pre-eminent leader of the Party, with Zhou in second position to him.
The march ended when the CPC 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 allies, 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 90,000–100,000 people who began the Long March from the Soviet Chinese Republic, only around 7,000–8,000 made it to Shaanxi. The remnants of Zhang's forces eventually joined Mao in Shaanxi, but with his army destroyed, Zhang, even as a founding member of the CPC, was never able to challenge Mao's authority. Essentially, the great retreat made Mao the undisputed leader of the Communist Party of China.
The Kuomintang used Khampa troops—who were former bandits—to battle the Communist Red Army as it advanced and to undermine local warlords who often refused to fight Communist forces to conserve their own strength. The KMT enlisted 300 "Khampa bandits" into its Consolatory Commission military in Sichuan, where they were part of the effort of the central government to penetrate and destabilize local Han warlords such as Liu Wenhui. The government was seeking to exert full control over frontier areas against the warlords. Liu had refused to battle the Communists in order to conserve his army. The Consolatory Commission forces were used to battle the Red Army, but they were defeated when their religious leader was captured by the Communists.
In 1936, Zhou Enlai and Zhang Xueliang grew closer, with Zhang even suggesting that he join the CPC. However, this was turned down by the Comintern in the USSR. Later on, Zhou persuaded Zhang and Yang Hucheng, another warlord, to instigate the Xi'an Incident. Chiang was placed under house arrest and forced to stop his attacks on the Red Army, instead focusing on the Japanese threat.
Second Sino-Japanese War(1937-1945)
During Japanese Empireball's invasion and occupation of Manchuria Chiang Kai-shek, who saw the CPC as a greater threat, refused to ally with them to fight against the Imperial Japanese Army. Chiang preferred to unite China by eliminating the warlords and CPC forces first. He believed that he was still too weak to launch an offensive to chase out Japan and that China needed time for a military build-up. Only after unification would it be possible for the KMT to mobilize a war against Japan. So he would rather ignore the discontent and anger among Chinese people at his policy of compromise with the Japanese, and ordered KMT generals Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng to carry out suppression of the CPC; however, their provincial forces suffered significant casualties in battles with the Red Army.
However, the Imperial Japanese Army was wreaking havoc in China and Chiang was forced to make a truce with the CPC and form another alliance, this is the Second United Front. However, this wasn't really any true alliance, as the KMT did most of the fighting and the CPC dispatched a few thousand men. Also, the KMT used conventional warfare, which resulted in heavy losses while the CPC utilized guerilla warfare, preferring to ambush Japanese soldiers instead of fighting them head-on.
In general, developments in the Second Sino-Japanese War were to the advantage of the CPC, as its guerrilla war tactics had won them popular support within the Japanese-occupied areas. However, the KMT had to defend the country against the main Japanese campaigns, since it was the legal Chinese government, and this proved costly to Chiang Kai-shek and his troops. Japan launched its last major offensive against the KMT, Operation Ichi-Go, in 1944; this resulted in the severe weakening of Chiang's forces. The CPC also suffered fewer losses through its guerrilla tactics. By the end of the war, the Red Army had grown to more than 1.3 million members, with a separate militia of over 2.6 million members. About one hundred million people lived in CPC-controlled zones.
By the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the power of the Communist Party grew considerably. Their main force grew to 1.2 million troops, backed with additional militia of 2 million, totalling 3.2 million troops. Their "Liberated Zone" in 1945 contained 19 base areas, including one-quarter of the country's territory and one-third of its population; this included many important towns and cities. Moreover, the Soviet Union turned over all of its captured Japanese weapons and a substantial amount of their own supplies to the Communists, who received Northeastern China from the Soviets as well.
In March 1946, despite repeated requests from Chiang, the Soviet Red Army under the command of Marshal Rodion Malinovsky continued to delay pulling out of Manchuria, while Malinovsky secretly told the CPC forces to move in behind them, which led to full-scale war for the control of the Northeast. These favorable conditions also facilitated many changes inside the Communist leadership: the more radical hard-line faction who wanted a complete military take-over of China finally gained the upper hand and defeated the careful opportunists. Prior to giving control to Communist leaders, on 27 March Soviet diplomats requested a joint venture of industrial development with the Nationalist Party in Manchuria.
Although General Marshall stated that he knew of no evidence that the CPC was being supplied by the Soviet Union, the CPC was able to utilize a large number of weapons abandoned by the Japanese, including some tanks, but it was not until large numbers of well-trained KMT troops began surrendering and joining the Communist forces that the CPC was finally able to master the hardware. However, despite the disadvantage in military hardware, the CPC's ultimate trump card was its land reform policy. The CPC continued to make the irresistible promise in the countryside to the massive number of landless and starving peasants that by fighting for the CPC they would be given their own land to grow crops once the victory was won.
This strategy enabled the CPC to access an almost unlimited supply of manpower for both combat and logistical purposes; despite suffering heavy casualties throughout many of the war's campaigns, man power continued to pour in massively. For example, during the Huaihai Campaign alone the CPC was able to mobilize 5,430,000 peasants to fight against the KMT forces.
After the war with the Japanese ended, Chiang Kai-shek quickly moved KMT troops to newly liberated areas to prevent Communist forces from receiving the Japanese surrender. Using the pretext of "receiving the Japanese surrender," business interests within the KMT government occupied most of the banks, factories and commercial properties, which had previously been seized by the Imperial Japanese Army. They also conscripted troops at an accelerated pace from the civilian population and hoarded supplies, preparing for a resumption of war with the Communists. These hasty and harsh preparations caused great hardship for the residents of cities such as Shanghai, where the unemployment rate rose dramatically to 37.5%.
The US strongly supported the Kuomintang forces. About 50,000 US soldiers were sent to guard strategic sites in Hupeh and Shandong in Operation Beleaguer. The US equipped and trained KMT troops, and transported Japanese and Koreans back to help KMT forces to occupy liberated zones as well as to contain Communist-controlled areas. According to William Blum, American aid included substantial amounts of mostly surplus military supplies, and loans were made to the KMT. Within less than two years after the Sino-Japanese War, the KMT had received $4.43 billion from the US—most of which was military aid.
However, the course of the war was now in CPC's hand. The CPC gained control of strategic areas and with their numbers growing, the CPC was now a very powerful opponent. Also, by using the support of the people, the CPC now managed to stretch the KMT's supply lines thin.
Also, the KMT was weakened by their war against Japan, because they did most of the fighting and won the war, at the cost of heavy casualties. While the KMT was trying to rebuild their strength, the CPC attacked, using their new, enhanced forces. After achieving decisive victory at Liaoshen, Huaihai and Pingjin campaigns, the CPC wiped out 144 regular and 29 irregular KMT divisions, including 1.54 million veteran KMT troops, which significantly reduced the strength of Nationalist forces. Because of this, the KMT was forced to constantly retreat and stretch their supply lines thin.
The Kuomintang made several last-ditch attempts to use Khampa troops against the Communists in southwest China. The Kuomintang formulated a plan in which three Khampa divisions would be assisted by the Panchen Lama to oppose the Communists. Kuomintang intelligence reported that some Tibetan tusi chiefs and the Khampa Su Yonghe controlled 80,000 troops in Sichuan, Qinghai and Tibet. They hoped to use them against the Communist army.
End of the civil war
On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China with its capital at Beijing, which was returned to the former name Beijing. Chiang Kai-shek and approximately two million Nationalist soldiers retreated from mainland China to the island of Taiwan in December after the PLA advanced into the Sichuan province. Isolated Nationalist pockets of resistance remained in the area, but the majority of the resistance collapsed after the fall of Chengdu on 10 December 1949, with some resistance continuing in the far south.
A PRC attempt to take the ROC-controlled island of Quemoy was thwarted in the Battle of Kuningtou, halting the PLA advance towards Taiwan. In December 1949, Chiang proclaimed Taipei the temporary capital of the Republic of China and continued to assert his government as the sole legitimate authority in China.
The Communists' other amphibious operations of 1950 were more successful: they led to the Communist conquest of Hainan Island in April 1950, capture of Wanshan Islands off the Guangdong coast (May–August 1950), Zhoushan Island off Zhejiang (May 1950).
The People's Republic of China was officially declared in October 1, 1949, effectively making China a communist state.
The Red Army(later the People's Liberation Army or the PLA) suffered 1.3 million combat casualties, with 250,000+ killed, 190,000 missing and 850,000 wounded(not including irregulars). Meanwhile, the National Revolutionary Army(later known as ROC Armed Forces) suffered 1.5 million dead.
Although Chiang's main force retreated to Taiwan after seeing imminent defeat, other Nationalists entrenched themselves near Burma and in the Tibetan region, launching guerilla warfare unto communist troops. The ROC assigned the leader of this forces, Li Mi, as the governor of Yunnan and was also paid a salary. The US also provided them intelligence support but never sent in troops to aid the ROC, for fear the Soviets will reinforce the PLA and scaling an all-out global conflict. In 1953, the Nationalists in Burma were transported to Taiwan because Myanmar complained to the UN but thousands remained, with ROC constantly supplying them and also giving them reinforcements.
On October 25, 1971, the United Nations General Assembly admitted the PRC and expelled the ROC, which had been a founding member of the United Nations and was one of the five permanent members of the Security Council. Representatives of Chiang Kai-shek refused to recognise their accreditations as representatives of China and left the assembly. Recognition for the People's Republic of China soon followed from most other member nations, including the United States.
By 1984 PRC and ROC began to de-escalate their hostilities through diplomatic relations with each other, and cross-straits trade and investment has been growing ever since. The state of war was officially declared over by the ROC in 1991. Despite the end of the hostilities, the two sides have never signed any agreement or treaty to officially end the war.
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