KMT v. CCP
Civil War 1927-1949


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Few observers or China watchers would have placed their wagers on Mao Zedong (1892-1976) and the CCP in the early days of the civil war. Chiang Kai-shek focused on the Bandit Extermination Campaigns rather than the Japanese in Manchuria. He solicited military aid from Nazi Germany after their ascension to power in 1933 and moved aggressively against the CCP stronghold in Jiangxi in 1934. Not only did the KMT encircle the communists, but Mao found his leadership challenged by those who wanted to fight conventionally instead of using guerrilla tactics. Mao, from 1927 (left,) insisted on solidifying links with the peasants and fighting as guerrillas as a basic policy and strategy.


image source

In 1933, during the 7th Bandit Extermination Campaign, the KMT surrounded the Jiangxi soviet and was on the the verge of annihilating the communists once and for all. Mao's rivals and their soviet advisors in the CCP continued to advocate, from 1927-1933, for fighting conventionally, and working to develop urban support. Mao countered by insisting on guerrilla warfare and a peasant base. Chiang Kai-shek, with his German advisors, encircled the CCP and prepared to administer the coup de grace. Chiang felt within a gnat's eyelash of total victory!

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March >

In October, 1934, Mao and his closest allies (Zhou Enlai, Zhu De) left Jiangxi with their dwindling army on the "Long March."* From their threatened strongholds in Jiangxi and Hunan, they fled over the trackless wastes of Western China, where no Han armies had been seen for centuries, to the sanctuary of Yanan in Shaanxi Province, far to the North. The 87,000 refugees literally carried everything on their backs: "typewriters, furniture, printing presses, etc. They also took...33,000 guns and nearly 2 million ammunition cartridges" (Trueman). Advised by Zhu De, the Long Marchers divided up into splinter units and followed a twisting path to evade the numerically stronger KMT army. The arduous traverse included evading bandits and warlords, crossing the Snow Mountains (among the world's highest) and "the Chinese Grasslands,...an area of deep marshes which claimed hundreds of lives" (Trueman).  


image source < http://www.paulnoll.com/China/Long-March/history-map-alternate.html >
*In Spring Moon, Lustrous Jade and Resolute Spirit follow Mao on the Long March.

The Long March (October, 1934-October, 1935) "crossed eighteen mountain ranges, forded twenty-four rivers, fought skirmishes at least once a day, and at least fourteen major battles. They passed through...twelve provinces..." (McKee). 7,000 out of 86,000 survived, among them Resolute Spirit and Lustrous Jade. The Long March became the Valley Forge of communist mythology and legend. Former Castilleja Math teacher and Math department head, Toni Hsu, wanted to go on the Long March, but her parents wouldn't let her.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March >

Facing formidable obstacles such as Tiger Leaping Gorge in the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains, the Long Marchers confiscated "property and weapons from local warlords and landlords, while recruiting peasants and the poor" ("Long March"). They daily contended with "fatigue, hunger & cold, sickness, desertion and military casualties" [sic] ("Long March").

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March >
Meanwhile, Japan consolidated its control over Manchukuo, installing China's last Qing Emperor, Puyi, as the Kangde (Tranquility and Virtue) Emperor there. As Chiang Kai-shek flew to Xian, in December, 1936, in preparation for the final attack on the CCP, Zhang Xueliang (left,) the Young Marshal, kidnapped Chiang and insisted, with help from Zhou Enlai, that the CCP and KMT form a United Front againt the Japanese. This Xian Incident, which created the United Front, prompted Japan to strengthen its ties with Italy and Germany (Anti-Comintern Pact) and to precipitate the Double 7 Incident at the Marco Polo Bridge.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zjang_Xueliang >

Here is China as it is today, 2015-2016, on the eve of your Global Investigator trip. Note the locations of Beijing, the capital and Shanghai, a key city which investigators visited in years past. Your trip will take you to Kunming (look in Southwestern China/Yunnan Province.) It played an important role during World War II, when Americans had a major military presence throughout the conflict.

In 1941, upon the United States' entry into the war in PTO (Pacific Theater of Operations,) Kunming was the home of the 1st American Volunteer Group, known colloquially as the Flying Tigers. Kunming was a major hub for supply flights "over the hump" to and from India and Burma.


image source < http://www.chinahighlights.com/kunming/map.htm >

 
Scarcely had the dust settled on Pearl Harbor and war declared than FDR authorized the American Volunteer Group (AVG) to go to the aid of Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek at Chongqing. A private group of pilots (3 fighter squadrons of 20 aircraft each) under Lieutenant General Claire Chennault had been training for combat against Japan since 1937. These were the "flying tigers." They conducted operations against Japan from December, 1941, until July, 1942. The exploits and successes of the Flying Tigers gave Americans a much needed morale boost after Pearl Harbor and the fall of the Philippines. The P-40 "Flying Tigers" flaunted a distinctive logo, designed by the Walt Disney Company. See below for images.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/Flying_Tigers >


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/Flying_Tigers >

During the war, Chinese refugees fleeing the Japanese flooded into Kunming. Some were destitute; some were industrialists and entrepreneurs who brought their dismantled industrial plants (and know-how) with them to the deep South. Several universities evacuated their entire institutions and faculties there. Former math teacher Toni Hsu spent her high school years in Kunming hiding from Japanese bombs under an umbrella. While Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was holed up in his wartime capital at Chongqing (see left image,) Kunming prepared to be the National Redoubt in case the beleaguered capital in case it fell. Citizens of Kunming expanded a vast network of natural caves as hideouts from Japanese bombing raids (couldn't find any images, alas.)


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March >
WWII in China videoclip < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxgEzlxnpbk > nah

When French IndoChina and Burma fell to the Japanese (1940,) vital rail links between India and China were severed. Kunming emerged as a command center for the CBI (China-Burma-India) campaign. As Kunming assumed greater and greater importance in the Allied PTO campaign, it became a critical target for Japanese bombers--hence the caves described above. The map (right) illustrates how crucial Kunming was, both for the Allies and the Japanese.


image source < http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/pacificwar/pacwar.gif >

Originally, Kunming was linked by rail with British Burma, which, as noted, had fallen under the control of Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Burma Road (see right) was no longer operative as supply chain. As part of the Allied war effort, General Stilwell made efforts to rebuld it; as well American pilots flew "over the hump" (that would be the Himalayas) to Kunming.

image source < http://cbi-theater-1.home.comcast.net/~cbi-theater-1/maps/map037.html >
"Flying the Hump" < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiLJdgjs12s >

Japan occupied much of China during the Second World War
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Japanese_Occupation_-_Map.jpg >

The United Front, the Double 7, and World War II brought nationalists and communists together and tabled, for the time being, their overt warfare. That said, both sides prepared for the inevitable post-war conflict., with the CCP anticipating aid from the Soviet Union and the KMT counting on assistance from the United States. The dropping of the atomic bombs and unexpected unconditional surrender of Japan caught both Chiang and Mao by surprise.

image source <

 

Chiang and Mao resumed hostilities almost immediately, though they met to toast the end of of the war, leading American General George Marshall to hope for the success of a coalition government in post-war China. By June, the gloves were off, and the civil war resumed. To quote a phrase from the Vietnam War, Mao Zedong was more successful in winning "the hearts and minds" of the Chinese than his rival. The CCP and what would become the People's Liberation Army marched triumpantly into Peiping, transforming it to Beijing, the Northern Capital.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Civil_War >
President Truman and General Marshall failed to secure a coalition government in post-war China. Complicated by the presence of Soviet forces in Manchuria, Japanese in occupied areas, and the ubiquitous bandits and warlords, the KMT and CCP continued to slug it out. Although Stalin and Truman did what they could for their surrogates, neither was in a military or political position to fight a ground war in Asia. Mao's strategy of building peasant support and his policies in the "liberated areas" brought KMT defeat and evacuation to Taiwan and CCP victory in 1949. At left, Mao proclaims the establishment of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949!


image source < http://www.time.com/times/80days/491001.html >

A postscript here on the impact of Mao's triumph in China. It stunned the United States (though not General Stilwell,) where public opinion, conditioned by the China Lobby, Time Magazine and Madam Chiang Kai-shek, believed to the end in a KMT victory. General Marshall's efforts to effect a coalition between the two factions failed. As Secretary of State (1947-1948,) earning the wrath of Wisconsin Senator McCarthy, Marshall insisted "that U.S. troops not become involved" in China (Pike). In the anti-Red frenzy of the 1950s, Senator McCarthy vilified Marshall unmercifully, though it might be recalled that his Marshall Plan was the prime mover behind the post-war economic recovery of Europe. Time Magazine named Marshall "man of the year" in 1948, and he earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Marshall >

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Chinese Civil War." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Civil_War >

Forney, Matthew. "New China is Born." 80 Days that Changed the World. Online available.
< http://www.time.com/times/80days/491001.html >

"George Marshall." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Marshall >

"Long March." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March >

McKee, Peggy. "Modern East Asia Handouts." Palo Alto: Castilleja Faculty Workroom, 2010.

Noll, Paul and Bernice. "The Red Army Route of the Long March." Window on the World.
Online available. < http://www.paulnolls.com/China/Long-March/history-map-alternate.html >

Pike, John. "Chinese Civil War." Global Security Organization. Online available.
< http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/chinese-civil-war.htm >

Trueman, Chris. "The Long March 1934 to 1935." History Learning Site. Online available.
< http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/long_march_1934_to_1935.htm >