Why did the Communists win the Chinese Civil War between 1945 and 1949?

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Irene Li 11XN

History Dr Amthor

Why did the Communists win the Chinese Civil War between 1945 and 1949?

The Chinese Civil War, also known as the “War of Liberation” broke out between the National Revolutionary Army (also known as GuoMingDang), led by Chiang Kaishek, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), led by Mao ZeDong in an effort to control China, at the end of World War II in 1946 and ended on October 1st, 1949. Many people believed that the GuoMingDang would easily win, given their huge military advantage with a powerful American trained and American-equipped army of three million men. They also occupied the industrialized cities, all the main railway lines, plenty of money and large stocks of weapons[1] . By contrast, the CCP were relatively weak, holding only several countryside areas, without an air force, few railways and no navy, nor the backing of a foreign country[2]. Given the GMD’s military superiority in 1946, some may argue that it was Chiang’s war to lose, rather than Mao’s to win however, this essay will examine the differences in CCP and KMT’s support from the people, their armies and moral, their military leadership and employed tactics, and government affairs, and how this eventually led to Communist victory due to CCP’s superiority in these four areas and the KMT’s strategically mistakes.

The CCP’s victory was mainly due to the majority of peasant support. While Chiang Kaishek said of the peasants that their task was “to provide us (GMD) with information concerning the enemy, food, comforts and soldiers for our armies”[3], Mao Ze Dong said of the peasants that they “are the backbone of the peasant associations… To attack them is to attack the revolution”. Evidently there is a stark contrast in the opposition leader’s view of peasants. While Chiang believed that they were dispensable, Mao praises and recognizes the peasants-in contrast with the way they had been neglected. This is emphasized by a Red Army Commander’s testimony that stated that peasants “hated the GMD for burning their homes and stealing their food…many joined us and nearly all helped us in some way.” Mao understood that to win the support of the peasants- essentially 95% of China’s population, was vital to fulfilling the peasant-led revolution, and win the Civil War. However, the peasants supported the CCP not only because of their hatred of the GMD; rather, because CCP had the opposite ideology. Mao made use of mass mobilization to sell his idea of equality to the peasants in the countryside and called for land reforms that liberated land from hated landlords, less tax and equality, thus when these promises were compared against the GMD’s failure to rid China of the Japanese (even causing hyperinflation of 1.3Y in January 1937 to 24,588,999 billion by end of 1948); regardless of class, support for GMD decreased and CCP support rose in comparison. Furthermore, the top-down economic model that GMD used resulted in neglect of urgently needed social and economic reforms. The revolutionary potential of the peasants was ignored by the GMD; causing the CCP to look outstanding in comparison.

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Another factor that led to the Communist victory was the better training of soldiers, with clear understanding of the CCP’s goal, resulting in a more effective and disciplined fighting force. Although the population looked to the GMD for strong leadership, they were proved wrong as the strategy of “Trading Space for Time” looked cowardly. According to historian J. Belden, “The basis of all conscription was bribery and influence…officers considered it their privilege and right to beat soldiers.” Clearly, it wasn’t a surprise if GMD soldiers were willing to desert at any time in the war, and even bringing weapons with ...

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