Why did the Chinese Communist Party defeat the Guomindang
In 1945 the last phase of the civil war was fought out in China between the Guomindang (GMD) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); these two groups had, in the past worked together so why did the war break out? And how; four years later in 1949 did an out manned and out armed resistance group defeat a mighty army with the largest world power of the time behind them? Those are the questions I will answer. Years before, in 1911 China had a revolution. When a band of rebels overthrew the emperor and set up “The republic of China”.
Although Sun Yat-Sen was key to the revolution an army commander called Yuan Shih-Kai was put in charge of China. China soon dissolved into Chaos, warlords were exploiting peasants and conditions were no better than under the emperor. The GMD had established themselves during this time and in 1919 the CCP was also formed. The two groups began to work to together to drive out the warlords. The group also worked together to drive out the Japanese who had invaded the Manchuria province in 1915. In 1925 Sun Yat-Sen died and his role was taken over by Chiang Kai-Shek.
Chaing Kai-Shek turned against the communists in 1926 after the Shan high massacre of thousands of communists. That was the state of the civil war. One of the reasons for the communist victory was the Long March. After the 1926 massacre the CCP set up a strong base in the province of Jiangxi. Chiang Kai-Shek attempted to starve out the CCP; but in 1934 they broke free and began the Long March. The march took them a year to complete as they travelled over 6,000 miles and cost them over 95% of their followers. They ended up in the Yanan Shaanxi province.
As they marched the CCP liberated any peasants they found being poorly treated. By the time they reached the Yanan Shaanxi the CCP had developed a strong leader Mao Ze-Dong an ex-nationalist army general and a strong believer in communism. The Long March undermined the GMD’s anti-communist propaganda for example the GMD called the Long March the great retreat, but it proved the communists were strong, determined and courageous. The Long March was an indirect cause for the communist victory because it spread the word of communism across China and made causes such as the army and leadership stronger.
As Mao Ze-dong said, “The Long March is a message, propaganda and a seeding machine” During the long march the CCP built up a good fighting force that called itself the “Red Army”. This army was mostly made up of poor peasants who wanted a better life. The Red Army didn’t have a lot of weapons compared to the GMD who were armed by the American’s. Whenever the Red Army liberated a town they distributed the land and wealth among the peasants this helped build their support. The army itself wasn’t formal, no matter what the rank the men all dressed and ate the same.
The Red Army wasn’t only about fighting; they gave the troops political and philosophical training so they knew what they were fighting for. Besides work the leaders made sure the troops had recreational activities and they regularly broadcast victories to keep morale high. These policies built up a network of trust and support, which was crucial for the guerrilla tactics employed by the army. The guerrilla tactics were explained thus, “When the enemy advances, we retreat When the enemy camps, we harass When the enemy tires, we attack When the enemy retreats, we pursue” In contrast the GMD’s army was conscripted, abused and malnourished.
Although they had more men and weapons they didn’t have spirit or a belief in what they were fighting for. The Red Army on its own was not a direct cause for the communist victory but it worked with other reasons such as the Long March, Peasant support and Leadership. The peasant support for the Red Army and its cause was created by the attitudes of its members. Mao Ze-Dong enforced in his members that “The peasants were the key to the revolution” as such they were treated with great respect. The army followed an 8-point plan on conduct, which encouraged good attitudes towards the peasants.
Some of the points were, “Return everything you borrow, Do not take liberties with women and Do not ill treat captives”. The GMD didn’t have such respect and disrespected the peasants. Chiang Kai-Shek said, “The peasants job was to provide information about the enemy plus food, comforts and soldiers for our armies” Attitudes towards the peasants did win a lot of support for the CCP but it wasn’t the main reason for the victory but it did work with both the army and leadership. Giving the Red Army information and troops and making Mao Ze-Dong seem like a great leader.
The Japanese had invaded in 1915 and after the Civil War started the GMD and CCP took very different attitudes towards them. The CCP fought them because they were foreign devils and shouldn’t be in their country but the GMD remained passive with Chiang Kai-Shek saying, “The Japanese are a disease of the skin whereas the Communists are a disease of the heart”. The Japanese wreaked havoc of the Chinese country with their three all policy “Kill all, Burn all and Loot all” The war against Japan isn’t a main reason for the CCP victory but it helped make the Red Army, Leadership and Peasant Support stronger.
Mao Ze-Dong was an ex nationalist general and a learned Scholar with expert guerrilla fighting skills. Mao had read “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and was influenced by its ideas. Mao led the long march and directed his troops in guerrilla tactics, he thought the peasants were the key to the revolution and treated them as such; Mao was respected by his men and others because he treated everyone equally. Chiang Kai-Shek disliked the peasants because he thought they were beneath him, yet he forced them to join his army. He claimed to hate foreigners yet took money off of them.
These reasons meant he wasn’t very well respected among his followers and others. Shek was a proud man and thus was intolerant of opposition; he often used murder as a final argument. The two leaders were different nut it was their policies that made the revolution. This cause was influenced by all the other reasons. I think that the Chinese Communist Party defeated the Guomindang because of their leader Mao Ze-Dong. Mao led them on the Long March and taught them guerrilla warfare he encouraged the Red Army’s routine of work and play and also its respectful attitudes towards the peasants.
Mao understood the importance of peasant support and because the peasantry made up 80% of China’s population this made him become in the part the voice of the peasants, driving the Japanese out of China and redistributing the land among them. Mao inspired most people into believing anything was possible. When the civil war ended the GMD were driven back to the island of Taiwan and on the 1st October 1949 Mao was proclaimed leaser of “The people’s republic of China”. After all the adversity the people had finally “won”.