China to 1937
A. Introduction - China stands as an anomoly in this world, on the one hand it is a poor, yet developing, nation which has a dominant Communist party; on the other it is a major player on the world which exercises influence beyond its present capabilites, it is also one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the communist party has been in charge of a wide reaching marketization campaign for over 15 years.
During the time of the modernization campaign, the CCP which previously had advocated the most radical of communist policies has become a believer in the efficiency and utility of the market as a means of distributing goods and services. The change from the policies of Mao Zedong to those of Deng Xiaoping has been a remarkable one in may respects, and we will be discussing the scope and breadth of these changes over the next few weeks.
B. Pre-Revolutionary History
1. Ethnocentrism of the Chinese
(a) The Middle Kingdon (Zhongguo)
(b) The Emperor (Son of Heaven)
(c) Dynasties (Assimilation)
(d) Four Key points to Confucian Thought
(i) The primacy of family loyalty and the primacy of ancestral loyalty within the family.
(ii) A hierarhcical view of society - five relationships emperor and subject, father and son, husband and wife, elder and younger brother, friend and friend.
(iii) The ruler is obligated to treat his subjects fairly, if not, rebellion is justified.
(iv) Power should be held by people who had been properly educated. In China this took the form of examinations for entry into the bureaucracy. The exams for the scholar gentry - a practice established during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279) - were given and the candidates were expected to study and be able to comment on Confucian classics. Largely rote learning. The importance placed on scholarship within dynastic China is very apparent when one examines the social heirarchy of that time - scholars, peasants, artisans, merchants. The scholar gentry represented the most powerful elements within China, this followed the Asiatic tradition of conferring economic power through office. As the dynasties developed there was a tendancy for corruption among the officials, by the latter stages of the Qing it was estimated that only 1/4 to 1/5 of the taxes levied ever actually reached the centre. Not only did this place an onerous burden on the peasantry, but it also deprived the centre of badly needed capital.
- Confucianism is more of a political and moral system rather than a religious one.
- State control over life was very high due its responsibility for the dykes and canals of China, vital to crop irrigation and transportation. Wittfogel and Oriental Despotism - that China developed a stagnant and despotic government due to the control that the Qing dynasty had over the water and the importance of water to that society - a hydraulic society. In a hydraulic society "All individuals base their behavior on the condition that the regulations of yesterday are necessarily linked to the regulations of today and tomorrow. And that there is structure and cohesion in the history of mankind". The rules remain constant and the power of the state is supreme.
- Very much a male dominated society - footbinding and male heirs (ancient tradition of baby washing which has been reborn under the one child policy)
(e) Foreign Relations Prior to 1842
- Tributary Basis
- The kowtow
- Not normal relations in the sense that we know them in the West. Hierarchically ordered. There was not a Chinese civilization, there was simply civilization. All others were barbarians.
(f) The Opium War - Treaty of Nanjing - Hong Kong; Shanghai, Guangzhou, Amoy, Fuzhou, Ningbo
2. Dynastic Decline
- Major Characteristics of the Qing Dynasty: the elitist structure of political authority; the political system gave supreme power to the emperor and the bureaucracy was at the apex of the system; the legitimacy of political authority rested in an ideology - confucianism.
- Decline of the Qing
Role of Foreign Contact
There is a great debate over the role that the foreign powers played in the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. There are those that contend that in fact, foreign contact aided the modernization process by the transfer of technology and that the shock was necessary to disrupt a stagnant domestic economy. They continue the argument by stating that the investment was lagely limited to Manchuria and Shanghai and therefore did not touch the lives of the average Chinese.
While the economic impacts of imperialism was limited, the role that it played in the political and cultural spheres was more profound.
- China gets carved up by foreign powers
- Zones of influence - Germany, Britain, France
- Large coastal cities have a heavy foreign presence
- Park in Shanghai - No Dogs or Chinese
-Russian expansion also impinged upon dynastic China - In 1860, under the Treaty of Beijing, the Qing dynasty ceded to Russia - "all lands east of the Ussurri and Sungari Rivers up to the Sea". The Chinese regard this as an unequal treaty forced upon them by the Tsars at a moment of extreme weakness and have disputed its legitimacy ever since. In fact, in 1964, Mao not only stated the Chinese displeasure with the Treaty of Beijing, but went on to provide a grocery list of Chinese territorial grievances against the Soviet Union. "About a hundred years ago the area east of Lake Baikal became Russian territory, and since then Vladivostock, Khaborovski, Kamchatka and other points have become territories of the Soviet Union... We have not yet presented the bill for this list". Impact of imperialism on China was very profound.
- Open Door Policy - John Hay - 1899. American opposition to further incursions into China and further carving up of territory, supported by the Brits and was therefore moderatley effective. This remained the basis of American policy toward China for the next couple of decades.
- Missionaries - Buck and Luce
- Rice Christians
- American mission toward China was a civilizing one, China was seen as a younger sibling to be taught modern ways. Funny in the sense that America has never really judged China as a normal nation, it has vaccilated between fear and patronage.
- Dual images - sinister vs. Hard working
- relevance for f.p. in that if the former can be removed latter can be created
- Series of Rebellions between 1830 and 1911. Virtually all provinces in China experienced some sort of upheaval during that time. I mentioned the taxation earlier, during Qing times the local officials were given a quota to remit to the centre; however, they added unspecified sums to that to cover their own salaries and local government and the tax burden on the peasantry proved onerous. Another local factor was the population explosion that occured in China in the first half of the 19th century, when the population grew from about 130 million in 1700 to roughly 430 million by the middle part of the 19th century. This occured without any sort of corresponding increase in the amount of arable land.
- This increase led to further competition for scarce resources, as well as a reduction in the amount of money to pay the taxes. The local officials, by and large, do not seem to have been overly sympathetic and these were the domestic causes of the rebellions.
- Also mention that the Qing was indeed a foreign dynasty and this was a useful factor in mobilizing the citizenry.
- While confucian society stressed order, it was also presented that rebellion was justified if the government lost the mandate of heavan - if their actions had incurred the wrath of heavan. Floods, droughts, inability to govern.
- Coupled with the foreign intrusions described earlier this led to a series of revolts in China.
Taiping Rebellion (1850-64)
- The Taiping rebellion began in South China, led by a fellow who believed himself to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ (Hong Xiu-quan). Three bases to the rebellion: the peasantry desire for equality; a reaction against a foreign dynasty; and a modernist movement that developed in response to the challenge presented by the West in the Opium Wars.
- Moved North from South China and established a capital at nanjing, sought to establish a new dynasty. However, as they moved north they failed to gain the support of the peasantry. Attacked Shanghai and drew the wrath of the foreigners (Charles “chinese” Gordon) also, by the mid 1850s the movement became wrought with factional struggles and corruption and decadence began to surface. Eventually Nanking fell in 1864 and tremendous bloodshed followed.
- Also during that time there were rebellions in Northern China (the White Lotus societies), Western China (Moslems) and Urban Southern China (the triads). All of these rebellions were geared against the foreign leadership of the Manchus.The broad goals were similar but the narrow goals were diverse.
- After 1860, the Western governments supported the Manchus against these rebellions. Although the time was full of insurrection, the Manchus crushed the four largest rebellions (see above). To combat this rebellion, regional armies were used. Mention the reluctance of the Manchus to create a national army. Initially the funding came from the local gentry, in time it was largely raised from two main sources - the creation of new taxes and placing the levying of local taxes under the supervision of the military.
- The creation of the local armies later would come back to haunt the Manchus. These local armies became dependant on the West for arms and training. Fine unless they actually had to fight the West.
- Following the suppression of the rebellions, the key goal of the Manchu's was to improve the agricultural economy. Abandoned land was reclaimed and the number of deaths in the rebellions helped restore the population/agriculture balance. While this did restore order and eliminated some of the imbalance between land and population, it did not alter the fundamental fact that China could not feed itself. It also expanded regional power bases and the cost of quelling local rebellions left China weak and economically stagnant.
- War with Japan (1895) - particularily galling to the Chinese. They had considered the Japanese to be their inferiors and were appalled at the shame of losing a war to them. Loss of Taiwan. Also this called for large war indemnities. Which the West loaned China the money to pay, thereby further constraining the finances of the central government. Foreigners were also given increased access to China - increase in the number of treaty ports to the eventual 97 by WWI and spheres of influence.
Boxer Rebellion (1900)
- Boxer societies had sprund up in China through the 1890s. Most were peasants (Chinese name for the movement translates into fists of righteous harmony). Initially aimed at the Manchus but the Empress Dowager Cixi was able to turn their anger against the European foreigners, as opposed to the Manchus, and declared war on the foreign powers on June 20. In August, an international force of 16,000 sacked and pillaged North China - home of the revolt - and crushed the boxers. A huge war indemnity was levied on China ($335 Million) this further strained the purse of the central government. After this, the foreign diplomatic corp became the real government of China.
- Problems with the West and the internal rebellions left the Qing Dynasty in disarray. At the end of the 19th century China was the "iron house without windows, totally indestructable, with many people sleeping soundly inside, about to be asphyxiated."
- Qing was more or less discredited in the eyes of the peasants, power had become dispersed to the regions, foreign influence in China was extremely strong, and the intelligentsia was seeking to find a way to reform China.
- Western Technology vs Western Culture
- Japan became a haven for Chinese seeking to learn how to modernize their country and be able to withstand the pressures of the West.
- Whole panopoly of beliefs.
- Sun Yat-sen - 3 principles - nationalism, democracy (to come after 9 years of preparation - 3 yrs of martial law, 6 years of military rule) and peoples livilihoods (taxes based on prosperity engendered by the government). Founder of the KMT, hero in both PRC and ROC). First President of the Republic (6 mos deal with Yuan Shikai)
- Kang Youwei - First became known when, on his exam for the gentry, instead of citing Confucian verse, he wrote a long treatise on the ails of China. Kang was stronly in favor of retaining Chinese culture while assimilating foreign technology (agriculture, foreign trade, industry, military). Self strengthening. He also favored the continuation of Manchu rule as he did not believe that China was ready for a full democracy.
The Period of the Warlords (1911-1927)
- The Qing government collapsed in 1911. A rebellion began in Wuhan and soon spread to other provinces. Decentralization that began during the Taiping Rebellion led to the creation of local fiefs, where the regional commanders (warlords) jealously guarded their independence and sought further autonomy. The peasants were rebelling due to the heavy tax burden, and the still unresolved issue of land reform. The intellectuals favored change as this was seen as the only way in which China could strengthen itself. In short, by this time the Qing Dynasty had few supporters and was faced with opposition from virtually all of the social movements in China.
- An army officer named Yuan Shikai (head of the First Peiyang Army) was called in by the Manchus to restore order and to stop the rebellion. Instead he did a deal with the regional warlords and became the head of government himself.
- However, the new government was also extremely weak. Yuan depended on the support of the regional warlords for the retention of power. They would only support him as long as they were allowed autonomy (while a strong central government stifled intellectual development it could also control local abuses). Also, they were not revolutionaries and were not interested in changing the status quo. China in a virtual state of chaos. Yuan Shikai died in 1916, his attempt to form a new dynasty had failed and the government became little more than a shifting series of alliances between the regional rulers. The warlords numbered in the huindreds and controlled territories of varying sizes, they also ranged from conservative and reactionary to reformers. There was one general who became a christian and baptized his troops with fire hoses.
- Within the armies of the warlords, personal ties, provinvial loyalty and the prospect of gain were the main factors unifying the armies. When units would either experience inadequate rewards or assume some independant power they would either defect to another warlord or become independant entities and you had the creation of new warlords (possibly allied to their former bosses but not necessarily).
- Warlordism not only stifled the economy with its constant demand for money and therefore new taxes, it also oppressed the peasants horribly. As I mentioned earlier, while the centre might have been overly bureaucratized and an impediment to development, it did serve to curb some of the worst abuses. The onset of warlordism hastened the disintegration of China into regional fiefs. This was not an entirely novel experience, previously as the dynasities in China had collapsed there was usually a period of regional disintegration prior to the consolidation of power by a new dynasty, however after each of these periods the country would become reintegrated along cultural Confucian lines - this did not happen in the twentieth century.
However, the one positive phenomenon of this period is that it indirectly encouraged the growht of nationalism in China through its own poor example. An intellectual revolution occured in China during the first part of the twentieth century. While the latter part of the 19th century produced opposition to the Qing dynasty, after 1911 the intellectuals of China began to see that the Manchus were not solely responsible for China’s problems.
- Calls for change were all based on nationalism, remember the Chinese sense of cultural pride and the effects of the previous couple of centuries of imperialism.
- Demands for change from the KMT & CCP.
1. The Guomindang (Formed by Sun Yat-sen in 1912) - Nationalist Party- party organized along Leninist lines. After WWI, not only was Sun disillusioned with the West, but the Soviets were the only people willing to assist him. Humiliations by the West (Versailles) and the general idea that perhaps Western Democracy was not such a good thing (experience of WW I) led to the new calls for change coming from a very different angle. May 4th Movement.
Following the death of Yuan Shikai, the KMT took regional control of Canton. In effect they became the local warlords - 1917. In that year the KMT formed a military government in Canton. It bribed naval commanders to move the fleet south and a number of the members of China’s feeble post-Manchu parliament came south. They set up what they claimed to be the parliament of China in Canton. Of course, this was really only a collection of intellectuals governing by military means a small part of South China. Sun wanted to unify China under one rule and set out on a northern expedition in 1921-22. This failed to go any distance beyond the previous bounds, and at this point he was ready to deal with anyone. The Soviets sent an agent named Mikhail Borodin to Canton to assist the efforts of organization and payed for the establishment of the Whampoa miltary academy in 1924. This occured during a period of alliance between the KMT and the CCP, more on this in just a moment, and the Whampoa military academy proved to be a training ground for many of China’s future leaders - both Communist and Nationalist. For example, the commandant of the academy was Chiang Kai-shek, who ruled China from 1927 to 1949 before fleeing to, and becoming the President of Taiwan. Also, the chief political advisor was Zhou Enlai, later to become the Premier of China from 1949 to his death in 1976. Now let us turn our attention to the actions of the other major force in Chinese politics - the Chinese Communist party.
The CCP - CCP was founded in July of 1921 at a meeting in Shanghai attended by 12 Chinese and two representatives of the Comintern. This sprang from a series of study groups led by Li Dazhao at Beijing University (China’s Oxford) beginning in 1918. Li has been called the “father of Chinese Marxism”, one of his students was Mao Zedong, who was working in the library at that time. The Russian Revolution greatly excited China’s intellectuals, Li saw this as being very relevant for China, if Russia could shake off the vestiges of feudalism, why couldn’t China? Also, the fact that communism had come to power in Russia, suddenly made it more relevant for the Chinese - prior to the October Revolution, it had been assumed that revolution would occur in the most industrially advanced countries (England, Germany). The bolshevik victory changed all of these perceptions .
One of the things that Mao took from Li was a belief in the potential of the peasantry as a force for revolution. Remember that under classical Marxism, it was to be the industrial proletariat who were to be the leading lights in the revolution - the belief was that they had seen the excesses of capitalism at their worst and would therefore be the most likely to rebel. At that time, China was largely rural, and industrial workers made up a minuscule percentage of the population. Li contended that due to imperialism all of China had been proletarianized and therefore ready for rebellion. Beyond the use of the peasants as a revolutionary force, Mao also took a couple of other things from Li - nationalism and voluntarism.
- While Li Dazhao and his acolyte stressed the role of the peasant in bringing about the revolution, this was not the line of the Comintern at that time, which stressed urban activism.
- United Front. Alliance between the KMT and the CCP was formalized with an agreement between Sun and a representative of the Comintern Adolf Joffe. Led to the establishment of the Whampoa Academy and the two forged an uneasy alliance. Done at the behest of the Soviets who were providing assistance to each. For Sun, this was an easy decision, he wanted to come to power and the Soviets were the only foreign power to offer any real support and the CCP could only help provide the footsoldiers of the movement.
While Sun and the Comintern supported the alliance, Li Dazhao and many of the senior Communists did not. They did not see the need to ally with the less ideologically committed members of the KMT. The KMT’s principle goal was to acquire power and unify China under one rule, not introduce a dictatorship of the proletariat. However, they supported the move out of a sense of communist discipline.
The Death of Sun Yat-sen - In 1925, Sun Yat-sen died of cancer. While he had accomplished few of his aims, he was a vocal nationalist in a time of serious difficulty for China. Also he had the good fortune to pass on before the alliance between the nationalists and the Communists collapsed, this preserved the what if question.
Sun’s death set off an interesting struggle for the leadership of the KMT. Eventually, the former Commandant of the Whampoa Military Academy, Chiang Kai-Shek emerged as the leader. He was not as keen on an alliance with the Communists, and the United Front underwent increased difficulty.
- However, this did not prevent the CCP and the KMT from launching the Northern Expedition (1926-28). This was aimed at unifying China under one government, of course, the question was which government would prevail, difficulties from the outset.
In the first stage of the march (to the Yangtze), the Communist served as the advance troops, entering the cities and the countryside prior to the arrival of the KMT armed forces and organized the peasants and the workers. Naturally this terrified the landlords and the industiralists, and the conservative elements of the KMT. This led many of their supporters to question the value of the alliance. Difficulties and manouverings throughout.
- Shanghai Massacre (1927). At Shanghai in April of 1927, the KMT with the complicity of the local police and the Chinese Criminal Gangs, turned on the communists and massacred their cadres. This set off a pogrom against the Communists throughout urban China, destroyed their effectiveness in urban China. The CCP leadership fled to a rural area on the Jiangxi-Hunan border and set up a rural base. This turn of events led to the death of much of the Communist leadership, among them Li Dazhao, Li had been arrested in Beijing 6 days before the Shanhai Massacre by a Manchurian warlord - he was executed by strangulation three weeks later
- Even after Shanghai and the massacre, the Russian advisors continued to advocate urban revolution. This substantially from reality, the CCP found its urban bases destroyed and most of its urban cadres had been murdered. Problems within the CCP as the leadership, until at least the mid 1930s consisted of Chinese who had been trained in Moscow and therefore could be considered reliable by Stalin.
- continued support for CPSU, Stalin and Trotsky
Republic of China (1927-1937)
- following Shanghai the northern expedition consisted mainly of coopting local warlords. What began as a revolution became little more than the coopting of warlords with the odd battles. The warlords sought to expand their own forces, ostensibly to control the communists, but in reality to preserve their autonomy.
- KMT installed at Nanjing. Beset by factionalism, the rapid expansion of membership following the Northern expedition destroyed the Leninist model of organization. Those who joined the party largely did so out of a desire for personal gain.
- Never really came to grips with the problems of the countryside. Rural farm prices were depressed from 31-35. Recession in urban China, severly hurt the precarious existence of the peasantry. While the Nanjing Decade (27-37) brought about some changes in urban China, the rural areas were largely left to their own devices. The KMT believed that the Gentry was the key to rural stability and was very reluctant to disrupt this supposed stability.
- Corruption within the government
- Question of whether the KMT would have been successful but for the war with Japan will have to go unanswered.
- Jiangxi Soviet (28-34). Area where much of the CCP leadership fled. Already had Mao (who became the chief political advisor and Zhu De, who became the military commander)
- KMT uses German advisors and surround Jiangxi, Communists left with the choice of attempting to breakout of the encirclement or to simply fight to the last man at Jiangxi. Not much of a choice, they decided to break out and attempt to link up with other forces in Northern China. .
- The Long March Jianxi-Yenan - 6,000 miles (New York-Rio). Extremely difficult journey, only a fraction of those who began the trek lived to see its completion. Of an initial force numbering roughly 100,000 only about 12,000 survived (numbers and estimates vary). Explain the difficulties and hardships of the journey.
-Results - Human Will, Mao & Peasants (1934-36)
- Cunyi Conference (1935)
- Repudiation of Soviet Elements
- Mao in 1936, we are certainly not undertaking this struggle to turn China over to the Soviet Union after our victory.
- Soviets lose ability to discipline the Chinese
5. WWII and the Civil War
- Japanese occupation of Manchuria - 1931-32. Established the puppet state of Manchukuo in 1932. Used Pu Yi, the last emperor, as the puppet ruler of the state.
- One of the factors that broke the League of Nations
- Japanese aggression in Manchuria displaced Chang Hsueh-liang (the young marshall). He and his troops moved into Northern China. In 1935, Chiang ordered the young Marshall to attack the Communists at their base in Northern China. He balked at the assignment, arguing that it would be folly to fight other Chinese while the Japanese occupied his homeland. In December of 1936, Chiang Kai-shek came north to announce plans for a new offensive against the CCP using the troops of the Young Marshall. The Young Marshall and his men then kidnapped Chiang and presented a series of demands, the jist of which was that the KMT and the CCP form a United Front to oppose the Japanese. Some of the Manchurian troops wanted to execute Chiang, believing that with him out of the way, then the CCP and the KMT could then form an alliance to oppose Japanese aggression. However, a delegation of Communists lead by Zhou Enlai then arrived in Xian and argued that the Soviets wanted to see Chiang alive to lead China. Chiang eventually agreed to the formation of the United Front and went back to Nanjing accompanied by the young Marshall. The young marshall was then arrested and lived the next 40 odd years under house arrest (mention that they took him to Taiwan).
- Second United Front - Marked By Mistrust - Uneasy alliance
- Actions of the Russians
WWII and the Civil War
On July 7, 1937 the Japanese attacked Chinese forces at the Marco Polo bridge 10 miles outside of Beijing. Beginning of the Pacific War. Japanese then moved toward Shanghai and Nanjing (rape of Nanjing - 300,000 killed) and the KMT moved its headquarters to Chongqing, where they existed for the second world war. They detroyed roads, bridges and rail lines for a distance of 100 miles around Chongqing.
- CCP becomes national party of China
- False KMT in Nanjing
- Chiang's reluctance to engage the Japanese
- Disease of the skin rather than the soul. Alliance was tenuous at best, armed clashes occured sporadically from 1941 on throughout the war.
- The Japanese controlled all of China’s industrial areas as well as its richest farmland. However, the Japanese control was largely limited to the cities and the rural areas of Eastern China. They were unable to occupy all of China, despite the use of the most brutal means imaginable and the expense of $1 million per day in terms of costs. Led to some of Mao’s confidence following the creation of the PRC.
- Three China’s - Japanese controlled areas in Eastern China controlled by Nanjing; GMD in Western China - Chongqing; CCP in Northern China - Yan’an.
- Japanese controlled Eastern China. Proving to be more expensive than anticipated. Used puppet government headed by the former financial advisor to the Young Marshall. Used the same flag and currency as the former government. Confusion to the peasants and the commoners. Association with the GMD and Chiang.
- Site where the nationalists fled following the fall of Eastern China. Again the belief was that this would be the best place to wait out the Japanese. Isolated from the rest of China and a very poor place to serve as the springboard for military operations.
- Intended to preserve as much as possible, entire factories were carried to Chongqing using primative means of transportation - essentially this was coolie labor.
- Communists ensconsed at Yan’an in Shaanxi province. Realizing that they could not hope to succeed against a foe that was better equipped in terms of materials and weapons.
- Theory of Contradictions. In the 1930s, Mao developed his theory of contradictions, this would serve as the basis for its foreign policy from the 1930s through the 1980s. This involved three main principles:
1. Identify the major threat and not allow China to become involved in conflicts of less than vital interest.
2. Whenever possible, avoid international isolation or outright confrontation with one or both superpowers
3. Lean toward the less threatening power, but never in an irrevocable manner.
- Initially applied for the formation of the second united front with the KMT in 1936, the Japanese were the more threatening of the two, but this may also be used to explain the Sino-Soviet alliance of 1950, Sino-American rapprochement of 1972, and the shift away from the United States beginning in about 1981.
- In 1937,following the Japanese assualts on China, the CCP and the GMD came to an agreement that promised cooperation in four key areas: to work to accomplish Sun Yat-sen’s three principles - nationalism, democracy and people’s livilihoods; the CCP was to give up the idea of armed rebellion, the forming of soviets and the confiscation of landlords holdings; to abolish the current autonomous government of the Shaanxi Soviet (Yan’an); and to reiterate that the 30,000 troops of the former Red Army would be under the command of the GMD.
- While these points may seem to be tremendous compromises by the CCP, Chiang called this “a triumph of national sentiments over every other consideration”, it is important to view this agreement in context. Firstly, the ideas of Sun Yat-sen were so vague as to allow for multiple interpretations as to what was actually meant by nationalism, democracy and people’s livilihoods. Secondly, the autonomy of the Shaanxi Soviet, while formerly under joint control, was preserved due to the fragmented nature of power in China. While the GMD might have claimed formal control, the reality in China was somewhat different. Mao and his cohorts were certainly not willing to surrender actual power to Chiang, the nationalist government was at the best of times a coalition of regional leaders, and the Japanese invasion only intensified this regionalism. Thirdly, the army acted with a great deal of autonomy, it was certainly not willing to undertake suicide missions against the Japanese, their strategy was to pursue a war of attrition against the Japanese which would minimize their own casualties while stretching Japanese resources. Finally, while the CCP agreed not to confiscate the property of the landowners in districts under their control, they did raise reduce the rent of the peasants and introduce a graded taxation system that made it prohibitavely expensive for the landowners to retain their holdings. This allowed many of the formerly poor peasants to increase the size of their holdings.
- This idea of indirect land redistribution greatly increased the popularity of the CCP among the peasantry. They saw the CCP as a means of redressing traditional inequities and saw a movement that was able to bring about some degree of positive change to their lives.
- Not only was the CCP able to mobilize support among the peasantry, but through the second world war, they increasingly became popular among the Chinese intelligentsia as the only movement that was willing to contest the Japanese. The GMD was largely isolated in Chongqing and reluctant to risk its best troops to fight a battle that Chiang believed would be decided elswhere. This led the Chinese intellectuals to question the nationalism of the GMD. They asked the question of why was Chiang
willing to allow the Japanese occupation to go largely untested while preserving his best troops. Of course, the propaganda of the CCP played on this issue. Mao and nationalism. The founding of the “Resist Japan University” at Yan’an, which would be the base for training cadres and refining party views. Number of party members swelled from 40,000 in 1937 to 800,000 by 1941. Discipline was maintained by rectification campaigns, for example the 1942 rectification campaign, singled a number of people out for attack, who were criticized for their positions, asked to make self criticisms and demoted to more menial jobs. This movement also happened to remove the last remaining members of the Moscow clique and remove any potential challenges to Mao’s leadership within the party. The important factor is that the CCP unlike the GMD of a decade earlier, were able to maintain unity and discipline even during a period where its membership was expanding dramatically.
The Military Strategy of the CCP
While the armies of the CCP were formally under the command of the GMD, in practical terms they answered to the high command of the CCP. A veteran of the Jiangxi Soviet and the Long March named Zhu De was the commander in chief and his deputy commander was a man named Peng Dehuai (Mention the relevance of Peng during the Great Leap Forward and its aftermath).
Direct conflict would be folly and suicidal. Mao and the three principles of guerilla warfare - When the enemy advances, we retreat; When the enemy halts, we harass; when the enemy retreats, we pursue. Assumption was that the CCP would choose the time and place of engagements, to strike at the enemy at its weakest points. This concept sought to take advantage of China’s strengths, a large population and a vast terrain, while minimizing its weaknesses, such as the limited sophistication of its weaponry.
- Guerilla War and fishes in the ocean. The CCP had a number of local full time armed forces based in their own communities. The local forces were supplemented by a militia of men and women aged 16-45 who held down regular jobs, but were essential in providing intelligence and offering logistical support and shelter to the regular forces. They were the ocean in which the guerillas would swim.
- The CCP also took great pains to ensure the discipline of its troops. The armies were expected to pay for the food that they took, did not loot the possessions of the locals and did not molest the women. This provides an interesting contrast to the behavior and the attitudes of previous and other Chinese armies. The peasants had become accustomed to armies where conscription occured at the point of the bayonet (the troops were often led to the front tied by rope), the armies simply took whatever food they needed, the possessions of the peasants were considered common property, and the women were considered to be fair game for the troops. This gets to the lack of military discipline and purpose to the other Chinese armies - to be conscripted was considered to be the equivalent of a death sentence, which led to massive desertions at the first opportunity and the attitudes of the officers were usually shaped by a desire for personal enrichment. Number of draftees that died before seeing conflict in the war 1.4 million, approximately 1 in 10 of all men drafted. Corruption was rife throughout the war, commanders would not report deaths or desertions so that they could still collect the pay and food for the departed. Units of inflated strength, never any certainty about what was the size of the force that would be opposing the Japanese.
- Both sides were largely isolated during the war. Yan’an was virtually cut off from the outside world. Chongqing fared a little better, but when the Japanese invaded and occupied Burma in 1942, its last line of contact with the outside had been severed. The only way in was to fly over the hump - an air route from India to Chongqing over the himalayas.
- Throughout the second world war, the United States supported the nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang had conducted a very effective public relations campaign in the United States - his wife Soong Mei-ling, had attended university in the United States. She was a christian and Chiang was converted, further enhanced his image in the eyes of the United States
- Massive Aid provided to a corrupt government. Amount in the billions under lend lease (the lend lease agreement as approved by the US Congress in 1941 made military supplies availible to other allied powers with the stipulation that they need not be paid for if they were used in the common cause against the enemy).
- Opposition of Stilwell, Chiang’s American military advisor, and the foreign service people. Dixie Mission under David Barrett.
- American Air Power - Initially under the flying tigers and Claire Chennault.
- Patrick Hurley
The Soviet Union - Provided limited assistance to the CCP or the GMD, after 1941 this was further constrained by the neutrality pact it had signed with Japan and by the needs of its own defense following the invasion by Germany.
- The Pacific Theatre of the Second War was not decided in China, where it began, but rather through the series of American victories in the South Pacific and the eventual bombing of the home islands. The part played by China in the Second World War was virtually limited to keeping numbers of Japanese troops occupied (1.25 million in China proper and 900,000 in Manchuria), and unable to participate in other areas. However, the Second World War had great ramifications for the GMD and the CCP and played a very important role in the eventual victory of the CCP in the coming civil war.
1. The GMD loses its base and becomes discredited. Victories of the Japanese in Urban Eastern China. Use of the Flag and Currency.
2. The CCP greatly expands its strength, membership rises from 40,000 in 1937 to 1.2 million in 1945. Army now consists of 900,000 soldiers. Controlled much of Northern China - population base of 100 million. Yet, they were able to maintain their discipline and unity. Also, for the first time the peasants saw a Chinese army that was not based on expropriating their belongings.
3. Attitudes of the Americans and the Soviets. Limited assistance given to the Communists, despite the entreaties of the state department persons in China, co-operation with the Communists was limited and the US clearly focused its aid on the GMD. Sense of independence for the CCP, gains it had achieved were entirely based on its own merit.
In fact, the American’s were under orders from Washington to help the GMD in any way possible short of intervening on their behalf in a civil war and spent the two months following the surrender transporting 110,000 of Chiang’s troops to Eastern China to accept the surrender of the Japanese, who were under orders not to surrender to the Communists. The led to continued clashes between the Japanese and the CCP even after the war had ended, as the Japanese waited for the GMD troops to arrive. The CCP were under orders from Zhu De to force the Japanese to surrender directly to them whenever possible, after this the Communists would take the responsibility of maintaining local law and order. About the only place where the communists took control without bloodshed was Manchuria, where the Soviet troops allowed Lin Biao’s CCP troops to acquire an enormous cache of weapons and ammunition. This stands as about the only real assistance the Soviets provided the CCP prior to 1950.
The Chinese Civil war began in earnest following the end of the Second World War. Chiang’s belief that this would prove to be the real war for China - the Japanese as the disease of the skin and the Communists as the disease of the soul - would prove to be correct. However, the events of the Second World War would prove to go a long way in determining the outcome of the Civil War.
The Chinese Civil War (1945-49)
- After taking control of the cities of Eastern ChinaThe GMD continued to use those who had been puppet administrators of the Japanese during the Second World War. Outraged the locals.
- Marshall mission arrives in December of 1945 - attempt to mediate between the nationalists and the communists was doomed to failure from the outset, neither side was willing to compromise with the other, both had lost too much during the earlier battles to actually reach any sort of agreement. From the perspective of the nationalists, the war that Chiang had prepared for since the 1920s could not be avoided. The Communists greatly increased their strength during the Second World War and were no longer interested in compromise, with the elimination of the Japanese, the GMD were now the principle contradiction.
- Both sides agreed to a series of ceasefires and then promptly ignored these agreements. The American envoys, Hurley among them, actually compared the two sides to the Democrats and the Republicans, presumably capable of reaching compromises. This ignored the fact that each believed that the other was determined to see it eliminated if it achieved any sort of power. Ignored one of the preconditions for democracy and stable politics, that each side percieves that a loss of power would not destroy their chances for future gain - ie that losing an election would not mean the loss of life.
- In early January of 1947, Marshall announced that his mission had been a failure, and the American liason groups trying to mediate in the conflict were disbanded later in the month.
- Beset by corruption and questionable fiscal policies. Inflation was rampant in the urban areas and the use of former collaboraters questioned the blurry lines between the GMD and the Japanese.
- Defecit spending and the printing of more money to cover the deficits. Inflation was a terrible problem, for example the value of the currency depreciated 3,000 % percent between 1945 and 1947. Another example, and one more relevant for the peasants - the cost of a bag of rice appreciated 10 fold in six months in 1948. This inflation, as is the case with all inflation hit the poorest people the hardest, those without the ability to protect their investments.
Following the Second World War, the Communists changed their ideas of land reform from increased taxes and rent reduction to the outright taking of land and redistributing it to those who had toiled on it, the peasants. This was justified by claims that the land had either formerly owned by Manchus during the Qing dynasty, or by wartime traitors, or had been seized wrongly from peasants who had been unable to make loan payments.
- Violence inherent in this process. The general pattern was that the CCP would hold mass meetings in the communities to inspire the poorer peasants to attack the landlords.
- Cycle of violence - goods redistributed violently, then if the tide of battle changed, the landlords would return with nationalist troops and seek vengance on the peasants and especially on their leaders.
- The Communists as their strength grew began to shift from a guerilla to a convential strategy, using Japanese weapons acquired in Manchuria with the complicity of the Soviets and captured nationalist weapons, they began to form large units.
- This strategy shift first began in Manchuria, then was applied to the rest of the country by 1948. Communists racked up victory after victory during this time and drove the nationalists out of North China by the end of 1948. Along the way, they were bringing new peasants into the army and even reeducating and using captured and surrendered GMD soldiers. (Mention the importance of reeducation).
- Poor morale of the nationalist troops.
- Communists swept through south China in 1949 and proclaimed the new “people’s republic of China” on October 1 of that year.
- Chiang and the nationalists fled to Taiwan, over 1 million of his troops and their families came with him. Including the previously dormant parliament - this would make up the Taiwanese legislature for the next 40 years. They also looted China taking most of its valuable art works and large stores of bullion.
- Both the GMD and the CCP claimed to be the legitimate government of China, set the stage for the conflict that runs to the present time. Taiwan as simply a rebellious province.
Reasons For the Communists Success
1. Events of WWII
- GMD discredited, rise of nationalism associated with the CCP and the loss of GMD strongholds
2. Incompetence of the GMD
- Corruption, Inflation, Rural China
3. Strength of CCP
- Military leaders - Zhu De, Lin Biao, Deng Xiaoping, Peng Dehuai
- Rural reforms
- Ability to maintain discipline
- Sense of purpose
- Role of the Soviets and the Americans during the civil war.
- Stalin was urging compromise - create a divided China with the CCP controlling the area north of the Yangtze, the GMD the area south. Ostensibly because the CCP was not strong enough to take all of China. Also, did the Soviets really want a strong and united China on its southern borders?
- Did deals with the GMD up to the end.
- The US
- China White Paper
- China hands blamed for the loss of China
- CCP achieves power on its own merits - limited Soviet assistance.
- Victory of the CCP occured primarily as a result of nationalism. One should not overlook the effects of imperialism on China, this coupled with the belief that they have been wronged leads to a particularily virulent strain of nationalism.