CHINESE REVOLUTION

  • China had a long history of national unity and since the mid-seventeenth century had been ruled by the Manchu or Ch’ing dynasty.
  • However, during the 1840s, the country moved into a troubled period of foreign interference, civil war and disintegration, which lasted until the communist victory in 1949.
  • The last emperor was overthrown in 1911 and a republic was proclaimed. The period 1916 to 1928, known as the Warlord Era, was one of great chaos, as a number of generals seized control of different provinces.
  • A party known as the Kuomintang (KMT), or Nationalists, was trying to govern China and control the generals, who were busy fighting each other. The KMT leaders were Dr Sun Yat-sen, and after his death in 1925, General Chiang Kai-shek.
  • The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was founded in 1921, and at first it co-operated with the KMT in its struggle against the warlords.
    • As the KMT gradually established control over more and more of China, it felt strong enough to do without the help of the communists, and it tried to destroy them.
    • The communists, under their leader Mao Zedong, reacted vigorously, and after escaping from surrounding KMT forces, they embarked on the 6000-mile Long March (1934-5) to form a new power base in northern China.
  • Civil war dragged on, complicated by Japanese interference, which culminated in a full-scale invasion in 1937. When the Second World War ended in defeat for the Japanese and their withdrawal from China, the KMT and the CCP continued to fight each other for control of China.
  • Chiang Kai-shek received help from the USA, but in 1949 it was Mao and the communists who finally triumphed. Chiang and his supporters fled to the island of Taiwan (Formosa). Mao Zedong quickly established control over the whole of China, and he remained leader until his death in 1976.

 

REVOLUTION AND WARLORD ERA

A) Background to the revolution of 1911

  • In the early part of the nineteenth century China kept itself very much separate from the rest of the world; life went on quietly and peacefully with no great changes.
  • However, in the mid-nineteenth century China found itself faced by a number of crises.
    • The prolonged period of relative peace had led to a rapid increase in the population. This made it difficult to produce enough food for subsistence, forcing many peasants to turn to robbery and banditry as a means of survival.
    • The ensuing chaos encouraged foreigners, especially Europeans, to force their way into China to take advantage of trading possibilities. The British were first on the scene, fighting and defeating the Chinese in the Opium Wars (1839-42).
  • Opium Wars:
    • Opium Wars were two armed conflicts in China in the mid-19th century between the forces of Western countries and of the Qing dynasty, which ruled China from 1644 to 1912.
    • The first Opium War (1839–42) was fought between China and Britain, and the second Opium War (1856–60), also known as the Arrow War, was fought by Britain and France against China.
    • First Opium War (1839–42):
      • The Opium Wars arose from China’s attempts to suppress the opium trade.
      • Foreign traders (primarily British) had been illegally exporting opium mainly from India to China since the 18th century, but that trade grew dramatically from about 1820 (it helped in trade balance which was in favour of China).
      • The resulting widespread addiction in China was causing serious social and economic disruption there.
      • In March 1839 the Chinese government confiscated and destroyed more than 1,400 tons of the drug—that were warehoused at Canton (Guangzhou) by British merchants.
      • Hostilities broke out when British warships destroyed a Chinese blockade of the Pearl River estuary at Hong Kong and occupied the city in May 1841. Subsequent British campaigns over the next year were likewise successful against the inferior Qing forces. The British captured Nanjing (Nanking) in late August 1942, which put an end to the fighting.
      • Peace negotiations proceeded quickly, resulting in the Treaty of Nanjing, signed on August 29. By its provisions:
        1. China was required to pay Britain a large indemnity,
        2. cede Hong Kong Island to the British, and
        3. increase the number of treaty ports where the British could trade and reside from one (Canton) to five. Among the four additional designated ports was Shanghai.

 

      • The British Supplementary Treaty of the Bogue (Humen), signed October 8, 1843, gave
        • British citizens extraterritoriality (the right to be tried by British courts) and
        • most-favoured-nation status (Britain was granted any rights in China that might be granted to other foreign countries).
        • Other Western countries quickly demanded and were given similar privileges.
    • After suffering its first defeat to the West in the First Opium War the Qing court struggled to contain foreign intrusions into China.

 

 

    • The second Opium War (Arrow War, 1856-1860) :
      • In the mid-1850s, while the Qing government was embroiled in trying to quell the Taiping Rebellion (1850–64), the British, seeking to extend their trading rights in China, found an excuse to renew hostilities.
      • In early October 1856 some Chinese officials boarded the British-registered ship Arrow while it was docked in Canton, arrested several Chinese crew members, and allegedly lowered the British flag.
      • Later that month a British warship began bombarding Canton.
      • In December Chinese in Canton burned foreign factories there, and tensions escalated.
      • The French decided to join the British military expedition, using as their excuse the murder of a French missionary in the interior of China in early 1856.
      • After delays in assembling the forces in China (British troops that were en route were first diverted to India to help quell the Indian Mutiny), the allies began military operations in late 1857. They quickly captured Canton, deposed the city’s intransigent governor, and installed a more-compliant official.
      • In April 1858 allied troops in British warships reached Tianjin and forced the Chinese into negotiations. The treaties of Tianjin, signed in June 1858, provided
        • residence in Beijing for foreign envoys,
        • the opening of several new ports to Western trade and residence,
        • the right of foreign travel in the interior of China, and
        • freedom of movement for Christian missionaries.
      • In further negotiations in Shanghai later in the year, the importation of opium was legalized.
    • Following defeat in the Second Opium War, the Qing tried to modernize by adopting certain Western technologies through the Self-Strengthening Movement from 1861.
  • Taiping Rebellion (1850-64):
    • Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) spread all over southern China. It was partly a Christian religious movement and partly a political reform movement, which aimed to set up a ‘Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace’ (Taiping tianguo).
    • The movement was eventually defeated, not by the Manchu government troops, which proved to be ineffective, but by newly-formed regional armies.
    • The failure of the government forces was a serious blow to the authority of the Ch’ing dynasty.
  • First Sino-Japanese War:
    • It was conflict between Japan and China that marked the emergence of Japan as a major world power and demonstrated the weakness of the Chinese empire.
    • The war grew out of conflict between the two countries for supremacy in Korea.
    • Korea had long been China’s most important client state, but its strategic location opposite the Japanese islands and its natural resources of coal and iron attracted Japan’s interest.
    • The situation was made tensewhen the Tonghak rebellion broke out in Korea, and the Chinese government, at the request of the Korean king, sent troops to aid in dispersing the rebels.
      • The Japanese sent 8,000 troops to Korea.
      • Chinese tried to reinforce their own forces, further inflaming the situation.
    • War was finally declared on August 1, 1894.
      • Although foreign observers had predicted an easy victory for the more massive Chinese forces, the Japanese had done a more successful job of modernizing, and they were better equipped and prepared.
      • Japanese troops scored quick and overwhelming victories on both land and sea.
      • By March 1895 the Japanese had successfully invaded Shandong province and Manchuria and had fortified posts that commanded the sea approaches to Beijing. The Chinese sued for peace.
    • In the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ended the conflict:
      • China recognized the independence of Korea.
      • China ceded Taiwan, the Liaodong Peninsula in Manchuria.
      • China agreed to pay a large indemnity
      • China agreed to give Japan trading privileges on Chinese territory.
    • This treaty was later somewhat modified by Russian fears of Japanese expansion, and the combined intercession of Russia, France, and Germany forced Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula to China.
    • China’s defeat encouraged the Western powers to make further demands of the Chinese government.In China itself, the war triggered a reform movement.

 

 

  • Hundred Days’ Reform (1898):
    • Following the Sino-Japanese War, a series of clubs sprang up across China urging reform on the Western model.
    • In all, the emperor issued more than 40 edicts, which if enacted would have transformed every conceivable aspect of Chinese society.
      • The old civil service examination system based on the Chinese Classics was ordered abolished, and
      • a new system of national schools and colleges was established.
      • Western industry, medicine, science, commerce, and patent systems were promoted and adopted.
      • Government administration was revamped, the law code was changed, the military was reformed, and corruption was attacked.
    • The attack on corruption, the army, and the traditional educational system threatened the privileged classes of traditional Chinese society.
      • Conservative forces rallied behind the empress dowager, Cixi; with the army on her side, she carried out a coup d’état and imprisoned the emperor in his palace.
    • Although some moderate reform measures, such as the establishment of modern schools, were retained, the examination system was reestablished and most of the reform edicts, which had never been enacted anyway, were repealed.
  • Boxer Rebellion:
    • The Boxer Rebellion was an anti-imperialist, anti-foreign, and anti-Christian uprising that took place in China between 1899 and 1901, toward the end of the Qing dynasty. It was initiated by the Militiaknown as the Boxers, for many of their members had been practitioners of Chinese martial arts.
    • In response to reports of an armed invasion by Eight Nation Alliance of American, Austro-Hungarian, British, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Russian forces to lift the siege, the initially hesitant Empress Dowager Cixi supported the Boxers and on June 21 issued an Imperial Decree declaring war on the foreign powers.
    • On August 14, 1900, that force finally captured Beijing, relieving the foreigners and Christians besieged there.
    • While foreign troops looted the capital, the empress dowager and her court fled, leaving behind a few imperial princes to conduct the negotiations. A protocol was finally signed in September 1901, ending the hostilities and providing for reparations to be made to the foreign powers.
  • More territory was lost to Japan as a result of the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), and China was clearly in a sorry state.
  • In the early years of the twentieth century thousands of young Chinese traveled abroad and were educated there. They returned with radical, revolutionary ideas of overthrowing the Manchu dynasty and westernizing China. Some revolutionaries, like Dr Sun Yat-sen, wanted a democratic state modeled on the USA.

B) Revolution of 1911 or Xinhai Revolution or Double Ten Revolution:

 

  • Chinese Revolution, (1911–12) was a revolution that overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty Qing (or Manchu) dynasty in 1912, and established the Republic of China (ROC).
  • The revolution was named Xinhai because it occurred in 1911, the year of the Xinhai of the Chinese calendar.
  • The government tried to respond to the new radical ideas by introducing reforms, promising democracy and setting up elected provincial assemblies.
    • However, this only encouraged the provinces to distance themselves still further from the central government, which was now extremely unpopular.
  • All through the 19th century the dynasty had been declining, and, upon the death of the empress dowager Cixi (1908), it lost its last able leader.
  • In 1911 the emperor Puyi was a child, and the regency was incompetent to guide the nation. The unsuccessful contests with foreign powers had shaken not only the dynasty but the entire machinery of government.
  • The revolution arose mainly in response to the decline of the Qing state, which had proven ineffective in its efforts to modernize China and confront foreign aggression, and was exacerbated by ethnic resentment against the ruling Manchu minority.
  • The revolution consisted of many revolts and uprisings and most provinces quickly declared themselves independent of Beijing.
  • A provisional republican government had been set up at Nanjing, and the archrevolutionist Sun Yat-sen (the leader of the United League) had returned from abroad and had been elected provisional president.
  • The government, ruling on behalf of the child emperor Puyi, in desperation sought help from a retired general, Yuan Shikai, who had been commander of the Chinese Northern Army, and still had a lot of influence with the generals.
    • He was made premier.
    • However, the plan backfired: Yuan, who was still only in his early fifties, turned out to have ambitions of his own. He did a deal with the revolutionaries – they agreed to his becoming the first president of the Chinese republic in return for the abdication of Puyi and the end of the Manchu dynasty.
  • A provisional constitution was promulgated in March 1912 by the Nanjing parliament, and in April the government was transferred to Beijing.
    • This marked the beginning of China’s early republican era (1912–16).
    • With the support of the army, Yuan ruled as a military dictator from 1912 until 1915.
  • The republic, established with such startling rapidity and comparative ease, was destined in the succeeding decades to witness the progressive collapse of national unity and orderly government.

 

 

  • Twenty-One Demands (1915):
    • Meanwhile the Japanese sought to take advantage of the upheaval in China and the outbreak of the First World War.
    • A few days after the war began they demanded that Germany should hand over all their rights in the Chinese Shantung peninsula to Japan.
    • This was followed up in January 1915 by Japan’s Twenty-One Demands to China. These were divided into five groups:
      • First they wanted Chinese approval of Japan’s concessions in Shantung (seized from the Germans), including the right to build railways and to begin new mines.
      • Expanding Japan’s sphere of influence in southern Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia, to include rights of settlement and extraterritoriality, appointment of financial and administrative officials to the government and priority for Japanese investments in those areas.
      • Control of the Hanyeping mining and metallurgical complex in central China.
      • Barring China from giving any further coastal or island concessions to foreign powers.
      • China should accept Japanese ‘advisers’ in political, economic and military matters and must allow the police forces in some large cities to be jointly organized by Japanese and Chinese.
  • As soon as the demands became public there was a wave of anti-Japanese feeling and a boycott of Japanese goods.
  • Yuan delayed accepting the demand until the Japanese eventually agreed to drop the final (fifth) group.
    • An agreement accepting the rest was signed on 25 May 1915.
    • In fact the agreement made very little difference to the situation: it simply restated the concessions that Japan already had.
    • It was group five of the demands that revealed Japan’s motives. Acceptance of those would have reduced China almost to a colony or a protectorate of Japan.
  • However, Japan had another strategy in mind: they knew that Yuan had developed a desire to become emperor, and in return for his acceptance of the demands, they secretly promised that they would support him in his ambitions. A new emperor who owed his position to Japanese support would he an excellent alternative method of controlling China.
  • In December 1915 it was announced that it there was to be return to the monarchy in the person of Yuan itself, who would become emperor on 1 January 1916.
    • This turned out to he a fatal mistake: most people saw the ending of then republic as a backward step, and his support dwindled rapidly.
    • The army turned against him and forced him to abdicate. He died in October 1916.

C) The Warlord Era (1916-28)

  • The abdication and death of Yuan removed the last person who seemed capable of maintaining some sort of unity in China.
  • The country now disintegrated into literally hundreds of states of varying sizes, each controlled by a warlord and his private army. As they fought each other, it was the ordinary Chinese peasants who suffered hardships.
  • However two important positive developments took place during this period.
  • May the Fourth Movement:
    • The May the Fourth Movement began on that date in 1919 with a huge student demonstration in Beijing, protesting against the Warlord and against traditional Chinese culture.
    • The movement was also anti-Japanese; especially when the 1919 Versailles settlement officially recognised Japan’s right to take over Germany’s concession in Shantung province.
    • Though Japan promised to return control of Shantung to China eventually—it did so in February 1922—the Chinese were deeply outraged by the Allied decision to favor Japan at Versailles. It was this humiliation at the hands of Japan that seemed to stir up the whole country to support the movement.
    • Thousands of university students went on strike at the failure of the government to protest strongly enough at Versailles.
    • There was a boycott of Japanese goods. This was popular with Chinese industrialists who benefited from the boycott: they supported the students, many of whom have been jailed, while factory workers and railway workers went on strike in sympathy.
    • It was a remarkable show of mass patriotism.
    • The government finally had no choice but to give way: the students were released: the ministers, who had signed the Twenty-One Demands agreement in 1915 were sacked and the Chinese delegation at Versailles refused to sign the peace treaty.
  • Problem of warlords and modernisation of Chinese culture:
    • The other problems addressed by May the Fourth Movement- the need to tame the warlords, and the desire to modernise Chinese culture – took longer to achieve.
    • However, as the Kuomintang or Nationalist Party gradually grew stronger, they succeeded in bringing the warlords under control by 1928.
    • Chinese culture was partly based on the teachings of the 5th Century BCE Chinese philosopher, Confucius.
      • He had developed his philosophy during a period of anarchy in China and it was designed to solve the problems of how best to organize society so that all could live in peace.
      • He stressed the necessity for loyalty in all relationships and for the strict upbringing of children. ‘Let the ruler be a ruler, the subject a subject, the father a father, and a son a son.’
      • If people acted properly according to their place in society, then the moral integrity and social harmony of the nation would be restored.
    • For centuries Chinese emperors and rulers had embraced Confucianism because it justified their autocratic and conservative rule.
    • After the 1911 revolution and May the Fourth 1919, some writers began to produce questioning and challenging works calling for modernization in politics, science and individual rights in place of traditional Confucianism. But the practical effect of these writings was limited:
      • The warlords were totally unmoved by this new thinking,
      • Chiang’s Nationalists suppressed intellectual and political freedom after they had set up their government in Nanjing in the late 1920s.
      • They even promoted Confucianism because of its conservatism and because it was a good means of distinguishing themselves from Mao and the communists.

 

THE KUOMINTANG, Dr SUN YAT-SEN AND CHIANG KAI-SHEK

A) The Kuomintang (KMT)

  • The main hope for the survival of a united China lay with the Kuomintang, or National People’s Party, formed in 1912 by or Sun Yat-sen.
  • Between 1905 and 1912, Sun developed a political movement called the Revolutionary Alliance.
  • Sun Yat-sen had trained as a doctor in Hawaii and Hong Kong and lived abroad until the 1911 revolution. He was dismayed by the disintegration of China and wanted to create a modern, united, democratic state.
  • Returning to China after the revolution, he succeeded in setting up a government at Canton in southern China (1917). His ideas were influential but he had very little power outside the Canton area.
  • The KMT was not a communist party, though it was prepared to co-operate with the communists, and developed its own party organization along communist lines, as well as building up its own army.
  • Sun himself summarized his aims as the Three Principles:
    • Nationalism
    • Democracy
    • Land reform
  • The Three Principles of the People were claimed as the basis for the ideologies of the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek, and the Communist Party of China under Mao Zedong.
    • The Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China largely agreed on the meaning of nationalism but differed sharply on the meaning of democracy and people’s welfare, which the former saw in Western social democratic terms and the latter interpreted in Marxist and communist terms.
  • Sun gained enormous respect as an intellectual statesman and revolutionary leader, but when he died in 1925 little progress had been made towards achieving the three principles, mainly because he was not himself a general. Until the KMT armies were built up, he had to rely on alliances with sympathetic warlords, and he had difficulty exercising any authority outside the south.
  • Sun was a uniting figure in post-Imperial China, and remains unique among 20th-century Chinese politicians for being widely revered amongst the people from both sides Communist Chinese and Nationalist KMT (later ruled Taiwan).

B) Chiang Kai-shek

  • General Chiang Kai-shek became leader of the KMT after Sun’s death. He had received his military training in Japan before the First World War, and being a strong nationalist, joined the KMT.
  • At this stage the new Russian Soviet government was providing help and guidance for the KMT in the hope that Nationalist China would be friendly towards Russia.
  • In 1923 Chiang spent some time in Moscow studying the organization of the Communist Party and the Red Army.
  • However, in spite of his Russian contacts, Chiang was not a communist.
    • In fact he was more right-wing than Sun Yat-sen and became increasingly anti-communist, his sympathies lying with businessmen and landowners.
    • Soon after becoming party leader, he removed all left-wingers from leading positions in the Party.
  • Actions against warlords:
    • In 1926 he set out on the Northern March to destroy the warlords of central and northern China.
    • Starting from Canton, the KMT and the communists had captured Hankow, Shanghai and Nanking by 1927. The capital, Beijing, was taken in 1928.
    • Much of Chiang’s success sprang from massive local support among the peasants, who were attracted by communist promises of land. The capture of Shanghai was helped by a rising of industrial workers organized by Zhou En-lai, a member of the KMT and also a communist.
  • Actions against communists:
    • During 1927 Chiang decided that the communists were becoming too powerful. In areas where communists were strong, landlords were being attacked and land seized; it was time to destroy an embarrassing ally.
    • All communists were expelled from the KMT and a terrible ‘purification movement‘ was launched in which thousands of communists, trade union and peasant leaders were massacred.
  • The communists had been checked, the warlords were under control and Chiang was the military and political leader of China.
  • The Kuomintang government proved to be a great disappointment for the majority of the Chinese people.
    • Chiang could claim to have achieved Sun’s first principle, nationalism, but relying as he did on the support of wealthy landowners, no moves were made towards democracy or land reform, though there was some limited progress with the building of more schools and roads.

 

THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY

  • Founding of Chinese Communist Party:
    • (Explained later)
  • CCP-KMT cooperation and Northern Expedition (1926-1928)
    • At first, the Chinese Communist Party consisted mostly of intellectuals and had very little military strength, which explains why it was willing to work with the KMT.
    • Lenin, and later Stalin, ordered the CCP to join the KMT and many leading communists did so, including Mao and Zhou Enlai. The goal was to strengthen and, at the same time, infiltrate the KMT.
    • The peak of CCP-KMT cooperation came in the years of the Nationalist Revolution, in 1925-27. This was crowned by the great campaign launched against the warlords of central China by Chiang Kai-shek in 1926 called Northern Expedition.
    • The Northern Expedition was a Kuomintang (KMT) military campaign, led by Chiang Kai-shek.
      • Its main objective was to unify China under its own control, by ending the rule of Beiyang government (the government of the Republic of China, which was in place in the capital city Beijing from 1912 to 1928) as well as the local warlords.
      • Chiang won a series of impressive victories and unified about half of the country.
      • It led to the end of the Warlord Era, the reunification of China in 1928, and the establishment of the Nanjing government.
    • Chiang quickly reversed the tables in the Shanghai massacre of 1927 by massacring the Communist party in Shanghai midway in the Northern Expedition.
  • End of cooperation between the KMT and the CCP:
    • Chiang’s triumph signaled the end of cooperation between the KMT and the CCP.
    • The generally accepted view is that the split was precipitated by CCP radicalism. This targeted not only foreign privileges and symbols, but also rich Chinese.
    • Wealthy Shangai industrialists were alarmed and offered to bankroll Chiang if he freed himself from dependence on Moscow. This suited Chiang and in March 1925 he arrested the political commissars in his army and placed the Soviet advisers under house arrest.
    • In April 1927, when the Northern Expedition forces approached Shanghai, the communist-led labor unions rose to take the city from the inside. When Chiang entered the city, he ordered a massacre of the communists. This became known as the “Shanghai massacre“.
    • Also in April 1927, KMT leaders met in Nanjing (Nanking), proclaimed the establishment of a National Government and outlawed the CCP.
  • CCP carried out several uprisings in 1927 but they failed.
    • There was, in fact, no way that the CCP could have seized control of the KMT in the 1920s or 1930s, because at that time the KMT embodied the dominant drive toward unification and symbolized Chinese national goals.
  • However, Chiang’s chances of consolidating his power over China were ended by the Japanese attack on the country in 1937. This was to drive him to Chungking (southwest China), where he waged only limited military action against Japan until the end of the war.

 

THE PERIOD BETWEEN 1928-35

  • At this time, the KMT led by Chiang continued the struggle to unify China up to the Yangtze River and beyond. However, the Japanese overran Manchuria in 1931, made it a puppet state, and called it Manchukuo.
  • Japanese made the last Emperor of China, Puyi, their puppet ruler in Manchuria. Still, in 1936, the KMT exerted at least a loose form of control over two-thirds of the population of China.
  • However, the peasants soon found that nothing changed much except for the national flag.
    • Warlords loosely allied with Chiang still ruled large parts of China and there was no land reform.
    • Many intellectuals became alienated from Chiang by the end of this period because he did not introduce democratic reforms.
    • On the contrary, Chiang seemed to favor his own dictatorship, and to see fascism as a desirable model of government.
  • At this time the communist movement was rebuilt by Mao in the southern part of the province of Jiangxi. Meanwhile, the official party leaders, who remained loyal to Moscow, went into hiding in Shanghai, where they stayed until 1930.
  • Emergence of Mao and his policies:
    • Mao Zedong, who was present at the founding meeting of CCP, was born in Hunan province (1893) in south-east China, the son of a prosperous peasant farmer.
      • After spending some time working on the land, Mao trained as a teacher, and then moved northwards to Beijing where he worked as a library assistant at the university, a centre of Marxist studies.
      • Later he moved back to Hunan and built up a reputation as a skillful trade union and peasant association organizer.
    • In his essay on physical education, published in the progressive journal, New Youth, in April 1917, Mao attacked the “passive” Confucian thinking and way of life; he called for physical education to strengthen the body, for violence, and anger.
      • Soon, he was advocating the equal rights of women, and attacking the practice of arranged marriages. Above all, he expressed a determination to fight for his beliefs.
    • After the communist breach with the KMT, Mao was responsible for changing the Party’s strategy: they would concentrate on winning mass support among the peasants rather than trying to capture industrial towns, where several communist insurrections had already failed because of the strength of the KMT.
    • In 1931 Mao was elected chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Party, and from then on, he gradually consolidated his position as the real leader of Chinese communism.
    • Furthermore, Mao evolved the strategy of operating from a stable base area, and of harassing government troops by guerrilla tactics.
      • These tactics were not new; they were rooted in traditional Chinese military strategy which Mao knew very well from his reading.
      • They were to play a central role in the ultimate victory of Mao’s forces over Chiang.
    • Equally important was the fact that in the area under their control in southern Jiangxi, the communists carried out land reform.
      • This really meant distributing the land equally, except that landlords and richer peasants were to get less than the others.
      • This did not always work out that way because some landlords and rich peasants kept more land in return for supporting the communists. But overall, the communists obtained solid support from the peasants, for whom land reform was the most important issue.
  • Chinese Soviet Republic or Jiangxi Soviet (1931-34):
    • Mao emerged as the leading spokesman for his policies. They were embodied in the Chinese Soviet Republic, known also as the Jiangxi Soviet, which was proclaimed in 1931 and existed from 1931-34.
      • On 7 November 1931 the first All-China Congress of Soviets was held there. These developments took place independently of Moscow.
    • Mao Zedong was both CSR state chairman and prime minister; he led the state and its government.
    • Mao and his supporters spent most of their energies on survival as Kuomintang (KMT)’s National Revolutionary Army under Chiang carried out five ‘extermination campaigns’ against them between 1930 and 1934.
    • They took to the mountains between Hunan and Kiangsi provinces and concentrated on building up the Red Army.
    • However, early in 1934 Mao’s base area was surrounded by KMT armies poised for the final destruction of Chinese communism. Mao decided that the only chance of survival was to break through Chiang’s lines and set up another power base somewhere else.
    • In October 1934 the breakthrough was achieved and almost 100000 communists set out on the remarkable Long March, an event of enormous significance in the history of Chinese communism.
  • The Long March (1934-35):
    • The Long March (October 1934–October 1935) was a military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang army. Mainly this march started from Jiangxi province in October 1934.
    • The Army of the Chinese Soviet Republic, led by an inexperienced military commission, was on the brink of annihilation by Chiang Kai-shek’s troops in their stronghold in Jiangxi province. The Communists, under the command of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, escaped in a circling retreat to the west and north.
    • They covered about 6000 miles in 368 days and, in the words of American journalist Edgar Snow:
      • crossed 18 mountain ranges, 5 of which were snow-capped, and 24 rivers. They passed through 12 different provinces, occupied 62 cities, and broke through enveloping armies of 10 different provincial warlords, besides defeating, eluding, or out-manoeuvring the various forces of government troops sent against them.

 

 

    • Eventually out of 100,000 people, the 20 000 survivors found refuge at Yenan in Shensi (Shaanxi) province: this was the last surviving communist base in China.
      • The Shensi communists, not entirely willingly, accepted Mao as leader, and a new base and a soviet were organized.
    • The Long March began Mao Zedong’s ascent to power, whose leadership during the retreat gained him the support of the members of the party.

 

THE SECOND SINO-JAPANESE WAR AND THE YENAN PERIOD, 1937-1945

  • In September 1936, the Japanese government presented secret demands to the government of Chiang Kai-Shek. Disguised as proposals for a common war against the communists, their acceptance would have meant Japanese domination over China.
  • In December 1936, Chiang went north to coordinate a campaign against the Yenan communists with Marshal Zhang Xueliang.
    • At a meeting with communist leaders and Zhang, Chiang was persuaded to give up his anti-communist campaign and agree to wage a common fight against Japan.
    • Chiang agreed, and flew back to his capital with Zhang. and proclaimed a common war against the Japanese.
  • On July 7, 1937, an accidental fire fight between Chinese and Japanese troops near Beijing gave Tokyo the long desired pretext for attacking China. Japanese armies seized Beijing and Tientsin; then they proceeded to occupy most of eastern China.
  • Japanese invasion of China had a dual effect on the country:
    • It swept north-east China clear of the old authorities, whom the KMT had never been able to control effectively anyway;
    • it bogged down the Japanese in a large area of China which they could not control either.
  • This situation provided the ideal opportunity for guerrilla war, or as the communists called it – “The People’s War of Resistance”.
    • KMT and the Communist Party of China joined in a United Front against Japan.
    • After the entrance of the United States into the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two sides maintained the formal alliance, but fought each other on several occasions.
  • The communist guerrillas were able to establish links and contacts throughout northern China.
    • These forces did so by harassing the Japanese, while at the same time fighting hard – not always successfully – to protect the peasants in the villages.
    • KMT, after putting up a hard fight at the beginning, reduced its resistance to the minimum when the government settled in far away Chungking.
  • But this was only part of the CCP achievement. The other was its use of wartime resistance to effect a permanent penetration of the villages.
    • Here the communists generally treated the peasants well by paying for what they needed, and also implemented popular social-economic policies.
    • These measures were accompanied by education, i.e., teaching the peasants to read and write a basic form of Chinese.
    • These policies, which followed precedents set in Jiangxi, gave the CCP a mass base, which no Chinese government had ever had, including the KMT.
  • By the end of the war, the results were dramatic.
    • The CCP controlled 19 base areas with a population of about 100 million and had an army of about half a million. The Party itself had about 1 million members.
    • Thus, the CCP was all set for a test of strength with the KMT. At the time, however, the KMT had such superiority in troops and weapons that the CCP doubted it could win.

 

 

 

THE CIVIL WAR AND THE COMMUNIST VICTORY 1949

A) China and the Second World War

  • When the war began, Chiang Kai-shek was in a dilemma:
    • China had already been in a state of undeclared war with Japan since 1937, yet he had great admiration for Japan’s ally Germany, and for the German military tradition.
    • It was only after the German defeat at Stalingrad in 1942-3 that he decided to commit China to the Allied side.
  • However, relations between China and the USSR were strained because of Chiang’s campaigns against the communists, so that Stalin refused to take part in any meeting at which Chiang was present.
  • As an encouragement, in January 1943 the USA, Britain and several other states renounced their territorial rights and concessions in China (though Britain insisted on keeping Hong Kong), and promised that Manchuria and Formosa would be returned to China after the war.
    • The irony was that most of these territories were occupied by the Japanese at the time – unless Japan could be defeated, none of it would happen.
    • Nevertheless the agreements were important because they showed that at last China was being treated as an equal among the great powers, and was promised a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations.
  • The Japanese reaction to these developments was to launch an offensive by troops moved from Manchuria.
    • Striking southwards from the Yangtse Valley, they eventually reached the frontier with Indochina, cutting off the south-east coast from the interior.
    • The Nationalist forces were disorganized and ineffective, and their sporadic attempts to repel the Japanese advance were swept aside.
  • Fortunately for the Chinese, time was running out for the Japanese in other areas. In August 1945 the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and within a few days Japan surrendered.
  • The Chinese contribution to the defeat of Japan had been to keep hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops bogged down in what was, for them, only a sideshow.

B) Victory for the communists

  • When the Japanese were defeated in 1945, the KMT and the CCP became locked in the final struggle for power. Many observers, especially in the USA, hoped and expected that Chiang would be victorious.
  • The Americans helped the KMT to take over all areas previously occupied by the Japanese, except Manchuria, which had been captured by the Russians a few days before the war ended. Here the Russians obstructed the KMT and allowed CCP guerrillas to move in.
  • In 1948 the ever-growing communist armies were large enough to abandon their guerilla campaign and challenge Chiang’s armies directly and KMT armies began to disintegrate.
  • Chiang fought the communists in his old way, i.e., by garrisoning fortified places unlike guerrilla style of maoists. However, they were soon surrounded by Mao’s troops.
  • In January 1949 the communists took Beijing, and later in the year, Chiang and what remained of his forces fled to the island of Taiwan (Farmosa).
  • In October 1949, standing at Tiananmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace) in Beijing, Mao proclaimed the new People’s Republic of China with himself as both Chairman of the CCP and president of the republic.
  • In December 1949 Chiang proclaimed Taipei, Taiwan the temporary capital of the Republic, and continued to assert his government as the sole legitimate authority of all China, while the PRC government continued to call for the unification of all China.
  • The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 led the American government to place the Fleet in the Taiwan Straits, which kept each side from attacking the other.
  • Shock to USA:
    • The communist victory in China was a great shock to U.S. opinion.
    • Wartime propaganda had portrayed Chiang Kai-shek as the heroic leader of China. At the same time, the imposition of Soviet domination over Eastern Europe, the Greek civil war and the Berlin Blockade (1948-1949) marked the beginning of the Cold War.
    • Therefore, it was natural for U.S. opinion to see the establishment of communism in China as directed from Moscow, and to seek an explanation for the defeat of America’s ally, Chiang, in some kind of communist “plot.”

The weakness of the Kuomintang and the strength of the Communists led to the victory of the Communists in the Chinese Revolution

  • KMT’s weakness
    • The KMT administration was inefficient and corrupt, much of its American aid finding its way into the pockets of officials.
    • The KMT had to bear the main burnt of the Japanese invasion and strain of long resistance to the enemy weakened and impoverished the KMT army.
    • Its armies were poorly paid and were allowed to loot the countryside which alienated people from KMT. The KMT tried to terror­ise the local populations into submission, but this only alienated more areas.
    • Its policy of paying for the wars by printing extra money resulted in galloping inflation, which caused hardship for the masses and ruined many of the middle class.
    • Subjected to communist propaganda, the troops gradually became disillusioned with Chiang and began to desert to the communists.
    • The KMT distrusted the masses and depended on the support of landlords and propertied classes. Hence it lost touch with the people and failed to win over their sympathy.
    • There was little improvement in factory conditions:
      • Poor industrial working conditions continued, in spite of laws designed to remove the worst abuses, such as child labour in textile mills.
      • Often these laws were not applied: there was widespread bribery of inspectors and Chiang himself was not prepared to offend his industrial supporters.
    • There was no improvement in peasant poverty:
      • In the early 1930s there was a series of droughts and bad harvests which caused widespread famine in rural areas.
      • At the same time there was usually plenty of rice and wheat being hoarded in the cities by profiteering merchants.
      • In addition, there were high taxes and forced labour.
      • In contrast, the land policy followed in areas controlled by the communists was much more attractive:
        • At first in the south, they seized the estates of rich landlords and redistributed them among the peasants.
    • Chiang also made some tactical blunders:
      • Like Hitler, he could not bear to order retreats and consequently his scattered armies were surrounded, and often, as happened at Beijing and Shanghai, surrendered without resistance, totally disillusioned.
    • The KMT put up no effective resistance to the Japanese:
      • This was the crucial factor in the communist success.
      • Chiang seemed to think it was more important to destroy the communists than to resist the Japanese. It disillusioned nationalists and masses.
    • Chiang’s ‘New Life Movement’ was controversial:
      • In the early 1930s Chiang began to advocate a return to the traditional values of Confucianism, the traditional Chinese religion.
      • In 1934 he introduced the New Life Movement which, he claimed, was a unique secular, rational and modern Chinese version of Confucianism.
      • The movement was not ultimately successful.
      • Unfortunately, many May the Fourth supporters and other modern progressive thinkers protested that this was another backward step designed to return China to its oppressive imperial past.
  • Communist strength
    • Alliance of CCP with KMT and a national front against the Japanese brought great advantages for the communists:
      • The KMT extermination campaigns ceased for the time being and consequently the CCP was secure in its Shensi base.
      • When full-scale war broke out with Japan in 1937, the KMT forces were quickly defeated and most of eastern China was occupied by the Japanese as Chiang retreated westwards.
      • This enabled the communists, undefeated in Shensi, to present themselves as patriotic nationalists, leading an effective guerrilla campaign against the Japanese in the north.
      • This won them massive support among the peasants and middle classes, who were appalled at Japanese arrogance and brutality.
      • Whereas in 1937 the CCP had 5 base areas controlling 12 million people, by 1945 this had grown to 19 base areas controlling 100 million people.
    • The communists continued to win popular support by their restrained land policy, which varied according to the needs of particular areas: some or all of a landlord’s estate might be confiscated and redistributed among the peasants, or there might simply be rent restric­tion.
    • The communist armies were well disciplined and communist administration was honest and fair.
    • The apparent strength of the KMT was decep­tive:
      • In 1948 the ever-growing communist armies were large enough to abandon their guerrilla campaign and challenge Chiang’s armies directly.
      • As soon as they came under direct pressure, the KMT armies began to disintegrate.
    • The CCP leaders, Mao Zedong and Zhou En-lai, were shrewd enough to take advantage of KMT weaknesses and were completely dedicated.

 

IMPACT OF CHINESE REVOLUTION ON COURSE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

  • It gave a serious setback to the prestige of United States.
    • The American Government provided lot of economic and military help to the nationalist government of China after the defeat of Japan, still the Communists succeeded in inflicting a defeat on Chiang Kai Shek.
    • The Chinese revolution was the first victory of Soviet Union in post-world war period and the first defeat of America.
  • The emergence of Communist China provided a new tilt to the balance of power between the Western powers and Communists.
    • After the Second World War, Soviet Union was the only leading Communist country of the world.
    • No doubt, communist governments were established in a number of countries of Eastern Europe, North Korea and Outer Mongolia but the balance of power was very much in favour of Western powers.
    • After the emergence of Communist China, the Communists acquired a dominant position from the viewpoint of population..
  • The emergence of China produced revolutionary impact on the whole of Asia.
    • On the one hand, it greatly influenced the nationalist forces in Asia and Africa and on the other hand, it became an experimental ground for the industrial development of all the backward countries.
    • It also became symbolic superiority of Communist system, over capitalist system, and naturally upset the Americans.
  • The Revolution of 1949 marked the advent of Communism in Asia.
    • As so far Communism existed only in the Western countries.
    • The Chinese revolution made a beginning for the emergence of Communism in Asia.
  • The Revolution left a deep impact on Africa.
    • The Communist Government of China soon after assuming the regions of power openly declared its support to the nationalist movements everywhere, which provided impetus to national struggle which was being waged by the Africans against the imperialist powers.
  • The emergence of Red China also left a deep impact on the policy of Soviet Union.
    • Though initially the Soviet leaders considered the emergence of Communist in China as increased its military power, but soon they discovered that China was posing as a rival for leadership of the Communist world.
    • This gave rise to struggle for supremacy and ideological conflict between Soviet Union and China, and posed a serious threat to Soviet leadership of the Communist world.
  • Thus, we find that the Chinese Revolution left a deep impact on the world politics. It not only gave rise to new problems but also accorded new dimensions to the East-West Conflict and transformed South-East Asia into a focal point of world politics.

 

REASONS OF SUCCESSFUL CHINESE REVOLUTION 1949

  • Before the stir of Communist ideas the Nationalists were corrupt and disregarded the people’s needs.
    • Chiang Kai-shek (the Nationalist leader) concentrated on rapid industrialization to benefit the middle and upper classes, which enraged the majority of the Chinese working population.
    • Also the starved peasants had to pay heavy taxes to pay for foreign debts, which didn’t help the working class at all.
  • The suffering of the common people and the successful establishment of Soviet Communism generated pro-Communist intellectuals, who saw the capitalist Kuomintang as greedy and selfish men leaving the common folks in starvation.
  • Communist used Long March as propaganda and won many Chinese heart.
  • The Kuomintang’s persecution of Communist intellectuals made certain of their enmity.
    • Prominent groups of revolutionaries emerged from all parts of China, and eventually formed the Communist Party, the beginning of the Chinese Civil War.
  • Their bloody war was temporarily paused by the invasion of Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War.
    • Under threat from a common foe the Communists and Nationalists formed an unwilling peace pact.
    • However Chiang Kai-shek never intended to split his power to the Communists, which the Communists knew. After the end of the Second World War the Chinese Civil War quickly resumed.
  • Communist’s strong anti-Japanese stance and several victories over Japanese helped them to mobilise more civilian supports.
  • Communist Party won largely due to their land reforms, which gave the much needed lands to starved peasants. This act portrayed the Communists are the true guardians of the people in contrast to the corrupt Nationalists. Therefore civilian volunteers immediately forged the Communists into an overpowering force, which eventually defeated the Nationalists.
  • KMT had many army men who belonged to peasant family. This led to large scale defection to Communists.
  • (Add more points from chapter already discussed)

 

IMPACT OF CHINESE REVOLUTION ON CHINA

  • The excess land holdings were expropriated on the plea that the wealth and power of the gentry were based on expropriation of the fruits of the labour of others.
  • The landless were given land to cultivate. However, this would not have solved the problem and therefore government proceeded with the creation of producers co-operatives.
  • Authorities resorted to food rationing and the basic necessities of life were made available to the people.
  • Disease, banditory, crime etc. were brought under control.
  • Imposed a strict ban on sale of daughters and wives, child brothels etc.
  • Role of Women:
    • Traditionally, women were regarded as inferior to men.
      • Girls had to be obedient to their fathers, wives to their husbands and old women to their sons (the Marriage Law abolished this).
      • The Marriage Law abolished the supremacy of man over woman, and also concubinage and child-marriage.
        • Marriage began to be treated as contract, freely concluded by man and woman. Both husband and wife were given the right to demand divorce.
      • Women were given equal right in family property.
    • Child-marriage was still common, and helped ensure that husbands dominated their wives. Baby girls were sometimes killed or abandoned (the Communists banned this).
    • Girls could be sold as servants, concubines or prostitutes (the Communists banned this).
  • Health:
    • Patriotic Health Movements: Teams of cadres went into the villages explaining the connection between dirt and disease, and how to avoid dysentery and malaria.
    • Barefoot Doctors: A million people were given 6-months basic medical training and sent out into the villages to provide basic medical care free of charge.
  • Education:
    • A national system of Primary education was set up; the literacy rate, 20% in 1949, was 70% by 1976. Officially, education was free and for both boys and girls.
    • To help with communication and writing, the government introduced a phonetic form of Mandarin called pinyin; this greatly eased the learning of Mandarin.
  • Destruction of Traditional Religion and Culture:
    • 1.5 million Propagandists: Propagandists were loyal Party members charged with spreading the latest Party message.
    • Ordinary people would be made to attend one or two meetings a week, people needing ‘re-education’ would have to go to more; they would listen to lectures.
    • Many of Beijing’s ancient houses and structures were pulled down and replaced by Soviet Realism concrete eyesores.
  • Religion:
    • Mao said religion was as bad as Nazism, and had to be eradicated.
    • Churches were destroyed, priests and monks mocked and beaten – ancestor worship was condemned as a superstition.
    • In Tibet, the government feared the mixture of Buddhism and nationalism, and embarked on a campaign of religious persecution.
  • Culture:
    • Mao believed that the Communist revolution should brutally overthrow every aspect of the past, and he put his wife in charge as ‘the cultural purifier of the nation’.
    • The government banned traditional songs and dances, festivals and wandering poets; instead, children were made to chant communist slogans.

 

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