Why Civil War broke out
Legacy of conflict & ideology clash - 1927 White Terror, 1941 GMD offensive against CCP in south (ended Second United Front).
Failure of ceasefires/US mediation:
Oct 45: parties agreed on coexisting control but Chiang immediately sent his forces into Manchuria.
Jan 46: Marshall oversees ceasefire & constitution – fell apart when GMD tried to make crucial changes making China an autocracy.
Jul 46: During 2nd Marshall ceasefire GMD launch 2nd Manchurian offensive.
Foreign aid – US help for GMD didn’t appease CCP
Soviet Red Army occupy Manchuria – opportunity for CCP to establish a base.
Unpopularity of GMD: Chiang’s government was corrupt ; Chiang lacked credibility as a national leader
Why CCP were in weak position at start of Civil Wa
Long struggle for political survival against GMD attacks. Control limited to small number of base areas - limited manpower availible for armies.
GMD govt recognised as legitimate govt. GMD received extensive support from USA - airlifting into areas previously under Japanese control. Overwhelming GMD superiority in military equipment.
Lack of support: Stalin anxious to avoid USA confrontation - ordered CCP to hand over cities to GMD in Nov 45 (big strategic loss).
Why Guerrilla Strategy?
successfully developed against Japanese and Nationalists in 30s and 40s
lacked the weapons to fight conventional battles - necessary to survive
strength in isolated rural areas. Enabled them to build support among local peasants and only fight battles they could win
mountainous terrain of manchuria (main battleground) suited it
could wear GMD down through attacks on supply lines and isolated units
Reasons for CCP Victory
Guerilla Warfare Tactics
enabled CCP to maximise strengths and compensate for weaknesses (manpower, equipment)
enabled CCP to survive and establish a strong base from which to launch conventional attacks. Control countryside in Manchuria and isolate GMD in cities.
strategies developed against Japanese during WW2 - well placed to use this experience against GMD
eroded GMD strength - heavy losses of manpower, equipment and morale.
Conventional Warfare from 1947 after control of North Manchuria established
key turning points in 48: March/Yenan, April/Luoyang, Sep/Junan, Nov/Mukden (PLA controlled all China north of Beijing & GMD lost half a million troops). Dec/Hsuchow - capture of important railway junction (control of central provinces).
Jan 49/Beijing - defeat of GMD inevitable
Reasons for CCP Victory (2)
Chiang's weak leadership
poor judge of character - suspicious of independent minded, able people. Incompetent commanders, failure to delegate power
stubborn, inflexible and unwilling to listen to advice - ignored US advice to democratise
lacked credibility - corrupt regime divided by factional rivalries - didn't attract support
key strategic military mistakes: Huai Hai (forces 5x size and backed by US air & navy humiliatingly defeated), deployal of half a million troops around CCP Shensi base during WW2 - propaganda for CCP
mismanagement of economy - hyperinflation by 1949 - loss of support (even ruling class)
GMD in much stronger position at start of Civil War. Their loss points to serious failings on the part of Chiang. They squandered superior resources.
Reasons for CCP Victory (3)
Mao's leadership - strategy switch/campaign for peasant support
undisputed control over CCP & PLA - no spies. Commanders could use initiative (Lin Biao).
won adherants for his determination and courage in Long March, resistance to Japan, willingness to cooperate with GMD
genuine organising ability, cult of personality arose from ability to inspire others.
political indoctrination of peasants
policies to win support and swell ranks - land reform (pragmatism in initially guaranteeing landowner's rights), spreading literacy and peasant cooperatives, instructions to PLA to treat civilians with respect, PLA participation in food production
irony that Mao came closer to fulfilling 3 Principles of Sun Yat-Sen - liberals & intellectuals
won propaganda war - GMD reliance on American support, courage and incorruptability