History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 1985: Q.5 (d)
Q.5 (d) “The turn of the tide against the Kuomintang, consequently, was due as much to its weakness as to Communist strength.” Comment.
When the Japanese were defeated in 1945, the Kuomintang (KMT) under leadership of Chiang and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under the leadership of Mao became locked in the final struggle for power in China. 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 January 1949 the communists took Beijing, and later in the year, Chiang and what remained of his forces fled to the island of Taiwan, leaving Mao Zedong in command of mainland China. In October 1949, Mao proclaimed the new People’s Republic of China with himself as both Chairman of the CCP and president of the republic.
Reasons for the CCP triumph over the KMT was due as much to KMT’s weakness as well as Communist strength:
- The KMT administration was inefficient and corrupt, much of its American aid finding its way into the pockets of officials.
- 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 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.
- KMT distrusted the masses and depended on the support of landlords and propertied classes. Hence it lot touch with the people and failed to win over their sympathy.
- Its armies were poorly paid and were allowed to loot the countryside which alienated people from KMT.
- Subjected to communist propaganda, the troops gradually became disillusioned with Chiang and began to desert to the communists.
- The KMT tried to terrorize the local populations into submission, but this only alienated more areas.
- 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 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.
- 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 guerilla 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. The communist generals, Lin Biao, Chu Teh and Ch-en Yi, had prepared their armies carefully and were more competent tactically than their KMT counterparts.