Feature History – Chinese Civil War
I will not do an offensive Chinese impression. I will not do an offensive Chinese impression. I will not do an offensive… (♪) Herro- Hello, and welcome to Feature History featuring the Chinese Civil War. A name that is encapsulating as it is generic. From 1927 to 1950, China was locked in a period of civil strife. It had been for a lot longer, actually, but specifically, this time the two main warring parties were the Nationalist Kuomintang party, and the Communist… Communist party. Prior China had been a land ruled for millennium by long-running dynasties. One that’s very own religious and political doctrine justified the existence of these dynasties. It’d, however, only take half a century to completely change that. For a country that had twice the population of today’s U.S. and that was twice the size of today’s India to go from an almost feudalistic, regionalist mess to an industrial, centralized powerhouse, it was… well, it was quite impressive, to say the least. So how can a couple revolutions be just so revolutionary? Well, I’m going to tell you. That’s what the rest of the video’s for. You should’ve really expected that. In the 19th century, China was ruled by the Qing dynasty. Same for the 18th and 17th. It was, however, in the 19th that the focus of Western colonists and merchants turned to China. And the Qing weren’t too harmonious with this development, choosing to close themselves off from them. The British, however, in the Opium Wars would pioneer the path to breaking open the gates of the middle kingdom, leading to many European powers, the U.S, and even Japan carving up the humiliated empire into spheres of influence and seizing control of trade where they could. Foreign tycoons would rein over the ports they resided, kept in steady supply by impoverished Chinese workers subservient to them. This was deemed unacceptable by many. But what could the Qing do? Some would answer that question by saying “Forget the Qing,” turning their own regions into more self-sufficient entities. This regionalism would only continue to degrade Qing influence. The other sum would demand modernization and self-strengthening, only for the incompetent and corrupt Qing to fail them, it too obsessed with its own dynastic confusion to create any real change. After the Sino-Japanese War of 1895 that saw Japan seize Chinese territory and title of “𝘵𝘩𝘦 Asian power,” did this frustration manifest as a fervent anti-foreign sentiment. That sentiment would further manifest as the Boxer Rebellion. The boxers looked to relive the days of a mighty Qing, but the imperial court was split on to suppress or support such a radical movement, negligently letting the foreigners take matters into their own hands and occupy Bejing without even a declaration of war. The 20th century dawned with a Qing that had failed to modernize, failed to strengthen and failed to improve; simply failed to Westernize. In 1908, the two-year-old Pu-yi rose to the imperial throne. And of course, under a two-year-old, China could only continue to stagnate. Exiled revolutionary Sun Yat-sen saw this as yet another chance for him to finally see off the Qing that let a nation decay. He held a long history of failed revolts, so some held doubts. But the Western-educated man was oh-so adamant to see his three principles, nationalism, democracy, and livelihood; applied to create a better China. So there was the Qin-lian Uprising, Hekou Uprising, Mapaoying Uprising, Gengxu New Army Uprising, Second Guangzhou Uprising, and then an uprising so unexpected that even the people doing the uprising weren’t expecting it. In 1911, the Wuchang Uprising… rose up. Sun Yat-sen at the time was still in exile, and the revolutionaries had started before everyone was ready. It seemed a tad bleak. But for the first time, much of the military joined their cause. This revolt spread quickly, the provinces successively breaking away from the imperial court and sending the Qing into a bit of a tizzy. With no time to spare, province delegates had gathered into Nanjing to form a Chinese republic, inviting Sun Yat-sen to be China’s first president. As consequence, one might expect a war to be fought between President Sen and Emperor Pu-yi. But the fact of the matter was, despite each claiming power, the only person that had power was whoever held the biggest army. Which was General Yuan Shikai. Yuan served the Qing, but when Sun came to him offering his presidency if he were to force Pu-yi’s abdication, the general was more than happy to switch sides, accomplishing his end by February of 1912 and taking position as the president of the new republic of China. The man, however, lacked Sen’s refined political philosophy, more keen on a direct military dictatorship method. Meaning that many of the problems of the uprising had aimed to fix remained. Sun decided he could indulge a democratic approach, forming the Kuomintang political party in Yuan’s parliament. The president saw opposition as an affront, however, and Sen ended up once again exiled in 1913. Yuan then proceeded to blunder through politics, heavy-handedly trying to fix China’s disunity, only making it worse. The tip-top of his tosh came when he declared himself emperor in 1916. It’d take a bit before it dawned on him he completely lost any support, and so pissed off and died shortly after. However, with him gone, everything fell apart. Yuan had been the only thing holding this nation together. Regionalism piqued[?] so far, they stopped being regions, China breaking into small states and provinces controlled by warlords. They had their own taxes, laws, and even currencies. Most importantly, they were constantly fighting each other. Sun had returned to this chaos and began advocating for Chinese reunification. However, his powerful speeches fell on deaf ears. Change could only begin to be ushered in when outrage sparked over the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Former German colonies in China were handed not to the Chinese, but the Japanese. Mass demonstrations broke out in Beijing as consequence, demanding the abolishment of warlords, the death of old and defunct tradition, the repulsion of an encroaching Japanese, and the creation of a new, strong, and unified China. Sun and the Kuomintang looked to answer this call, beginning a self-proclaimed military government in 1921 to fight from. His founding principles and ambitious dreams for China inspired others, such as the Communist Party of China, who saw fit to join in an alliance with the Kuomintang in 1922. The two parties knew to create a unified China, the warlords would have to be forced to surrender their control. To cooperate, they formed a united front. Sun would inconveniently die in 1925, and as such an iconic figure, so much so being labeled as the father of the nation, his departure left a void. His young protege, Chiang Kai-shek, would force himself as heir, becoming generalissimo despite the protest of pretenders[?]. Regardless, Chiang’s main anxiety was the alliance of the CCP. The communists would drive the peasants into revolutionary fervor off the back of the front’s successes. That, in Chiang’s eyes, threatened the structure of China. By 1927, they had seized Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Nanjing, Beijing soon to fall as well. The warlords not a threat, this alliance was no longer a convenience, but an obstacle. Chiang initiated the White Terror, which saw mass executions of communists in Shanghai and later beyond. Thousands of communists, trade unionists, and peasant leaders were massacred in the name of purification. After only a few months of this persecution, the CCP was facing destruction, and its leadership at conflict with itself. Li Lisan, in concurrent with traditional communism, refused the idea that they retreat from the cities. Good as defeat, it was to him. Mao Zedong was supportive of the idea they base themselves amongst the rural peasantry, away from Chiang’s armies. As that was how Chinese communism was to be. Mao’s plan of action was to be taken, despite Li being his superior. They would centralize themselves in the Jiangshi[?] Mountains, undertaking an insurgency against Chiang’s far-larger forces. In 1930, the Soviets took a larger interest in China’s revolution. The Great Depression had broken out and communists worldround saw it as the beginning of the world revolution. And so the Communist International, or Commintern Organization, began to attempt to instruct the Chinese on how they could be the first successful step to this globalization of communism. Li would listen to them and do as they said. And when they told him to launch a counter attack against Kuomintang, he did, and failed horribly. His leadership tarnished and the Comintern refusing to take the blame, the organization had Li replaced by Chinese students from Moscow called the 28 Bolsheviks. Did these studies make them better-educated, or just out of touch? Chiang’s government was characterized by social unease because as he continued to pursue the communists, he failed to implement Sun’s reforms and allow the Japanese to annex Manchuria in 1931. Class tensions, bad morale, and political dissatisfaction would reliably rise as the generalissimo continued to persevere. The Kuomintang’s army encircled the mountains, but Mao would develop his personal strain of guerrilla warfare to combat them. As much as it did help, it couldn’t last forever. In 1934, Chiang fielded his largest army yet to flush them out and a suicidal escape began to seem more desirable than waiting for an inevitable demise. A retreat was planned to resettle their forces in the north of China, in Shaanxi[?]. But it would take them on a trek of almost 10,000 kilometers to the most inhospitable areas of China. And that’s if they even managed to break the encirclement. The 28 Bolsheviks would lead them to do just that. But when they brought them to the Xiang River and lost 50% of their men to simply cross it, not many people gave a shit what those students reckoned anymore. Mao Zedong was elected to leadership in January, 1935 and his direction saw them march the remaining kilometers, fighting fifteen major battles and many more skirmishes, arriving in Shannxi in October. With 10% of their original rank surviving. But… they survived. Despite the significant weakening, Mao was quick to prepare a plan for his revolutionary war. They’d venture out to villages and recruit the peasants, setting up bases. From one, they could make more across the countryside, organizing themselves. Using insurgent tactics, they could defend the bases. Of course, Mao predicted the Kuomintang would overrun them, forcing their retreat, but not without him engaging a guerrilla phase. Attempting to outlast and simply survive longer, Mao could create a protracted war. Lastly, when this had sufficiently weakened the enemy and balanced the odds between the two parties, he’d engage in a conventional war to seize power. Whilst Mao got about doing this, Chiang had already pursued him north. But the generalissimo’s persistence wasn’t appreciated by those that saw the threat of the Japanese as impending. In December, 1936, Chiang would be taken hostage by his own generals. Mao had earlier that year stated his willingness to form a second united front to address the Japanese. But Chiang refused to entertain such an idea. The generals made him agree, however. And when Chiang had done so, he had them put to death. Yet his cooperation would still reluctantly be given. Japan declared war on both Chinas in 1937 and began a massive assault onto the nation. Or nations, actually. The Kuomintang held the most cities, so of couse, the Kuomintang took the brunt of the assault. Chiang would not trust the communists enough to pull his army from the north, so the Kuomintang only continued to lose much ground and many men to the invaders, straining the people to a breaking point. Mao used that disaffection to drive recruitment and was able to use his handful of victories against Japanese forces to do further. On December, 1941, Japan declared war on the U.S. Chiang saw this as an opportunity to hold and conserve his forces. Let the Americans do the fighting. This was tactically sound, but he lost much public respect for it. As the tide turned in the Pacific and Japan withdrew from China, it became a mad dash to see who could liberate occupied territory. The CCP expanded much further than they had been able to pre-war. In August 1945, a Japanese surrender provoked the proactive U.S. ambassador, Patrick Hurley, to lead talks between the Kuomintang and the CCP to see if peace could be achieved. Shockingly, they had agreed to start preperations for a coalition government, even setting up a temporary council and forming a united army. Insane. The negotiations would never be finalized, though, as when Manchuria presented itself liberation, a race began, and China’s fate would be decided there. The Soviets invaded Manchuria, and when the CCP’s army arrived, the Soviets handed over Japanese stockpiles to them. The U.S. was also involved, as despite its claims of neutrality, it ushered Chiang’s armies into the region on U.S. ships and aircraft. The Kuomintang were able to force the CCP out of the cities and into the hills by December. As the CCP began to prepare a counter attack, the U.S. intervened, trying to bargain a truce between them. The Kuomintang had, however, been in a position to overrun the communists. And Mao used this lull to better prepare for war. When the truce inevitably broke down in July 1946, Mao was initially put on the back foot. But not destroyed, like Chiang was bargaining on. March 1947 saw Shaanxi breached by the Kuomintang. But in Manchuria, guerrilla tactics were starting to paint a bleak future for Chiang’s occupation, his army’s resources and manpower being slowly bled dry. By 1948, it was clear Chiang could no longer effectively supply Manchuria, but he refused to pull out, refused to admit defeat. It would be hard for him to accept the balance had shifted so unfavorably for the Kuomintang. In March, Manchuria fell and the grand communist defensive began. January ’49, Tianjin and Beijing fell, the north entirely conquered. April then seeing them take Nanjing then Shanghai, and lastly Guangzhou where Sun had first declared the military government. On the first of October 1949, Mao proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in their capital of Beijing, saying “We have stood up.” When Chiang had lost control of the mainland, his government retreated to the city of Taipei on the island of Taiwan. He continued as a president of the Republic of China and continued claiming sovereignty of China. It represented China in the U.N. until 1970. And to this day is still officially the Republic of China. For the mainland after being liberated or conquered by the now godlike Mao Zedong, it would have his key communist ideas thrust upon it. In a push to modernize the nation and take a great leap forward, he caused a famine that killed 30 million people. China under Mao was very much hit and miss. For relations with [?] and Soviets, Mao would denounce them as revisionist traitors in the 1960s, his split collapsing the idea of a cohesive world of communism. As the only true communists in Mao’s eyes were his communists. The civil war that China had lived for so many years finally put to rest a constantly shifting image of China, from an ancient, imperial dynasty, to the modernized communist state. That state, however, was subject to many pitfalls, but perservered, much to the anxiety of the West. Its initial relation with Western states highly tense, given the era of Cold War. Today, it’s calmed, of course. China still remains the People’s Republic, but for being a communist state… well, that’s debatable. Its new relations with the outside world are heavily trade-oriented, as China after the long war looked outward for vitalization, not inward. To step back though, it’s interesting to think of what if it had been an alternative outcome? Whether that outcome would be better or worse is easily arguable. And I’m sure the comments will have you covered in that regard. Well actually, probably not, it will just be some dick saying “Notification squad! What up?” Fucker. Like per usual, thanks to the highly capitalistic patrons and special mentions to the big wig tycoons, David Kendle, Thrace Vegas[?], Steve Graham, Grandpa Hexxe and Anal_Scrubs. For my poor commie viewers that don’t pledge, there’s a helicopter.