Chinese Communist Revolution

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Chinese Communist Revolution
(Chinese People's War of Liberation)
(National Protection War against the Communist Rebellion)
第二次國共內戰 / 第二次国共内战
(Second Kuomintang-Communist Civil War)
Part of the Chinese Civil War (1927–1949)
Part of the Cold War (1947–1991)
People's Liberation Army occupied the presidential palace 1949.jpg
People's Liberation Army occupies the Presidential Palace in Nanjing. April, 1949
Date1945–1950 [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2]
(4 years, 4 months and 1 week)

Supported by:
Eastern Bloc

Supported by:
Western Bloc

Commanders and leaders
  • 1,270,000 (Sep 1945)
  • 2,800,000 (Jun 1948)
  • 4,000,000 (Jun 1949)
  • 4,300,000 (Jul 1946)
  • 3,650,000 (Jun 1948)
  • 1,490,000 (Jun 1949)
Casualties and losses
250,000 in three campaigns 1.5 million in three campaigns [3]

The Chinese Communist Revolution, known in mainland China as the War of Liberation, was the conflict, led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman Mao Zedong, that resulted in the proclamation of the People's Republic of China, on 1 October 1949. The revolution began in 1946 after the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45) and was the second part of the Chinese Civil War (1945–49). [4]


Historical background

Historians disagree about the long and short-term factors behind the 1949 Revolution. Historians in mainland China trace the origins of the 1949 Revolution to sharp inequalities in society and imperialist aggression. They charge that high rates of rent, usury and taxes concentrated wealth into the hands of a minority of village chiefs and landlords. One Western historian quotes the statistic that "Ten percent of the agricultural population of China possessed as much as two-thirds of the land". [5] These historians also argue that imperialist pressure by the Western powers and the Japanese and "Century of Humiliation" starting with the Opium Wars and including unequal treaties and the Boxer Rebellion led to a rise in nationalism, class consciousness and leftism.[ citation needed ]

After internal unrest and foreign pressure weakened the Qing state, a revolt among newly modernized army officers led to the Xinhai Revolution, which ended 2,000 years of imperial rule and established the Republic of China. [6] Following the end of World War I and the Russian Revolution in Russia, Chinese radical intellectuals founded the CCP and Sun Yat-sen founded the Chinese Nationalist Party. [7]

The French historian Lucien Bianco, however, is among those who question whether imperialism and "feudalism" explain the revolution. [8] He points out that the CCP did not have great success until the Japanese invasion of China after 1937. Before the war, the peasantry was not ready for revolution; economic reasons were not enough to mobilize them. More important was nationalism: "It was the war that brought the Chinese peasantry and China to revolution; at the very least, it considerably accelerated the rise of the CCP to power." [9] The communist revolutionary movement had a doctrine, long-term objectives, and a clear political strategy that allowed it to adjust to changes in the situation. He adds that the most important aspect of the Chinese Communist movement is that it was armed. [10]

Founding of the Chinese Communist Party

The CCP was founded in 1921, during the May Fourth Movement, which Mao Zedong referred to as the birth of communism in China. This anti-Japanese patriotic movement motivated both established intellectuals and students, and made the Nationalist Party, which was already in existence, and the newly formed CCP into first allies, then rivals. [11]

After a period of slow growth and the First United Front with the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party), the alliance broke down and the Communists fell victim in 1927 to a purge carried out by the Kuomintang under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. [12] After 1927, the Communists retreated to the countryside and built up local bases, such as the Jiangxi Soviet, which it held until Nationalist pressure forced the Long March. During the Japanese invasion and occupation, the Communists built more secret bases in the Japanese occupied zones and relied on them as headquarters. [13]

Chinese Civil War, 1945–1949

The Nationalists had an advantage in both troops and weapons, controlled a much larger territory and population, and enjoyed broad international support. The Communists were well established in the north and northwest. The best-trained Nationalist troops had been killed in early battles against the better equipped Japanese Army and in Burma, while the Communists had suffered less severe losses. The Soviet Union, though distrustful, provided aid to the Communists, and the United States assisted the Nationalists with hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of military supplies, as well as airlifting Nationalist troops from central China to Manchuria, an area Chiang Kai-shek saw as strategically vital to retake. Chiang determined to confront the PLA in Manchuria and committed his troops in one decisive battle, the Battle of Liaohsi, in the autumn of 1948. The strength of Nationalist troops in July 1946 was 4.3 million, of which 2.3 million were well-trained and ready for country-wide mobile combat. [14] [15] [16] However, the battle resulted in a decisive Communist victory and the Nationalists were never able to recover from it.


On October 1, 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong officially proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China at Tiananmen Square. Chiang Kai-shek, 600,000 Nationalist troops and about two million Nationalist-sympathizer refugees retreated to the island of Taiwan. After that, resistance to the Communists on the mainland was substantial but scattered, such as in the far south. An attempt to take the Nationalist-controlled island of Kinmen was thwarted in the Battle of Kuningtou. 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 last direct fighting between Nationalist and Communist forces ended with the Communist capture of Hainan Island in April 1950, though shelling and guerrilla raids continued for several years. [17] In June 1950, the outbreak of the Korean War led the American government to place the United States Seventh Fleet in the Taiwan Strait to prevent either side from attacking the other. [18]

See also


  1. As a civil war, there was no official beginning or end date; however fighting subsided after April, 1950. [1]
  2. Kuomintang Islamic insurgency continued in the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Yunnan until 1958.

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