The Great Chinese Revolution Stage 1: New Democratic Revolution 1911-1949
Big Ideas on Stage One of the Revolution in China
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) emerged after the failure of the Chinese to regain their territory during the Versailles Peace Conference (which led to the May 4th Movement).
The internationalism of Communist theory was in direct contradiction to the nationalism of the Chinese.
Mao Zedong embraced the idea of Rural Communism originally developed by Li Dazhao.
Events in China were dramatically affected by the Second World War in Asia and the tensions of the early Cold War.
The Chinese Civil War (1946-1949) was both lost by the GMD and won by the CCP.
Mao Zedong viewed his victory in October of 1949 as the completion of the first step in a two-step process to transform Chinese society.
IB Topics in 20th Century History
The Great Chinese Revolution Stage 1: New Democratic Revolution
T Chen Jian
his emphasis on “carrying the revolution through to the end” was a long-standing preoccupation in Mao’s thinking. As early as 1939 and 1940, Mao stated in The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party and On New Democracy, two of his most important works, that the Chinese Communist revolution would be divided into two stages: the stage of new democratic revolution, and the stage of socialist revolution. During the first stage, the revolution had to overthrow the rule of the bureaucratic-capitalist class, wipe out foreign influence, eliminate remnants of feudal tradition, and establish a Communist-led regime that would unify all patriotic social classes in China. The second stage of the revolution would transform the Chinese society. including the economic system, political structure, and social life, under the leadership of the Communist regime. The transformation would lay the foundation of China’s transition into a socialist and later Communist society. In Mao’s view, the two stages in the revolution were closely linked: without the first stage, the second stage of the revolution would be impossible; without the second stage, the first stage of the revolution would become meaningless. When Mao called for “carrying the revolution through to the end” in 1949, he was thinking about leading the revolution into its necessary second stage.1 Part 1 – The Origins of the Chinese Communist Party and the Leadership of Mao Zedong
The Historiography of the Origins of the Chinese Communist Party
ne of the problems historians must deal with is the conflict in specialties. Historical study is divided into specialties: time periods, regions, and topics. At times these areas begin to overlap and create conflict. An example of this is the study of the Chinese Civil War and the rise of the Chinese Communist Party. The 1911-1949 period has traditionally fallen within the purview of the China studies community (also known as area studies). The China studies community works on placing the rise of the CCP into the context of broader Chinese history with emphasis on the continuity of Chinese culture, language and traditions. The problem is that outside forces played a significant role in the development of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the 1911-1949 period. The end of World War II, the power competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the role of the United States in Chinese affairs – all of these were significant forces in the outcome of the Chinese Civil War. With these forces come advocates of the historical specialties that deal with each area, and conflict arises over what forces played what role. Students of this period of Chinese history must be willing to look across areas of specialty to make judgments and develop arguments. They must also be aware of the limitations that specialty places on authors.
The Nature of Marxism
“Despite the breadth and depth of the writings of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, the crux of communist ideology can be reduced to four essential tenets (and one corollary):
Communism claims to be universal: the main factor …underlying all human behavior everywhere is the individual’s relationship to the means of economic production. Class interests, therefore, supercede national, ethnic, religious, and all other interests. The universal concern of all workers regardless of nationality is known as proletarian internationalism.
The capitalist system is pernicious and leads to the exploitation of the working class.
Because of its inherent defects, capitalism, like feudalism before it, will inevitably give way through violent revolution to the power of the working class. Marx and Lenin believed that history verified this claim.
Imperialism, the final phase of capitalism, leads inevitably to war and revolution. The failure of the universal proletarian revolution to materialize at the same time as the Russian Revolution near the conclusion of the First World War led to a corollary:
International relations are a reflection of the class struggle in which socialist countries represent the working class and capitalist countries represent the exploiting class. Socialist internationalism referred to the common class interests of all socialist states; these concerns trumped other interests, at least in the minds of Soviet leaders.”2
After the establishment of the first Chinese empire, there existed a Chinese world order that was described by scholars as "a Sinocentric hierarchy." The "International" relations of China with surrounding areas, and with non-Chinese peoples generally, were colored by the concept of Sinocentrism and the assumption of Chinese superiority. Sinocentrism and the Chinese world order was a set of ideas and practices developed and perpetuated by the rulers of China over many centuries. In an abbreviated and somewhat oversimplified form, Sinocentrism and the traditional Chinese world order were portrayed in Chinese classics by a framework of the following four dimensions.
First, the Chinese world system was a closed system with a limited understanding of China's place in the world. … China's self-sufficiency and imperial position was never seriously challenged from the outside world. Until modern times the Chinese empire was able to maintain the Chinese ethnocentric worldview and did not care whether people outside the Sinitic world knew about China.
Second, the Chinese world order was hierarchical and anti-egalitarian. …
Third, China's centrality in the world order was a function of her civilization and virtue, particularly the virtue of China's ruler, although military means were used constantly to defend as well as to expand the Chinese empire. Lucian Pye's study of Asian power indicates that "the Chinese with all their Confucianism, created an elaborate intellectual structure of an ethical order which all enlightened peoples were expected to acknowledge and respect." … In the Chinese world order, a hierarchical power relationship, therefore, was by definition more "moral" than in the West.
And finally, international society was the extension of internal society. As John K. Fairbank put it, "The Chinese tended to think of their foreign relations as giving an expression externally to the same principles of social and political order that were manifested internally within the Chinese state and society.3
The Appeal of Marxism to the 3rd World – Post-Imperialism
[N]ationalism … is a pathological form of self-protective resistance … [by] groups which feel humiliated or oppressed, to whom nationalism represents the straightening of bent backs, the recovery of a freedom they may never have had (it is all a matter of ideas in men’s heads), revenge for their insulted humanity. … It animates revolts … for it expresses the inflamed desire of the insufficiently regarded to count for something among the cultures of the world.4
The Contradiction – The Problem of the Appeal of Marx in the Imperialized World
Is Communism the End (The Goal) – Internationalism
Is Communism a Means to an End (The Tool) – Nationalism
Domestic Issues (Internal Policy): From inside China: Understanding Mao Zedong (Mao Thought vs. Maoism)
Blueprint or an Approach
Whether you see Mao as a Marxist or not essentially depends on your view of Marx and his works – was it a blueprint, or merely an approach?5
Mao the Marxist (Mao Thought)
Mao’s Contribution to Marxism
Mao’s creation of thought is a continuing process without any foreseeable conclusion. Unification of theory and practice continues, adding to thought. The new revolutionary generation is instructed to do more than read the thought of Mao Tse-tung. It is urged to use it as a model for combining theory and practice, and so develop an outlook in which ideology becomes a central part of everyday living and working.
THE PROCESS OF CREATING IDEOLOGY
Theory + Practice Thought
“Truth of Marxism-Leninism” + “Practice of Revolution
and construction of China” The Thought of
From all this we can conclude that, although Mao has not created pure ideology, he has again been credited with having created a practical ideology: this is his main contribution to the world.6
Marx is more than economics
Those who see Mao as being part of the Marxist tradition do not dispute these major differences between Mao and Marx, and even between Mao and Lenin. However, they argue that the ‘Maoists’ miss the point about Marx and Marxism, even if they are correct about Mao. Marx, they argue, was less of an economic determinist than they suggest, and that he did discuss the importance of willed ‘cultural’ change. Reducing Marx to a simple economic determinist is over-simplifying the thousands of words that Marx wrote.7
Maoism (A Distinct Theory) – Not Marxism
… At the risk of oversimplification, those who argue that Mao did create a new distinct ideology argue three main points. The first, perhaps least significant, revolves around the class-based nature of Mao’s revolutionary strategy. With no real proletariat to speak of, and no bourgeois revolution in place, then how could you get a proletarian revolution? Second, can a peasant-based revolution be Marxist?
The third point is the most substantial and pertinent. By defining class more as a state of mind than as an economically determined state, surely Mao moved too far away from Marx’s original work? …Mao then is a ‘voluntarist,’ who turns Marx on his head by emphasizing the primacy of willed social change as a precondition for economic change.8
The debate will continue. But does it matter? Does the peasant dying from starvation at the end of the Great Leap Forward accept his fate more readily because it was a Marxist Policy which led to his fate? The answer to the second question is no, but the answer to the first question is a resounding yes for three main reasons.
First, Mao was convinced he was right and convinced that his was the correct Marxist approach. While it is true that Mao wanted power, he did not want power for its own sake. He was also motivated by ensuring that his correct Marxist ideas were followed, and if people got in the way and relied on inappropriate Russian models, then those obstacles had to be removed.
Second, and following from above, we return to the importance of Sino-Soviet relations, and Mao’s attitude towards Soviet Marxism. In the international communist debate, it was important for Mao to ascertain that his ideas were not only part of the Marxist canon, but also the best model for others to follow in promoting revolution in the third world.
Third, and more important for this study, Mao had to argue that his ideas were correct Marxist ideas in competition with those Chinese leaders who instinctively and ideologically looked to Moscow for their inspiration. Unable to dominate the specifics of policy-making on a day-to-day level within the party-state bureaucracy, Mao’s major way of reasserting himself in the political arena was to maintain the importance of ideology on the political agenda. By continually keeping the ideological debate alive, and by continually emphasizing the correct Marxist approach of seeking truth from facts and asserting the primacy of the Chinese experience, Mao could reassert his views over and above those of his colleagues, and use the Marxist debate as a tool to attack his opponents. Defending his ideas as the only correct interpretation of Marxism in the Chinese case was a crucial component of Mao’s political strategy.9
Maoism = Alignment with Moscow (Leninists) & Internationalism – Anti Mao
Mao Thought = Nationalism – The Uniqueness of the Chinese Experience
The Significance of Language in Confucian tradition
Dr. Sun Zhoungshan
… In a country like China, where the rigid discipline of democratic centralism has been superimposed upon strong Confucian traditions of patriarchal authority and group conformity, party members and cadres are constantly – indeed compulsively – constrained to look to higher levels for cues as to what is necessary, appropriate, or even permissible language. Under such circumstances, even seemingly minor shifts in prevailing terminology may prove extremely important.10
The Republican Revolution of 1911
Dr. Sun Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen)11
National People’s party – Goumindang or GMD (Kuomintang or KMT)
The Chinese Republic
The Chinese nation-building efforts in the early years of the present century were, as argued by Mary Wright, ‘directed toward action and change in three different, though related spheres.’ They were, first, resistance to imperialism as reflected in China’s assertion of its sovereignty along the frontier areas and in the watchword ‘recovery of sovereign rights;’ secondly, organization of a modern centralized nation-state, capable of forcing back the imperialists and forwarding China’s aspirations in political, social, economic and cultural life; and less important, the overthrow of the Manchu Dynasty. These were in fact the responses China developed to the imperialist danger it was faced with. It is interesting to note that the Nationalist Revolution in 1911 only accomplished the least important task of Chinese nationalism.12
World War I, Versailles and the May 4th Movement
The Chinese Contribution – The 100,000
The outbreak of World War I in August 1914 was both a blessing and curse for China. It was a blessing because, as almost all European Powers were deeply involved in the War, they had to loosen their grip on China, and the war gave China a breathing space to develop its own infant industries. It was a blessing also because, probably unseen at the time, it meant the breakdown of the European system of balance of power and it carried a prospect of reorganization of the international system after the war, an opportunity for China to readjust its relations with the Powers and to find its own legitimate standing in the new international order. It was a curse because the war immediately spread to East Asia and because, as was soon proved, Japan was out to entrench itself and to bid for its supremacy in China at the expense of the interest of the other Powers.13
The Japanese and the 21 demands
After the armistice of November 11, 1918, ended the war with Germany’s defeat, anticipation in China ran high. There were triumphant parades in Peking, and an exuberant crowd demolished the memorial that the Qing (Manchu Dynasty) had been forced to raise in honor of the Germans killed by the Boxers. The Peking government was now headed by yet another Beiyang-faction president and premier; Duan Qirui had resigned in October 1918, but before doing so had used the huge Japanese loans to enhance his own military power and had continued to build a network of secret deals with the Japanese. The Chinese delegation to the postwar treaty negotiations at Versailles, sixty-two members strong, was headed by five capable diplomats who had never been fully briefed on what to expect. They were greeted at Versailles by the shattering announcement of the chief Japanese delegate that early in 1917, in return for Japanese naval assistance against the Germans, Great Britain, France, and Italy had signed a secret treaty ensuring “support [of] Japan’s claim in regard to the disposal of Germany’s rights in Shandong” after the war.
As if that were not bad enough, the Japanese also announced that they had come to secret agreements with Duan Qirui in September 1918, while he was still premier. These agreements granted the Japanese the right to station police and to establish military garrisons in Jinan and Qingdao, and mortgaged to Japan, in partial payment for its loans to China, the total income from two new Shandong railroads the Japanese planned to develop. The Chinese delegates seem to have been genuinely unaware of these humiliating secret agreements. President Woodrow Wilson, who had earlier been sympathetic to China’s desire to recover its Shandong rights, now felt that Japan had staked out a firm claim to them on the basis of international law. On April 30, 1919, he agreed with David Lloyd George of Britain and George Clemenceau of France to transfer all of the Germany’s Shandong rights to Japan.14
The May 4th Movement
The news of the Big Three’s decision in Paris to transfer Jiaozhou and former German interests in Shandong to Japan, when reaching Beijing, immediately threw the Chinese from pious hope to deep despair. ‘Young’s China’s faith in Wilsonian idealism was shattered to dust. “The New World Order” was no more!’ This frustration and exasperation was soon transferred into a national protest against the Paris decision on Shandong. An ‘unpremeditated nationalist movement’ was started by students in Beijing on May 4, 1919. …
… Chen Duxiu
The birth of Chinese nationalism was not, therefore, the inauguration of an ideological movement. Its very emergence did not imply any existence of a formulated political concept built upon precepts of European philosophers. Rather, it was a form of group consciousness primarily concerned with the survival of China as a nation. It was characterized by what Nehru latter called ‘an anti-foreign feeling.’ Mary Wright defined the massive Chinese nationalism as ‘an intense, widespread fear that China would be partitioned and the Chinese disappear as a people.’ From the beginning of the century, nationalism had been transformed into massive actions to resist imperialist oppression and domination of China.15
The Founding of the Chinese Communist Party
Third International of the Communist party (the Comintern) – March 1919
At the second Comintern congress, held in July 1920, Lenin took the position that the capitalist stage of development need not be inevitable for backward nations if they were aided by the Soviet Union. Peasant soviets would be encouraged in such cases, along with “a temporary alliance with bourgeois democratic parties.16
Two Approaches to Communism in China
Chen Duxiu (Ch’en Tu-hsiu) – Shanghai
Progressive Urban Elements would lead the party
Li Dazhao (Li Ta-chao) – National University of Peking librarian
Application of Marxism to Chinese Society
The role of the peasantry
Grigorii Voitinski 1920 – 3rd Communist International
China in the 1920’s – GMD and the CCP – The United Front / The Purge
Sun Zhongshan & Lenin – The United Front Strategy
United Front – Borodin, Oct. 1923
The Death of Sun (March 12, 1925) & Lenin (January 21, 1924)
The Transition struggle between Stalin & Trotsky
The CCP & GMD Split
J Jiang Jieshi (Chaing Kai-shek)
iang Jieshi (Chaing Kai-shek)
The Western Hills Group August 1925
The Purge of the CCP – April 1927
By the end of 1928 the Split is complete and the GMD under the leadership of Jiang Jieshi
The Split and the Long March
The Northern Campaign 1926
The Autumn Harvest Uprising – September 1927 (The division in the CCP – Peasant or Urban)
The Jiangxi Soviet (The Rural Strategy) – 1928-1934
The Long March – October 15, 1934 – October 20, 1935
The Long March – October 15, 1934 (85,000 Soldiers & 15,000 Government)
Li Da (Le Ti)
Bo Gu (Po Ku)
hou Enlai (Chou En-lai)
Zunyi (Tsunyi) Conference, January 15-18, 1935 – Mao’s Leadership
Wang Jiaxiang (Wang Chia-hsiang)
Zhou Enlai (Chou En-lai)
Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung)
Mao’s leadership and the role of Zhou Enlai (Chou En-lai)
Yenan and the Emergence of Mao Zedong
Summing up the experience in December 1935, Mao wrote: “The Long March is the first of its kind in the annals of History. It is a manifesto, a propaganda force, a seeding-machine. … It has proclaimed to the world that the Red Army is an army of heroes, while the imperialists and their running dogs, Chiang Kai-shek and his like, are impotent.”17
Part 2 – The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party
What was the CCP? – The Lost Chance
Is the CCP an Internationalist Party or a Nationalist Party? If it is Internationalist, it is firmly linked to the Soviet Union and International Communism. If it is Nationalist, it is not linked to the Soviet Union and instead it steers its own course and is open to other influences. This area tends to be dominated by the diplomatic historians.
What is Mao? The Mao Thought / Maoism debate. As we have seen in an earlier outline, there is a great deal of debate as to the nature of Mao ideology. The debate matters a great deal because it is through this debate that Mao is able to rise to power and it is through the debate that Mao is able to reassert his authority. This area tends to be dominated by the China studies community.
For the Leninists within the party [the CCP], the primacy was on economic recovery and development. Changing the way people think was not unimportant, but as China was a backward and underdeveloped country, they argued that the main task was to (re)build the economy. Once this was completed, then the party could move on to other tasks. For Mao, this approach was anathema, and was based on an over-strong acceptance of what he called ‘dogma’ and the rejection of the Chinese experience. He too believed that China should develop, and develop as quickly as possible. It was not the goal that Mao objected to but both the methods and the underlying principles that guided these goals.
Mao warned that whilst the Leninist proposals might lead to economic development in China, it would be to the detriment of building communism. The methods they planned to use would generate new forms of oppression, control and authority that would leave the Chinese masses as powerless as they had been before the revolution. If managers and experts controlled the revolution, then they would come to see themselves as superior to the workers (and the workers would perceive themselves as inferior). If bureaucrats and planners took control of the revolution, they would come to see themselves as superior to the proletariat, and the proletariat would either through coercion or habit develop a passive acceptance of the party’s right to dictate.18
The Connection between the two. Recently there has been a movement by historians to connect the two debates and the two fields of study. This movement has been spurred by an increase in access to historical material. The collapse of the Soviet Union has led to increased access to material regarding the rise and fall of the Sino-Soviet alliance and some expanded access to the records of the Chinese Communist Party. As a result, historians like Chen Jian (U.Va.) and others have been able to produce a synthesis of the two views that connects the domestic issues to the foreign policy issues. The role of development issues and China’s fear of imperialism take an important place in these new interpretations.
… Thus Mao’s China dramatically enhanced the theme of decolonization in the Communist Cold War discourse that had been overwhelmingly dominated by class-struggle-centered language. As a result, the emerging anti-imperialist / anticolonialist movements in non-Western countries became more tightly connected with the “proletarian world revolution.”19
Did the GMD lose? Or did the CCP win?
The CCP Won – Because of the War with Japan – Chalmers A. Johnson
… In other words, from 1921 to 1937 Communism failed in China because the Chinese people, in general, were indifferent to what the Communist Party had to offer. After 1937, it succeeded because the population became receptive to one particular kind of political appeal; and the Communist Party – in one of its many disguises – made precisely that appeal; it offered to meet the needs of the people for leadership in organizing resistance to the invader and in alleviating war-induced anarchy in the rural areas.20
The GMD Lost and the CCP Won – Suzanne Pepper
Politically, therefore, the CCP’s victory was as genuine as the KMT (GMD)’s21 defeat. In the cities, both were tempered by fear among intellectuals and capitalists that the Communists would in certain respects be worse than the KMT (GMD). In the countryside, the alienation of the ruling class was more than balanced by the strength of the mass base mobilized and organized in the process. In terms of their ability to cope with the problems that had undermined public confidence in the KMT (GMD) Government, the CCP’s record was clearly positive. The Communists did not just happen to be in the right place at the right time to benefit from the KMT (GMD) debacle. They did not win an unqualified mandate in 1949 to establish one-party Communist rule in Mainland China. But their achievements had been substantial enough to provide a basis for the transfer of popular allegiance to the new Communist-led Government.22
The War with Japan and United Front Part 2
Japanese aggression in Manchuria
“Manchuria-Mongolia Autonomous Movement” – September 1931 – Manchukou
The Long March – Oct. 1934 to October 1935 – Yenan
The 2nd United Front
The Comintern’s 7th Conference, August 1935 – Promote United Fronts against Fascism around the World
CCP policy change 1936 – “The National Liberation Anti-Japanese Association” – slogans “Chinese should not fight Chinese.”
The Sian Incident December 1936
The Nanking Government – GMD – Chiang Kai-shek
The capture of Chiang by Yang Hu-ch’eng – Force the United Front
The New United Front – “ally with Chaing against Japan.”
The Undeclared War, 1937
Invoking the Boxer Protocol of 1901 which permitted foreign signatories to station troops between Peking (Peiping) and the Sea, the Japanese garrison in North China in early July 1937 held a field exercise outside Peiping, near the Marco Polo Bridge. On the pretext that a soldier was missing, the Japanese demand to enter the nearby city of Wanping before midnight of July 7 to conduct a search. When refused by the local Chinese garrison – the 29th Army under General Sung Che-yuan – the Japanese army bombarded the city and occupied it at 4:30 on the morning of July 8, thus precipitating an undeclared war between the two countries.23
“The Rape of Nanking” – August 1937 – Chiang and the KMT to Chungking in Szechwan
The United Front (a second time) – September 22, 1937 –
“Together We Confront the National Crisis.”24
“Our fixed policy,” he said (Mao Zedong), “should be 70 percent expansion, 20 percent dealing with the Kuomintang, and 10 percent resisting Japan.”25
The Yenan Period (1937-45)
The Yenan period of wartime resistance (1937-45) provided Mao and the CCP with the much needed time to restructure the party and the army, organize the masses, and develop new social, political, and economic institutions. Mao was at the peak of his creativity, ingeniously reconciling the universalist Marxist-Leninist principles with the particularist demand of the Chinese conditions and the Chinese revolutionary experience. Hence, the Yenan experience was of seminal importance to the development of Chinese Communism; in it was planted the seed of Mao’s ultimate success.
The heart of the Yenan Way was the perfection of the mass line and the sharpening of revolutionary nationalism in the countryside, which became the twin pillars of Maoism. …26
Diane Shaver Clemens, Yalta. Oxford University Press, 1970, Pages 310-311.
he Yalta Conference – February 1945
The Big Three at Yalta
On February 11, 1945, Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, then in conclave at the Crimean port of Yalta, signed an agreement for disposing of Far Eastern questions. Stalin had conditioned the Soviet Union’s entrance into the war against Japan on that agreement, which would ensure the expansion of Soviet supremacy in Asia. The accord stated that the status quo in Outer Mongolia (the Mongolian People’s Republic) would be preserved, and that the “former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904” would be restored. In addition to validating various Soviet claims against Japan itself, Yalta gave Moscow extraterritorial rights in China and prescribed the conclusion of a treaty of alliance between Moscow and the Nationalist government in Chongqing (Chungking).
The security equation for Stalin was simple: subordinate the interests of weak states (including China) to those of the powerful, divide the strategic regions of the world into spheres of influence, and widen the buffer zones along the periphery of the Soviet State. His was the diplomacy of imperial Russia.27
The Treaty of Friendship and Alliance – August 14, 1945
he Effect of the War on China
The Civil War (1946-1949)
T Gen. Marshall & Chaing Kai-shek
he Coming of the Civil War
The Credibility of the CCP – US Policy
The Role of the Soviet Union
The Democratization of Chinese Politics – August 1945
Change in Soviet Policy
…When the Americans made it clear that they would exercise exclusive control of the occupation of Japan, the Soviets immediately decided to harden their policy toward the United States in East Asia and the GMD in China.
The Soviets were now willing to break their obligation under the Sino-Soviet treaty. Beginning in early October their attitude toward the Northeast issue changed further in the CCP’s favor. The Soviet Red Army began to create barriers against the GMD troops’ movement into the Northeast, claiming that until an overall solution of the Northeast issue had been worked out, they would not allow GMD troops to enter areas they occupied. In the meantime, the Soviets increased their support for the CCP. On 4 October, the Soviets advised the CCP Northeast Bureau that the Chinese Communists should move as many as 300,000 troops into the Northeast in one month’s time, and the Soviets would provide them with large numbers of weapons. On 19 October, the CCP leadership decided to “go all out to control the entire Northeast.”28 The connection between US-Soviet policy, the Bomb, and the Soviet Union’s role in China: As long as the Truman administration wanted Soviet entry [into the war against Japan], it had an incentive to press the Chinese to accept the Yalta Agreement. By the summer of 1945, however, Soviet policy in Europe made Soviet participation in the war against Japan appear less attractive to some members of the administration. Averell Harriman, the ambassador in Moscow, was very skeptical about the desirability of Soviet entry, and he urged [KMT diplomat] Soong, who reported to him regularly on the progress of his talks with Stalin and Molotov, to stand firm. After the Alamogordo [A-bomb] test, Soviet entry into the war appeared not only less desirable, but also less urgent. Byrnes, believing that prolonged Sino-Soviet talks would delay Soviet entry, cabled Soong from Potsdam to advise him not to give way to the Soviet Union on any point. “It is quite clear,” noted Churchill on July 23, “that the United States does not at the present time desire Russian participation in the war against Japan.” In spite of reservations among his advisers, however, Truman did not seek to withdraw from the Yalta Agreement.
Whether or not they knew of changing Western attitudes, the Soviet leaders feared that Britain and the United States might conclude the war with Japan before the Soviet Union was able to enter. The secret Bulletin of the Central Committee Information Bureau reported in its issue of July 1, 1945 that reactionary circles in Britain wanted a compromise peace with Japan in order to prevent the Soviet Union from strengthening its influence in the Far East. The same question, it noted, was being raised in American newspapers and journals as well. Stalin was afraid that if the war ended before the Soviet Union entered, the United States and Britain would renege on the Yalta Agreement, which was contingent upon Soviet participation in the war. “Stalin was leaning on our officers to start military action as soon as possible,” Nikita Khrushchev later recalled. “Stalin had his doubts about whether the Americans would keep their word. … What if Japan capitulated before we entered the war? The Americans might say, we don’t owe you anything.”29
The Marshall Mission – December 1945 – January 1947
Civil War June 1946
The Failure of the GMD
The Economy – Loss of Strength
This decision [by the GMD to give automatic wage adjustments based on increases in the cost of living/inflation] not only accelerated the upward wage-price spiral; it also compromised the KMT’s (GMD’s) long-standing alliance with business and industry. The Government was in effect obliged to trade a fitful peace on the labor front for the resentment of entrepreneurs, who argued that the concessions to labor were contributing to soaring production costs. High wage payments were only part of the problem. But the Government seemingly could not win, since it was responsible, either because of the inflation itself or because of the inadequate attempts to minimize its consequences, for virtually all other components of the problem as well. The resentment culminated in the August , 1948, reforms which finally brought the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce and the Shanghai Industrial Association into open denunciation of the Government’s policies.30
The impoverishment of the academic community did, of course, inspire one of the major themes of the student anti-war movement. The professors themselves precipitated the Anti-Hunger Anti-Civil War demonstrations in 1947 with their demands for, among other things, an increase in basic salary and automatic wage adjustments geared to the rise in the cost of living. The economic deprivations caused by the Government’s use of the printing press to finance the war provided one important issue for those who argued against the Civil War, and obviously helped to undermine support for it within the intellectual community. But unlike the labor movement, which fed directly on the economic chaos created by the inflation, the intellectuals’ aversion to the Civil War was based on a more complex assessment of the nature of KMT (GMD) rule and the sacrifices the nation as a whole should have to bear in order to preserve it. The intellectuals own impoverishment was only one of the considerations apparent in their assessment. They opposed the Civil War because they reasoned it was too high a price to pay in order to keep in power the KMT (GMD) as it was then constituted.31
… The printing press may have been the government’s chief source of revenue, but the Government depended also on a land tax, on the compulsory purchase of grain at lower than market prices, and on the collection of grain on loan. These levies, together with requisitions to support local needs, the abuses associated with conscription, and the disruptions caused by a poorly disciplined and underpaid army in the field, created insupportable burdens for the peasantry. Finally, an increasingly militaristic government, and increased political alienation among the public, were also condemned as direct results of the war. For all these reasons, the Government’s insistence on fighting it, while failing to implement any of the reforms that might have made it more acceptable, provided the strongest possible evidence to support the charge that the KMT (GMD) Government did not exist “for” the people; that, to the contrary, it was willing to sacrifice the interests of the nation as a whole in pursuit of its own selfish aims; and that it was basically incapable of serving that end effectively.32
The Success of the CCP
First, the Communists had built a record of credibility which served them well in 1949. The KMT (GMD) had a habit of saying one thing and doing another, of promulgating reform measures and never implementing them. The Communists, by contrast, had a reputation of keeping their word, for actually implementing their policies, and for correcting their mistakes. The Communists said that their ultimate goal was the realization of communism in China. No one doubted that this was their goal. But the Communists also said that it would take many years to achieve it, and that in the meantime they planned to build a New Democratic society in which there would be a place and a need for everyone, bourgeois intellectuals and national capitalists as well as worker and landowning peasant. Since the Communists said this, intellectuals and capitalists were inclined to believe it.33
Flexible Tactics – The CCP was willing to adapt and change ideologically in order to achieve its goals.
… The repudiation was formalized, toward the end of 1947, with the campaign against left adventurism. At this time, the Party’s orientation toward business, industry, labor, and the intelligentsia shifted towards maximizing production and creating an alliance of the greatest possible number in the interests of achieving total victory. The new line stressed cooperation with private capital, the rationalization of management in public enterprise, and the necessity of winning over the intellectuals regardless of their ideological differences with communism…
The anti-leftist campaigns of 1948 provided the basis of the successful take-over of urban China in 1949.34
Mass Movement – Mass Activation Through Class Struggle: The Mother of all Party Work
The winning formula had emerged during the war with Japan. Having abandoned violent land confiscation in the interest of the anti-Japanese united front, the Communists were obliged to look for new ways of transferring wealth from those who had it to those who did not. This shift was particularly significant in north China, where tenancy was not the dominant problem and a majority of the peasants owned the land they tilled. As a result of their search, the Communists’ rural land policy had expanded by 1945, through the “settling of old accounts” tactic, to encompass the full range of issues that would provide benefits to the “basic masses” of north China. In addition to the material incentives provided by the redistribution of wealth derived through the settling accounts struggle, the Communists could offer a solution for what the peasantry as a whole perceived as its most immediate grievances: the corrupt and arbitrary use of political power and social position within the village community.
In exploiting these issues, together with all the others associated with the ownership and use of land, unpaid labor, and indebtedness, the CCP had discovered a formula for “mass activation through class struggle” even in areas where landlords were not a problem that concerned the village masses. In the process, the Chinese Communists had not only found the means of destroying the rural system of economic and political power; they had also discovered how to mobilize peasant support for the construction of a new one.35
Mao and the Creation of the PRC
October 1, 1949
he land reform program was the Communists’ key revolutionary effort of the subsequent Civil War period. The development of that program in north China, and the experience gained in the manner of and conditions for its implementation, must be counted among the most important experiences the Communists brought from the Anti-Japanese War. These lessons were formalized in the Party’s directive of May 4, 1946, which marked the official shift from rent reduction to land reform. Land reform as outlined in the May Fourth Directive, however, was nothing more nor less than the multi-featured struggle movement that had been developing in practice throughout the Anti-Japanese War.
The relationship between land reform and the prerequisites for implementing it was one that was mutually sustaining. Land reform was significant as a means of mobilizing the peasants to participate in the Struggle against Chiang Kai-shek. At the same time, the purpose of the armed struggle was to make possible the realization of land reform. …36
October 1, 1949 – The People’s Republic of China – Just the Beginning
Mao and the CCP leadership attached even greater importance to the problem of maintaining the inner dynamics of the Chinese Communist revolution after victory than they did to political consolidation and economic reconstruction. This emphasis was to play a decisive role in shaping Communist China’s foreign policy. Mao titled his 1949 New Year’s message “Carry the Revolution through to the End.” According to him and other CCP leaders, the “end” of the revolution must be understood at two different levels. First, the CCP was determined to eliminate the GMD military forces and to overthrow the GMD regime so that “the Chinese reactionaries would not be able to come back, by taking advantage of the compromise of the revolutionaries, as had happened during the 1911 revolution and the North Expedition [of 1927].” Second, Mao was contemplating how to push the revolution forward after its victory. In his report to the Central Committee’s Second Plenary Session, Mao pointed out that the CCP’s seizure of power was only the completion of the first step in the long march of the Chinese Communist revolution, and that “the road after the victory would be longer, the work greater and more arduous.” Mao warned the members of the party:
It will not require much time and effort to win the nationwide victory, but to consolidate it will. The bourgeoisie doubts our ability to construct. The imperialists reckon that eventually we will beg alms from them in order to live. With victory, such moods as arrogance, self-styled heroism, inertia and unwillingness to advance, preoccupation with pleasure-seeking, and a distaste for continued hard struggle may grow within the party. With victory, the people will be grateful to us and the bourgeoisie will come forward to flatter us. It has been proved that the enemy can not conquer us by force of arms. The flattery of the bourgeoisie, however, may conquer the weak-willed in our ranks. There may be some Communists who were not conquered by enemies with guns and were worthy of the name of heroes for standing up to these enemies, but who cannot withstand the sugar-coated bullets; they will be defeated by sugar-coated bullets. We must guard against such a situation.
This emphasis on “carrying the revolution through to the end” was a long-standing preoccupation in Mao’s thinking. As early as 1939 and 1940, Mao stated in The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party and On New Democracy, two of his most important works, that the Chinese Communist revolution would be divided into two stages: the stage of new democratic revolution and the stage of socialist revolution. During the first stage, the revolution had to overthrow the rule of the bureaucratic-capitalist class, wipe out foreign influence, eliminate remnants of feudal tradition, and establish a Communist-led regime that would unify all patriotic social classes in China. The second stage of the revolution would transform the Chinese society, including the economic system, political structure, and social life, under the leadership of the Communist regime. This transformation would lay the foundation of China’s transition into a socialist and latter a Communist society. In Mao’s view, the two stages of the revolution were closely linked: without the first stage, the second stage of the revolution would be impossible; without the second stage, the first stage of the revolution would become meaningless. When Mao called for “carrying the revolution through to the end” in 1949, he was thinking about leading the revolution into its necessary second stage.37
IB Topics in 20th Century History
Log Requirements & Reading assignments
The Great Chinese Revolution Begins
1. Shaun Breslin, Mao – Introduction – Due September 29th
Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War – Introduction– September 29th
Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War – Chapter 1– October 6th
Shaun Breslin, Mao – Chapter 1 – Due October 14th
Shaun Breslin, Mao – Chapter 2 – Due October 20th
Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War – Chapter 2– October 27th
Paper #1: The Emergence and Development of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), 1946-1964
See Page 18 – The completed DBQ is due on 23rd for Red Day classes and the 24th for Blue day Classes. The DBQ must be turned in both to Turnitin.com and a copy to the instructor at the beginning of your class meeting the day it is due.