Chinese Civil War

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Chiang Kai-shek (1887—1975) Chinese statesman and general, President of China 1928–31


Mao Zedong (1893—1976) Chinese statesman

Long March

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(1927–37; 1946–49)

Conflicts between nationalist and communist Chinese forces. Hostilities broke out in 1927 during Chiang Kai-shek's Northern Expedition, with anti-leftist purges of the Kuomintang and a series of abortive communist urban uprisings. Communist strength was thereafter most successfully established in rural areas and its supporters were able to utilize guerrilla tactics to neutralize superior nationalist strength. After a three-year campaign, Chiang finally managed to destroy the Jiangxi Soviet established by Mao Zedong, but after the Long March (1934–35), the communists were able to re-establish themselves in Yan'an, in the north of the country. Hostilities between the two sides were reduced by the Japanese invasion of 1937 and, until the end of World War II in 1945, an uneasy truce was maintained as largely separate campaigns were fought against the common enemy. Violence broke out briefly immediately the war ended, resuming on a widespread basis in April 1946 after the US general George Marshall had failed to arrange a lasting compromise settlement. During the first year of the renewed conflict, numerically superior nationalist troops made large territorial gains, including the communist capital of Yan'an. Thereafter Kuomintang morale began to crumble in the face of successful military operations by the communists and decreasing confidence in their administration, so that by the end of 1947 a successful communist counter-offensive was well under way. In November 1948 Lin Biao completed his conquest of Manchuria, where the nationalists lost half a million men, many of whom defected to the communists. In Central China the nationalists lost Shandong and in January 1949 were defeated at the battle of Huai-Hai (near Xuzhou). Beijing fell in January, Nanjing and Shanghai in April. The People's Republic of China was proclaimed (1 October 1949) and the communist victory was complete when the nationalist government fled from Chongqing to Taiwan in December.

Subjects: World History.

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