The Civil War China Between Nationalists and Communists

The civil war between Nationalists and Communists came to an end on the Chinese continent during the year 1949. Faced with the superior organization and discipline of the Communist troops, the nationalist ones, undermined in morale by the skilful adversary propaganda, badly guided by incapable leaders, little supported by the home front, upset by the severe economic crisis produced by rising inflation, they were unable to offer valid resistance.

According to Petsinclude, the war against Japan had offered the Communists the opportunity to considerably extend their influence: at the end of 1945 about one million km 2with 100 million residents and about two million soldiers of the popular militia obeyed Mao. Therefore Chiang Kai-shek after the capitulation of Japan (August 15, 1945), was first concerned with eliminating the Communist state of Yenan as soon as possible. However, the period August 1945-June 1946 represented a semitregua regime, which was followed in 1946 by the open war between the Communists and the Chungch’ing government. With the help of the USA, Chiang prepared to implement the millennial Chinese strategy of the “vertical” plan; with the support of the USSR, Mao Tse-tung responded by attempting to implement the “horizontal” plan, also millennial, of Chinese strategy (since its origins, in China, the kingdoms based on Shenhsi have always tried to expand from west to east, along the Yellow River: “horizontal” plane; while the Southern kingdoms have always tried to apply the “vertical” plane, that is, to proceed in the direction of the meridians to frustrate the advance of rivals in the direction of the parallels and reject them in the inhospitable West).

The civil war broke out openly and massively in July 1946; backed by American aid (totaling, in July 1946-July 1947, two billion and 252 million dollars in weapons, ammunition and war and parabellic supplies), Chiang aimed for a decisive success. But the corruption and incapacity of nationalist China, the commitment and clever wearying strategy of Yenan’s leadership substantially frustrated the enormous effort of the adversaries. At the end of 1946 and for the whole of 1947 the forces in attendance amounted to 2,600,000 men for the nationalists and 1,100,000 for the Communists; from the point of view of small arms (rifles and machine guns), the superiority of the nationalists was still 3-4 against 1. Chiang sought to strategically exploit his superiority to secure control of the Beijing-Hank’ou, Ch’inan-P’uk’ou, Ch’inan-Chiaochou railways in North China, in order to separate the communist forces. and first beat those located in the coastal provinces, then those in the inland provinces. At the same time, in Manchuria, Chiang aimed for an offensive on Harbin, while trying to consolidate himself in the Mukden region and at the same time free his rear in Liaoning and Jehol from the harassment exercised by the Communists. The nationalists obtained some successes, but of limited importance, also for the tactics adopted by the Communists aimed, in the face of the superiority of the enemy forces, more at guerrilla warfare than at a battle in the open countryside.

In spite of everything, the decisive superiority was always located on the moral level: from the first major clashes, the lack of combativeness of the nationalist troops, discouraged and passive, and therefore lacking a real effective weapon against a resolute and elusive enemy, appeared clear. The American aid that those troops received continuously failed to galvanize them, and often passed to the Communists, even in the first fight. Despite the flashy success of the nationalists, who had entered Yenan on March 19, 1947, already during this first campaign, for the shrewd defense of the Communists, the operations in Shantung, Hopei, Shanhsi, Manchuria had ended in July 1947, with the defeat of the strategic aims of annihilation of the SM of the Kuo Min Tang.

From July to September 1947, the people’s army then even went on the offensive on a national scale, because by now strong in its aggressive desire for liberation, its training, its rearmament done at the expense of the adversaries. Indeed, Mao’s ninth military principle had been radically done by the Red Army: “Strengthen our forces by capturing all enemy weapons and most effective enemies. The main source of our equipment and our strengths. is at the front “. (Nationalist soldiers taken prisoner, after being indoctrinated and politically educated, turned into enthusiastic and aggressive fighters.) In the course of 1948 the relationship of forces between the two contenders was singularly transformed; at the end of June the nationalists had 2,180,000 men, of whom however only 980,000 were armed, and 21,000 guns; the Communists of 1,560,000 regular and armed men, assisted by 700,000 guerrillas, and 22,800 guns.

From September-October 1947 the warfare of Mao and his generalissimo Chu Teh marked the beginning of a profound evolution in Manchuria and in North China; siege actions were no longer feared and the great commitments in the open countryside began to be faced. The operations of the Communists gradually became more coordinated and more precise in their aims, more prudent in the choice of objectives. Furthermore, while in July 1946-July 1947 the communist operations took place mainly in the north, in Manchuria and in Shantung, after July 1947 the communists operating in central China had quintupled, reaching half of their numbers by 10 July 1948.

The battle of Ich’ang of February 29-March 10, 1948 freed Yenan and Shenhsi from the presence of the nationalists; the battle of Loyang of 12 March-7 April 1948 connected the communist Shanhsi to central China; although the success of the Nationalists in the Second Battle of K’aifeng of 25 June-8 July 1948 had partially nullified the advantages of the First Battle of K’aifeng of 30 May-15 June 1948, the Communists had also remained firmly established in China. central due to the remarkable tactical and psychological advantages gained also in the second battle of K’aifeng. Compounding the general situation of Chiang supervened in the second half of 1948 the disasters of Manchuria, where, after the battle of Chinchou of September 25 to October 17 and the Liaoning October 27 to 30, not c’was that the battled armies should be withdrawn as soon as possible, according to the advice that for some time had given in vain the American general Barr, head of the JUSMAG (Joint USMilitary Advisory Group), i.e. of the group of US advisers seconded to the Kuo Min Tang.

Although the loss of Manchuria had cost the nationalists 400,000 men, plus all their armament (for a third American), that loss also had the considerable advantage of relieving the government of a formidable burden (due to the peripherality of the Manchurian theater and the difficulty communications), allowing them to focus their efforts south of the Great Wall. It was a strategic possibility of recovery offered to Chiang; except that the progressive moral and tactical superiority of the communists soon thwarted any reasonable hope of recovery on the part of the nationalists. In fact, the second half of 1948 accentuated the ruinous pace of operations for the government, which, with the battle of Ch’inan on 15-25 September, completely lost control of the Shantung. and with the battle of Hsüchou on November 5, 1948 – January 10, 1949, they handed over all of central China (as well as northern) to the Communists. These, having inflicted on the enemies in Hsüchou, the greatest battle of the entire civil war, a loss of 600,000 men, they easily moved to the left of the Yangtze: the passage of the historic river became now possible and, for this very reason, the last possibility. of the Kuo Min Tang was lost.

The president of the USA, H. Truman, seeing that the nationalists above all lacked the will to defend themselves, on 10 December 1948 refused any shipment of materials, intended in reality to supply the Communists; on December 21, the White House officially announced “the suspension of the aid program for the reconstruction of China”. The period between January 10, 1949 (end of the battle of Hsüchou) and April 20 (beginning of the red resolution offensive) saw the consolidation of Mao’s government and troops, the preparation of the latter for the final trial, the surrender of gen. It was Tso-yi of Kuo Min Tang, who in Hopei and southern Chahar had also resisted the Communists validly. But after the battle of Hsüchou, the days of Fu, surrounded on all sides by enemies, were numbered;

The consequences were more than serious for the nationalists: the Peking-Mukden, Peking-Kalgan, Peking-T’ienchin communication routes opened up to the Communes, who reorganized them; moreover, the railway nucleus mentioned was used as a base for supplying the armies along the left of the Yangtze, as the two most important longitudinal railway axes of China, Beijing-Nanjing and Beijing-Hangchou, unwind from that nucleus. After the capitulation of Fu, and when events fell, Chiang Kai-shek left the government on January 21, 1949 and was replaced by Vice President Li Tsung-jen who began peace negotiations. In reality, the negotiations that took place from February to April 1949 were nothing more than a transparent screen, to allow the two sides to reorganize their forces. ultimatum. As of April 12, the Beijing government was to declare that “in peace or war” it permitted the passage of people’s armies south of the Yangtze; the nationalists asked for an extension of the deadline for the ultimatum, which the Communists postponed to April 20. After appealing to the USA once again in vain, Chiang rejected the ultimatum on April 20, but demanded an armistice to continue negotiations. The adversaries, however, were now ready, so that in response the popular armies, on the orders of Mao and Chu Teh, crossed the Yangtze. Immediately seeing the impossibility of resisting, the government armies took the road to Canton, while Chiang flew to Formosa.

On the eve of the last phase of the war, the forces present were as follows: from the nationalists, 1,400,000 US troops, of which 500,000 were service troops, from the communists about 1,625,000 all combatants, and about 1,000. 000 of guerrillas. The balance of forces had radically changed; at the beginning of 1948 the nationalists enjoyed a superiority of 3 to 1, now the communists of 3 to 2. As for the materials, the bulk had passed from the Chiang camp to that of Mao, which from 1 July 1946 to 31 January 1949 had captured 1,700,000 rifles, 193,000 machine guns and automatic weapons, 37,000 cannons and mortars, 1,900,000 hand grenades, 513 tanks; this material, largely American, ensured a large superiority to the Communists who, now sure of victory.

Less some success gained on behalf of the nationalists by the leader of the Muslims of Kansu, from all over the governments suffered setbacks: at the end of May 1949, the communist attack front had gone beyond Nanking, Shanghai, Ningpo, Nanch’ang, Hank ‘ou; in mid-July, the advance had reached Fuchou, Ch’angsha and Ank’ang (lower Shenhsi); on 8 September, all of China was occupied except for the four historical provinces of Kuangtung, Kuanghsi, Yünnan, Szuch’uan. But on 15 October Canton capitulated, on 17 the two ports of Swatow, in Kuangtung, and Amoy, in Fuchien; with this the Chinese coast had fallen under the complete control of the Communists. Who, after the liquidation of southeastern China, faced the west to destroy the last remnants of the nationalist forces: it was a real military walk. On November 30, the inaccessible Chungch’ing fell, which the Japanese had never even been able to threaten in eight years of war; on 11 December, the province of Yünnan solidarized with Mao; on the 15th the governor of Hsik’ang (in the Chinese Far West) took a similar initiative; on the 27th, Ch’engtu, the last great city in the far west of China’s own, surrendered a few hours after the last nationalist ministers had left by plane for Formosa. Of the China of the Kuo Min Tang, only groups of guerrillas in Yünnan and Hsik’ang remained on the continent. From July 1946 to the end of December 1949, the Communists had annihilated about 6,500,000 men and captured all materials from the nationalists.

The Civil War China Between Nationalists and Communists

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