the chinese revolution and the korean war kevin j. benoy

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  • The Chinese Revolution and the Korean WarKevin J. Benoy

  • WW2 EndsJust as the end of the world called into question the future geopolitical situation in Europe, Asia was also in a state of flux after Japan collapsed.In Asia the preponderant military power was America so initially it appeared that American interests would come out on top.

  • WW2 EndsNeither of the new super-powers considered the possibility of a Communist China.Stalin seemed committed to accommodation with Chiang Kai Sheks (Jiang Zhongzheng in Mandarin) Kuomintang (Guomindang). As Stalins biographer, Isaac Deutscher notes, Stalin was: contemptuous of partisans, sceptical of the chances of communism in China, and distrustful of any revolution asserting itself without his fiat and beyond the range of his military power.The Americans also underestimated Maos partisans and were confident Chiang would become the policeman of the Far East in cooperation with the USA.

  • Maos CCP (Chinese Communist Party)Mao was more confident in his own forces than was his Soviet sponsor.He understood better than anyone outside China that KMT (GMD) power rested on a fragile base.

  • Maos CCPDuring WW2 the Communists waged a reasonably effective guerilla war against the Japanese.They were seen as Chinese patriots willing to continue the struggle even behind Japanese lines.The KMT were seen as ineffective. Chiang seemed to place more importance on conserving his forces to use later, against the communists, than risk them against the Japanese prior to Japans invasion in 1937.

  • Maos CCPIn 1937 the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) had 5 secure base areas with a population of 12 million people.In 1945 there were 19 base areas with 100 million people.

  • The KuomintangKMT government was ineffective.Corruption was rife. Officials were as likely as not to be lining their own pockets and those of their landowning friends with whatever could be skimmed from foreign aid or from national production.Little or nothing was done for the rural peasantry, making up the bulk of Chinas population.

  • The KuomintangPeasants remembered that Chiang tolerated food profiteering during the 1930s a time of rural famine. Peasants also faced high taxes and forced labour when many landlords conspicuously displayed their wealth.

  • The KuomintangLaws intended to prevent child labour were not enforced.Factory inspectors were openly bribed, yet nothing was done to stop the practice because Chiang was afraid of alienating his industrialist backers.

  • The CommunistsCompared to the KMT, the Communists appeared paragons of virtue.Land reform took place in Communist areas; all, including the poorest peasants, received some land.Corruption was not tolerated by the thoroughly dedicated CCP leadership.

  • Wars EndAt the end of the war American and Soviet forces ensured their clients, Chiang and Mao, moved in to replace the defeated Japanese in occupied territories.Manchuria fell into Communist hands (though Stalin saw this as temporary giving him a bargaining chip).To the South Chiangs KMT took control.In both cases, Chinese forces inherited the weapon stocks of the defeated Japanese.

  • Wars EndAs Soviet troops withdrew from Manchuria, they took with them about $200 million in industrial machinery.When Chiangs troops finally entered the northern province, they were in a difficult situation.They could only assert control in the cities.Like the Japanese before them, they faced a hostile populationand their supply lines ran through hostile territory.

  • Wars EndAttempts to reconcile the KMT and CCP by US General George C. Marshall seemed to help as a compromise settlement was worked out in early 1946.However, nationalist (KMT) generals, fearing loss of power in a reconstructed national army, and CCP elements opposing expanded KMT influence in Manchuria, sank the deal.Marshall called for an embargo on arms shipments to China but to no avail.He left China blaming both sides as civil war raged.

  • Civil WarChiang had strong support in the USA the China Lobby business interests and missionary groups opposed to communism.Trumans policies elsewhere had stirred up strong anti-communist feelings now the administration was a prisoner of the great fear. Pressure to resume aid to Chiang grew stronger.

  • Civil WarAt first the KMT enjoyed some success in N. China and Manchuria, taking many of the cities from the communists.However, economic trouble caused by the high cost of paying for the war undermined Chiangs efforts.

  • Civil WarInefficiency and corruption, along with high inflation, could not be countered by even large-scale US aid about $900 million worth of military equipment was sold to Chiang for about 20% of its real cost.Civilian and military morale suffered.

  • Civil WarFinancial matters in CCP controlled rural areas were of less consequence, as most lived outside the cash economy.Communist morale remained high.

  • Civil WarIn January, 1947 communist forces began an offensive that captured of KMT territory in Manchuria.Mass KMT desertions followed and much equipment fell into CCP hands.

  • Civil WarOther Communist forces advanced in Central China.In 1948, decisive Communist victories occurred in North China.Each CCP victory sapped KMT strength and undermined KMT morale.

  • Civil WarIn a key battle for Hsuchow, total air superiority and superior armour could not overcome inept KMT leadership.By January, surrounded KMT forces numbering 500,000 men surrendered with all of their equipment.

  • Civil WarIn 1949 Chiang resigned and was replaced by General Li but the situation was hopeless.Nanking, Hankow and Shanghai fell.By the end of 1949 only Hainan, Taiwan and some small islands were in KMT hands.

  • Civil WarThe KMT government re-established itself on Taiwan taking with it as much of Chinas wealth as possible, including most of the national gold reserves and much treasure from mainland museums.Chiang came out of retirement to head what was left of Nationalist China.America was shocked that $35 billion in aid were not enough to give Chiang victory in the civil war.

  • Communist VictoryMao now had the mammoth task of re-building a war-torn mainland China.He began talks with Stalin (who he did not trust), hoping to receive aid.For his part, Stalin wanted to exploit the unexpected communist windfall, while realizing that Maos victory also presented the Soviets with problems.

  • Communist VictoryIt was clear that Mao would expect Stalin to give up some of his Manchurian booty.Ideological differences between the two leaders were vast, despite their common Marxist rhetoric.Stalin was a European proletarian communist, whereas Mao was an Asian communist with his roots planted firmly in the rural peasantry.

  • Communist VictoryAfter 3 hard months of negotiations in secret talks, a deal was finally reached.On February 14, 1950 a formal alliance was signed.Stalin promised to return what his forces took from Manchuria.The Manchurian railway would be returned to China not later than the end of 1952.Port Arthur was returned (though Dairen remained in Soviet hands).Generous development aid was promised though only $300 million was ever delivered.Stalin wanted to avoid having another breakaway Communist country like Jugoslavia. He needed any help he could get at a time of increasing friction between the USSR and the capitalist West.

  • Americas ResponseCommunisms terrific success in Asia shook US leadership.Though the Truman Doctrine spoke forcefully of containing communism, it was felt that more was needed.In early 1950 the National Security Council began work on a secret document (declassified in 1975), known as NSC-68, which would form the basis of US policy for the next 20 years.America was committed to massive re-armament to the tune of $50-60 billion in spending per year.

  • Americas ResponseThe premise of the document was that the US and USSR were locked in a struggle of ideologies which ...inescapably confronts the slave society with the free... To that end Soviet efforts are now directed toward the domination of the Eurasian land mass.

  • Americas ResponseSecretary of State Dean Acheson overruled the opposition of two key State Department experts on Russia, George Kennan and Charles Bohlen, who felt Stalin had no master plan for world conquest.Acheson felt it necessary for the USA to launch a world-wide offensive to gain the initiative in the Cold War.Events of 1950 were sufficient to convince Truman that Acheson was right.

  • KoreaAt the end of hostilities in 1945, Korea was divided into two zones of occupation at the 38th Parallel to facilitate the surrender of Japanese forces.The United Nations called for free elections in the entire country to determine a post-war government.No agreement was reached on a formula suitable for both occupying powers.

  • KoreaFrustrated by Communist intransigence, the UN supervised elections in the South in 1948.The result was the establishment of the Republic of Korea (ROK), under President Syngman Rhee.

  • KoreaIn the North, the Soviets installed their own protg Kim Il Sung in the new Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea a month later.When American And Soviet troops pulled out of Korea in 1949, they left two mutually antagonistic regimes in Seoul and Pyongyang with two leaders claiming to be the legitimate leader of the whole country.

  • KoreaBoth rulers were authoritarian.Kim Il Sung adopted the traditional communist methods of dealing with the opposition.Syngman Rhee also disregarded constitutional rights to the point where the US State Department registered a protest of his action

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