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With reference to one specific example, assess (a) the reasons for the use of guerrilla warfare, and (b) its effectivene

The CCP under the leadership of Mao Zedong during the Long Civil War against the GMD.
by

justin phua

on 26 November 2012

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Transcript of With reference to one specific example, assess (a) the reasons for the use of guerrilla warfare, and (b) its effectivene

The reasons and effectiveness of the Communists use of guerrilla warfare during the Chinese Civil War. Guerrilla warfare throughout modern history is often associated with a revolutionary nature and cause. This is particularity relevant in the case of the Chinese Civil War of 1927 to 1949 during which Mao Zedong had developed his theory of Guerrilla warfare and had put in into practice against both the Nationalists Kuomintang and the Imperialists Japanese invaders. The nature of the war, being one fought for the emancipation of the peasant majority of such a large nation such as China calls for the use of such unorthodox military tactics due to the circumstances these CCP faced. The results of such tactics had been clear with the victory of the CCP over the GMD in 1949; however to what extent did guerilla warfare contributed to the Communists victory is debatable. As such, the conditions faced by the Mao Zedong and the CCP will be examined to identify the applicability of guerrilla warfare in particular reference to the Chinese Civil War. Additionally, the degree of effectiveness regarding the use of such tactics will also be examined. Mao Zedong is often considered to be the father of modern insurgency and developing the Guerrilla Warfare known today through his book “On Guerrilla Warfare” written in 1937 while in retreat during the war against the GMD. It had been his intentions of developing such tactics in light of the Japanese invasion of China that broke that same year. As seen in China during the period, the use of guerrilla warfare had largely stemmed from necessity and stipulation rather than by choice. It had been developed for use by a combat force that is inferior in both resources and manpower against an enemy vastly superior in these aspects. It takes into consideration the importance of conditions of terrain, climate, and society in resisting the enemy. In his theories, Mao had focused on shifting the emphasis normally given to the fundamental components of conventional military tactics. In contrast to focus being placed on traditional military components such as arms, logistics and manpower, of which are largely accessible to by industrialized nations. Mao had acknowledged the CCP’s position of lacking such tangible advantages and instead focuses on aspects which the CCP could exploit against the GMD. Instead, he had based his military doctrine on factors that a resource disadvantaged force could exploit and focuses around the intangible aspects of time, space and will. An example of the contrasts between conventional and guerilla warfare would be to retreat in face of a better equipped or greatly numbered army, sacrificing land for time. These theories would play a crucial role in bringing about the CCP’s success against the GMD throughout the course of the Civil War. The Chinese Civil War had originated from the GMD’s leader Chiang Kaishek’s fear of the CCP and the spread of communism undermining the authority of the Nationalists. As a result, he had set out on a campaign of purging China of communist influence. As a result of being the legitimately elected government, the Nationalists armed forces had consisted of the official standing army of China, fully equipped and manned. This had provided them with the conventional advantages of a standing army in contrast to the Red Army of the communists which consisted of volunteers and militia. The Communists sourced the majority of their support from industrial workers and peasants due to the promise of land that they had made and had set up the Jiangxi province as the center of communist operations in China at the time. However, in light of the Nationalists assault of the Jiangxi Soviet, the Chinese Soviet Republic had undergone one of the greatest military retreats in history, where multiple Communist armies, under the eventual leadership of Mao Zedong, and fled across China to the north-western province of Yinan. It was during the Long March when Mao had begun to develop the tactics of guerrilla warfare, during which the circumstances of their retreat had forced the use of such unconventional tactics. It was through their experiences of setting up camps and integrating themselves within the rural population to avoid detection where the central concept of using the support of the rural population against the superior forces of the GMD. Despite the GMD’s superior military advantage, the results of the CCP’s effective application of guerrilla tactics had enabled them to avoid complete defeat. The concept of retreating when the enemy advances and attacking when they are divided was effective applied by the CCP’s tactic of drawing Nationalist forces into their territory using the theory of space for time trade, and attacking their divided forces in familiar territory. The CCP had effectively infiltrated the GMD forces through the use of hit and run tactics by exploiting their flexibility and mobility, enabling them to reduce their own casualties while engaging a superior enemy. As a result of the relative success of the CCP’s use of guerilla tactics during the Long March and throughout the Second Sino-Chinese War against both the Japanese and the GMD during the ongoing Civil War. The Red Army could effectively adapt their guerilla forces into a more conventional form by the end of the Second World War, during which the CCP had emerged in a superior position in their control over China. The use of guerrilla tactics had allowed them consolidates their own forces while weakening those of the GMD through the mobilization and support of the Chinese peasantry to which they appealed to. Despite the perceived tactical success of the communist, the extent of how significant guerilla warfare had been in contributing to the success of the CCP is disputable. With a number of limitations to the effectiveness of guerrilla tactics contributing to the success of the communist, it is clear that there are some underlining faults to its significance to the CCP’s victory. Arguably, the CCP victory had only materialized in light of the USA’s intervention in the Second Sino-Chinese War during the outbreak of the Second World War in 1941, which led to the ceasefire agreement made with the GMD in order to cooperatively defend China against Japan. It had been this period which was crucial to the CCP by allowing them to reorganize, rearm and consolidate their forces which had enabled their effective use of guerrilla warfare against the Nationalist once the civil war resumed in 1949 at the defeat of Japan. As such, it can be said that the Communist successful use of guerrilla warfare had been reliant on the conditions brought about by unforeseen circumstances and foreign intervention, without which the CCP would have fallen regardless of their tactics against the superior forces of the GMD. This brings about the theory which undermines the claim that the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare had been the pinnacle contributing factor to communist victory, supporting the largely debated notion that it had been the weaknesses and flaws of the GMD, in its weaken post-Second World War state, which enabled the CCP to succeed. Similarly, the results of the famed Long March as the gold standard for the use of guerrilla tactics had resulted in only 1/10 of its starting force surviving and making it to Yinan from Jiangxi. This supports the notion that guerrilla warfare had been used as a last resort in light of having no alternative tactic to combat the militarily superior Nationalists. The fact that the CCP had transitioned into more conventional forms of warfare towards the end of the Civil War, which had led to the victory of the Communists, when they had achieved strategic and military superiority, suggests that the role of guerrilla warfare was not as central to the communist’s military doctrine as often perceived. It can be concluded that, although it is clear that guerrilla warfare did contribute to the enabling the CCP to succeed and prevail over their Nationalists counterpart, it had not been the sole reason for their victory. A more balance perspective would be that it had been a combination of a number of factors in favour of the communists and at the plight of the nationalists which slowly turned the tide into the CCP’s favour, before which they had effectively used guerrilla tactics to survive and continuously resist the GMD. As such, guerrilla warfare had been a necessary contributor to the operations of the communist during the Chinese Civil War, but the extent of its effectiveness had been limited as victory had only been possible in accordance to a myriad of other strategic factors.
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