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The Chinese Revolution 1949: the East Turns Red

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Michael Ungar

on 8 May 2018

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Transcript of The Chinese Revolution 1949: the East Turns Red

The East Turns
: the Chinese Revolution 1949

3000 Years of Chinese History in 3 Minutes
Impact of the Revolution
Mao Zedong launched several industrial and economic reforms when he tried to booster the falling economy, most of which failed & China's economy remained unstable for about 50 years after the revolution.

Some 1.5 million people were killed during the Cultural Revolution, and millions of others suffered imprisonment, seizure of property, torture or general humiliation. The Cultural Revolution’s short-term effects may have been felt mainly in China’s cities, but its long-term effects would impact the entire country for decades to come. Mao’s large-scale attack on the party and system he had created would eventually produce a result opposite to what he intended, leading many Chinese to lose faith in their government altogether.
Prior to Japanese invasion (1937) & WWII, Bitter civil war had been ongoing bet. Nationalists & Communists

During World War II, the two sides temporarily united to fight the Japanese. Each side sought its own strategic advantage.
Led by Mao Zedong, Communists based in the northwest & organized a peasant force to wage guerrilla war against the Japanese.

Communists earned the loyalty of the people by promoting literacy and with equitable food distribution & land reform. By 1945, they controlled much of northern China.
Nationalist forces (called the Kuomintang or KMT) under Jiang Jieshi
(Chiang Kai Shek) based in southwestern China.
Received substantial support from US ($2 billion) but money & material
went into pockets of corrupt officials.
Nationalists fought few battles against Japanese - saved their weapons
to use on the Communists.
The civil war resumed as soon as the Japanese were defeated.
Although the Nationalist army had a 3 to 1 advantage and strong US backing, they lost support of the people. The Nationalists failed to adequately address severe economic problems including hyperinflation based on price controls. Consequently, the urban middle class had no faith in the government while the Communists continued vigorous land redistribution to win the support of the population in the countryside.
Massive number of landless and starving Chinese peasants were promised that by fighting for the CPC they would be able to take farmland from their landlords
With China’s economy collapsing, thousands of Nationalist soldiers deserted to the Communists. In spring 1949, China’s major cities fell to the
Red forces. In October 1949, Mao Zedong gained control of the country & proclaimed it the People’s Republic of China. The Nationalits retreated to the island of Taiwan.

China devastated by WWII, but even worse,
War between
Nationalists & Communists resumes after Japanese evacuate
led by
Jiang Jieshi
backed by
the USA
money, material, larger army.

led by
Mao Zedong
backed by the USSR advantage:
massive peasant support, loyal & experienced army.
In 1949 the Communists won and renamed the country
People's Republic of China
. The Nationalists fled to the island of
renamed the
Republic of China
hoped to retake China and kept control of the seat in the
United Nations
(until 1971).

In 1950 the Chinese and Soviets signed a treaty of friendship in 1950 and caused many in the US to believe that the takeover of China was another step in a Communist campaign to conquer the world. The US supported the Nationalist government while the Soviets provided financial, military, and technical aid to Communist China.

Q: Was communism forced upon most people in China?

[in 1950-51] PRC expanded by force into Tibet (and Inner Mongolia), eventually their spiritual leader,
the Dali Lama

fled to India.
[Additional note: As a result, tensions between India and China grew. In 1962, they clashed briefly over the location of the border. The fighting stopped but resentment continued. To this day, India and China are very wary of each other.]

Communist party’s 4.5 million members made up just 1
percent of the population. Like the Soviets, the Chinese Communists set up two parallel organizations, the Communist party and the national government. Mao headed both until 1959.

At first, as in USSR, Mao took land from
the rich (10%)

gave it to

the peasants (70%)
But then formed


Mao's forces killed more than a million landlords who resisted.

Hundred Flowers: gave free speech, then punished critics. Like USSR, formed


plans to increase

but then the G


but actually it was a G



: Agriculture was so messed up that 14-40 million people died of
. Mao blamed
the sparrows
, they killed them, so crops were ravaged by

Schools were taken over by
who forced
to admit their mistakes and to wear mocking placards and dunce caps. The
Guards, mostly carried around
"little red"
books with Quotations of
who was
like a god. People were forced to move to
to live like
. Schools closed for years, factories spent half their time in meetings.

Mao thought China’s new economic policies weakened the Communist goal of social equality. He was determined to revive the revolution. In 1966, he urged China’s young people to “learn revolution by making revolution.” Millions of high school and college students formed militia units called Red Guards and led a movement to establish a society of peasants and workers in which all were equal. The new hero was the peasant who worked with his hands. The life of the mind—intellectual and artistic activity—was considered useless and dangerous.
The Communist army did not abuse the people. They respected their property, paid for what they used, cleaned up, & treated women respectfully. Through cooperation and assistance, the Communists earned the trust & loyalty of the peasants.
The Great Leap Forward - centralized plan to develop agriculture & industry. Industry Workers need to be fed & Farmers need modern tools

China was reformed into a series of communes. Sound familiar??

Most communes = about 5000 families. Private ownership of all property banned, each person now worked for the commune and not for him/herself. All needs taken care of by authorities: schools, nurseries, health care and elderly care were provided.

12 families formed a work team & 12 work terms formed a brigade. Each sub-division was given specific work to do. Party members oversaw the work of a commune to ensure that decisions followed the correct party line.

By 1958, 700 million people had been placed into 26,578 communes. Gov't whips up enthusiasm -propaganda was everywhere – including in the fields where the workers could listen to political speeches from public address systems. All urged not only to meet set targets but to beat them. If the communes lacked machinery, the workers used their bare hands. Major construction projects were built in record time. Output of materials vastly increased.
The Great Leap Forward also encouraged communes to set up "back-yard" production plants.

In these small localized plants, the people set up hundreds of thousand of furnaces to produce steel. 11 million tons were added.

Steel, coal, chemicals, timber, cement & other industrial materials all showed huge rises
Grain & cotton production had major increases.

Mao had introduced the Great Leap Forward with the phrase "it is possible to accomplish any task whatsoever."
By the end of 1958, it seemed as if his claim was true.
Political decisions/beliefs took precedence over commonsense and communes were pressured into meeting production goals that were impossible. Those who questioned these targets were charged with being a "bourgeois reactionary" and sent to prison.

Farm machinery produced under unrealistic quotas was shoddy & fell to pieces when used. Many thousands were injured after working long hours & falling asleep at their jobs. Steel produced by the backyard furnaces was frequently too weak to be of any use.

Also the backyard production method had taken many workers away from their fields – so desperately needed food was not being harvested.

1959 -- Parts of China were hit by floods or drought. The harvest was well below what China needed at the most basic level. Famine grips millions.
By 1959, it was obvious that the Great Leap Forward had been a failure and even Mao admitted this.

Some party members put the blame of the failure of the Great Leap Forward on Mao. He was popular with the people but he still had to resign from his position as Head of State (though he remained in the powerful Party Chairman position).

Day-to-day running of China was left to three moderates: Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping. By 1960, they abandoned the GLF. Private ownership of land reinstated & communes reduced to a manageable size. Peasants given the incentive to produce spare food as they were allowed to sell their surplus to willing buyers for profit.
Unit Road Map:

I will be able to explain the primary causes of the Chinese civil war, identify the leaders, why the war was won by the communist forces, and the consequences to the international order of the communist victory.
Full transcript