Part 1: Introduction: China between 1911 - 1949


In this part of the site, we have a short look at the situation in China before 1949, and we have a closer look at the cooperation between the CCP and other political parties and political personages (Minzhu Dangpai). This collaboration resulted in the Common Program and a coalition government.
The Chinese revolution of 1911 ended the Manchu-led Qing dynasty. Just after the fall of the Chinese empire in 1912, there is a turbulent phase in Chinese history. In 1912, China becomes a republic, with Sun Yat-sen as president. He gave his position to Yuan Shikai to avoid a civil war. However, his new government is not capable of defending the unity of the state. After the death of Yan Shikai in 1916, a period lasting for nearly 17 years started, in which local warlords are trying to force their way to power to create a unified China under their reign.
At the end in the 1930’s, only 3 parties are capable of completing this task. These are the Guomindang (GMD) with Jiang Jieshi as their leader, the CCP under the leadership of Mao Zedong
"Both parties backed modernization, but they differed sharply about how best to accomplish it: state capitalism linked to the global economy and injected into the existing society for the KMT; autarchic central planning via a social revolution for the CCP.48" Buzan Barry and Lawson George (2020). Page 15
, and the Japanese who have conquered a part of Northeast China in 1932. In the beginning, it looks like the GMD is at the upper hand and are skilled enough to defeat the communist armies. (In fact, the GMD never extends its control to Shangxi, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Sichuan provinces.)
"Within the GMD, there were challenges from Hu Hanmin on the right and Wang Jing wei on the left. The de facto independence of many areas, a legacy of the warlord period, meant that Chiang (Kai- shek) was reliant on these local leaders to do his bidding. They often set about serving themselves rather than the nominal national leader, and they extracted high “fees” from local society." Saich (2021) Page 171
In 1933, the communist can prevent total disaster by retreating to the northern province of Shaanxi and establishing their headquarters in Yan'an.
GMD campaigns against the PLA with forces respectively about as follows:
Year Kuomintang Communist
1930 100,000 30,000
1931 200,000 1st campaign 40,000
1931 300,000 2nd campaign 30,000
1933 900,000 90,000
1936 170,000 40,000
1946 3,000,000 600,000
1947 4,900,000 800,000
1948 5,000,000 2,260,000
The GMD lost every campaign except that of 1933.
The Japanese troops are also successful in their conquests and during the 1930’s they go south and conquer Shanghai in 1937, and in December 1941 they finally arrive in Hong Kong.


On August 1, 1935, the CCP publishes
Message to all Compatriots on Resistance against Japanese and National Salvation
August 1, 1935 Declaration: Message to all Compatriots on Resistance against Japanese and National Salvation The August 1 Declaration is drafted by Wang Ming. It is a joint declaration of the Chinese Soviet Government ((1931–34), an independent government established by Mao Zedong and Zhu De in Jiangxi province in south eastern China) and the CCP. This call was made in Moscow during the Communist International. This seventh and last congress was held between July 25 and August 20, 1935."
, in which the party calls upon the GMD and other parties to end the civil war and to unite to fight against the Japanese invaders. On July 15, 1937, the CCP and the GMD declared to start a United Front against the Japanese occupiers. This
United Front
United Front Declaration 24 December 1936 The second United Front between the KMT and the communists was formally established, this time on the basis of a bloc without alliance between two separate groups; the communists reorganized their army as the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army and put them nominally under KMT direction. https://www.britannica.com/topic/United-Front-Chinese-history-1937-1945"
is enforced after the kidnapping of Jiang Jieshi in December 1936. This abduction is organized by some GMD generals and only after interference of Zhou Enlai, Jiang Jieshi is set free.
Both parties promise to refrain from fighting each other and jointly fight the Japanese armies. This United Front is just partly a success because the former opponents do not trust each other and there are multiple incidents between the 2 armies. This United Front gives the CCP the opportunity, "...to belie its sectarian image as a party only for the worker-peasant masses and transform it into a truly national party fighting for national defense and unity. Thus, it could allow the CCP to increase its popularity and political influence in China, undermine Kuomintang’s social basis, and maximize mass support for its revolutionary course. It could also help the CCP concentrate its energy on party building, armed struggle, and territorial expansion."
Zang Xiaowei (2004). Page 39.
Esherick (2003) remarks: "Many activists joined both parties during the 1920s. Memories and friendships from that first Guomindang–CCP collaboration were never erased at the local level. Millions of Chinese rallied to the CCP during the war against Japan in part because the Communists seemed the proper heirs of the revolutionary anti-imperialism of Sun Zhongshan’s (Sun Yat-sen) party during the 1920s – seemed better to embody the nationalist rhetoric of Guomindang propaganda and public school textbooks than did the Guomindang itself."
Esherick Joseph W.(2003). Page 41
Slyke (1970) distinguishes 5 phases in the United Front: 1923-1927; 1927-1937; 1937-1941; 1941-1945 and 1945-1949.
Slyke Lyman P. van (1970). Page 131
The history of the United Front lies beyond the scope of this site. After the end of the Second World War and Japan is finally beaten, the old civil war starts again. Although attempts are made to avoid this. Right after the end of the WO II between August 28 and October 10, 1945, Mao Zedong and Jiang Jieshi meet at Chongqing to talk about the future of China. The discussion ends with the
'Double 10 agreement'
Double 10 Agreement 10 October 1945. Summary of Conversations Between the Representatives of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China The Chongqing talks, from 28 August to 10 October 1945, resulted in the Double Ten Agreement. Mao Zedong and United States Ambassador to China Patrick J. Hurley flew together from Yan an to Chongqing on 27 August 1945 to begin the negotiations
. The agreement consists of 12 articles. The main articles are: The reform of China will be performed by 'peaceful' methods. The CCP recognizes the GMD as the legitimate government and the GMD recognizes the CCP and other parties as legitimate opposition parties. However, in the end, the two parties do not trust each other and the civil war starts again.
Stalin, the Soviet Union (SU) leader, advises both parties to hold a consultative meeting to resolve the existing contrasts. This was an article of the Double 10 agreement. Between 10 and 31 January 1946, this consultative meeting convenes. Besides, the GMD (8 delegates) and the CCP (7 delegates), the Chinese Youth Party (5 delegates) an extreme right-wing anticommunist party that sided with the GMD. The Youth Party had recently split from the Chinese Democratic League (CDL). CDL is represented by Zhang Lan* and Luo Longji*. The other 7 members represented the Nationalist Socialist Party with Zhang Dongsun* and Zhang Junmai, two members Shen Junru* and Zhang Shenfu represented National Salvation Association, Huang Yanpei* was the participant of the Vocational Education Association, the Third Party was represented by Zhang Bojun* and Liang Shuming represented the Rural Reconstruction Association.
* These participants are members of the CPPCC in September 1949
Nine nonpartisan individuals visited this meeting in Chongqing. The US sent an ambassador to Chongqing to assist with the negotiations. The SU also sent an ambassador to help the CCP secretly with the negotiations. The SU still recognized the GMD government. The meeting is a failure and the CCP and CDL boycott the end results.
See Winter Ryan M. (2014).
On December 25, 1947,
Document: 25-12-1947 The present situation and our tasks
the CCP decides to form a complete new United Front with every party and person who wants to defeat the GMD. During 1948, the character of the United Front changes because the victory of the communist army (PLA) is at hand. Slyke poses the opinion: “Now, however, the united front was changing in function from isolating an enemy to gaining popular support for the new regime”.
Slyke (1970). Page 131
In 1948, Stalin kept pushing Mao Zedong to compromise and form a coalition government with the Minzhu Dangpai: "We think that the various opposition parties in China which are representing the middle strata of the Chinese population and are opposing the Guomindang clique will exist for a long time. And the CCP will have to involve them in cooperation against the Chinese reactionary forces and imperialist powers, while keeping hegemony, i.e., the leading position, in its hands. It is possible that some representatives of these parties will have to be included into the Chinese people’s democratic government and the government itself has to be proclaimed a coalition government in order to widen the basis of this government among the population and to isolate imperialists and their Guomindang agents. It is necessary to keep in mind that the Chinese government in its policy will be a national revolutionary-democratic government, not a communist one..."
Document: 10-01-1949
On January 10, 1949, the Huai Huai campaign of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ends in a total defeat of the GMD army.
Document: 11-10-1948
In November 1948, the CCP started the campaign to be able to push through from the Northeast of China to the Southwest in the direction of Shanghai.
Document: 31-03-1949
The PLA is able to mobilize more than 5 million peasants to fight against the GMD. The prospect of owing their own piece of land after victory is the trump card of the CCP.
The consequences of this victory are that Tianjin
Document: 11-12-1948 The concept of operations for the Beijing - Tianjin campaign
and later on Beijing fall in the hands of the PLA. Fu Zuoyi, the GMD governor of Beijing, decides to negotiate with Lin Biao, a PLA general, to arrive at a peaceful regime change.
Document: 10-01-1949
On January 31, 1949, the PLA marched peacefully into Beijing. People celebrated the Chinese New Year (the year of the Heavenly Ox) and the arrival of the troops. Beijing becomes the headquarters of the government and the CCP.
During his secret mission (January, February 1949), Mikoyan proposes: "I should note that Stalin told me before my departure that one should take along a specialist in secret bugging devices, because he assumed that the Americans before they leave Beijing, will leave a spy network, and will have secret bugging devices in the buildings occupied by the government, and everything that will be said at the meetings will be known to them. In order to prevent this from taking place, he sent with me two specialists in uncovering the presence of bugging devices, and also disguised time bombs. A few days after the talks began I introduced our specialists Levkin and Podovinnikov. Mao Zedong was very glad, thanked Stalin, saying that in terms of uncovering bugging devices they had no experience whatsoever. Just about that time Beijing was liberated, so then I offered that before the government moves to Beijing, our specialists would go to Beijing and check all the offices, which were to be taken over by the government, from the point of view of presence of bugging devices" 04-09-1958 Anastas Mikoyan’s Recollections of his Trip to China


On January 14, 1949, Mao Zedong proposes 8 points to use as a basis for negotiation with the GMD government.
Document 14-01-1949
On April 1, 1949, Zhou Enlai leads formal peace talks with GMD representatives in Beijing. On April 15, 1949, the GMD rejects the proposals of the CCP, and 6 days later the CCP takes the decision to cross the
Chang Jiang River
April 20, 1949 The PLA crosses Chang Jiang River
and to start an attack to conquer south China.
Document 21-04-1949
The push forward is very successful and at May 3, Hangzhou is in the hands of the PLA , on May 16, Wuhan, on May 22, Nanchang, and on May 25, Shanghai. Jiang Jieshi decides to flee to Taiwan but later on, returns to
Chongqing
Retreat of the GMD Government in 1949
. On November 29, 1949, he leaves the mainland but not after he executed GMD general
Yang Hucheng
Yang Hucheng (1893–1949)Former warlord later GMD general
, his family, and loyal officers. In December 1936, Yang and
Zhang Xueliang
Zhang Xueliang (1901–2001) He spent over fifty years under house arrest
held Jiang hostage to force him in the United Front against the Japanese. See Part 1.


Moreover in other regions of China, the PLA is able to drive back and to eliminate GMD troops. In July 1949, the PLA won in Hunan, Jiangxi and in August in Lanzhou. The next month, Gansu and Qinghai fall in the hands of the communists. The GMD troops that are still fighting are geographically spread across the south, the southwest, and Taiwan. They are no longer capable to coordinate their actions. Most of the generals of the GMD no longer possess the political will and the military power to withstand the PLA forces. Many of them defect to the PLA, along with them the remains of their soldiers.
Mao Zedong states: "In the future, there will probably be many more war prisoners [coming from] our capture of the cities. Thus, in every district and every troop, the training of war prisoners must be well organized. In principle, no prisoner will be let go. Most of them will be filled into our troops and some will participate in the production in the rear front. The human resources for our troops to defeat Jiang mainly come from prisoners; this must be brought home to the whole party.51"
Cited in Westad (2003). Page 201. The PLA did not dare release them to wander the country-side as unemployed bandits.

Table 1 shows the military strength of the PLA and the GMD in September 1949.

Civil war situation November 1948

map of civil war February 1949

Civil war situation February 1949


map of civil war October 1949

Civil war situation on October 1949


map of civil war December 1949

Civil war situation on December 1949

Shen (2012b) cites a Soviet Embassy Counselor about the actions of the GMD troops which did not surrender. "The retreating Nationalist Army left a landscape of destruction: bombed dams; tens of thousands of hectares of ruined fields; missing or bombed railway locomotives and carriages; ruined electric generating plants and warehouses; ruined transportation, telegraph and radio- communication equipment; and sunken ships. When the Nationalists abandoned Shanghai, they destroyed the international wireless station, blew up the main workshops at the Jiangnan Shipyard and the petroleum tanks at the Jiangwan airport, and scuttled four oil tankers and ten ferries. When they fled Wuxi, the Nationalist forces set fire to more than 1,000 trucks carrying industrial equipment from Shanghai. Of the more than 100 railway bridges between Wuhan and Guangzhou, more than 90 were bombed out. At Hankou, the Nationalists destroyed more than 30 ships and bombed out all the rail bridges linking the three Wuhan cities. 3"
Shen (2012b). Page 89
See also.
Document: 10-01-1949

The course of the Civil War 1946-1949
civil war 1946-1950

"Both parties backed modernization, but they differed sharply about how best to accomplish it: state capitalism linked to the global economy and injected into the existing society for the KMT; autarchic central planning via a social revolution for the CCP.48" Buzan (2020). Page 15 [↩] [Cite]
"Within the GMD, there were challenges from Hu Hanmin on the right and Wang Jing wei on the left. The de facto independence of many areas, a legacy of the warlord period, meant that Chiang (Kai- shek) was reliant on these local leaders to do his bidding. They often set about serving themselves rather than the nominal national leader, and they extracted high “fees” from local society." Saich (2021). Page 171 [↩] [Cite]
GMD campaigns against the PLA with forces respectively about as follows:
Year Kuomintang Communist
1930 100,000 30,000
1931 200,000 1st campaign 40,000
1931 300,000 2nd campaign 30,000
1933 900,000 90,000
1936 170,000 40,000
1946 3,000,000 600,000
1947 4,900,000 800,000
1948 5,000,000 2,260,000
The GMD lost every campaign except that of 1933. [↩]
Zang (2004). Page 39. [↩] [Cite]
Esherick (2003). Page 41 [↩] [Cite]
Slyke (1970). Page 131 [↩] [Cite]
* These participants are members of the CPPCC in September 1949 [↩]
See Winter (2014). [↩] [Cite]
Slyke (1970). Page 131 [↩] [Cite]
During his secret mission (January, February 1949), Mikoyan proposes: "I should note that Stalin told me before my departure that one should take along a specialist in secret bugging devices, because he assumed that the Americans before they leave Beijing, will leave a spy network, and will have secret bugging devices in the buildings occupied by the government, and everything that will be said at the meetings will be known to them. In order to prevent this from taking place, he sent with me two specialists in uncovering the presence of bugging devices, and also disguised time bombs. A few days after the talks began I introduced our specialists Levkin and Podovinnikov. Mao Zedong was very glad, thanked Stalin, saying that in terms of uncovering bugging devices they had no experience whatsoever. Just about that time Beijing was liberated, so then I offered that before the government moves to Beijing, our specialists would go to Beijing and check all the offices, which were to be taken over by the government, from the point of view of presence of bugging devices" 04-09-1958 Anastas Mikoyan’s Recollections of his Trip to China [↩]
Cited in Westad (2003). Page 201.[Cite] The PLA did not dare release them to wander the country-side as unemployed bandits.
Table 1. Organisation and strength of the GMD Army and PLA September 1949 [↩]
Shen (2012b). Page 89 [↩] [Cite]
The first steps to establish cooperation between the CCP and other political parties