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The Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War

Updated: 6 days ago

This is the third article in a series on the history of communism in China. You can read the first article here, and the second here.

Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces holding a position behind the corner of a building with a Type 11 light machine gun, equipped with Type 99 gas masks, in Shanghai, China, August-November 1937.
Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces holding a position behind the corner of a building with a Type 11 light machine gun, equipped with Type 99 gas masks, in Shanghai, China, August-November 1937.

In 1937, a war broke out between China and Japan, which lasted for 8 years and eventually ended up being a part of the Second World War. While Chiang Kai-shek did as little as possible to help with the war, the Communists gained strength immensely by fighting off the invaders.


By the end of the Second World War, they had gained control of military bases that included some 100 million people as well as an experienced army and the respect of the people.


Shanghai Nanjing 1937, during the Sino-Japanese War.
Shanghai Nanjing 1937, during the Sino-Japanese War.

The Chinese Civil War


Now that the war with Japan—which lasted till 1945, when the United States bombed Japan—was over, the Chinese Civil War recommenced in 1946. The people were still poor and suffering, and the solutions promised by Mao had become much more popular.


The more the Kuomintang tried to smother the ever-increasing fire of Communism, the more it grew.


Some of the Nationalists, afraid of the ever-growing opposing party, sold their weapons to the Communists and fled as Communism began to defeat the Nationalist Party.


Because China was suffering economically, Chiang Kai-shek started losing his wealthy supporters. 




Chiang Kai-shek (front row, center) photographer with Mao Zedong (front row, right) and US Ambassador Hurley (front row, left) in Chongqing.
Chiang Kai-shek (front row, center) photographer with Mao Zedong (front row, right) and US Ambassador Hurley (front row, left) in Chongqing.

The Taiwanese Republic of China


In 1948, after officially defeating the Kuomintang, Mao declared the new China to be "The People's Republic of China"—and his Communist Party became the only party that could be in leadership, with no opposition. The Nationalist Party, with a group of supporters, retreated to the island of Taiwan, setting up a government there.


Thus ended Chiang’s long fight for a free China.


Two million refugees followed the Nationalist Party to escape the Communist rule that was to come. Chiang offered planes and naval transport for those trying to escape mainland China, along with many of China's ancient treasures.


Today, Mainland China still refuses to accept the Taiwanese Republic of China as legitimate. Between 1927 and 1949, an estimated 8–12 million people died due to civil conflict in China.

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