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Chinese Civil War

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Map of the Long March

The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought from 1927 to 1950. Because of a difference in thinking between the Communist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT), there was a fight for legitimacy as the government of China. The war began in April 1927 with the "Northern Expedition" (國民革命軍北伐) and mostly ended in 1950 . Some people say the war has not ended, but no large battles have started since that year. The relations between the Republic of China (ROC) and the People's Republic of China (PRC) are bad because both still say they are the legitimate sovereign government of all of China. The Chinese Civil War was the third largest war in all of time after World War II and World War I.

The war started and stopped a small number of times before the Second Sino-Japanese War, when the KMT was fighting against Japan and the CCP was pretending to fight. The war between the CCP and KMT started again in 1946 after Japan's loss of the Second Sino-Japanese War. After, the CCP took control of most of China and the KMT had only islands. In 1950, no large battles were started. The loss of the KMT in Mainland China is said to be because of a number of reasons: the Yan'an Rectification Movement helped Mao have more control of the CCP, the ceasefire a United States officer made in 1946 which stopped the KMT for a time, the bad problems between the people and the KMT in the places of KMT control, the Soviet Union giving the guns of the Japanese to the CCP, and uncertain help from the United States for the KMT.

No agreement was made between the two governments, so some say that the war has not ended. Both governments have a lot of military equipment that is only to be used against the other, both still say they are the legitimate government of China, and they still fight for recognition from other countries as the legitimate government.

Before the Start of the Chinese Civil War

The Qing dynasty government ended in 1911 after the Xinhai Revolution. A number of rulers had control in some parts of China after this war. To have success in a war against these small rulers Sun Yat-sen and the KMT had need for help from foreign governments.

When he started, the Western democracy governments did not give help, but the Soviet Union did give help in 1921. Because the KMT was larger and stronger than the CCP, the communist Soviet Union helped both the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party. In 1923 the Soviet Union, KMT, and CCP made an agreement, the Sun-Joffe Manifesto, that said the Soviet Union would help China have one government and not many governments. Mikhail Borodin traveled to China in 1923 to help change the KMT to make it similar to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The CCP and KMT were joined in the First United Front at this time.

In 1923 Chiang Kai-shek traveled to the Soviet Union to study military and political things with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1924 he became the leader of an important military school in China.

Most help from the Soviet Union was for this school. This reason for the school was to teach the political and military ideas of the Soviet Union to the KMT and CCP. The Soviet Union gave books and guns to use for teaching about war and military things. With the help from the Soviet Union, Sun Yat-sen made an "army of the party". Members of the CCP were also in the school and some were teachers. Zhou Enlai was a teacher in the school.

In this time the KMT agreed to let some communists join the KMT sometimes. In this time the CCP was small in comparison to the KMT. The CCP had 300 members in 1922 and only 1,500 by 1925. The KMT in 1923 had 50,000 members.


  1. [1] Washington State University.