Causes of Chinese Civil War

  • Political weakness

    Political weakness
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    Political weakness and the influence of foreign powers

    In the century that preceded the Chinese Civil War, the European imperialist powers had humiliated and exploited China; Britain had defeated China in the mid 19th century in the Opium War.
    China had been forced to sign unequal treaties that gave the imperialist powers control over Chinese trade, territory and ultimately sovereignty. This series of humilliations drove Chinese civil forces to take action over their goverment.
  • Double Tenth Revolution

    Double Tenth Revolution
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    Double Tenth Revolution

    In October 1911, the Manchu Dynasty was overthrown in a revolution known as the Double Tenth Revolution. The goverment los control of the military, the Wuachang soldiers revolted and the rebellion spread quickly.
  • Regionalism -The Warlords

    Regionalism -The Warlords
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    Regionalism – The Warlords

    A key cause of the civil war was the increasing lack of unity in the country. With the death of Yuan, China lost the only figure that had maintained some degree of unity. China broke up into small states controlled by a warlord. They had their own laws and even their own currencies. As warlords extended their power and wealth by expanding their territories,it was the peasants who suffered in their continuous wars.
  • The May Fourth Movement

    The May Fourth Movement
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    May Fourth Movement

    Students led a mass demonstration in Beijing against the warlords and the Japanese. The hostility had been ignited by the Versailles settlement, which had given to
    Japan Germany’s former concessions in Shandong province. China, it seemed, had joined
    the Allies in the war only to be humiliated by them.
  • The creation of the CCP

    The creation of the CCP
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    The Creation of the CCP

    During the warlord period, another revolutionary party emerged; the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This communist party was officially set up in 1921. Initially, its membership was mainly intellectuals, and it had no real military strength. It was due to this weakness, and some shared aims, that the CCP agreed to work with the GMD. The CCP will later become one of the two factions of the Chinese Civil war owing to its discrepant ideologies with the GMD.
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    First United Front

    The CCP and the GMD agreed that the first step to unify China was to get rid of the warlords, and in 1922 they formed the First United Front. Within two years, the United
    Front of the GMD and the CCP had destroyed the power of the warlords. However, The United Front was only a friendship of convenience. What had united the CCP and the GMD – the
    fight against the warlords – was over, and ideology divided the two parties. This would later be the main factions in the Civil War.
  • The First United Front

    The First United Front
  • Jiang Jieshi taking control of the GMD

    Jiang Jieshi taking control of the GMD
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    Jiang Jieshi taking power of the GMD

    After the death of Sun, a general took over leadership of the GMD, General Jiang Jieshi. Jiang was a committed nationalist, and had enthusiastically joined the GMD. He had had military training before World War I in Japan, and then in the USSR. Indeed, the Soviets had begun to invest in the GMD, providing aid and assistance to the party. The Soviets believed they could foster good relations with a nationalist China.
  • GMD vs CCP

    GMD vs CCP
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    GMD vs CCP; difference of ideals

    The popular support for the communists was a key reason that Jiang decided he could
    no longer tolerate them in the GMD. There could be no more cooperation. Jiang was
    sympathetic to landlords and the middle classes, and was far more to the right than Sun
    had been. Areas under communist control had seen peasants attack landlords and seize land
    – this could not be tolerated. It seemed to Jiang that the CCP needed to be crushed before
    China could truly be unified under the GMD.
  • The Purification Movement

    The Purification Movement
  • White Terror

    White Terror
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    White Terror

    Jiang now expelled all communists from the GMD, and his attacks on the communists reached a peak in Shanghai in the ‘White Terror’ in April 1927. A powerful ‘workers’ army’ under Zhou Enlai had proved very effective during the Northern Expedition and Jiang turned on them, using informants from the underworld of triads and gangsters – 5,000 communists were shot.
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    The Purification Movement

    The GMD carried out similar attacks in other cities, in what became
    known as the ‘purification movement’ – ‘purification’ meant the massacre of thousands of communists, trade unionists and peasant leaders. About a quarter of a million people were killed. Despite attempts to resist (Mao’s Autumn Harvest Rising failed), the CCP was very nearly crushed by the end of 1927.