The reason that China was not divided up between other countries was that on October 10, 1911, a riot took place that couldn’t be controlled. Five weeks later, the Imperial government collapsed. The Qing Dynasty vanished overnight and two-thousand years of Imperial tradition was gone. The Chinese called this time “Double Death”.
The British and Americans could not control what replaced the Qing Dynasty. Students without weapons rioted in the streets. Warlords, who controlled armies, divided China and the chaos grew worse. Life became so cheap, that death was like a bloody circus. However, while the Chinese people suffered and starved, foreigners live in luxury and controlled China’s industries while being protected by the Western military.
Chinese students demanded a revolt and Sun Yat-sen, known as the father of China’s republic, called on China to slay the dragon of Imperialism. He said China must start with nationalism, then democracy and finally socialism. The only country that offered help was Soviet Russia.
But when Sun Yat-sen (1866 – 1925) died, his concept of a Chinese style republic died with him. Chiang Kae-Shek, the leader of the Nationalist Party quickly replaced Sun Yat-sen and in Shanghai, Chiang Kai-shek, now a dictator, struck without warning on April 12, 1927. His troops killed anyone suspected of being a Communist. In December, there was a Communist uprising in Canton. A battle raged for two days between the Communist and Nationalist troops ending in the executions of most of the Communists. Mao Zedong escaped and went into hiding.
Four years later, Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Kuomintang army was not ready when Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931. He didn’t have tanks, the artillery was old and out of date, and the Chinese were still learning about airplanes.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party that Chiang thought he had destroyed were back, because Mao Zedong knew the peasants lived in horrible poverty, and he promised land reforms. By 1932, Mao had millions of supporters.
Yes, when Mao ruled China, he was a brutal dictator, but Chiang Kai-shek was also a brutal dictator in Taiwan until he died in 1976, the same year Mao died.
After Japan invades Manchuria, instead of fighting Japan, Chiang’s army bombed villages that Mao controlled killing tens of thousands of noncombatants. To survive, Mao retreated and took his ninety thousand troops on the famous thousand-mile Long March that many said was impossible. Successful, Mao calls for unity to fight Japan.
One of Chiang’s generals, Zhang Xueliang, forces him to sit down with the Communists where Chiang Kai-shek agrees to fight Japan. As soon as Chiang returns to his capital, he breaks the agreement and throws Zhang in prison.
Mao’s troops in the hills of Yunnan grow their own food. His army, dressed in shabby clothing wearing straw sandals, doesn’t look like a fighting force. Mao says the people are the sea and guerrillas are like fish that swim in the sea. Within a year, Mao’s army grows to 200,000.
Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-shek’s army loses battles and cities to the Japanese. To continue fighting, his government and army moves to the mountain city of Chongqing in Sichuan province. In 1939, the Japanese start bombing Chongqing nonstop. When asked about the Japanese threat, Chiang says that the Japanese are a disease of the skin, but the communists are a disease of the heart.
Continued with Part 3 on June 28, 2018, or return to Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.
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