Then on December 7, 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor and America enters the war. War supplies start to arrive in China through India and across the Himalayas to Chiang Kai-shek’s four-million-man army, but his government is corrupt, his troops are poorly fed, and morale is low.
Chiang Kai-shek is accepted as an equal among the leaders of the world while Mao and the Chinese Communist Party are ignored, but Mao works hard to keep up the morale of his troops through political training. Ignorant Western leaders don’t understand what he is doing and criticize him.
Joseph Stilwell, the commanding US general in China, is not happy with Chiang Kai-Shek because he is not fighting Japan. Chiang’s excuse it that he needs his troops to fight the Communists.
In 1945, America invites representatives from Chiang’s government to take part in Japan’s surrender on the battleship Missouri and ignores the Communists.
The American ambassador in China urges Mao to join Chiang in a unified government. To make this happen, the United States offers Mao protection and there are face-to-face negotiations between Mao and Chiang.
Meanwhile, in secret, Chiang moves his troops to launch an assault against Mao’s troops in Manchuria.
The United States urges Chiang to win the people by implementing Sun Yat-sen’s promised reforms. Instead, Chiang’s war against the Chinese Communists causes run-away inflation. Essential goods become too expensive. The people want peace, and Mao offers the peasants what they want if he wins, land.
In 1948, Mao attacks. His army leaves the caves and captures Manchuria. When Chiang Kai-shek’s northern army surrenders, modern American weapons and equipment fall into Mao’s hands. Mao demands total surrender, but Chiang’s army boards ships for Taiwan taking China’s wealth and historical treasures with them. In fear, western businessmen and missionaries flee China.
By 1967, Mao had ruled China for 18 years. Protected by America, Chiang Kai-Shek was still in Taiwan serving as president for life. He also had six-hundred thousand Kuomintang troops, and the island people lived under martial law.
By the time Mao died in 1976, his failed Great Leap Forward and his brutal Cultural Revolution had almost destroyed China, but Deng Xiaoping becomes the leader of the Chinese Communist Party and changes course leading to the China of today. Since 1976, China is responsible for 90-percent of the reduction in global poverty. That means the rest of the world was only responsible for 10-percent of that reduction in poverty. When Mao became the leader of China in 1949, life expectancy was 35. When Deng took over in 1976, the average lifespan was 64.28 years. In 2017, life expectancy in China had increased to more than 76 years.
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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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