The Coming to Power of the Communists in China in 1949
The leadership of China at the beginning of the 20th Century was very
different to how it is today. The Communists did not come to power
without a long and bitter struggle against the many foes that came
across their path between the time of their creation, in 1921, and
their eventual success in 1949.
The Double Tenth Revolution of 1911 overthrew the emperor of China, as
he was only a child and could not contain the ever-depleting condition
of the nation. This happened before the creation of the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP), but if it had not occurred then the CCP may not
have achieved ultimate victory. If it had happened later in the
century then the CCP may have inherited a ‘backward’ nation and the
problems the previous leadership had caused may have been
After the overthrow of Emperor Pu Yi, the Nationalist party was
developed and its leader Sun Yatsen was given the title of
‘Provisional President of the Republic of China’. However he never
took up the role to prevent the outbreak of a civil war.
Meanwhile, whilst a central government was being formed so was a
separate party – one with ideals at the other end of the spectrum to
the Nationalists. In 1921, the Chinese Communist Party was
established. The CCP was made up of young, middle-class people who
looked to the supposed success of the Russian Communist Revolution,
and thought the only way China could be a fair and just society was
through a Communist state. The Communists looked towards Karl Marx’s
teachings that said that this fair and just state could only be
achieved if wealth and land was distributed fairly between all.
Although the CCP and the Nationalists were now fully established
political parties, neither could take real control of China. Both
parties, although worlds apart, had a common foe that diminished the
power the central government had; these enemies were the warlords.
The warlords were powerful men who ran regions of China like
independent nations. Each party on its own could not have defeated
the warlords, who had their own armies and vigilante police forces,
therefore the two parties had to team up and out their political views
aside to defeat their adversaries.
After the success of the march north (1926), which saw all the
warlords either defeated or surrendering, the CCP and the Nationalists
parting company in the bloodiest of fashions. The Nationalists saw
the return march through Shanghai as an opportunity to exterminate the
ever-growing CCP army. The Nationalist army was ordered by leader
Chiang Kai-shek to kill as many CCP soldiers as possible.
On face-value this may not seem like a reason for the eventual success
of the CCP but the remaining Communists – and vitally leader Mao
Zedong – fled to...