I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons. — Will Rogers

Communists Take Power in China

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Communists vs. Nationalists

Nationalists and Communists fought for control of China in the 1930s. During World War II, they joined forces to fight against the Japanese. The Communists, led by Mao Zedong, organized an army of peasants in northwestern China. From there they fought the Japanese in the northeast.

The Nationalists, led by Jiang Jieshi, controlled southwestern China. The Nationalists were protected from the Japanese by mountains. The United States sent the Nationalists large amounts of money and supplies, but corrupt officers took much of it. The Nationalists built a large army, but they only fought a few battles against the Japanese.

After the Japanese surrendered, the Communists and Nationalists resumed their civil war. The war lasted from 1946 to 1949. The Communists won because their troops were welltrained in guerrilla war. They also enjoyed the backing of the peasants to whom they had promised land. In 1949, Jiang Jieshi and other Nationalist leaders fled to the island of Taiwan.

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The Two Chinas Affect the Cold War

The United States helped the Nationalists set up a new government. The Nationalists called their land the Republic of China. Meanwhile, the Soviets helped Mao Zedong and his government, the People's Republic of China.

The Chinese and the Soviets promised to help defend each other if either country were attacked. The United States responded by trying to halt Soviet expansion in Asia. Communist China also tried to expand its power. The Chinese invaded Mongolia, Tibet, and India.

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The Communists Transform China

Mao set out to rebuild China. He seized land and gave it to the peasants. But he also forced the peasants - in groups of 200 to 300 households - to join collective farms, or communes. On these farms, the land belonged to the group. Mao also took control of China's industries. Under Mao's plan, production of industrial products went up.

With this success, Mao launched the Great Leap Forward. He wanted to make the communes larger and more productive. The plan failed. People did not like strong government control. The government did not plan effectively. Between 1958 and 1961, famine killed millions.

In 1966, Mao tried to revive the revolution. He encouraged young people to revive the revolution. Students formed groups called Red Guards. This was the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. The Red Guards struck at teachers, scientists, and artists. They shut down schools and sent intellectuals to the country to work on farms. They killed thousands of people who resisted. China was in chaos. Factories shut down and farm production dropped. Eventually, Mao put an end to the Cultural Revolution.

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