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
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.
Who fought the Chinese Civil War?
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.
How did the two Chinas participate in the Cold War?
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
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
How did Mao change China?