How Mao conquered China: Workers' Liberty 3/24



Sean Matgamna

“The Chinese Communist Revolution was the greatest event of the 20th century after the October 1917 Russian Revolution.”

Statements like that were for decades common on the Trotskyist left.

Even among those of us who believed that a new working-class “political revolution” was necessary against the Stalinist regime established over all of mainland China in 1949.



Hal Draper

Original introduction to the 1970 edition

The articles that follow were written and published while the events themselves were still unfolding, during the crucial 1948–9 period when the Maoist party was still conquering China. Without benefit of 20–20 hindsight, without benefit of documents and research that became available only afterward, Jack Brad called all the shots.

Chronology: How Mao Conquered China

1909–12: democratic upheaval. Abdication of the last Emperor, formation of the Guomindang (1912), followed by a period dominated by the rule of regional warlords.

1919: May 4th Movement — student protests at Japan’s acquisition of German rights in China under the Versailles Treaty.

1920: Formation of Chinese Communist Party.

1924: Communist Party (under pressure from Stalin and his friends in Moscow) joins Guomindang. USSR sends military advisers to help Guomindang.

1. The symbiosis of reaction


Jack Brad

The governmental crisis is unresolved. The Kuomintang remains the dictatorial ruler of nationalist China.

Its armies, its secret police, its bureaucracy, its gangster-run labour front, its economic enterprises are the state structure. It has been unable to spread its support to include other groups. It remains a corrupt police regime, exploiting all classes, employing terror and, vampire-like, sucking the maximum loot out of the people and the economy.

2. Two Chiangs on the skids


Jack Brad

The fall of Tsinan, capital of Shantung Province in Northern China, brings to a head the military crisis of the Kuomintang government of Chiang Kai-shek.

Economic gloom deepens into chronic disaster. Production continues to decline while the rapacious KMT bureaucracy continues to suck the lifeblood out of trade and industry. Meanwhile the $400 million American aid is dissipated in desperate measures to keep the country going. $125 million goes to direct military purposes but this is hardly a trickle.

3. The “secret” of Communist success


Jack Brad

A disaster of tremendous importance overwhelmed China with the fall of Mukden. All Manchuria, with its million square miles and 40 million population, is now in Stalinist hands.

The rout of Kuomintang armies is complete in the North. Whole army corps surrendered, tens of thousands joined the Stalinist armies and the number of dead, wounded and lost runs into the hundreds.

4. Blind alley in Nanking


Jack Brad

The armies of Chinese Stalinism are advancing on the Kuomintang capital at Nanking. The extent of social disintegration of the Kuomintang is even more rapid than the advance of the Communist Party armies and this factor alters the picture.

5. The rats begin to desert


Jack Brad

The last few weeks have seen the political initiative in China fall to the Communists, on the heels of their military victories.

Many groups which waited, before committing themselves to hear Chiang Kai-shek’s New Year’s Day message now feel released from any loyalty to his disintegrating state and have gone over to defeatism or are making overtures to the Stalinists.

6. The Communists confront the cities


Jack Brad

Stalinist armies continued to mop up in North China with great strides this past week as Central Government troops pulled back to the Yangtze River as the next defence line.

The biggest gains for the CP were in the easy and bloodless conquest of Tientsin and Tangku, its port. Only Peiping still stands, but it is only a matter of time before it too surrenders.

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