During World War II, when an alliance of the USA, the USSR and the two rivalling factions of the Chinese bourgeoisie, Kuomintang and the Maoist led Red Army were fighting against Japan, Mao had proposed his “good services” to the USA, praising his troops as a more determined and more capable ally to the USA.
As the war ceased with Japan, the conflict within the Chinese bourgeoisie burst again into the open – fuelled by the imperialist appetites of Russia and the USA. After 1945 the USA, who had backed up the Chinese United Front against Japan, mobilised all their support for the KMT. In a first step, following the Japanese surrender, the USA through its logistical facilities carried back about one million Japanese soldiers from China to Japan (about one fifth of the whole Japanese army), so that the Japanese soldiers would not fall into Russian hands.
Following this operation to rescue Japanese troops, between October and December 1945 half a million Kuomintang soldiers were also airlifted by US troops from south west to northern China and the coastal centres.
As we showed above, the “United Front” between the Stalinist Red Army and the KMT-forces was a very precarious one, interrupted by repeated conflicts and direct confrontations. Japan had fought against two rivalling wings of Chinese capital that were constantly at loggerheads. But once the “common enemy” – Japanese imperialism – had disappeared, the antagonism between the two warring Chinese factions exploded. In June 1946 war started again between Mao and Chiang. After the deluge of an 8 year long war between China and Japan, then another war ravaged the country. With some 3 million soldiers on its side at the beginning of the conflict, the KMT was initially superior in numbers to the Red Army. The KMT received massive support from the USA. In contrast Russia, which returned forcefully on the imperialist front in east Asia in August 1945, occupied Manchuria which Japan had to abandon, but in its first phase it could not offer as much material (above all military) support to the Red Army troops. On the contrary, due to lack of resources Russia dismantled local equipment and shifted it back to Russia.
With the background of an economic collapse largely due to the incessant war economy(the army used up to 80-90% of the budget), the KMT lost much of its support and many soldiers changed sides. Already between 1937-45 money supply increased 500 times. After 1945, under the impact of the war economy, hyperinflation continued with the ensuing pauperisation of the working class and peasants, who turned away massively from the KMT.
After almost 3 years of continuous fighting, the Red Army managed to impose a crushing defeat on the KMT troops. As many as two million KMT soldiers and supporters fled to Taiwan.
In October 1949 Mao’s troops declared ‘mainland’ China to be an independent state. The People’s Republic was proclaimed. However, this was not a “socialist revolution”; it marked the military triumph of one wing of the Chinese bourgeoisie (supported by Russia) over another wing of Chinese capital (supported by the USA). The new People’s Republic arose on the ruins of a country, which had gone through a 12 year long war - preceded by 3 decades of conflicts waged by insatiable warlords. And as so many other “new” states which were founded in the 20th century, it was proclaimed through a division into two parts, Taiwan and “mainland” China, leaving behind a permanent antagonism which has lasted until today.
Ravaged by decades of war economy, supported not by a technically superior USA, but by Russia, which as in eastern Europe initially plundered raw materials and dismantled equipment in Manchuria and could not offer the same material support, the People’s Republic was going to be marked by a great backwardness.
And no sooner had the China war finished in 1949 did the war between North and South Korea break out.