1936–: The decline in support for Chiang Kai Shek and the Kuomintang

Why did Chiang and the Kuomintang become unpopular?

  • He failed during the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria

    • He focused on fighting the Communists and delayed a union with them

      • In 1936, during the Japanese invasion, he ordered an extermination campaign against the Communists in Xi'an.

    • As Japan continued to invade more of China, Chiang ordered soldiers not to resist, and the Nanking troops abandoned the city and left the citizens defenceless.

      • Many of them were murdered, with women subjected to brutality in what is known as 'The Rape of Nanking'.

      • After abandoning the capital, as Chiang's forces retreated, they caused a flood to hold back the Japanese. This flood resulted in up to 1 million Chinese deaths and devastated cropland.

  • He aimed at upholding the titles of the landowners and upper class.

    • The Communists focused on improving the lives of peasants, the working class and those in Rural areas. These made up the majority of the population.

Losses in the Sino-Japanese War

During the Sino-Japanese War, the KMT used conventional warfare against the Japanese, and as a result, they suffered heavy casualties.

The KMT did have some support from the USA, which made their military technology superior to the CCP, however it was still inferior to the Japanese who had superior tanks and weapons.

Failure against the Communists

In the end, Chiang Kai Shek's government failed despite help from the USA and even the USSR.

  • The USA was supporting the KMT because they were anti-communist, and were supporting the KMT so they would be better equipped to defeat the communists.

Despite this, the main reason is that the USA wanted a strong KMT so they could resist Japanese aggression.

  • Meanwhile, the USSR was also supporting the KMT. This is because they wanted an alliance between the communists and the KMT. They wanted China to be controlled by a central government, so they chose to support the KMT as they had more power in China.

They did not believe the CCP was strong enough to rule China as a central government by themselves.