USA,UK,Europe and the war of China (1949)

May 2017
Hello everybody and dear specialists.Why didn t USA,UK and Europe help Tchang Kai Chek confronted to the offensive of Mao Tse Toung ?


Forum Staff
Aug 2016
The US experience with Chiang during the war ('41-'45) finally began to sink in that he was hopelessly corrupt. Foreign aid sent to China was more likely to find its way into the pockets of high officials than to the fighting front.

Donor fatigue set in. After the war, Americans wanted to forget about war and get on with the business of peace.

I don't think most Americans in policy positions realized how bad the situation in China was until it was too late.
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Aug 2019
Hello everybody and dear specialists.Why didn t USA,UK and Europe help Tchang Kai Chek confronted to the offensive of Mao Tse Toung ?
I'm no expert but I would think that, in the aftermath of the war Europe was in an economic and physical mess. The UK only recently finished paying off its debts to the USA. Another war would not be supported by the people and could not be afforded. Also, the USSR might have intervened if it saw the west attacking communism, possibly bringing a third world war.
Jul 2019
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
The U. S. did try and help, but the corruption in Chiang's Kuomintang was extensive and apparent as far back as WWII.

The personal relationship during WWII between American General Vinegar Joe Stilwell and Chaing was strained during the war. Stilwell saw the many problems with his Chinese troops. They were poorly equipped. Their commanders lacked boldness and courage. Supplies were not properly organized. But the main and ongoing problem was Chiang. He frequently failed to live up to his promises and countermanded orders from Stilwell. He played politics, threatening to withdraw from the campaign if America did not give him more supplies. Both men became embittered.

In meetings between Roosevelt, Churchill, senior Allied commanders (including Stilwell), and Chiang. Chinese demands and duplicity were apparent, but there was only one option- Chaing - and it was a bad option.

Finally, in response to Chaing's obstructions, Stilwell delivered a blunt message to him from Roosevelt. In response, the Chinese demanded Stilwell’s removal. And that was that.

War aims were naturally focused on Japan and the Communist helped with that so it was hard for Americans to be rigidly anti-communist with Red armies doing so much of the fighting in Europe and Asia. Plus FDR, either by nature or out of necessity, was pretty chummy with Stalin and not as alarmed by communism as it now seems he should have been.
Even back in the days of Herbert Hoover, the Japanese Admiral Toyoda had written a letter to American Ambassador to Japan William Cameron Forbes urging an anti-communist stance:

“We, or our near posterity, will have to decide between Sino-Russian Communism or the Anglo-Saxon capitalism. If China should fall under the rule of Communism, and if Japan keep up her present policy, which she certainly will, the chance is she will be forced to play the role of Iki and Tsushima as the advance posts of the Anglo-Saxon capitalism.”

The point made little impact with the Hoover administration and even less so with the following Roosevelt administration.

Indeed, many American intellectuals were enamored with the "experiment" in the Soviet Union. Often seeing communism as the scientific wave of the future after the demoralization of the Great Depression and Japan as essentially fascist, they were typically not alarmed by the situation in either location.

By the time the war was over FDR had died, Mao had a running start in China, and Chiang was no better than before. Experience with Stalin in Eastern Europe had re-enforced Truman's instinctive anti-communism so it was only then that concern about a communist government in China became high and people in the U. S. began to holler about "who lost China?"

D. F. Flemming in his The Cold War and Its Origins 1917-1960 noted several points:

The 1948 US aid bill included also $570,000,000 for the corrupt and inept regime of Chiang Kai-shek in China...

The Kuomintang had lost China long before, by its failure to defend North China or even to organize guerrilla warfare there against Japan, by its abysmal corruption and inefficiency, by its stubborn and futile attempt to maintain a feudal agrarian system. The American Army shipped and flew Chiang’s troops into Manchuria and North China, after the defeat of Japan. It was the decisive lack of support from the Chinese people which made it impossible to remain there...

...Nor was China sacrificed as Czechoslovakia had been. It was Roosevelt who had insisted all through the war that China must be recognized as a great power after the war and made a member of the Big Four.

Like so many of FDR's pre-war assumptions for Europe, a strong China did not pan out - at least not until much later. And that government, like Eastern Europe, looked nothing like he probably assumed.
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