Chassin on why the CCP won the Chinese Civil War (1952)


Lionel Max Chassin was a general in the French Air Force during the late 1940s. Here, writing in his 1952 memoir, he offers his view about the CCP victory over Jiang Jieshi in the Chinese Civil War:


“At the outset, Mao’s chances of success were very slim. Clearly outclassed in numbers and materiel, he dominated only a small territory; he had no money, no resources, no allies. Worst of all, the masters of Russian communism had abandoned him; they had recognised Jiang Jieshi, his mortal enemy, as the leader of China, and yielded Manchuria to Nationalist sovereignty.

Opposing Mao was Jiang Jieshi, a man to whom propaganda had given the stature of a giant, a prospective member of President Roosevelt’s world-governing Big Four, the master of more than 350 million people, of war-hardened armies, of enormous stocks of modern military materiel, an ally assured of the total support of the great American republic, which in 1945 was the world’s most powerful state. Between these two champions, who could have hesitated in his choice?

Four years later Jiang Jieshi, the Chinese hero, was to find himself a vanquished refugee on the small island of Formosa [Taiwan], while his adversary set himself up in Beijing as the master of 480 million human beings. What happened? What were the causes of an event which
means so much in the history of humanity?

The profound lesson of the drama that was the Chinese Civil War is this: Even now, in this era of materialism and mechanisation, spirit is always predominant, and it is morale that wins battles.

Mao had only to follow a beaten track. His external theme was the eternal theme of xenophobic nationalism, of the struggle against foreign imperialists, who themselves but barely emerged from barbarism, had ‘enslaved’ the higher civilisation that was China. As for internal themes, he cleverly appealed to the instincts of social justice and proprietorship which are so strong in the human heart.”

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