War and Revolution in China and Vietnam summary




War and Revolution in China and Vietnam summary


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War and Revolution in China and Vietnam summary

Chapter 41   War and Revolution in China and Vietnam

  1. Introduction

China and Vietnam have differed from the nations of the Pacific Rim. Although industrialized to a degree, China and Vietnam share many experiences with developing nations such as experiences with imperialism, lower standards of living, overpopulation, and ecological destruction. Moreover, China and Vietnam chose to abandon the traditional Confucian culture in favor of communist revolution. In both countries gradualist approaches were impossible.

  1. The Struggle for China
    1. Introduction

The abdication of the last Qing emperor in 1912 began a long period of struggle to establish a new government in China. Initially, regional warlords dominated Chinese politics. The most powerful of the warlords, Yuan Shikai, wished to establish a new imperial dynasty. The power of the warlords was partially offset by merchants and bankers in the more Westernized cities of the Chinese coast. Chinese universities provided the theoretical foundation for political reconstruction. Secret societies plotted to restore the empire under a Chinese ruler. The situation was complicated by foreign intervention in China. Both Japan and the European nations sought to divide China into imperial zones of influence. From the 1890s to 1945, the most dangerous of the foreign interlopers was Japan.

    1. The May Fourth Movement and the Rise of the Marxist Alternative

Sun Yat-sen headed the civilian coalition, the Revolutionary Alliance, that had opposed the Qing in 1911. He claimed the right to establish a government, but lacked the power to form one. Although Sun Yat-sen was elected president in 1911, the warlords continued to dominate China. In 1912, Sun Yat-sen resigned the presidency in favor of the leading warlord, Yuan Shikai. When it became clear that Yuan Shikai intended to establish himself as the sole ruler, Sun Yat-sen called for a second revolution. Yuan Shikai's plans were interrupted by Japanese intervention in China.
In 1915, Japan presented Yuan Shikai with the Twenty-One Demands, which the warlord attempted to ignore. When a second warlord was willing to oppose Japanese interests more directly, Yuan Shikai was overthrown. In the political vacuum that followed Yuan's fall, the Japanese seized much of northern China with the assent of the European powers. On May 4, 1919, massive demonstrations by students and nationalist politicians occurred in Chinese cities protesting the betrayal of China's sovereignty. The public outrage was channeled into the May Fourth movement, the purpose of which was to create a liberal democracy in China.
The May Fourth movement called for the abandonment of Confucianism in favor of Western ideals. Until the warlords could be neutralized, the rhetoric of the May Fourth movement could not be realized. Awareness of the futility of a democratic philosophy bereft of force led to the emergence of communism within China. The Russian Revolution seemed to serve as a model for possible reform in China. Under Li Dazhao, Marxist discussion groups were founded in the universities and the coastal cities. With support from Sun Yat-sen, Marxists founded the Socialist Youth Corps in 1920 to recruit among urban workers. In 1921, leaders of the Marxist movement met in Shanghai and formed the Communist party of China.

    1. The Seizure of Power by the Guomindang, or Nationalist Party

In 1919, Sun Yat-sen attempted to revitalize the reform movement by creating the Nationalist Party of China (Guomindang). The Nationalists began to militarize in order to drive out the warlords. Sun Yat-sen enunciated a broad program of reform. The foundation of Nationalist power was among commercial groups in the coastal cities as well as some warlords and criminal groups, such as the Green Gang of Shanghai. Sun Yat-sen also formed an alliance with the Communist party in 1924.
Unable to attract support from the West, the Nationalist party did receive advisors and material assistance from the newly formed Soviet Union. As the Nationalists began to militarize, Chiang Kai-shek became a close associate of Sun Yat-sen. While the Nationalists were engaged in political and military organization, the chaotic economic situation in the countryside deteriorated. The failure to address the problems of the peasants was a severe drawback for the Nationalists.

    1. Mao and the Peasant Option

Mao Zedong came from a peasant background, but soon joined the revolutionary and nationalist movement in China. He was heavily influenced by the Marxist thinkers in Beijing and began to see the peasants as the key to a successful revolution. Because the concept of a peasant revolution did not fit the classic Marxist revolutionary scheme, Mao remained in the background of Communist leadership in the 1920s. His rise to leadership in the Communist party of China occurred after a split between the Nationalists and Communists.
After Sun Yat-sen's death in 1925, Chiang Kai-shek began to expand the territory controlled by the Nationalists. He seized Shanghai in 1927. By the late 1920s, he had captured Beijing and controlled enough of China to be regarded as the most powerful leader. In a sense, Chiang Kai-shek was simply the most influential warlord. Chiang ruthlessly eliminated his political rivals. Among those purged were all of the Communists in the central committee. In 1927, Chiang's army and criminal supporters liquidated all Communists in the city of Shanghai. When the purges spread to other cities, civil war broke out between the Nationalists and the Communists in China.

    1. Reaction Versus Revolution and the Communist Victory

The Nationalists enjoyed the support of Chinese commercial interests, many intellectuals, rural landlords, and the military. Chiang also renewed appeals to the West for support against the Communists. Ironically, the Nationalists continued to receive support from the Soviet Union. When Chiang smashed the urban workers groups, Mao's plan to base the revolution on the peasantry gained greater credibility. There were few alternatives.
In the late 1920s, Mao centered the Communist movement in Hunan province, where he established soviets. By 1934, repeated Nationalist campaigns successfully drove the Communists from Hunan. Mao led his supporters on the Long March to Shaanxi province in northwestern China, where the Communists remained until the mid-1940s. Mao's ability to survive made him the recognized leader of the Communist party. When it appeared that Chiang's Nationalists might also root the Communists out of Shaanxi, the Japanese invaded China in 1937. Even as the Japanese advanced, Chiang continued to press his campaign against the Communists. Only when forced by military associates, Chiang formed an alliance with the Communists to form a united front against Japanese aggression.
While the Japanese successfully defeated Chiang's conventional forces along the Chinese coast, the Communists waged a more successful guerrilla campaign and gained control of much of northern China. When the war ended, the Nationalists were restricted to the northern Chinese cities. By 1945, when World War II ended, the Communists held a clear advantage. Mao was able to drive the demoralized remnants of the Nationalists to the island of Taiwan in 1949. Mao proclaimed the People's Republic of China. Critical to Communist success was their program of rural reform. Mao concentrated on social and economic reform for the peasantry, a commitment that won many to his party.

  1. Mao's China and Beyond
    1. Introduction

The Chinese Communists had the advantage of establishing control over a unified nation from which foreign invaders had been expelled. The party enjoyed strong political and military organization. The People's Liberation Army continued to administer much of the country after 1949, although the military accepted the party's leadership.
Following their victory over the Nationalists, the Communists moved to restore China's dominance in East Asia. As Communist China's power grew, a split developed with the Soviet Union. China demonstrated its international strength in defeating India in a brief border war and exploding a nuclear device.

    1. Planning for Economic Growth and Social Justice

Between 1950 and 1952, the landlord class in China was eliminated. The government redistributed land to peasants and formed village cadres. As in Russia, the goal of the Communists was industrialization. Five-year plans were begun in 1953. To achieve development, the party became urban- based, undertook central economic planning, and turned away from the peasants. Mao found this direction unacceptable and forced the party to change directions in the mid-1950s. Mao disliked bureaucratic elites and intellectuals. He continued to identify the revolution with the peasants. In 1955, Mao introduced the Mass Line approach leading to farming collectives that brought peasants together in production groups.
Following outspoken criticism of the Communist regime in 1957, Mao roughly repressed dissidents. With political opposition subdued, Mao introduced the Great Leap Forward in 1958. Industrialization was to be based in rural communes rather than urban factories. The immediate consequences of collectivization and the Great Leap Forward were disastrous for development in China. Famine and falling production caused hardship. Economic regression was further complicated by massive population growth. Initially resistant to the idea of birth control, the Communist government limited families to one child in the 1980s. By 1960, Mao's failures cost him his position of leadership of the nation. Pragmatists, headed by Zhou Enlai, decided to restore central planning and private landholding.

    1. "Women Hold Up Half of the Heavens"

Mao's revolutionary social program included improvements in the social and economic status of women. The failure of the Nationalists to support women's rights led many women to embrace the Communists. The Communist party, in contrast, used women as teachers, laborers, and even soldiers. Some women rose to positions of influence within the party. The Communist victory brought full legal equality to Chinese women and entry into the work force. As was often the case in other nations, women were still expected to fulfill traditional roles as wives and mothers within their households. Males continued to dominate the upper reaches of the party structure. Mao's wife temporarily enjoyed exceptional political influence, but her position depended on her relationship to her husband.

    1. Mao's Last Campaign and the Fall of the Gang of Four

Mao continued to oppose the pragmatists and to develop a base of mass support. In 1965, he launched the Cultural Revolution. Student demonstrations began mass criticisms of Mao's political enemies. They soon drew the support of the lower echelons of the army. Bureaucrats and managers were deprived of their positions and sent to the country to work off their "crimes." As chaos spread, the army leaders forced the lower echelons back into line. The pragmatists launched political counter strokes to regain control of the government.
The Gang of Four, including Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, attempted to sustain the Cultural Revolution until Mao's death in 1976. The military and the pragmatists, acting together, arrested the Gang of Four, who were purged from the Communist party. Following their victory, the pragmatists opened China to greater Western influence and considerable capitalization. Of all the revolutionary regimes, the Chinese have been most successful at redistributing wealth and supplying social services to the peasantry. The Chinese have raised standards of living, although relative poverty is still common. China's industrial and agrarian sectors have been more productive than democratic India.

  1. Colonialism and Revolution in Vietnam
    1. Introduction

Vietnam's experience with Western colonialism had much in common with China. Like the Chinese, exposure to imperialism caused the Vietnamese to abandon Confucian elements of their culture. Catholic missionaries first stimulated French interest in Vietnam. When the Tayson Rebellion in southern Vietnam toppled the Nguyen dynasty in the 1770s and the northern dynasty was similarly disabled, the French Bishop of Adran chose to support the surviving member of the Nguyen house, Nguyen Anh.
By 1802, Nguyen Anh's armies, supported by the French, successfully defeated the Tayson in both the south and north. He was proclaimed the Gia Long emperor of a united Vietnam. The French achieved great influence in the new court. Gia Long and his successor, Minh Mang, emphasized the Confucian tradition of government in Vietnam. Under Minh Mang, the Vietnamese government began to persecute Catholics. The French chose to intervene militarily to protect Vietnamese Catholics. They exploited divisions in Vietnam in order to justify piecemeal conquest of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
By the 1890s, the French had reduced the Nguyen to the status of puppet rulers. French exploitation devastated the peasantry of northern Vietnam. Many peasants chose to migrate to the Mekong delta region in the south and became virtual serfs on the French plantations.

    1. Vietnamese Nationalism: Bourgeois Dead Ends and Communist Survival

Despite sporadic guerrilla attempts to support the Nguyen, the failure of the dynasty to free itself of French influence discredited the Confucian regime. In the early years of the twentieth century, French colonialism produced a Western- educated middle class in Vietnam. Within this group, a nationalist party first emerged. By the 1920s, attempts at peaceful protests had failed, leaving only a revolutionary option. Those who proposed the violent overthrow of the French administration were organized in the Vietnamese Nationalist party. A series of failed revolutions and French repression virtually destroyed the party.
In the wake of the failed middle-class movement, the Communist party of Vietnam inherited the revolutionary mantle. In the late 1920s, the leader of the Communists was Nguyen Ai Quoc, later known as Ho Chi Minh. The party shifted from dependence on urban workers to a peasant-led revolution in the 1930s. Again, failed attempts at revolution smashed much of the party, leaving only an underground organization. When the French were weakened by the advance of the Japanese in 1941, the Communists were prepared to reemerge as a revolutionary force.

    1. The War of Liberation Against the French

The Communist nationalist movement, the Viet Minh, operated primarily in northern Vietnam. As the Japanese were defeated, the Viet Minh were well placed to step into the political vacuum. They immediately carried out social and economic reforms within the regions they controlled. Under General Vo Nguyen Giap, Viet Minh forces conducted a successful guerrilla campaign against Japanese-held portions of Vietnam.
By 1945, the Viet Minh controlled the northern capital of Hanoi and proclaimed an independent Vietnam. After the war, the French attempted to restore their hold over southern Vietnam. General Giap swiftly renewed the guerrilla war, this time against the French. After the Vietnamese won the critical battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, an international conference at Geneva conceded the Viet Minh control of the northern portions of the country. The conference declared that an election would determine the political fate of the south.

    1. The War of Liberation Against the United States

No elections were ever held. The United States, who had supported the French, now determined to halt the advance of communism in Asia. The U.S. selected Ngo Dinh Diem, a nationalist leader, to create a new government in southern Vietnam. A Catholic and long allied with the United States, Diem enjoyed little support in Vietnam. Diem attempted to crush Communist cadres in southern Vietnam, while the northern Vietnamese government attempted to ship men and arms to the south. As the war expanded, both the United States and northern Vietnam expanded their support. When it appeared that Diem might fail, the U.S. approved a military coup in the south.
The U.S. continued to escalate support in men and material for the southern government, but were unable to crush the Communists. As the government in the south began to fall apart, the U.S. withdrew from the war in 1975. The Communists reunited Vietnam for the first time in more than a century.

    1. After Victory: The Struggle to Rebuild Vietnam

Diplomatic isolation imposed by the United States and border clashes with China made it difficult for the Communist government to make much headway in the post-war program of development. The heads of the party in Vietnam expended much effort in eliminating enemies and attempted to maintain a strongly centralized economic system. The result was a lack of progress. In the 1980s, the government began to liberalize the economy and to permit investment from the West and industrialized nations of Asia. Vietnamese relations with the United States have recently improved.

  1. Conclusion: Revolutions and Civilization in China and Vietnam

Both China and Vietnam have undergone revolutionary transformations in the twentieth century. New governments eliminated much of the traditional elite. The Confucian system of education was supplanted by public education programs. Women's status has improved. Marxism replaced Confucianism as the guiding orthodoxy. Some aspects of traditional culture have been retained. Both societies continue to harbor suspicions about commercial classes. Political philosophy continues to stress the duty of the government to rule for the benefit of the people. Both nations continue to stress harmony and secularism. The traditional assumption of cultural superiority remains. Despite Mao's resistance, the existence of a bureaucratic elite is evident. In these ways, the traditional culture of East Asia has survived a period of revolution.


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War and Revolution in China and Vietnam summary

Chapter 35

War and Revolution in China and Vietnam


Chapter Summary.  Unlike their neighbors in Japan and Korea, China and Vietnam shared many of the experiences of the former colonial nations.  They suffered from the assaults and exploitative terms of exchange imposed by imperialist powers.  Each is faced with the problems of overpopulation, underdevelopment, poverty, and environmental degradation.  Unlike many colonized peoples who maintained basic traditional cultures despite the weight of colonial rule, China and Vietnam suffered the destruction of the Confucian system that had been an integral component of their life.  Both had derived few benefits from European domination.  They had to embark on full-scale revolutions to rebuild their countries.

The Struggle for China.  The abdication of the last Qing emperor in 1912 opened the way for a long political struggle for control of a united China.  The alliance that had overthrown the Manchus shattered and regional warlords rose to domination.  Yuan Shikai, who hoped to found a new dynasty, headed the most powerful group of warlords.  Wealthy merchants and bankers comprised a second power center, while students and teachers were an influential, but defenseless, group.  Secret societies had strength in some regions.  All the factions became overshadowed by Japan's imperialist entry into China.

The May Fourth Movement and the Rise of the Marxist Alternative.  Sun Yat-sen, the head of a loose anti-Manchu coalition, the Revolutionary Alliance, claimed the succession to the dynasty, but lacked power to counter warlord opposition.  The support for the Alliance was confined to the urban trading centers of the south and central coast.  The Alliance elected Sun Yat-sen as president in 1911 and established a European-style parliament.  Sun Yat-sen conceded his powerlessness by resigning the presidency in favor of Yuan Shikai in 1912.  He soon created an autocratic regime and worked to become emperor.  Rivalry with other warlords, republican nationalists, and the Japanese checked his ambitions.  During World War I Japan seized Germany's spheres of influence in China and then moved to build a dominant position.  In 1915 they presented Yuan with the Twenty-One Demands; acceptance would have made China a Japanese protectorate.  Yuan ignored the demands and a rival warlord deposed him in 1916.  When Japan received confirmation at Versailles of their control of the former German concessions, mass nationalist demonstrations occurred on May 4, 1919.  They were the beginning of an extended period of protest against Japan.  The May 4th movement initially aimed to make China a liberal democracy; Confucianism was rejected in favor of Western ideas.  The movement did not take into account the realities of the political situation:  China was ruled by warlords and gradualist solutions did offer a remedy for the deprived status of the peasantry.  Many Chinese wanted more radical alternatives, and some turned to the example of the Russian Revolution and spread Marxist theories.  Thinkers, such as Li Dazhou, Marxism to make peasants the vanguard of change.  All China had been exploited by the West, he reasoned, and all Chinese had to rise against their exploiters.  Li's thoughts influenced the young Mao Zedong.  In 1921 Marxists founded the Communist Party of China and received support from the Soviet Union.

The Seizure of Power by the Guomindang, or Nationalist Party.  During the 1920s the Guomindang (Nationalist Party of China), under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen until his death in 1925, struggled to survive in the south.  As the party built an army Sun evolved an ideology stressing a strong central government and social reforms for peasants and workers.  Guomindang leaders, however, neglected internal social concerns and instead focused on political and international issues.  Support for the party came from urban businesspeople and merchants of coastal cities, warlords, and the criminal underworld.  In 1924 the Guomindang and Communists concluded an alliance.  When they did not receive help from Western powers the Guomindang gained support from the Soviet Union.  The Whampoa Military Academy, founded in 1924 and partially staffed by Soviets, helped Guomindang military efficiency.  Its first head was Chiang Kai-shek.  The Guomindang leaderships’ continued concern with party organization kept them from meeting the serious problems facing China's economy and people.  Sun was ignorant of rural conditions and did not recognize that many among the peasantry lived in misery.

Mao and the Peasant Option.  Mao Zedong formulated an ideology based on peasant support for revolutionary solutions to China's problems.  His view remained a minority one among Communists during the 1920s; rivals advocated orthodox Marxist strategies based on the urban working class.  Chiang Kai-shek became leader of the Guomindang after Sun's death in 1925.  By the late 1920s Chiang had defeated most warlords and gained recognition as the ruler of China.  In 1927 Chiang moved against his Communist allies, beginning a civil war that did not end until 1949.

Reaction Versus Revolution and the Communist Victory.  At the beginning of the struggle Chiang had the support of the richest and most powerful groups in China: urban businesspeople and merchants, most intellectuals and university students, rural landlords, bureaucrats, police, and the military.  Urban worker opposition had been crushed and the peasants waited to see if the Guomindang would help them.  Chiang continued to receive Soviet support.  The brutal repression of the Communists strengthened Mao's standing as the survivors retreated into the countryside.  From the late 1920s the center of Communist activity was in Hunan province where they carried out land reform.  Chiang continued to attack the Communists, forcing Mao and his followers to set off on the Long March to Shaanxi in northwest China.  Shaanxi became the center of the Communist movement until the mid-1940s.  Mao was the established leader of the party, but was faced by a serious attack on Shaanxi by Chiang in 1937.  But Chiang then had to face an all-out Japanese invasion of China.  He allied with the Communists and for the next seven years war against the Japanese replaced civil war.  The war strengthened the Communists at the expense of the Guomindang since it was defeated by the Japanese when waging conventional warfare.  The Communists fought guerrilla campaigns and extended control over much of north China.  Intellectuals and students changed their allegiance to the Communists.  By 1945 the balance of power was shifting to Mao and in the renewed civil war after the defeat of Japan the Communists were victorious in 1949.  Mao triumphed because Communist policies won the support of the peasantry.  Land reform, education, and improved health care gave them good reason to support Mao.  The Communists won because they offered a solution to China's fundamental social and economic problems.

Mao's China and Beyond.  In 1949 the Communists claimed authority in a nation from which foreign invaders had been expelled.  They were able to move directly to meeting the needs for social reform and economic development along paths already attempted in zones under Communist control.  They had the advantage of ruling a people with common traditions and of their own strong military and political organization.  The army was important, but it clearly was subordinate to party leadership.  The Communists used their strength to reassert Chinese regional preeminence.  Secessionist movements in Inner Mongolia and Tibet were suppressed and, in the 1950s, China intervened in the Korean War and preserved the division of that country.  They periodically threatened to invade the Guomindang refuge in Taiwan and supported the Vietnamese liberation movement.  The close cooperation with the Soviet Union collapsed by the late 1950s because of border disputes and arguments with the post-Stalinist leadership.  During the early 1960s China defeated India in a brief border war and exploded a nuclear device.

Planning for Economic Growth and Social Justice.  Government activity for domestic reform was equally vigorous, but less successful.  Landlords were dispossessed and purged, and their lands redistributed.  To begin industrialization a first five-year plan commenced in 1953, drawing resources from the countryside for its support.  Some advances were achieved in heavy industry, but the resulting consequences of centralized state planning and a privileged class of urban technocrats were unacceptable to Mao.  He had a deep hostility to elitism and to Lenin's idea of a revolution imposed from above; he clung to his faith in peasants as the force of the revolution.  The Mass Line approach began in 1955 with the formation of agricultural cooperatives; in 1956 they became farming collectives that provided the bulk of Chinese production.  Peasant ownership ceased.  In 1957 intellectuals were purged after being asked their opinion of government policies.

The Great Leap Backward: The Great Leap Forward, an effort to revitalize the revolution by restoring its mass and rural base, was launched in 1958.  Small-scale industrialization aimed at creating self-reliant peasant communes, but instead resulted in economic disaster.  Peasants reacted against collectivization.  Communist China experienced its worst famine, the crisis exacerbated by a growing population and a state rejection of family planning.  The government did then introduce birth control programs and succeeded in slowing population increase.  By 1960 the Great Leap ended and Mao lost his position as State Chairman.  He continued as head of the Central Committee.  Pragmatists such as Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping pushed policies of restored state direction and local level market incentives.

"Women Hold Up Half of the Heavens. "  Mao, assisted by his wife Jiang Qing, was committed to the liberation of Chinese women.  Guomindang efforts to reverse gains made by women during the early revolution caused many women to support the Communists.  They worked in many occupations in Communist ranks.  When the revolution triumphed women received legal equality.  Women gained some freedom in selecting marriage partners and have been expected to work outside of the home.  Traditional male attitudes persisted and made women labored both in and out of their homes.  Males continued to dominate upper party levels.

Mao's Last Campaign and the Fall of the Gang of Four.  By 1965 Mao believed that he had won sufficient support to overthrow his pragmatist rivals.  He launched the Cultural Revolution during which opponents were attacked, killed, or forced into rural labor.  Zhou Enlai was driven into seclusion and Deng Xiaoping imprisoned.  The destruction of centralized state and technocratic elites endangered revolutionary stability.  The campaign was terminated by Mao in 1968 as the military brought the Red Guard back into line.  The struggle between Mao and his rivals recommenced, with Deng slowly pushing back the Gang of Four led by Jiang Qing.  Zhou Enlai's death in 1976 cleared the way for the open succession struggle; Mao died later in 1976.  The pragmatists won out; the Gang of Four were imprisoned for life.  Since then the pragmatists have opened China to Western influences and capitalist development, but not to political reform.  The Communists since taking power in 1949 have managed a truly revolutionary redistribution of China's wealth.  The mass people have much better standards of living than under previous regimes, and their condition is superior to that of the people in many other developing regions.

Colonialism and Revolution in Vietnam.  Although the Vietnamese were brought under European rule during the 19th century, the Confucian influence of China on their historical evolution makes their encounter with the West similar to China's.  The failure of the Confucian emperor and bureaucracy to prevent a French takeover discredited the system in force in Vietnam for millennia.  The French had been interested in Vietnam since the 17th century; by the late 18th century they became politically involved when internal power struggles brought wide disorder.  The Tayson peasant rebellion toppled the Nguyen and Trinh dynasties in the 1770s.  The French backed Nguyen Anh (later renamed Gia Long) and helped him to unify Vietnam by 1802.  Hue became the capital and French missionaries and traders received special rights.  Gia Long and his successors were conservatives deeply committed to Confucianism, thus disappointing French missionary hopes to convert Vietnam to Christianity.  When ruler Minh Mang persecuted Vietnamese Christians, the French, during the 1840s, intervened.  By the 1890s all the country was under French control and the Nguyen made into puppet rulers.  The French exploited Vietnam without providing its people any significant return.  Food consumption among the peasantry dropped between the early l900s and the 1930s while Vietnam became a leading world rice producer.

Vietnamese Nationalism: Bourgeois Dead Ends and Communist Survival.  The failure of the Nguyen to resist the French discredited the dynasty.  There was guerrilla opposition into the early 20th century, but it was localized, small-scale, and easily defeated.  With the old order discredited, many Vietnamese rejected Confucianism.  Under the French a Western-educated middle class grew to work in government and private careers.  They contested French racism and discrimination in job opportunities.  French ability to repress all outward signs of opposition gave those arguing for violent solutions the upper hand.  In the 1920 a Vietnamese Nationalist Party (VNQDD), with members drawn from the educated middle class, began to pursue violent revolution.  Their efforts ended with the harsh repression of the party in 1929.  The fall of the VNQDD left the Communist party, dominated by Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh), as the main focus of resistance.  The Communists believed in revolt based upon urban workers until in the early 1930s they shifted to a peasant emphasis to take advantage of rural risings.  The French crushed the party, but it survived underground with help from the Soviets.  They gained peasant support by advancing programs for land and social reform.

The War of Liberation against the French.  The Japanese occupied Vietnam in 1941.  The Communist-dominated resistance movement, the Viet Minh, fought the Japanese during the war and emerged at the end of World War II as an effective party ready to continue the reforms they had inaugurated in liberated regions.  By 1945, under the leadership of Vo Nguyen Giap, and with much rural support, the Viet Minh proclaimed an independent Vietnam.  They did not control the south where the French returned to exploit local divisions and reassert colonial rule.  A harsh colonial war followed that closed with French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.  An international conference at Geneva promised elections to decide who should govern Vietnam.

In Depth: Decolonization With and Without Social Revolution.  Vietnam was one of the few colonial territories to win independence through the use of force.  The Vietnamese experience is useful for understanding the origins of revolutionary change as opposed to gradualist transformations.  The Vietnamese were unified politically and culturally long before the European arrival.  French rule increased Vietnamese dominance over related peoples, and intensified Vietnamese identity by stimulating their long tradition of resistance to foreign rulers.  Unlike other colonial subjects the Vietnamese continually fought against the French and regarded individuals cooperating with them as traitors.  The dissolution of the ancient Confucian order required that opponents of the French had to win support by promising extensive social and economic reform.  The French, not following the colonial practice elsewhere of allowing of moderate dissent, ensured that any transfer of power would not be peaceful.  The Japanese occupation did not, as in other neighboring territories, strengthen moderate nationalist groups.  The Japanese left the French run the colony and all nationalists organizations were repressed.  Only the Vietnamese Communist Party survived to end the colonial occupation of Vietnam.

The War of Liberation against the United States.  The promise of elections was not kept as Vietnam became entangled in cold war maneuvers.  anti-Communist feeling in the United States during the early 1950s fed the idea that South Vietnam must be defended against a communist takeover.  A southern government, with United States backing, was established with Ngo Dinh Diem as president.  He rigged elections to legitimize his rule and began a campaign against the communists (the Viet Cong) in the south.  The north Vietnamese regime supported the Viet Cong.  When hostilities escalated and Diem proved unable to stem communist gains, the United States allowed the military to depose him and take over the war.  The fighting continued, and even the intervention of 500,000 American troops and massive bombing did not defeat the communists.  The United States gave up and withdrew its forces in the 1970s; southern Vietnam fell to the communists in 1975.

After Victory: The Struggle to Rebuild Vietnam.  Vietnam had its first united government since the mid-19th century, but it ruled over a devastated country.  Communist efforts to rebuild have floundered, partly because of Vietnamese isolation from the international community.  The United States used its influence to block international assistance.  Border clashes occurred with China.  Vietnamese leaders of a dictatorial regime pushed hard-line Marxist-Leninist political and economic policies and persecuted old enemies.  A highly centralized economy stifled growth and continued wartime miseries.  Liberalization in the economic sphere finally began during the late 1980s.  The United States and Vietnam began movement into a more constructive relationship

Conclusion: Revolutions and Civilization in China and Vietnam.  Both China and Vietnam have undergone revolutionary transformations during the 20th century.  Monarchies and colonial regimes have been replaced by Communism.  Entire social classes have disappeared.  New educational systems have been created.  Women have gained new legal and social status.  Confucianism fell before Marxist-Leninism and later Western capitalist influences.  But much remains unchanged.  Suspicion of commercial and entrepreneurial classes persists, and the belief remains that rulers are obliged to promote the welfare of their subjects.  Ideological systems stress secular and social harmony rather than religious concerns.  Still, the new societies forming retain much from their past.


Yuan Shikai: warlord in northern China after the fall of the Qing dynasty; president of China in 1912; hoped to become emperor but blocked in 1916 by Japanese intervention in China.

Sun Yat-sen: head of the Revolutionary Alliance that led the 1911 revolt against the Qing; president of China in 1911, but yielded to Yuan Shikai in 1912; created the Guomindang in 1919; died in 1925.

May 4th Movement: acceptance at Versailles of Japanese gains in China during World War I led to demonstrations and the beginning of a movement to create a liberal democracy.

Li Dazhao: Chinese Marxist intellectual; rejected traditional view and instead saw peasants as the vanguard of socialist revolution; influenced Mao Zedong.

New Youth: Marxist periodical that did much to spread the ideas of Marx and Lenin among urban Chinese youth.

Socialist Youth Corps:  formed in 1920 in China; dedicated to recruiting urban workers into the revolutionary movement.

Zhou Enlai: one of the most important Chinese leaders; died in 1976.

Guomindang (National Party): founded by Sun Yat-sen in 1919; main support from urban businesspeople and merchants; ; dominated by Chiang Kai-shek after 1925.

Whampoa Military Academy: Guomindang military academy founded in 1924; with Soviet support; its  1st director was Chiang Kai-shek.

Chiang Kai-shek: leader of the Guomindang from 1925; contested with the communists for control of China until defeated in 1949.

Mao Zedong: Communist leader who advocated the role of the peasantry in revolution; led the communists to victory and ruled China from 1949 to 1976.

Long March: Communist retreat from Hunan under Guomindang pressure in 1934; shifted center of Communist power to Shaanxi province.

Mass Line: economic policy of Mao Zedong inaugurated in 1955; led to formation of agricultural cooperatives that then became farming collectives in 1956; peasants lost land gained a few years earlier..

Great Leap Forward: economic policy of Mao Zedong introduced in 1958; proposed small-scale industrialization projects integrated into peasant communities; led to economic disaster and ended in 1960.

Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqui: pragmatists who, along with Zhou Enlai, opposed the Great Leap Forward; wanted to restore state direction and market incentives at the local level.

Jiang Qing: wife of Mao Zedong; one of the Gang of Four; opposed pragmatists and supported the Cultural Revolution; arrested and imprisoned for life in 1976.

Cultural Revolution: initiated by Mao Zedong in 1965 to restore his dominance over the pragmatists; disgraced and even killed bureaucrats and intellectuals; called off in 1968.

Red Guard: student brigades active during the Cultural Revolution in supporting Mao Zedong's policies.

Gang of Four: Jiang Qing and her allies who opposed the pragmatists after the death of Mao Zedong; arrested and sentenced to life in prison.

Tayson Rebellion: peasant revolution in southern Vietnam during the 1770s; toppled the Nguyen and the Trinh dynasties.

Nguyen Anh (Gia Long): with French support unified Vietnam under the Nguyen dynasty in 1802 with the capital at Hue.

Minh Mang: second ruler of united Vietnam (1802-1841); emphasized Confucianism and persecuted Catholics.

Vietnamese Nationalist Party (VNQDD): middle class  revolutionary organization during the 1920s; committed to violent overthrow of French colonialism; crushed by the French.

Communist Party of Vietnam: the primary nationalist party after the defeat of the VNQDD in 1929; led from 1920s by Ho Chi Minh.

Ho Chi Minh (Nguyen Ai Quoc): shifted to a revolution based on the peasantry in the 1930s; presided over the defeat of France in 1954 and the unsuccessful United States intervention in Vietnam.

Viet Minh: Communist Vietnamese movement; fought the Japanese during Word War II and the French afterwards.

Vo Nguyen Giap: military commander of the Viet Minh and the victor at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

Dien Bien Phu: significant Viet Minh victory over the French that led to the end of the French effort to hold Vietnam.

Ngo Dinh Diem: became president of South Vietnam with United States support in the 1950s; overthrown by the military, with U.S. approval.

Viet Cong: the Communist guerrilla movement in southern Vietnam during the Vietnamese war.


1.  Compare and contrast the experience in China and Vietnam with the process of decolonization elsewhere in the Asia and Africa.  The similarities include an exposure to Western imperialism during the 19th century and to that of Japan during the 20th century.  By that century they had been reduced to economic dependency in the global trade network.  They had failed to industrialize and shared overpopulation problems and poverty.  Their differences from other African and Asian colonial territories included the failure to development a Western-educated middle class and to undertake a lengthy period of nationalist, democratic government.  They accepted a peasant-oriented form of Marxism, achieved greater success in raising the status of women, and were able to maintain independence from the diplomatic systems of the United States and the Soviet Union.  Both had a secular orientation; they lacked the Catholicism of Latin America or the religious focus provided by Islam and Hinduism.  They emphasized the peasantry rather than an urban working class.

2.  Compare and contrast the Communist revolution in China with the Russian Revolution of 1917.  The Russian Revolution followed the lack of success during World War I; Russia had not been colonized by a European power.  China had been exposed to Western imperialism.  Lenin had imposed a system of revolution based on an urban proletariat; Chinese communists, especially Mao, emphasized the peasantry.  Both countries had an insubstantial middle class to support liberal democratic experiments; both collectivized agriculture early in their revolutionary development.  Both also had five-year industrialization plans, although Russia's was much more successful than China's.  Mao, through his opposition to a technocratic elite, introduced programs aimed at destroying urbanized industrialization; the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution retarded economic development.  Both regimes expanded into neighboring regions. The two regimes during their middle periods were dominated by charismatic leaders - Mao, Stalin.  Both countries have introduced reforms and increased Westernization since the 1980s, but Russia's reforms have gone much farther than China's.


1. What experiences did China and Vietnam share with the other African and Asian
colonial territories and what experiences are unique?

2. What elements led to the Guomindang seizure of power in China the 1920s?

3. Why did the Guomindang fail to achieve permanent success?

4. How did Mao's political beliefs affect the nature of Communist reforms until 1957?

5. What gains did women in China make under Communism?

6. How did France gain control of Vietnam?

7. How did the Japanese invasion of Indochina aid in the Communist success in

8. What was new following the revolutions in China and Vietnam and what was retained
from traditional civilization?


Source : http://kisdwebs.katyisd.org/campuses/KHS/teacherweb/huntc/Teacher%20Documents/Unit%205/AP%20Ch.%2035%20Notes.doc

Web site link: http://kisdwebs.katyisd.org/campuses/KHS/teacherweb/huntc

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