19.3 Communism in East Asia

Civil war raged across China during the late 1940s as Mao Zedong (mow dzuh doong) and his Communist forces fought to overthrow Jiang Jieshi's Nationalists. In 1949, Mao's forces triumphed. The defeated Jiang and his supporters fled to the island of Taiwan. After decades of struggle, China was finally united, with the Chinese Communists in control. They renamed the country the People's Republic of China.

Photo of a group of men in dirty uniforms outdoors, being spoken to by a younger man in a dark suit.

The support of Chinese peasants helped Mao Zedong (left) and the communists achieve victory in China's civil war.


  • Analyze how Mao Zedong turned China into a communist state.
  • Describe China's role in the Cold War.
  • Explain the causes and impact of the Korean War.

Key Terms

  • Mao Zedong
  • collectivization
  • Great Leap Forward
  • Cultural Revolution
  • 38th parallel
  • Kim Il Sung
  • Syngman Rhee
  • Pusan Perimeter
  • demilitarized zone

The Chinese Communist Victory

Soon afterward, the Communists conquered Tibet, claiming it was part of China. In 1959, as the Chinese cracked down, Tibet's revered religious leader, the Dalai Lama, was forced to flee to India.

How the Communists Won

Mao's victory in China was due to several causes. Mao had won the support of China's huge peasant population. Peasants had long suffered from brutal landlords and crushing taxes. The Communists promised to redistribute land to peasants and end oppression by landlords. Many women backed the Communists, who rejected the old inequalities of Chinese society. Finally, Mao's army outfought Jiang's armies with guerrilla tactics they had perfected fighting the Japanese.

Jiang and the Nationalists who ruled China had failed to end widespread economic hardship. Many Chinese resented corruption in Jiang's government and his reliance on support from Western powers that had long dominated China. Many educated Chinese were drawn to the Communists' vision of a new China free from foreign domination.

End ofPage 791

Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments