Caleb Maupin and Harpal Brar: Chinese Revolution 2: The PLA and WW2

How Mao Zedong founded the People’s Liberation Army and the role of the PLA in the titanic struggle for freedom.

In this second part of a wide-ranging discussion on the Chinese Revolution, Harpal Brar and Caleb Maupin continue in their assessment of the struggle between the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang (KMT).


Continuing directly on from the first part of their discussion on the Chinese Revolution, our commentators look at the early development of the Communist Party of China and how its strategic relationship with the Kuomintang gave the party opportunities to increase its membership and experience working in the army ­– this is before the People’s Liberation Army came into being, and before Chiang Kai-shek took over the reigns of the KMT.

After the betrayal of Chiang Kai-shek and the ensuing extermination campaign of the communists by the KMT, Mao Zedong came to realise that "political power grows out of the barrel of the gun". That extermination campaign directly led to the creation of the People’s Liberation Army just a few months later, and would be the main force opposing the Japanese invaders beginning in 1933.

Pivoting into the international perspective of the potential Chinese revolution, Caleb and Harpal touch on the disagreements on the direction it should take between the Stalin and the Comintern on the one hand, and Leon Trotsky and his followers on the other. The disagreements were chiefly concerned with who the Chinese proletariat could count on as its allies. In particular, whether or not China had a national bourgeoisie, and if that was distinct in character from the bourgeoisie of an imperialist nation such as that of pre-revolutionary Russia.

In the last part of the discussion, the commentators look into the fight against the Japanese aggressors, with Caleb providing a valuable insight into the role of the USA and the Communist Party of the USA during this period.

Finally, we are left with a reminder of what the bourgeois narrative of history so often ‘forgets’: that the Chinese antifascist war predated WW2, that in their 14-year struggle against Japanese militarism the Chinese lost more people even than the Soviet Union did in Europe; and that, crucially, it was the Soviets and the Chinese who made the biggest contribution towards defeating fascism.