What if Nationalist China won the Chinese Civil War?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Dirk_Pitt, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. Corbell Mark IV Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    Using corrupt officials to get military supplies all the way across China?

    No way that could work as well as OTL with open transport of goods.
     
  2. Corbell Mark IV Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    THat would be great. Having two China's, one a Soviet Puppet would weld Nationalist China to the West like a solid block of tempered steel.:D

    Hell, you'd see US bases all along the border.
     
  3. RGB Unqueering the Academia

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    Location:
    Rainy Corporate Dystopia
    So post-45:

    NATO was formed to contain the Soviets. It's entire purpose was to antagonize them. No surprise there. Ditto "antagonising USA". The naughtiness was mutual. Afghanistan had great relations since WW2, and the intervention to prop up the coup was a terribly miscalculated attempt at Communist face-saving. Doesn't count. Pakistan: because Afghanistan. Japan: they kept probing pre-war; post-war Stalin invaded as per agreement with USA. You mean the Kuriles? What were they supposed to do, give them back? Finland: pre-WW2, but okay. Incidents also included Sweden, if you're really listing these things.

    Now let's see how many places the USA "antagonized" if not outright invaded during the same period. Just bad superpower behaviour. The USSR wins on paranoia points naturally since it's always facing uphill challenges, but I'm not at all convinced that there would be any particular problems with KMT China compared to OTL with Mao. And KMT China wouldn't be able to steal nuclear tech from USSR since I doubt anyone would invite their scientists over, so KMT China might feel less confident that way.

    Of course not, still baddies. But compared to the Nationalists (with all the power of China's coasts behind them plus unfulfilled Imperial ambitions you keep alluding to?) Hell yes. Would it persist? Don't know. But you have to consider that.

    You're assuming it's uniformly wealthier (not buying it), and that it's anything like a functional democracy (NOT buying it).
     
  4. 33k7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2012
    Location:
    Ctarl-Ctarl Empire
    Yeah it's beautiful isn't it:D
     
  5. Herzen's love-child rootless cosmopolitan

    Joined:
    May 4, 2012
    Location:
    la costa a sinistra
    A surviving Nationalist regime on the mainland, like the Communists, would try to reconstitute its rule over all "historic" China, so I see Tibet, the Muslim Far West, etc. screwed. Perhaps not as brutally as what has happened OTL, but not pretty. Han-ification slightly lighter.
    Definitely see the USSR as not allowing Manchuria to "fall" to the Nationalists--- so, willing or not, Nationalist China still gets to become part of the Cold War.
    I'm tempted to agree with the early poster who compared a surviving regime as becoming another Pakistan. Corruption would be a major fact of life. Democratization would take at least as long as it did on Taiwan.
     
  6. Corbell Mark IV Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Location:
    USA
     
  7. The Ubbergeek Insane internet demigod (TN)

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Location:
    Province of Quebec
    And again, the Nationalists surely could went full on Han Nationalism... As Herzen said.

    And sigh, cut down the anticommunism...
     
  8. M. Adolphe Thiers Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Location:
    Not Paris
    The Nationalists are NOT going to tolerate a Communist State on their borders if they don't have to. I can imagine that they would finance and support the Viet Quoc, since they modeled themselves after the GMD. So the Viet Minh is not going to be purged of all non-Communist elements, in fact the opposite might happen.

    China will back a Nationalist North Vietnam and give the puppet state of South Vietnam a bloody nose, leaving the US to pressure the French to stop trying to revive colonialism, especially since they don't have to worry about the Communists taking over.
     
  9. RGB Unqueering the Academia

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    Location:
    Rainy Corporate Dystopia
    Considering they were invited in by the new government, it's not a case of antagonising, it's a case of bad geopolitics. It's exactly like Vietnam. Current NATO operations on the other hand are much more of a direct invasion, and by your standards it appears that USA has antagonized both Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iran (and Iraq and Lybia and Syria and Somalia and Sudan and Egypt and...and whatever else).

    It's...a silly position. Governments may change, alliances may change, it sometimes takes two to have a war. In China's case, Mao was the one itching for a fight. And it's also a very minor point that has nothing to do with the general discussion.

    I await Hawaiian independence and the return of Puerto Rico to Spain. ;)

    Because the geopolitical situation changed fundamentally and because that's the period we're dealing with. But as I said, very minor point.

    Yes of course. Brazil was easily worse than Yugoslavia. What are you comparing, anyway, and what can you compare? Every country is particular in its situation.

    And it's KMT and China's particular situation that makes me forward my arguments, not some defense of global communism.
     
  10. Corbell Mark IV Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    Very much so.:):cool:
     
  11. Blackfox5 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2010
    I disagree with that assessment, because if you look at the Nanking Decade (1926-1937) and Taiwan, Chiang's rule was not that corrupt or incompetent. It was just that the challengers he faced during the Sino-Japanese War was just too much for the state at that time, and that Chiang gambled on how soon he could destroy the CCP before addressing the corruption and problems that had been created in the 1944-1949 period.

    Furthermore, while the coastal areas were of huge economic importance, Chiang built up industrial centers in both Wuhan (in the middle of the Yangtze) and Chungking before and during the war. Chiang invested a lot in trying to connect the country under his control during the KMT decade. The coastal areas will always attract more investment than the interior, but Chiang did not ignore them.

    There is alot of negative mythology about Chiang. He was certainly not perfect and made plenty of errors, but much of the conventional wisdom about him was wrong. Almost all the "facts" I had learn about Chiang growing up are now known to be false. KMT China would not be Taiwan, but it would probably be between current PRC China and Taiwan.

    Chiang's major problem was that he tended to defer making changes against corruption until he was confidant he could deal with the political opposition of whomever he alienated by ending their corruption. Eventually, he always moved against them. But in the 1937-1949 period, Chiang was leery of moving too soon because he needed others in his coalition against the Japanese or CCP. This was possibly the right decision during WWII, but he miscalculated in the civil war. Hindsight is very evident that Chiang would have better addressed those complaints before moving against Mao. But his earlier actions during the Nanking Decade and Taiwan show that he knew it was a problem and tackled it when he felt secure to do so.
     
  12. Kishan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Location:
    Bharat
    A nationalist China, if it attack and occupy Tibet as in OTL, is likely to have unfriendly relations with India. The same border disputes are also likely to come up. If this China is closer to U.S.A. and the allies, India's relations with the Soviet Union might be even closer and stronger than in OTL. On the other hand if Tibet is independent, the relations between China and India could be more or less friendly.
     
  13. Corbell Mark IV Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    Just trying to show a pattern of the SU being a crappy neighbor. And we have given back some territory.
     
  14. Bmao Sorcerous Firelizard

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I think the biggest weakness of the KMT was the governments inability to effectively enforce national laws. Simply put, because of the corruption of the regional landowners, who were pretty much warlords in all but name, the KMT could make any edict they wanted but because Chiang owed his power to the warlords there was no way he could effectively rein them in. To maintain this dubious loyalty, Chiang basically had to pay a ransom to them; like during the Chinese Civil War, money that the Truman administration sent to the KMT to fight the communists had to be funnelled to these people of dubious loyalty, who then spent that money on their mansions. They'd play a double game of pandering to the China Lobby in Washington, saying that they're striving for democracy and opposing communism, but really were out for themselves and maintaining the autonomous power their little fiefdoms had.

    However, once the mainland was lost and really there was nowhere for the landowners to hide on a smaller island like Taiwan, and that they were completely dependent on the US' goodwill toward maintaining their power, that allowed for a more effective government control over these ex-landowners.

    A surviving KMT would be plagued by this predicament throughout the 50s, 60s and into the 70s, which would have prevented Industrialization in the interior where effective government control is weaker and under the command of the regional landowners. Communism, while defeated conventionally, would also remain a lingering problem in the deep countryside where reforms would be unable to be enforced and the regional landowners have greater effective power. Democracy would likely start to pop up around the 70s, but limited to the local level and there would likely be a strict limit upon which parties could participate.

    Say whatever you want about the Communists brutality, what they did have was an effective unified government apparatus that could enforce laws throughout the entirety of the nation, and that just as importantly it wasn't afraid to purge itself no matter how powerful you were (even Mao was discredited by Liu Xiaoqi in a brief period in the early 60s after the Fallout from the Great Leap Forward).
     
  15. Dan1988 Vamos abrir a porta da esperança!

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2007
    Location:
    ATL Royaume du Canada
    Hmm, IIRC towards the end of the GMD era the GMD tried to pursue a whole lot of reforms to the structure - but of course it was too little, too late. Had the GMD done it much earlier, could that have helped China?
     
  16. Enigmajones Ours Is The Fury

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Location:
    Look behind you
    Anyone remember what South Korea was like in the 1970's? Imagine that with all of China under it's control.
     
  17. Paul V McNutt Paul V McNutt Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    I see a much colder cold war No Korean War and a Vietnam war that does notattract international attention. I see China begin to industrialize in the 70s as forieg. Investors take advantage of the cheap labor.
     
  18. Tsochar Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Location:
    Eagleland
    I've been looking for capitalist dictatorships in the cold war era to use as a model here; not a lot of luck:

    The RoC's situation changes drastically if we assume it keeps the mainland, so it's not totally applicable. We can't assume that a full nationalist China will grow in the same way that Taiwan did.

    In Ethiopia, Brief modernization in the 1950s followed by stagnation starting around 1960 leads to a communist coup d'etat. However, Ethiopia was a deeply monarchist country during this period, and Selassie's succession was also a factor. Qing has by this time been dead and buried for decades, so it's not an applicable model.

    Liberia's economy never diversified, so the civil war completely ruined it. In a country the size of China, that's not really a factor here. Additionally, the civil war itself was due to ethnic tensions that don't come into play.

    Apartheid South Africa from 1948-1985 was an authoritarian republic much like the RoC, with an established class system, albeit one based on race. It could be tempting to make a blacks=rurals comparison given the PRC's Hukou system, but the active suppression from Apartheid goes far beyond Hukou; any comparison here would be useless.

    Any use a comparison with Afghanistan might have was obliterated in 1979; Soviet Russia is highly unlikely to invade China even if it was to support a coup. The logistics alone would murder them.

    Indonesia seems promising. Sukarno was a figurehead to the military until 1959, and was deposed in 1967; Suharto was closely aligned to the US. Economic growth was maintained from 1967-81 and from 1988-97; the period from 1981-1988 showed anemic growth due to declining oil revenues and inflation; the GDP per capita, however, exceeded that of China, in contrast to before. The corruption endemic to Suharto's regime was masked by a great deal of economic growth. Eventually, the asian financial crisis hit and Indonesia was hit hard. Indonesia was also involved in border wars, annexation attempts, and insurgencies, as Nationalist China would.

    If we use Indonesia as an example, there would probably be a communist purge immediately after the CPC is defeated, followed by the dismantling of the warlords. China's economy would grow from $52 per capita to some $340 by 1965, a feat not reached IOTL until 1977. Assuming that this China has diversified its economy more than OTL Indonesia's (not a difficult task), then the anemic growth experienced by Indonesia after 10 years would be boosted considerably. However, that may also delay some much-needed reforms. When the oil crises occur in the '70s, it causes massive amounts of inflation as the inept financial sector crumbles. Per capita GDP falls from ~$1000 to $500 at some point during the decade. Given prices at the time, China's GDP would fall from second place to fourth place (after West Germany). This combined with Chiang Kai-shek's death around that time causes large-scale unrest that eventually gives way to a democratic revolution. It takes a full decade to reach the economic level it once did, but grows tremendously; it doesn't become the second-largest economy again until Japan's GDP tumbles in 1996 (assuming the "lost decade" isn't butterflied). China becomes the largest economy around 2004; in 2012 its GDP per capita is ~$11,000.


    Imperial Iran is a tempting example; an autocracy buoyed by western interests, and a target of colonialism since the prior century that caused the downfall of its previous government. However, the reign of Reza Shah is probably a closer example to Chiang Kai-shek's China, and his forced abdication during world war 2 makes this a rather poor example, unless world war 3 begins in the late 1960s, the US loses, and the Soviet Bloc attempts to invade China. If this happens, the Iranian model would predict that China would be controlled by the USSR until the early '00s, when a deeply reactionary religious-nationalist revolution occurs. In 2012 the Confucian/Taoist/Buddhist/Whatever Republic of China is the third-largest economy after the Soviet Union and Communist India. This would be, of course, very silly and probably ASB.


    South Korea seems the obvious choice for many reasons; it parallelled Taiwan for much of its history and the Korean people were in roughly the same position as the Chinese. Syngman Rhee and Chiang Kai-shek invite comparisons as well. However, it bears mentioning that economy of South Korea and the economy of China were not at the exact same level in the 1950s. Japanese investment during the colonial era and American investment in rebuilding after the Korean War fueled much of it, which wouldn't be possible to the same degree in a country as large as China.

    The RoK and RoC both carried out large communist purges in the prewar era. If the GMD stays in power, these would probably be expanded massively. Without the mainland under communist control, the GMD won't have a proper excuse to postpone elections; on the other hand, Chiang Kai-shek was more competent than Rhee; he could hold onto power well into the 1970s. He also had greater control over the military, making the regime more stable. In 1985, it's become the 3rd largest economy, passing the USSR. During this time, it liberalizes. In the '90s, an alt-East Asian Financial Crisis causes the economy to shrink drastically, though it quickly rebounds. China's economy slightly underperforms in terms of GDP when compared to OTL, but has a much larger middle class and a more developed technology sector.


    Pakistan has been mentioned as a potential model; it certainly has a similar history with martial law and military dictatorships. If Chiang follows the example of Ayub Khan, then there would be a much widened gap between rich and poor. However, Chiang did not align himself with free-market economics, so it's unlikely that he would follow that path. This does not preclude him being replaced, however. In the 1970s, rising tensions with Russia and a failed attempt at reunification leads to the secession of one or more provinces, possibly Tibet, the Muslim West, tribal Yunnan, or Manchuria if it's not already communist; these are supported by another country, possibly India or Russia. This causes economic stagnation. Increasing ethnic tensions in the fringes are met with military force, possibly in the Cantonese south. Widespread nationalizing reforms cause even more economic stagnation, which results in popular unrest and a military coup. It slightly outperforms the PRC in the '80s and '90s, but rising extremism and a regional financial crisis seriously damaged its economy; in 2001 its GDP falls behind Brazil; in 2012 it's stuck in 11th place just ahead of India, while the poorer regions such as Yunnan and Xinjiang are the site of long-standing insurgencies.

    One country often overlooked in its similarity to China is the Congo. Geographically, both countries are large and have a great deal of natural resources. In addition, both countries had autocrats installed and large numbers of provincial warlords. Congo and China actually had a similar GDP per capita during the late 1970s, when Deng Xiaoping launched economic reforms that propelled China's growth while rebellions and political mismanagement in the Congo caused its decline. Supposing that whoever takes over the GMD from Chiang sets up a charismatic regime, makes his party a quasi-religious institution, and centralizes the country to an extreme degree while taking most of the revenue for his own gain, culminating in a protracted civil war, China would certainly end up as a third-world backwater. However, I think it would be unlikely for China.

    The Philippines and Thailand may also be good models, but I'm tired.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  19. Urban fox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Location:
    The Grand Duchy of Kilmarnock
    Hmm, I've always found that many people have a rather naive view of ole Generalissimo 15%.

    I will say that I do think Mao was an utterly **** ruler. However he was a great guerrilla leader & consolidator. Those two traits were the reason he was ever able to get into a position to **** the PRC up so badly in the following decades, but it also gave his successors the chance to turn things around after he died.

    Chiang never once displayed any equivalent ability, nor would he ever have been able to fully crush the Communist insurgency or regional strongman/warlords. In short China would remain a bloody mess with nothing approaching the PRC's stable central government.

    I really do take serious issue with the idea Nationalist China could outperform the PRC. Given that the KMT had absolutely no post-WW2 staying power in it's own right, the only way Chiang "wins" the civil war is to have the NKVD bump off the leadership of the CCP for him. In that case the slippery old bastard would realize fully that if the USSR withdraws their patronage. His corrupt & feeble regime faces a renewal of most of its old problems.

    Thus the ROC survives, but in the same fashion it did in the 1920s and 1930s: kissing up to the totalitarians. How the US McCarthyists would react to the "Red General" returning to his roots is a fascinating Cultural History concept, as their whole concept of "Losing China" would've just got torpedoed with extreme prejudice.
     
  20. Dan1988 Vamos abrir a porta da esperança!

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2007
    Location:
    ATL Royaume du Canada
    At least under Jiang Jieshi. Jiang Jingguo [better known in the West and Chiang Ching-kuo], the son? Maybe, maybe not (after all, he resented the harsh way Jiang the father raised him). So any hopes of a stable Nationalist China would rest on Jiang Jingguo's shoulders. Whilst Jiang Jieshi was basically inept (even if he reforms the structure to take out corruption, which he should have done during the Nanjing decade, and he has the possibility to do so in TTL, even whilst retaining the regional strongmen), Jiang Jingguo could end up being a Lee Kwan Yew-cum-*Deng but with teeth (seeing as he ran the Interior Ministry for a time). It would be this Jiang that would most definitely lead an economic miracle in China as a break from the father's economic policies. The question here being who would succeed Jiang Jing-guo in 1988, as a good portion of his kids died by 1996.

    That could be a possibility.

    True, but at least a façade of him still being committed to democracy (as in OTL) could be maintained. Plus, at some point or another (preferably during the Nanjing decade), he has to tackle the corruption.