Who lost China

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The question "Who lost China?" had only one possible answer in the minds of those who made it their daily political fodder. They claimed that China had fallen under Communist control as a result of the slackness of the way Democratic administrations starting with Roosevelt and continuing under Truman responsed to the threat of rising Communism in China. The U.S. State Department in particular was villified as a nest of pinks if not reds. Scholars, such as Owen Lattimore, who argued for a comprehensive understanding of the political situation leading to the Communist takeover, had their loyalties questioned and were sometimes driven out of public life or into emigrating to Great Britain or other more hospitable climes.

The general decline in China had begun long before the administration of FDR. The Qing dynasty help power long past its prime. Not only was it internally losing the drive that had brought it into power over the native Chinese, but it was increasingly challenged by foreign nations whose powers were amplified by their sciences and their modern instruments of warfare. China was portioned out in "spheres of influence" to various European powers. That fact was bad enough, but afterwards Japan too sought a piece of the pie.

The political forces allied with Sun Zhong-shan (Sun Yat-sen) were educated and relatively wealthy. The natural political constituency of the KMT (Guo Min Dang, Party of the People of the Nation) was the wealthy industrialists and other such relatively powerful and relatively wealthy groups. To remain in power, the KMT had to serve the interests of their backers among this group. The Chinese Communists chose an entirely different constituency, the common people. They seldom had educations and they seldom had any money, but by force of numbers they were eventually able to prevail over the monied classes.

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