(Speaking of December, 1945, on arrival of Gen. Marshall in China): "The American drive for a coalition government could only help the Communists, and the search for peace inhibit the re-conquest of Manchuria. While Chiang was anxious to fight his domestic enemy as quickly as possible, and on the widest scale, the Communists' interest lay in delay to gain time to build up political and military strength." – Fenby
Fenby does not give figures for the size of the respective armies at the end of the war, but it's clear that the Communists at that time were far weaker than the KMT. General Marshall was slandered in the McCarthy era as a pro-Communist. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The sad truth, however, is that the post-war truce he negotiated in the hope of sparing China a civil war unwittingly gave the CCP time to experience exponential growth between 1945-1949, riding a wave of popular disgust with the way in which the KMT had prosecuted the war. That's a far cry from the authors' contention that the Communists husbanded their resources while the KMT bravely fought the Japanese, then surprise attacked a weakened KMT at the end of the war.
The vast disparities that still maintained at the cessation of hostilities are reflected in the terms of the truce negotiated at the time, "to cut government (KMT) forces to a maximum of 700,000 and the Red Armies to 140,000 in eighteen months. Chiang would remain in supreme command, and the Communists would pull out of their southern base areas. Yan'an regarded the agreement as a success in that it was recognized as a negotiating partner rather than a target for destruction." Neither side had the slightest illusion that a civil war could be averted, but the Communists needed time and the KMT was absolutely dependent on U.S. aid. Within three months, the truce was not holding in Manchuria, but again it is notable just how superior the KMT forces were:
"The Nationalist build-up in Manchuria meant that the Red Army, now renamed the People's Liberation Army (PLA), was outnumbered three-to-one. Against such odds, it retreated from most of its urban centers into the countryside, only fighting when it was sure of winning, and then moving off swiftly after grabbing the enemy's weapons. In a final bid to check the Nationalist offensive which was sabotaging Marshall's mediation efforts, Washington slapped an embargo on military aid.”This is a completely different account of events than Ming and Chang's fantasy of a rested Red Army gratuitously attacking a weakened KMT force.
In the summer of 1948 the "first decisive stage of the civil war" would be fought in Manchuria, and the Reds, enjoying a two-to-one advantage in manpower, would win decisively. What had happened in the intervening period of time was that the house of cards that was the Nationalist regime collapsed, because they'd lost the trust of the Chinese people. When they retook areas that had implemented land reform in their absence, they used brutal methods to reinstitute the old system. Inflation was through the roof. (One of my favorite quotes of the entire book is from the corrupt KMT Finance Minister, the H.H. Kung: "Inflation! Inflation! There is no inflation in China! If people want to pay twenty- five dollars for a fountain pen, that's their business, it's not inflation. They're crazy, that's all. They shouldn't pay it.” In 1940-41, food prices in Chungking increased by 1,400%). The economy was run for the benefit of the top families. The army was politicized. When the people of China turned on the Nationalists, it happened with breathtaking speed.
Some in the Green camp seem to feel that if the KMT and the CCP are invoking the united front it is necessary to deny its existence. The tragedy of China in the twentieth century is that from the promising proto-democratic KMT of the twenties were born the two political parties that would dominate Chinese political life for generations, but neither came close to following through on their rhetorical commitment to democracy. The DDP doesn't need to feel threatened by that. But, most importantly, what some Greens are peddling is just bad, false history.