The Chinese Civil War was fought between the Nationalist government, or KMT, and the Communist Party of China, or CPC. The conflict started in 1927 and concluded in 1950 following the defeat of the KMT on mainland China and the establishment of the government of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
The Communists formed an insurgency between 1927 and 1937, until Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the KMT was forced in 1937 by two of his top generals to ally his party with the CPC to fight the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945. Chiang had initially seen the CPC as a greater threat than the Japanese, and so had it in mind to eliminate the CPC warlords whilst China was under Japanese occupation. Once the country was united and the CPC defeated, Chiang then thought he would be in a strong enough position to drive out the Japanese. However, following the Xi’an Incident in 1937, he was compelled to sign a truce with the CPC to fight against the Japanese occupiers. Chiang’s actions during the Sino-Japanese war were immensely unpopular with the Chinese people, and is one reason why there was such a surge in support for the Communists over the period.
Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, support and power had shifted significantly in favour of the Communists against the KMT. The CPC was able to raise huge armies of peasants with their promises of land reform policies which seemed very attractive to the rural poor. With the Japanese threat gone, hostilities once again broke out in 1946 between the two parties, with the CPC finally driving the KMT off the mainland to Taiwan.
The famous Long March – a march of some 8,000 miles undertaken by Communist forces eventually under the leadership of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai – took place during the period of insurgency, starting in 1934 with the besieged CPC forces breaking out of a KMT encirclement. This epic journey of survival became a major propaganda tool for the Communists and resulted in the creation of many Communist heroes and legends, many of whom are revered today. Some of them, such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and Chen Yun are celebrated on commemorative Chinese coins.
Several other events from the time of the Chinese Civil War are also celebrated on commemorative sets of coins, such as the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Long March itself, and the defeat of the Japanese forces.