General Series No. 8 – James Kung (HKU)

The Rise of the Chinese Communist Party

Abstract: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the only surviving communist party that still governs a sizeable territory and population. How the CCP overcame the adversities that confronted it during the Sino-Japanese War (c. 1937-45) and succeeded in its revolution remains empirically unexamined, however. We show, using the density of the middle-to-upper rank CCP cadres (3.7%), martyr soldiers (14.3%), and size of the guerilla base (95.4%) respectively as proxies for communist growth, that the CCP grew significantly faster in counties occupied by the Japanese Army than in those garrisoned by the Kuomingtang. We propose that war suffering was the channel through which a nationalist sentiment had developed among the Chinese people who perceived that the nation’s peril was their own peril. By decomposing war suffering into the “struggle for survival” and “humiliation and hatred” caused by wartime sex crimes, we find that the number of civilians killed and rape cases – their respective proxies – are also significantly higher in occupied areas. The causal relationship between war and revolution finds further support in evidence that people living today in formerly Japanese-occupied counties are significantly more nationalistic and exhibit greater trust in the government than those who reside elsewhere.

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James Kung (The University of Hong Kong)