What if Chiang Kai-shek had not gambled?

29 January 2009
Last night I finished a book of essays speculating on alternate outcomes of battles throughout history. The last chapter concerned the gamble of Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek to halt his attack against Chairman Mao’s communist troops in the North when he was on the verge of victory, having been encouraged by US who were trying to broker peace talks. The decision to stop cost the nationalists their momentum, and eventually allowed Mao to take control of the country. The essay speculated that if Chiang had defeated the communists, China would have been partitioned, much like post-war Germany and Korea, with a “Red China” (protected by the Soviets) in the North, and a “Nationalist China” in the South. The book predicted the nationalist economy would have prospered, while the communist economy faltered, with eventual reunification under the nationalists. At the same time, without Mao's eventual victory, communist leaders Kim Il-sung in Korea and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam would not have been emboldened to launch their own revolutions. A lack of war in these states would also have boosted their  economies, as demonstrated by the post-war recovery of Japan. It made me consider the different world buyers would now inhabit. If the Chinese economy had grown since the fifties, it would be far less likely to be the “low-cost” economy as it is today, and ditto for the regions other economies.
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