Crossing the Yangtze

The Chinese Civil War

China 1949.0601

Crossing the Yangtze

The Chinese Civil War (1 June 1949)

Historical Map of China, Mongolia, & Korea

Peace negotiations broke down in April and the Communists resumed their advance. On the 20th, they crossed the Yangtze River. Nanjing fell on the 24th, just as the Nationalists evacuated their government to Canton.

Main Events

Capture of Taiyuan

By late 1948, the Chinese province of Shanxi had largely fallen into Communist hands, but the provincial capital of Taiyuan remained a stronghold of the Nationalist governor and warlord Yan Xishan - as it had been for most of the past 38 years. In March 1949, 320,000 People's Liberation Army troops advanced on the city, defeating the 70,000 defenders in a four day assault starting on 20 April. The Communist victory left the city in ruins but did not capture Yan, who had flown out in March with much of the provincial treasury to ask for more Nationalist aid.

Amethyst Incident

On 20 April 1949, advancing Chinese Communist forces damaged and grounded the sloop HMS Amethyst while she was traveling up the Yangtze River from Shanghai to Nanjing to act as guard ship for the British Embassy there. British relief efforts failed and, on 30 April, the People's Liberation Army demanded that Britain, France, and the United States withdraw all armed forces from China. After negotiations failed, the Amethyst finally managed to free herself and escape on the night of 30 July.

Fall of Nanjing

On 20 April 1949, the Communist forces of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) began crossing the Yangtze River to attack Nanjing, capital of the Republic of China. In response, the Chinese Nationalist government evacuated Nanjing on the 23rd, fleeing to Canton, which was designated as the new capital. The PLA entered Nanjing through open gates the following day, encountering no resistance.

Shanghai Campaign

Some 290,000 Chinese Communist troops in ten armies converged on Shanghai, by far the largest and richest city in China at the time. They were faced by 210,000 Nationalist troops, who held out for several weeks in the hope of an international intervention which never came. On 27 May, the city center fell to the Communists, followed by offshore Chongming Island in early June. Only 50,000 of the Nationalist defenders managed to escape death or capture.

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