What If? | Victory at Harbin


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General Marshall had arrived early in 1946 with orders from Harry Truman to build a coalition government that included both Communists and Nationalists in China. Mao Tse Tung eagerly accepted Marshall’s intervention, continuing his public relations campaign to depict the Chinese Communist Party as kinder and gentler than its Stalinist counterpart in Moscow. But Chiang, who had chafed at having to accept help from the Americans during the war with Japan, rejected Marshall’s interference and refused to compromise with Mao.

Frustrated by the Nationalists’ intransigence, General Marshall delivered an ultimatum in June 1946: agree to a ceasefire in Manchuria and open negotiations with Mao, or the United States would cut off all military aid to Chiang’s forces in the field. The proud Nationalist leader accepted these terms at first, and when talks broke down he tried to resume the advance. But it was too late. America kept its word and ended military aid to Chiang’s government, and Mao had used the brief respite to rearm his men with Soviet weapons. Within two years, Chiang Kai-Shek’s forces had been driven off the mainland onto the island of Formosa, where they formed the Republic of China, while Mao Tse Tung ruled the victorious People’s Republic of China from Beijing.

What if Chiang had ignored Marshall’s ultimatum entirely, taken the Harbin stronghold, and then negotiated directly with Mao from a position of strength?

Join us as we continue asking "What if", examine the effects of what might of happened, and wonder what our world might be like today.

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