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China: Under Mao - 1930-1965 - Why And How China Became A Communist State By 1949

In GCSE History students will be taught about China under Mao. One question they will explore is how and why China became a Communist state.

How did Mao come to be leader of China? Why did his people support him? In 1930 China was sharply divided between Mao's Communist Party and the Nationalist KMT, led by the corrupt Chiang Kai-Shek. The civil war between the two resumed vigorously after 1945, and by 1949 the Communists had won and Mao became leader of the state. Chiang took refuge on an off-shore island vowing to return to rule China.

Learn more about how and why China became a Communist state in this quiz.

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  1. Which province of Northern China was invaded by the Japanese in 1931, causing the Chinese civil war to be de-escalated as both sides confronted the invader?
    The civil war died down, rather than stopping altogether. Japan overcame resistance in Manchuria, where they proceeded to set up a puppet state
  2. Mao had established a Communist enclave in Central China by 1930. What was this state called?
    Here Mao could set up his model of a Communist state, where he hoped to be free from KMT interference
  3. Between 1934 and 1935 Mao marched his supporters from Jiangxi province to Yenan in Shaanxi province in order to reform a Soviet enclave there. What name was given to this journey?
    Approximately 100,000 people set out, of whom 20,000 arrived
  4. Mao was advised at this time by a Russian government organisation to concentrate on revolution among the industrial working class, rather than among the peasants. He refused to accept this advice, arguing that peasants formed 80% of the Chinese population. With which Soviet body was he arguing?
    Mao was determined to adapt Marxism to the circumstances of China
  5. Who was Mao's second-in-command at this time?
    Mao used the period in Yenan to consolidate his hold on the Party, and on the line of command within it
  6. General Stilwell was sent by President Roosevelt to liaise with Chiang Kai-Shek. What advice did he send back to the President about the likely result of the Chinese Civil War, which was certain to re-ignite after VJ Day?
    Stilwell ("Vinegar Joe") was frank in his dispatches to the White House
  7. Mao believed that the Communist leadership would become stale and corrupt unless they held regular "struggle meetings" where leading figures were expected to criticise themselves in front of their colleagues. What name was given to this programme?
    Mao was suspicious of many of the Party's cadres, of the army and China's bureaucracy generally. He worried that they could lose their revolutionary zeal or even revert to Capitalism
  8. In 1949 Chiang Kai-Shek fled with his followers to an island off the Chinese coast. What was this island called?
    Chiang expected to return to the mainland quite soon to re-establish his regime, but this seemed more and more unlikely as Mao consolidated his position
  9. Chiang did, however, hold on to China's membership of the United Nations. What special position did Nationalist China hold in this body for many years after 1949?
    The Nationalists fought vigorously to retain this privilege
  10. What name was given to independent local military commanders and rulers who would do deals with either side in the ongoing Chinese civil war until 1949?
    They were much more likely to ally - if only temporarily - with the KMT. They were brutal and reactionary, and they played their part in alienating peasant opinion away from the KMT

Author: Edward Towne

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