The Postwar Pacific
Postwar occupation and rebuilding went far more easily in Europe than in the Pacific, where Japanese troops were scattered throughout the region, requiring a huge influx of Allied occupation forces. The occupation of Japan went relatively smoothly once the nation had officially surrendered, but bringing peace to other regions proved far more difficult.
In China, for example, the civil war between General Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government and the Chinese Communists led by Mao Tse-tung quickly resumed. The Communists held much of northern China — an area invaded by the Soviets during the final weeks of the war — and were given key ports in the region by their Soviet comrades. At the same time, the Soviets refused to let Nationalist forces enter the region.
Figure 20-2 A Chinese soldier guarding a line of P-40 fighter planes.
Photo courtesy of the National Archives (208-AA-12X-21)
In September 1945, the United States sent 53,000 marines into northern China to oversee the disarmament of hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops there. The Chinese Communists vowed to fight if America tried to take Communist-held territory, and a few skirmishes between American forces and Chinese Communists did occur. By 1946, it became apparent to almost everyone that Chiang Kai-shek's government could not win against the better-led Communist forces. The United States tried to negotiate a peace agreement between the Nationalists and the Communists, but the talks proved fruitless. In mid-1949, Chiang Kai-shek led what remained of his army and his government to the island of Formosa, now known as Taiwan; and in October of that year, the Communists established the People's Republic of China. However, the United States refused to recognize the Communist regime and for many years afterward continued to view the Nationalist regime in Formosa as the rightful government of China.