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There's general agreement that the Japanese invasion of China benefited the CPC by interrupting the civil war, forcing the KMT to fight the Japanese instead of continuing the CPC purge, which they were almost successful in doing. The CPC and KMT did mostly fight the Japanese instead of each other, with the CPC carrying out guerilla operations with the Eighth Route Army. The bulk of the fighting, at least conventional, was with the KMT.

Some claim that the relatively low participation of CPC in the defence of China is due to their opportunism, that they deliberately avoided conflict in order to preserve their forces for the inevitable resumption of the civil war. Another interpretation is that it was more due to their lack of manpower and war materiel. Which of these is closer to the truth?

Some facts that I've found so far (unfortunately they are from books that I don't own and can't verify):

  • After the Long March in 1935, the CPC were left with ~8000 military personnel. At the outbreak of the war, this number was ~30,000. At the end of the war, this was ~1,200,000.
  • The last major operation carried out by CPC during the war with Japan was the Hundred Regiments Offensive in late-1940, which involved ~400,000 of CPC's troops. The commanding officer, Peng Dehuai, was criticised by Mao for revealing their strength to the KMT, and was later purged in the Cultural Revolution.

Does anyone have more insight into this period of CPC history? I realise this is a highly-contentious period, so please stick to the facts and back up your answers with evidence.

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First of all you should know 蒋介石(Jiang Jieshi)'s "攘外必先安内" (must end the civil 'riot' then we can go against Japanese) policy, he was not motivated to confront Japanese at the beginning, in contrast, the CPC's policy was "一致对外" (we must fight together with Japanese), gained most of China people's support. If it was not the Xi'an Incident (西安事变, Dec,1936),蒋介石 wouldn't start to fight Japanese at all. He lost this battle(civil war) mainly because his attitude with the Japanese, and he lost at the beginning (in 1936, CPC's troops were weak indeed).

Therefore you question title is completely wrong, it was not CPC who was avoiding fight Japanese but 蒋介石's KMT.

You should not only read English or other external sourced materials on this period of history, lacking of CPC side of information would not benefit your research. I suggest you read more from both sides of the war as to see whether there was only the hundred regiments offensive or more activities. And I suggest you read whether CPC can gather that much people in that period, and whether KMT lost people's support that fast.

There is a recent movie called 1942 (《一九四二》) , that was all about the disaster under the war condition, and how was the KMT's government reacted at that time, then you know the reason.

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Chiang's reluctance to fight the Japanese is well-known and well-documented, but that is not the question; the question is whether the CPC could be said to have done the same and to what extent. You suggest that I read other sources but which ones exactly? Movies are generally poor sources for historical evidence. –  congusbongus Dec 4 '13 at 3:24
    
I don't think you 'll get the right answer for the wrong question anyway. If you ask for both sides, CPC and KMT, none of them would tell you they avoided fighting with Japanese invaders. You question should be if there's any circumstance that one side drove Japanese troop to the the other side as sabotage, so called 'avoiding fight with Japanese'. I believe there was such sabotage on both sides. But in general, when the Eight Route Army was built,this army belonged to KMT's troop structure, they were generally doing cooperation work at the time. –  tomriddle_1234 Dec 4 '13 at 5:47
    
    
I don't see this as a helpful response. Suggesting someone watch a movie, read non-English language sources, and ask a different question than the one they asked is also not very constructive. –  kmlawson Dec 4 '13 at 17:39
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