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.