Siege of Changchun

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Siege of Changchun
Part of the Chinese Civil War
PLA at the end of the Siege of Changchun.jpg
Changchun after the siege.
Date 23 May – 19 October 1948
Location Changchun and proximity
43.8171° N, 125.3235° E
Result Communist victory
People's Liberation Army captures Changchun
Flag of the Republic of China Army.svg National Revolutionary Army

Flag of the Chinese Communist Party.svg People's Liberation Army

Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Republic of China Army.svg Zheng Dongguo Surrendered Flag of the Chinese Communist Party.svg Lin Biao
Flag of the Chinese Communist Party.svg Xiao Jinguang
~100,000 100,000
Casualties and losses
~ 200,000 civilian deaths [1]

The Siege of Changchun (simplified Chinese: 长春围困战; traditional Chinese: 長春圍困戰; pinyin: Chángchūn Wéikùnzhàn) was a military blockade undertaken by the People's Liberation Army against Changchun, the largest city in Manchuria at the time, which lasted over a year during the Liaoshen Campaign of the Chinese Civil War.[2][3]


Immediately after the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the civil war between the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) resumed. Manchuria, also known as the Northeast China, was the center of focus as both sides were trying to gain control of the region.[4] Changchun in particular was of strategic importance as it was the provincial capital of Jilin, and previously served as the capital of Manchukuo and the headquarter for the Kwantung Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The city was developed by the Japanese as an "ideal modern city" during the occupation.[5][6][7] The KMT government were victorious in the early stage of the campaign, regaining the control of Changchun by 23 May 1946 after the withdrawal of the Soviet forces.[8] The KMT momentum was stopped however as Chiang Kai-shek declared ceasefire on 6 June which allowed the PLA to recover from their loss.[9] By mid-March 1948, the CPC managed to capture most parts of the Northeast China, isolating the KMT forces in small pockets in the process.[10]


During the winter offensive of 1947, the PLA commander in the Northeast, Lin Biao, was presented with three options to attack, which were Changchun, Shenyang or Jinzhou.[11] After discussing with other CPC officers, Changchun was chosen as the first target.[12] The city of Siping was captured by the PLA in March 1948, which opened up the road to Changchun.[13] As the city defense network was well established in Changchun, the PLA siege of the city was delayed several times by Lin Biao. He was concerned that concentrating PLA forces on attacking KMT defenders in Changchun and Shenyang would "hold up" forces and would negatively influence the Liaoshen Campaign, as he was a "perfectionist with regards to logistics".[14]


The KMT defenders in Changchun, which consists of the 60th Army and the New 7th Army, had been suffering from poor morale since the winter of 1947.[15] Beginning on 23 May 1948, the PLA troops under the command of Lin Biao were beginning to encircle the city, and Changchun was soon cut off from the rest of the KMT-held areas in the Northeast.[16] The closest Nationalist army group was the 6th Army led by Fan Hanjie, which was far away in Jinzhou.[16] The KMT attempted to airdrop supplies to the city, which was only successful to a limited extent due to increasing PLA anti-aircraft presence in the proximity.[17] The military blockade would last for 150 days, with large percentage of civilian population perished in the process. The increasingly difficult food ration led to conflicts between the Nationalist 60th Army and the New 7th Army, as the latter was accused of receiving favored status over airdrop of supplies.[18] The CPC utilized the situation to encourage KMT soldiers to defect to the Communist side, and 13,700 had done so by mid-September.[19] After the fall of Jinzhou to the Communists on 14 October, the siege of Changchun intensified. On the evening of 16 October, the 60th Army officially switched side and began defending their positions against the New 7th Army in the city.[20] Zheng Dongguo was reluctant to surrender, but the officers of the New 7th Army have already reached an agreement with the Communists, and the New 7th Army laid down their weapons on 20 October.[21][8][22]

Civilian starvation

Number of civilian casualties from the siege ranges from 150,000[23] The CPC allegedly prevented the civilians from leaving the city to exhaust the food supply of the KMT defenders, which resulted in "tens of thousands people starved to death".[8] The CPC continued to prevent civilian refugees from leaving the city until early August.[24] In the end, around 150,000 refugees successfully left Changchun, and some of these refugees were sent back into the city to "counter" the claim that the Communists were deliberately starving the civilian population.[25] As Changchun was not politically connected to neither the KMT nor the CCP, it was arguably one of the reasons why the civilians received poor treatment.[1]


For the Nationalist government, the fall of Changchun made it clear that the KMT were no longer able to hold Manchuria.[3] The city of Shenyang and the rest of Manchuria soon fell to the Communist.[26] The siege warfares employed by the CCP throughout the campaigns in the Northeast were highly successful, which reduced a significant number of KMT troops and altered the balance of power.[27] The high civilian casualties from the siege of Changchun "casts a shadow" over the "legitimacy" of the Chinese Communist Party.[28] It was widely unknown to the Chinese public until the release of the book White Snow, Red Blood in 1989, which has since been censored by the Chinese government.[29]



  1. ^ a b Lary 2015, p. 123.
  2. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 7.
  3. ^ a b Lary 2015, p. 114.
  4. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 31.
  5. ^ Koga 2016, p. 67.
  6. ^ Westad 2003, p. 36.
  7. ^ Lary 2015, p. 122.
  8. ^ a b c Koga 2016, p. 72.
  9. ^ Lary 2015, p. 62.
  10. ^ Westad 2003, p. 178.
  11. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 172.
  12. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 173.
  13. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 106.
  14. ^ Westad 2003, p. 192.
  15. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 223.
  16. ^ a b Westad 2003, p. 190.
  17. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 232.
  18. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 243.
  19. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 244.
  20. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 247.
  21. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 248.
  22. ^ Westad 2003, p. 196.
  23. ^ Pomfret, John (October 2, 2009). "Red Army Starved 150,000 Chinese Civilians, Books Says". Associated Press. The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on October 2, 2009. Retrieved October 2, 2009. 
  24. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 239.
  25. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 242.
  26. ^ Lary 2015, p. 142.
  27. ^ Lary 2015, p. 12.
  28. ^ Tanner 2015, p. 220.
  29. ^ Jacobs, Andrew (October 1, 2009). "China is Wordless on Traumas of Communists' Rise". The New York Times. 


  • Koga, Yukiko (2016). Inheritance of Loss: China, Japan, and the Political Economy of Redemption After Empire. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 022641213X. 
  • Lary, Diana (2015). China's Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 1107054672. 
  • Tanner, Harold M. (2015). Where Chiang Kai-shek Lost China: The Liao-Shen Campaign, 1948. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253016991. 
  • Westad, Odd Arne (2003). Decisive Encounters: The Chinese Civil War, 1946-1950. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 080474484X. 
  • Worthing, Peter (2017). General He Yingqin: The Rise and Fall of Nationalist China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107144637. 

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