Without Mao, Chiang Kai-shek would definitely have eliminated the Communists in China. Soviet power in China was not able to resist Chiang’s military campaigns of eradicating Communists, until the Zunyi Meeting (1,15-17，1935） that the CPC let Mao command the Red Army, again.
Chiang was very good at the art of war; however, Mao was much better. Chiang representing the capitalist’s political power, and Mao representing the political power of Chinese peasants. Not like Europe, peasants as political power have had two thousand years of history in China. Qin Dynasty was collapse due to Dazexiang Uprising ， a peasants uprising. Communist International underestimated the political power of the CPC as they didn’t understand China.
In 1923, Soviet Russia advice CPC to join KMT, helping the capitalist revolution in China. This was according to the classical Marxist theory: capitalist revolution first, then develop capitalism, then communist revolution follows. So KMT was the armed revolution in China and CPC had no its own arms but attached to KMT. In 1927, Chiang Kai-shek betrayed the revolution and massacred members and suspected members of CPC. CPC was forced to uprisings to arm itself. The leader of CPC led many uprisings, the most significant two were the Guangzhou uprising and the Nanchang uprising, which mimick the October Revolution of Russia, workers and soldiers uprising in cities to establish government power.
Mao led an uprising of peasants in the Hunan countryside, led the uprising arm to Jinggang Mountain to establish Red Army. Zhu De led the Nanchang uprising, led the troop to join Mao in Jingguang Mountain after failing to establish governmental power in the city. Mao and Zhu then established the Soviet government in Jiangxi province, in the countryside, not in the cities. Mao did not follow the paradigm of the Russian Revolution.
Marx studied European history concluded that only workers could be organized as a political power, that was why Communist International did not trust Mao and demoted Mao from his leadership post. After Mao was demoted, CPC lost most of its Soviet areas. Zunyi Meeting was the first rebellion of CPC against Communist International. Mao’s revolution was a peasants revolution, not the classical Marxism revolution, neither Leninist workers’ revolution.
Few scholars really understand the phenomena. The Chinese revolution was the most grassroots and bottom-up revolution as peasants represented 95% of the Chinese population in 1949. When 95% of the population was organized as an effective political power, nothing it cannot accomplish. Mao had been able to organized Chinese peasants into a highly disciplined army. That’s amazing. Chiang underestimates the political power and lost the Mainland to CPC during the civil war. Both Stalin and Roosevelt ignorantly forget to take Mao into account at Yalta negotiation.
Even today, the majority of political and social literature downplay the role of Mao, regarding Mao as a tyrant. They conclude that if Mao succeeds, he must be too brutal. They are not even ignorant, they simply refuse to recognize the facts. As a result, they cannot explain why Chiang cannot eradicate communists from China, why China won the Korean War.
When 95% of the uneducated population was in power (the illiteracy rate in 1949 was 80%）, it cannot avoid some brutality to those of 5% populations. That 5 % was educated and the world heard their voices. 95% were silent majority, some of them can read, but few can write. If every family of those 5% population had one household member in jail. the incarceration rate would be the about same level of incarceration rate in the USA today.
There was not much wealth left for the Chinese in Mainland in 1949, as there had been 14 years of Japanese invasion wars and 3 years of civil war, and Chiang looted all the wealth he could get a hand on to Taiwan, (if you travel to Taiwan, you can see many Chinese treasures in museums.) Chiang forbid Chinese citizen to hold gold, not even jewelry gold. Chiang force citizens to trade in fiat money and transported all gold to Taiwan, then overprinting fiat money that caused hyperinflation. However, 95 % were much happy after 1949 that they for the first time had their own country. The 95% of the population in power, as the ruling, that’s the greatest democracy in Human history! They felt they are Human, a feeling never had before 1949. That’s the dignity and esteem of a decent human life.
Many scholars see the poor peasants in China and consider China a brutal depressing country. What they don’t take into account is that Chinese peasants were much poor before 1949. They are self-contradictory that they consider the peasants were depressed under Mao and also consider sending youth to the countryside was brutal. When Xi lived and worked in the countryside during the Great Culture Revolution, peasants in the countryside have power over the intellectual youth from cities, who are brutal to whom? Were those living in poor conditions brutal to intellectual youths from cities, or intellectual youths brutal to the poor peasants? When the ruling power, the peasants, asking those being ruled only living and working as they did, is the ruling power cruel?
Mao organized Chinese people, most of them were peasants at that time. Chiang was heading the China government at that time, rules most advanced places of cities. Presumably, Chiang had more wealth, a more advanced economy (most Chinese industry), and advanced arms. Yet, the capitalist in China was so weak that it couldn’t resist foreign imperialist invasion. Since 1949 Mao was heading the China government, China has resisted many foreign invasion attempts. Mao is a communist and Marxist, yet he did not follow the doctrine of Marxism rigidly. He used Marxism to organize peasants, while orthodox Marxism is for workers’ movement. He educated Chinese peasants with proletarian awareness and led Chinese people to develop along the communist path. When Mao organized 95% of Chinese he had a political power much stronger than Chiang’s power that represents only 5% of Chinese. That’s why Mao won and Chiang lost.
 The only novel wrote by a peasant, Cockcrow at Mid Night by Gao Yu Bao, after the peasants gained some literacy, is now demonized on the Internet. In another word, the International community never hear the voice of 95% of the Chinese population. But most of them believe the 95% were depressed since 1949, contrary to reality. That’s why China is misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misjudged, repeatedly.