So it’s the 62nd anniversary of the start of the Big Bug Out:
Sometime during the evening prior, over 180,000 Chinese soldiers from the “People’s Volunteer Army” (PVA) surged south of the DPRK border, ambushing the United States Eighth Army en masse. American soldiers, overwhelmed by superior numbers and shock, reeled backwards in what would become a desperate bid for survival in their retreat south.
Dissidents in China sometimes like to point out that contra to official propaganda, the Kuomintang did most of the fighting against the Japanese in China. This is true enough, but the propaganda also obscures the essentially rather impressive trajectory of the PLA from when it was reconstituted at the end of the Long March. You’re talking at that stage about people fighting with pointy sticks and mines made out of chamber pots. By 1944 they were deploying columns of around battalion strength. By 1947 it was winning huge encirclement battles on the North China Plain. By 1949 the PLA was staging army corps sized amphibious landings on Hainan. And then in 1950, a decade after the PLA’s main personal weapon was a bamboo pole with a knife tied to it, it was driving first rate US and UN formations at speed down the Korean Peninsula. As a grace note, you have the walloping it handed to the Indian army in 1962, before casually declaring a ceasefire and withdrawing from most of the territory it occupied.
And then there was the Sino-Vietnam war...well, never mind.
The fact that the PLA played a comparatively minor role in fighting the Japanese is in keeping with Maoist military theory - in which you don't engage in formal battles until you're good and ready - and its later successes tend to vindicate that theory. The irony here is that the PLA’s performance in bringing the Communist Party to power and sustaining it there is never really going to be properly acknowledged in China until it gets out from under CPC control and is no longer tied to its wider founding mythology.