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HOI4 (Hearts of Iron IV): Communist China Guide – Defeat Japan

HOI4 (Hearts of Iron IV) Communist China Guide - Easily Defeat Japan

Hearts of Iron IV (HOI4), a grand strategy game developed by the masterminds behind Europa Universalis IV and Crusader Kings 3, unfolds during the tumultuous interlude leading up to the Second World War and subsequently immerses players in the war’s chaotic reality. Amidst the global turmoil, lesser-known conflicts such as China’s war with Japan emerged even before the “official” outbreak of World War II in Poland. Taking the helm of Communist China, HOI4 players are thrust into a precarious position, having just completed the arduous Long March through Nationalist-held territories. This article delves into Communist China’s challenging starting point, navigates its potential paths, and unveils the most effective strategies to unite China under the banner of communism in HOI4. Through strategic acumen and deft diplomacy, players can steer the course of history and shape China’s destiny amidst the storm of war.

Related: HOI4 (Hearts of Iron IV): Nationalist China Guide

Communist China Starting Position in HOI4

Following a purge of left-wing KMT members by Chiang Kai-Shek, a civil war between the Nationalists and Communists broke out, heralding the start of the Ten-Year Civil War. After being forced to undertake the Long March, the battered PRC forces managed to settle in the province of Shaanxi to lick their wounds and rebuild their forces for another clash.

Initial Economic Position

The Communist economic position cannot be described as terrific, possessing only three military factories, no naval dockyards, and only two free civilian industries. Resources-wise, there is nothing but steel and tungsten being produced in Shaanxi.

For its laws in HOI4, Communist China starts off with a Closed Economy and Partial Mobilization. The former will guarantee China keeps its meager resources at the cost of added bonuses to research speed, construction speed, and production output. The latter is a boon as it removes the need to mobilize the economy.

The ability to move to a war economy so early in the stages is a great boost for military factory construction and the lowering of consumer goods factories.

Although it should be noted that our Service by Requirement conscription law actively harms our economic progress and should be curtailed at some point.

The greatest setback, however, is the Aftermath of the Long March national spirit, which gives a whopping -50% to construction speed and -15% to factory output, limiting our effectiveness until this debuff can be removed.

Initial Political Position

Still fresh off the perils and struggles of the Long March, Communist China starts with the following debuffs in HOI4:

  • Low Popular Support
  • Power Struggles

With the Low Popular Support national spirit, there is a decrease in stability and war support of 18%. For the Power Struggles, it increases the cost of changing economic, trade, and conscription laws as well as appointing new political advisors by 25%.

Still, with possible advisors such as Liu Shaoqi (Silent Workhorse) and Dong Biwu (Popular Figurehead), Communist China has some good ones to pick from.

Mao Zedong, should he remain as leader, will give the nation a good boost to its military capability as it looks to control the mountains in Shanxi.

Initial Military Position

With much of the Communist manpower lost in the encirclement campaigns of Chiang Kai-Shek and the subsequent Long March, it’s easy to see why the Army, which consists of eight understrength divisions, is in dire need of equipment and manpower.

The Service by Requirement conscription law allows the state to mobilize 600,000 free men, though this will likely be reduced should the conscription law be dialed down.

Blessed with some great and battle-experienced leaders such as Lin BiaoZhu De, and Peng Dehuai, Communist China is as good as the Nationalists in terms of leadership in HOI4.

Likewise, the amount of appointable military staff will prove to be a key factor, with the likes of Su Yu (Army Reformer), Xu Xiangqian (Infantry), Chen Geng (Entrenchment), Ye Jianying (Army Logistics), and Nie Rongzhen (Army Regrouping) being great picks to build on Shaanxi’s mountainous regions and make it an impenetrable fortress.

As mentioned, Shaanxi’s mountainous terrain is already a fort on its own, and so as long as it’s all properly defended, the Nationalists and their allies will not be able to create a foothold in the area unless heavy casualties are sacrificed or if it’s in the late game.

The Maoist Path for Communist China in HOI4

This HOI4 national focus tree path will see Communist China remain under Mao’s leadership and look to rebuild its forces for an inevitable clash with both the Nationalists and the Japanese in the future.

This path is considered the hardest since it forgoes an alliance with the Soviet Union or Chiang Kai-Shek. If one takes another path, the same strategy can apply for the most part.

Opening Military Moves

Since the military of Communist China at the start of HOI4 is only 8 divisions strong, we cannot do much so far. Start by converting all infanty divisions templates to the Juntuan division (4 infantry battalions) and setting them along the border with Shaanxi.

Assign Lin Biao as its General and Mao Zedong as the Field Marshal. After that, have all units exercise while you train in 16 more Juntuan divisions (to max out Lin Biao’s Army) to help supplement the army and allow us to perform flanking maneuvers.

Set the armies being trained to high priority to give them all the infantry equipment that we produce, and once they are ready to be deployed, deploy them regardless of their training level and let them join Lin Biao’s army in its exercises until we are ready for war.

Opening Economic Moves

Start by allocating all possible military factories to building infantry equipment. Let the steel deficit remain since it doesn’t have any major impact on us.

Since we don’t have any building slots available at the moment, let’s just let our sole remaining factory build a single infrastructure in the region. By the time this is completed, we should be able to flex our industrial muscles a bit more.

For research, focus on getting the standard electronics research (Mechanical Engineering and Radio) and industrial research up and running so that we can use it later on.

Opening Political Moves

To start, we will be taking the Land Redistribution focus with the goal of eventually getting rid of the Low Popular Support debuff and increasing our research slots at the same time.

After that’s complete, negotiate non-aggression and military access treaties with Mongolia, Tannu Tuva, and the Soviet Union. Later on, we’ll be asking our fellow communist friends to support our efforts through a lend-lease treaty.

Next, start by justifying a war against Shaanxi by taking the retake core state choice. Likewise, do the same for Xibei San Ma as soon as possible.

At this point, the first focus should be complete, so Literacy Focus should be our next choice. Once completed, start researching trucks with the new research slot so that we can start building a better supply transport than simply horse-drawn carts.

After this, take the Strengthen the Central Secretariat focus. It’s time to start moving along the Maoist path to dominance.

Making Minor Moves

As Lin Biao’s army is maxed out and ready for war on the border with Shanxi, don’t forget to justify Sinkiang as well by using the same old justification we used for Shanxi and Xibei San Ma.

Ask for lend-lease equipment from both Tannu Tuva and Mongolia. Russia will likely reject any requests from us, so we’ll leave them out of it in the meantime.

Since our army heavily outnumbers those possessed by Shanxi, a cakewalk is expected. Still, since most of our armies are still understrength and require guns, we must be careful in our attacks. Focus on drawing their forces into one area while the remainder of our troops start to conquer their victory points.

Once the war ends and our focus on Strengthening the Central Secretariat is finished, upgrade our trade law to free trade, as it will give a huge bonus in construction speed, factory output, and research speed. As we do not have any major resources to trade away, the increased resources to market mean nothing to us.

After this, we will make our move on Xibei San Ma. Typically, the AI will deploy along the central and bottom parts of your border, leaving the area beside Suiyuan vulnerable.

Repeat the same strategy here with at least 40% of your armies focused on tying down the enemy forces in their starting locations while the rest heads through Suiyan to cut off the enemy and rush their capital.

Don’t forget to keep asking for infantry equipment from Mongolia and Tannu Tuva since they will always agree to our requests.

To finish, take the Agrarian Socialism focus to lock us into the Maoist path moving forward.

Strengthening our Positions

Since the conquest of both Shanxi and Xibei San Ma provides us with some extra factories, we should set about building some civilian factories in Shaanxi or nearby and allocate around 1-2 military factories to start producing trucks for our supply needs and future modernization.

Once the war justification for Sinkiang is ready, start a war to take their territories. Be sure to always use battle plans to get the extra bonus in attack. Ask once more for infantry equipment from the Mongolians and the Tannu Tuvans.

In duly preparing for war with Japan, it’s key to keep our retreat lines in well-supplied conditions. As Ordos has no supply center, make that your greatest priority and take the Reorganize the Railway System decision to speed it up. Likewise, connect Shaanxi to Shanxi via railway so that the latter can start receiving supplies from our capital.

Take the Prepare for War with Japan focus so that we can start forming a faction aimed at the Japanese aggressors. Once the war with Sinkiang ends, form a frontline against Mengkukuo in anticipation of the Japanese attacks.

Change the division template to the Renmin Jundui one and start having all troops exercise to bring their experience level to Regular. In the future, we’ll be looking to change this template to a much stronger one, but for now, this should suffice.

Due to China being behind in technological research, be sure to research the basics such as Support Equipment, Civilian Trains, Mechanical Engineering, etc. The first two are the most important since they directly affect both our fighting capabilities and our logistics in the upcoming war with Japan.

Fortifying the Eastern Front

Once able, appoint Zhu De as the Chief of Army for the reduction in penalties for having no supplies. This can be done even while the wars against Shanxi, Xibei San Ma, or Sinkiang are ongoing. Then appoint Ye Jianying as your first military high command appointee to reduce the logistical strain on our armies on the front lines.

With the armies now provisioned against the forces of Mengkukuo, we must be sure to keep the area supplied. To this end, Zhangbei, the capital of Mengkukuo, will need to be taken quickly and connected to our capital to get their supply hub working for us instead.

If you have the available XP, take the Professional Officer Corps as the spirit of the army for the extra XP boost.

Once the Prepare For War With Japan focus is complete, start taking the Government of National Defense focus to bring in all the disparate Chinese Warlords under a single banner. Be sure not to have joined any factions before this, or else this focus will no longer be available.

Be sure to make your first support company research be engineering companies, as they provide tons of help for our defenses.

Since we will need support equipment, allocate two military factories away from your infantry equipment towards support equipment instead. Do the same for civilian trains, though keep it at only a single military factory and take it away from truck production instead.

At this point, we should have enough civilian factories to get rid of the steel deficit, so feel free to do so.

Once the Government of National Defense focus is complete, accept all invitations to join and start taking the Rectification Campaign to make the appointment of leaders and adjusting of laws easier for us moving forward.

The Japanese Invasion Begins

Once the Japanese begin justifying against our ally (Nationalist China), it means that our time to prepare is quickly running out. Since our troops on the border of Mengkukuo have yet to be truly supplied, we must hold back from joining the war at the beginning.

Nationalist China should be able to hold back the Japanese with their sheer amount of manpower for a while since they have a good defensive position.

Be sure to stop all training for the troops at this point and allow them to dig in for entrenchment. Change the supply equipment from cavalry to motorized since we should have enough at this point for our men.

Once we’re able to do so, immediately bring down the Service by Requirement conscription law to Extensive Conscription instead so that the debuffs to our factory output can be removed right away. At the same time, take the Maoism focus to boost our stability and reduce the production cost of infantry equipment.

Once this focus completes, we can join the war against the Japanese. Be sure to have a battle plan to be able to take advantage of its strengths. At this point, the Japanese front in Mengkukuo will be lightly defended, as the bulk of the Japanese forces should be facing the Nationalists in Beijing.

Take any lend-lease deals you can, be they from the rival Nationalists, other Chinese Warlords, or our trusted Communist friends. Add an engineering support company to the primary division template and set about preparing an offensive.

Holding off the Japanese Forces

The Japanese forces in Mengkukuo will be pushing against our forces, which will never succeed. There are two options: continue training more troops and holding back our offensive, or attack immediately.

The former is the preferred method, but if Nationalist China is under threat by naval invasions, we need to launch immediately to relieve pressure on that front and exploit the decrease in manpower on the enemy line.

Regardless of the option taken, it’s best to switch our land doctrine from Mass Assault to Superior Firepower, as the latter is arguably the best land doctrine in the entire game.

When you have enough political power, be sure to scale up the economy to a Total Mobilization one since, at this point, we should have tons of manpower to not care about the recruitable population reduction.

For your next military leader, Xu Xiangqian is a great pick since he directly impacts our war effort. The next target should be to get a military theorist; Liu Bocheng is our pick since he helps speed up our land doctrine research.

Attempt to start a lend-lease with the Soviets and gain as much equipment as possible from them. Once your focus is complete, take the Enforce the Three Rules law to go down the Ban Opium focus, and finally, the Abolish the Land Rent focus to fully increase our stability to a higher level.

Build military factories once you have enough civilian factories from the economy law, as we need to ramp up our modernization production (artillery, support equipment, and anti-aircraft guns).

Pushing against the Rising Sun

At this point, we should be prepared to make a punch through Mengkukuo and into the heart of Manchukuo, thereby cutting the Japanese fighting in Beijing off from their supply bases in Port Arthur and Korea. Bear in mind the isolated Japanese units once Mengkukuo inevitably surrenders.

The trick here is to wait till the Japanese finish launching attacks on your troops so that their organization is low, and then pounce on their weakened forces. Given the training of your troops and the Japanese numerical disadvantage, a victory here will be easy to accomplish.

To add even more advantages and guarantee success, take the 100 Regiments Campaign focus (after the Mobile Warfare focus, which also adds an extra boost to our capabilities) and the Focus on China focus to give bonuses to our army’s attack and defense.

Likewise, it would be in our interest to complete the People’s Liberation Army focus (after the Central Military Commission focus) to get rid of the Red Army Weakened national spirit.

For the last military high command slot, appoint Nie Rongzhen so that we can maintain our offensives after a short break.

For the civilian industry focus, it is the player’s prerogative to choose whichever path he or she desires, as there is no right or wrong in this regard.

Eliminating Japanese Presence

Now, with the Japanese army presumably encircled or rapidly retreating following our push, it’s only a matter of keeping the momentum on the Japanese. At this point, do not let up on our offensives, and be sure to get rid of any trapped Japanese divisions in order to prevent them from doing harm to our backlines.

Once the Japanese forces are pushed back into North Korea, they will be forced to sign a white peace. At this point, the division of territory is heavily based on our war contributions, though it’s likely that Manchuria will go to the Communist forces.

With the hated invaders dealt with, it’s time to deal with the Chinese Nationalists once and for all, for the mantle of the true China.

Unfinished Businesses

Ensure that you have enough men to sufficiently cover the entirety of the border against the Nationalists and more. At least 72 divisions should be enough to cover the entire border.

At this point, we can start to swing our production. Change the main division template to 8 infantry battalions, 3 artillery battalions, an engineering support company, a support artillery company, and a recon company. This template should be good enough to deal with the main Chinese forces.

Take the Infiltration focus to start infiltrating the Chinese lines. It’s vital to keep them in the alliance, as their leaving could open the door to them being invited to join the Allies or being guaranteed by the United States, which is something we do not want.

Once the focus is complete, start infiltrating at least a single area in the Nationalist area. Since we’re still allies, they will not be setting up their troops along our border, which will make things easier on our end.

Start production on air power (fighter planes and CAS planes) and set them to accompany each army in order to make the job easier. Once this is ready, we will begin our war against the Nationalists.

Leave the faction before the expiration of the decision to declare war and watch as the liberation begins. The war should be easy to accomplish with battle plans as our superior leadership, superior generals, air superiority, and better trained troops should make work of the unprepared Nationalists.

The Endgame

After annexing most of the Chinese Warlords, including Yunan and the Guangxi Clique, we can safely proclaim Communist China as the People’s Republic of China in HOI4. At this point, the game will be a sandbox for your ambitions.

Take the Soviet Union’s offer of joining the Comintern and help our fellow Communists push back the German and Axis menace? Fully avenge the horrors of the Second Sino-Japanese War by taking the fight to the Japanese homeland? The choice is yours.


And that is all you need to know about how to defeat Japan and unite China as Communist China in HOI4. Check out other interesting HOI4 guides and articles:

Based in Santa Rosa, Philippines, Jonathan Ledesma is a Freelance Writer for Raider King.
Jonathan Ledesma
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