The Land Revolution Period

(Relations between the two parties Aug. 1927-July 1937)

Part IV of “What Have Led China to Where She Is Now
Presenter: Wang Ronghua

Key Events

We shall get to know:

¢ÅMao Zedong’s theory of “countryside encompassing the cities” and “seizure of political power by armed struggle”ÁË

¢ÆThe process of land revolution
¢ÇWang Ming’s “Leftist” mistakes and their damages on the revolution£»
¢ÈZunyi Conference and the Long march£»
¢ÉUnited Front for Resistance against Japanese Aggression.

Nanchang Uprising
1¡¢Nanchang Uprising       
On August 1, 1927, more than 20,000
army men under the direct leadership or
influence of the CPC and Zhou Enlai, He


Historical Merits of Nanchang Uprising£º
It fired the first shot onto Kuomintang, marked a start of revolutionary war and armed seizure of political power and
founding of the people’s army under the independent leadership of CPC.

2¡¢Aug 7th Conference
On the 7th of August, 1927, CPC convened a secret conference in Hankou, known as the Aug 7th Conference.
Main Achievements£º             
¢ÙCorrected Chen Duxiu’s Right
Opportunist mistakes.
¢ÚAdopted the general policy of
land revolution, opposition to
the Kuomintang by armed forces.
¢ÛSelected a Temporary Political
Bureau headed by Qu Qiubai. 


Major Significance£º
Aside from above:
The conference ended the disorder in thinking, found a
way out for the party, 
aved the party and the
marked a turning point from
the failure in the great revolution
to the land revolution.

3¡¢Autumn Uprising
The attack on Changsha
was frustrated on           
Sept. 9, 1927
Reorganization of troops
At Sanwan.
Mao arrived at Ninggang
on the 7th of Oct. and started to build the
revolutionary base. He
Established party organizations first.
He mobilized the masses for the land revolution and set up the political power with workers, peasants and soldiers. In the late November, 1927, the workers, peasants and soldiers government was formed at Chaling County. This was the first red political power on the border of Hunan and Jiangxi.
Leadership of the army was strengthened by introducing the party representative system and three major disciplines and six (later eight) points of attention.

Forces Joined at Jinggang Mountains£º
In the later half of April of 1928,    
the remaining forces from the
troops of Nanchang Uprising reached
the Jinggang Mountains and joined
with the troops under the
leadership of Mao






The armies were reorganized
into the 4th Army of the Workers and
Peasants Red Army with Mao as the Party
Representative and Party Secretary,
Zhu De as the Commander and
Chen Yi as the Director of the
Political Department.

4£®Guangzhou Uprising
It took place on Dec.11, 1927.
The leaders were: Zhang Tailei(ÕÅÌ«À×) ¡¢Ye Ting (Ҷͦ)¡¢

Ye Jianying (Ò¶½¡Ó¢)ZhouWenyong (ÖÜÎÄÓº) and Nie
It was an important trial by the CPC to save the
Chinese revolution, a fight-back to the killing
policy of the Kuomintang. It, together with the
Nanchang Uprising, the Autumn Uprising, was a great
beginning of founding the Red Army by the CPC.


5£®The 6th Congress of CPC
Time£ºJune 18-July 11, 1928
84 full members and 34 alternative members attended the
congress on behalf of more than 40,000 members of the CPC.
The congress was presided over by Nicolay Buharin, Chairman of Communist International.
Qu Qiubai gave the political report entitled “The Chinese Revolution
and the CPC” and Zhou Enlai reported on organizational and military issues.


Development of the Red Army
The Red Army and the Soviet Regions grew bigger after 3 years of guerrilla war.
Around June of 1930, the First,
Second and Third Legions of the
Red Army were formed;  No. 1, 7,
10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 20, 21 and 22
Armies were formed with a total
Number of  over 70,000.
9 Soviet regions were established.    
The 1st and 3rd legions formed the First Front Army 
with Zhu De as the Commander and Mao as the Political Commissar.
Such development shocked the Kuomintang authorities.


The First Three Encirclements
In October 1930, Chiang Kai-shek began to pull troops to encircle and wipe out the Red Army with a focus on the 1st Front Army and the Central Soviet Region (in southern Huanan and west Fujian Provinces). The first, second and third encirclements were waged from November 1930 to September of 1931 with respectively 100,000, 200,000 and 300,000 troops.The 1st Front Army won the campaigns of anti-encirclement by adopting the policy of “inducing the enemy to penetrate” and wiped out over 75,000 enemy troops. At the same time, in the Honghu Lake area three brigades of the enemy were annihilated and 6,000 were captured. After breaking the 1st and 2nd encirclements by Kuomintang troops at the Soviet region in the bordering area of Hubei, Henan and Anhui, China Workers, Peasants Fourth Front Army was formed with Xu Xiangqian as the commander and Chen Changhao as the Political Commissar. Then the Fourth Front Army won four successful battles and wiped out over 60,000 troops.
The Red Army in Soviet regions in the bordering areas of Hunan, Jiangxi and Hubei won more battles. The Red Army in Shaanxi and Gansu and Northern Shaanxi conducted guerrilla wars. By 1933, the number of the Red Army grew to 200,000. After the September 18th Incident in 1931,the waves of anti-Japanese aggression surged up very quickly in the whole nation.
Smashing of the 4th Encirclement The 4th encirclement was smashed in the central Soviet region under the leadership of Zhou Enlai and Zhu De from Feb. to Mar, 1933. However,in other parts, because of the “Leftist” adventurism by Wang Ming who was heading the contemporary central committee, the anti-encirclement campaigns failed in the bordering areas of Hubei, Henan and Anhui, and in Hunan and the west part of Hubei.
The 5th Encirclement
In September of 1933, Chiang Kai-shek staged the Fifth Encirclement of the Central Soviet Region with 500,000 troops. The “Leftist”adventurism leaders headed by  Wang Ming rendered the Red Army into a very passive position. The Third Army was forced to give up Hunan and the west Hubei regions and went to the bordering area of the two provinces, and then to the eastern part of Guizhou in May of 1934; the Fourth Front Army moved to the southern part of Shaanxi from the Soviet Regions in Hubei, Henan and Anhui in October of 1932.
Shaanxi-Gansu Soviet Region
Red Army and guerrilla forces active in Shaanxi and Gansu bordering areas and the Northern Shaanxi region established Soviet regions and formed the 26th and 27th Red Army. In July 1935, after breaking two encirclement attacks by the Kuomintang troops, the armies were able to combine the regions together into the Shaanxi-Gansu Soviet Region.
Beginning of the Long March
In August, 1934, the 6th Army was ordered to leave the Soviet region in Human and Jiangxi toward the west as the advanced party for the Red Army’s Long March. In October of the same year,  the central committee of the CPC and its Military Commission, together with the 1st, 3rd, 5th,8th and 9th armies in a total number of 86,000 left the Central Soviet Region for the west part of Human to begin the Long March.
The Long March

The Long March (simplified Chinese: ³¤Õ÷; pinyin: Chángzh¨¥ng) was a massive military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Chinese Communist Party, the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang (KMT or Chinese Nationalist Party)army. There was not one Long March, but several, as various Communist armies in the south escaped to the north and west. The most well known is the march from Jiangxi province which began in October 1934. The First Front Army of the Chinese Soviet Republic, led by an inexperienced military commission, was on the brink of complete annihilation by Chiang Kai-shek's troops in their stronghold in Jiangxi province.The Communists, under the eventual command of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, escaped in a circling retreat to the west and north, which reportedly traversed some 12,500 kilometers (8,000 miles) over 370 days. The route passed through some of the most difficult terrain of western China by traveling west, then north, to Shaanxi.
The Long March began the ascent to power of Mao Zedong, whose leadership during the retreat gained him the support of the members of the party. The bitter struggles of the Long March, which was completed by only one-tenth of the force that left Jiangxi, would come to represent a significant episode in the history of the Communist Party of China, and would seal the personal prestige of Mao and his supporters as the new leaders of the party in the following decades.
At the beginning of the Long March, the “leftist” adventurism leaders headed by Wang Ming changed into flightism, which cost half of the forces of the Red Army after breaking four Kuomintang blockade lines. At this critical moment, the Political Bureau of the CPC accepted the proposals made by Mao Zedong  and began to move to northern part of Guizhou and the bordering areas of Guizhou and Sichuan, where the forces of the Kuomintang were weaker.

On January 7, 1935, the central Red Army occupied Zunyi. An enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC was convened between Jan 15-17. At the meeting, the central committee headed by Mao Zedong was affirmed and the mistakes of Wang Ming’s “leftist” adventurism was cleared up. Since then, the central Red Army adopted highly flexible mobile war method, moving among and between Kuomintang’s heavy troops,crossed the Chishui River four times, wiped out two divisions and eight detachments of the Kuomintang troops, entered into Yunnan in the west,crossed the Jinsha River skillfully and shook off the blocking, intercepting of a few hundred thousand Kuomintang troops and won a decisive victory in the strategic maneuvering.

Then, the army went through an area inhabited by Yi nationality, quickly crossed the Dadu River and went over the Jiajin Mountains and joined the Fourth Front Red Army in the Maogong Region in June. The 25th army, which stationed in the Hubei, Henan and Anhui Soviet Region, began its long march in November of 1934 and established the Hubei, Henan and Shaanxi Soviet Region in May of 1935. The central committee of CPC decided to turn to the north, yet Zhang Guotao, the chief leader of the 4th Front Army tried to delay the action in an excuse that the issues of unified leadership and organization had not being resolved.

Zhang Guotao refused to carry out the central committee’s northward movement policy. The army with the central committee of CPC had to move to the north first and the army was re-organized into the Shaanxi and Gansu Brigade with Peng Dehuai as the Commander and Mao Zedong as the Political Commissar. The Brigade crossed the Minshan Mountains, went through the Lazikou Natural Barrier, went over the Liupan Mountains and reached Wuqi Town in Shaanxi Gansu Soviet Region on October 19, 1935.
Thus, the Long March that lasted for a year and covered eleven provinces and twenty five thousand li ended in success. The Brigade was then incorporated into the First Front Army with the 15th  Legion, which then won a battle at Zhiluo Town and laid a foundation of the central committee to place its base camp in the Northwest. The 6th Legion that moved to the west part of Hunan reached eastern Guizhou in October,1934 and joined forces with the 2nd army and created the Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan and Guizhou Soviet Region and successfully smashed the encirclement by 80 detachments of Kuomintang. In September 1935, 130 detachments were gathered in an attempt to  wipe out the 2nd and the 6th Red Army, who then left the Soviet Region On November 19, 1935 and began their long march. They reached Ganzi on July 2, 1936 and joined forces with the Fourth Front Army which suffered serious setbacks when moving to the south.On July 5, the 2nd, the 6th and 32nd armies formed the Second Front Army with He Long as the Commander and Ren Bishi as the Political Commissar. Then, they left Ganzi for the north. In December 1936, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of CPC called a meeting at Wayaobao, which decided on the forming of United Front against the Japanese Aggression and the expansion of the red army. In October 1936,the First, Second and the Fourth Front Armies gathered at Jiangtaibao, and the Red Army’s Long March came to a victorious end.

The Xian Incident

After the three main forces of the Red Army joined each other, Kuomintang sent troops , attempting to eliminate the Red Army. Their attacks had to come to a stop after one brigade and one detachment were wiped out by the Red Army. Nation wide, the demand of stopping the civil war and resisting the Japanese became ever stronger, to these cries, Chiang Kai-shek turned a deaf-ear. Under such circumstance, General Zhang Xueliang of the Northeast Army and General Yang Hucheng of the 17th Route Army detained Chiang Kai-shek and started the Xi’an Incident. The Incident was resolved peacefully with the efforts of the CPC.
On 22 October 1936, Chiang flew to Xian from Nanjing and announced his new plan of suppression of the communist forces, raising opposition from both Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng. On 4 December 1936, Chiang came to Xian again, accompanied by many of senior KMT leaders including Chen Cheng to monitor the suppression campaign. He threatened that if they didn’t suppress the“Communists”,  he would move Zhang’s army to Fujian and Yang’s to Anhui. On the night of Dec. 7, Zhang went to see Chiang and begged him to stop the civil war and begin to resist the Japanese. In the interim between these two visits the Japanese backed Inner Mongolian Army had tried to invade Suiyuan. This invasion and had been defeated by the Chinese in the Suiyuan Campaign, the success giving many Chinese the belief that it was possible and necessary to resist the Japanese.
Chiang showed no trace of changing his mind. He scolded Zhang as being too young and innocent, and was captivated by the communists.He slammed on the table and shouted: I wouldn’t change my policy of suppressing the communists even if you shoot me to death now!” In this case, Zhang and Yang finally decided to take matters into their own hands. In the early hours of 12 December 1936, They detained Chiang, Chen Cheng and Wei Lihuang and a few others. They dispatched a telegraph and put forward eight points: (1) re-organize the government in Nanjing, allowing all other parties to be responsible for the salvation; (2) stop all civil wars; (3) release immediately patriotic leaders arrested in Shanghai; (4) release all political prisoners in the whole country; (5) let the masses of people engage in patrioticmovement; (6) guarantee the people political freedom of rallying and association; (7) carry out in a true manner the will of the Premier; (8)convene immediately a meeting on salvation of the country. Zhang and Yang revoked the Northwest headquarters of “suppressing the bandits”, formed a preliminary Northwest Military Commission with Zhang and Yang as heads, dissolved the party branch of Kuomintang.Such was the “Xi’an Incident” that shocked both China and the world.All political forces reacted to this incident strongly, and as a result, a very complicated situation emerged. The Japanese tried to instigate a civil war to facilitate their aggression; the British and the Americans wanted to maintain Chiang’s leading position and to reconcile with Zhang and Yang; the pro-Japanese sects inside the Nanjing Government headed by Wang Jingwei and He Yingqin wanted to send troops right away to attack Xi’an; Song Meiling, Kong Xiangxi and Song Ziwen, the pro-British and pro-American forces wanted to solve the incident in a peaceful way and sent out representatives to Xi’an for talks.Patriotic and national salvation organizations, democratic and progressive personages showed great concern to the incident. The Federation of National Salvation and salvation organizations dispatched a telegraph supporting the action of Zhang and Yang and proposed a peaceful solution of the incident. Song Qingling, the wife of Sun Yat-sen, proposed release of Chiang as long as he agreed to stop civil war and resist the Japanese, she also expressed her wish to go to Xi’an to mediate the matter. Feng Yuxiang, Li Jishen inside the Kuomintang also sent telegraph to Zhang and Yang and to the Nationalist government voiced their support to the propositions of Zhang and Yang, oppose means of force and favored a peaceful solution.
On Dec. 13, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of CPC convened to discuss policies to be adopted towards the Xi’an Incident,which were: firm opposition to new civil wars, on the basis of unity and resistance again Japanese aggression, Nanjing and Xi’an should be urged for a peaceful solution; alliance with left side of the Kuomintang and trying to win over the in-betweens; exposure of the plot of Japanese imperialists and pro-Japan sects of instigating a new civil under the excuse of “supporting Chiang”; provision of positive and substantial support to Zhang and Yang so that they could be able to realize their propositions; preparation in defense against possible attacks in the name of “suppression”.

Therefore, the Central Committee of the CPC dispatched a telegraph to the whole nation voicing support to the propositions of Zhang and Yang and to a peaceful solution of the incident, suggesting an immediate peace conference to discuss ways to settle the incident and policies and measures for resisting Japanese aggression and national salvation. In order to check possible new civil war by the pro-Japanese forces, the main forces of the Red Army moved to places close to the Northeast and Northwest armies. At the same time, the Central Committee telegrammed Pan Hannian, its representative in Shanghai, of the party’s policy of peaceful solution and avoidance of civil war, and to Liu Shaoqi, its head in the Northern Bureau, asking the bureau to mobilize the broad masses in support of Zhang and Yang.

At the invitation of Zhang and Yang, the Central Committee of the CPC sent a delegation headed by Zhou Enlai to Xi’an. In his talkswith Zhang and Yang, Zhou analyzed two entirely different outcomes of the different ways of handling Chiang. One was to persuade Chiang to stop the civil war and begin to resist the Japanese aggression, if that could be reached, China would avoid herself of being extinct by the Japanese; the second way of handling is to announce Chiang’s crimes and bring him to a trial and finally kill him, that would render a convenient  condition for the Japanese to destroy China. Zhou said that it was a historical duty to release Chiang and send him back to office after persuading him to stop the civil war and begin to resist Japanese aggression.Zhou’s words further consolidated the resolve of Zhang and Yang for a peaceful solution. Yet, Yang had worries that once Chiang became estranged, his situation would be different from that of the Communist Party. Zhou fully understood Yang’s worriesandexplained more reasons to him. Yang exclaimed, “I do admire the Communists, because they cast aside the profound enmity and deep hostility towards the Nationalists by placing the interests of the nation as the most important and by returning good for Chiang’s evil deeds. I am more than ready to listen to the opinions of the Communist Party. Since Commander Zhang has reached agreement with the CPC, I am happy to follow suit.”Zhou Enlai, while in Xi’an, contacted officers and soldiers of the Northeast and Northwest armies to learn more about the situation and to explain CPC’s policy of resisting Japanese aggression. The Central Committee of the CPC decided to try and win over Chiang Kai-shek, Chen Cheng and others, to open straight forward talks with them, and to let Chiang free when the conditions for peaceful solution were guaranteed.
On December 23, Zhou, together with Zhang and Yang, talked to T.V. Soong who represented the Nanjing government. Zhou put forward six propositions for the peaceful solution: cease of war, nationalist troops withdrew to the east; re-organize the Nanjing government by getting rid of pro-Japanese elements and taking in those who were firm in resisting Japanese aggression; release of all political prisoners and secure the democratic rights of the people; stop “suppression of the Communists” and allied with the Red Army in resistance against Japan; decision on policies of resistance and national salvation at a conference to be participated by various parties, circles and armies; cooperate with countries who were sympathetic in China’s resistance. If Chiang accepted the propositions, the CPC would help him unify the country. After several rounds of talks, Nanjing side basically accepted these propositions and on Dec. 24, the agreement based on Zhou’s Six Propositions was reached.
On the night of Dec. 24, Zhou met with Chiang. Zhou pointed to him that the only way out for China was to stop the civil war and begin to resist the Japanese aggression. Chiang said that he accept the agreement reached and agreed to stop “suppression of the Communists” and resist Japan with the Red Army.” There were heated disputes among the high ranking officers in the Northeast Army as when to let Chiang free. Zhang himself decided to let Chiang go as early as possible, and without talking to Zhou, he freed Chiang on the afternoon of Dec. 25 and accompanied him back to Nanjing. The Xi’an Incident was thus peacefully resolved.
Chiang described his experience in Xi’an as the greatest humiliation of his life—thus it was no surprise that he would later seek to take revenge on Zhang. As Chiang was the legitimate premier of China at that time, Zhang’s actions could be characterized as treasonous. Although some argued for a public trial, Chiang insisted on trying Zhang in a military court. Zhang was sentenced to ten years in prison, with Chiang quickly granting amnesty but nevertheless keeping Zhang in custody. Zhang was incarcerated for most of the rest of his life, and his armies disbanded in the meantime; he did not publicly reveal any more details about the incident and died in 2001. Zhou Enlai publicly expressed his regrets about the incident.
Yang Hucheng probably lost the most in the incident, as he was removed from his position and sent abroad for "review"; later,hewas held in a concentration camp for 13 years. When the KMT retreated to Taiwan, Chiang ordered the execution of Yang,his wife and his son as a small child.  The CPC thinks that the peaceful solution of Xi’an Incident was a major victory for the anti-Japanese United Front and enabled the Chinese nation who was at the brink of extinction a shift from civil war to resistance against Japan.It is generally accepted that the CPC benefited the most from the incident. Chiang held up his end of the peace agreement and suspended anti-Communist operations until the outbreak of the Chinese Civil War in 1945, with Mao exploiting the interlude, enlarging his base and strengthening his grip on power. By conforming to Soviet policy, Mao also appeased Stalin and avoided his further interference. Finally, the CPC won considerable support from the Chinese people for being open advocates of the anti-Japanese United Front. All of this laid a foundation for the CPC’s victory over the KMT after the end of the anti-Japanese war.

After the Xi’an Incident
The Eighth Route Army of the National Revolutionary Army is the former body of the People’s Liberation Army.
The army was formed on August 22, 1937 according to the agreement between the Nationalist and the Communist parties. It was composed of  the First, Second and Fourth Front armies of the Red Army, headed by Zhu De and Peng Dehui. It was the larger of the two major Chinese communist forces that formed a unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China which fought the Japanese from 1937 to 1945. The army grew from 30,000 troops in July 1937 to 156,000 in 1938 and 400,000 in 1940. Reduced to about 300,000 by the fierce fighting between 1941 and 1944, its size almost doubled to a total of 600,000 men in 1945.
After the Xi'an Incident, the Kuomintang led by Chiang Kai-shek and the Communist Party of China led by Mao Zedong formed a United Front against Japan, which was already in control of Manchuria. This was the second of the KMT-CPC United Fronts. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident in July 1937 marked the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).In October, 1937, an announcement was made that Red Army soldiers active in the eight provinces in southern China — those who did not embark on the Long March would be part of the New Fourth Army. The New Fourth Army was established on December 25, 1937 in Hankou, moving to Nanchang on January 6, 1938, when the detachments began marching to the battlefront. At the beginning, the New Fourth Army had four detachments and one task force battalion and numbered roughly ten thousand. Later the army moved to Anhui province. Ye Ting was the army commander, Xiang Ying the deputy army commander.It was in theory a united front against Japan but in practice there was friction between Nationalist and Communist Forces, which intensified in the fall of 1940, culminating in the New Fourth Army Incident with a full fledged battle between the New Fourth Army and KMT National Revolutionary Army forces. Up until that point, most of the battles had been skirmishes. The army was fully reorganized after the incident and remained in active combat until the end of the war.