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China, Civil War and Japan's Intrusion, to 1936

Chiang Kai-shek's Anti-Communist Offensives | The Communists, Chiang Kai-shek and Japan's Expansion, 1932-33 I Communists Save Themselves with their Long March | Chiang Kai-shek Renews China's Alliance with Moscow

Chiang Kai-shek's Anti-Communist Offensives

In 1929, two years after Chiang Kai-shek's Guomindang political party split with its leftist organizers, the Chiang regime moved against the Soviet Union owning the Chinese Eastern Railroad – a railway across Manchuria. On May 27, Chinese authorities arrested everyone at the Soviet consulate at Harbin, a city on the rail line in Manchuria. In July, Chiang Kai-shek and the warlord Zhang Xueliang agreed to seize the rail line, and, from August to October, border clashes occurred between Soviet and Chinese troops. In November, Soviet Forces supported by air power drove the Chinese back in a rout and occupied the Manchurian city of Hailar, near the Soviet border. Chiang saw the Soviet Union as continuing tsarist Russia's aggressions against China but for the time being he was willing to live with it. His regime settled with the Soviet Union. It agreed to the restoration of Soviet control over the railroad and to allow Soviet employees to return to their duties on the rail line. China also agreed to release all of the Soviet citizens who had been arrested and to resume normal trade between China and the Soviet Union.

Communists unnoticed by the authorities were still in factories, where people, many of them children, were working under turn-of-the-century conditions. And Communists were still in remote areas in central China, alongside poor peasants who were promoting taking land from landlords and giving it to those who did the actual farming.

Chiang Kai-shek saw himself at war with the Communists, and on 29 December 1930 his regime sent its military into southern Jiangxi province, where the Communist leader Mao Zedong had been organizing. A Communist army there was led by Zhu De, a former warlord who established four strategic principles: "The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue."

In the first couple of days, Chiang's 100,000-man force found no resistance and no Communist troops. The Communist force in the area was inferior in numbers and equipment, but they were familiar with the terrain. When Chiang's army lines were stretched thin the Communists ambushed them at points of their choosing. In a little more than one week Chiang's force retreated from the area, having lost something like 9,000 men and quantities of supplies.

On April 1, 1931, Chiang sent a force of 200,000 men back into Jiangxi province, and this second campaign ended in June with more heavy losses in men and arms. A third campaign was attempted into Jiangxi, and it came to a standstill in September when Japan began expanding in Manchuria. Most of Chiang's divisions in Jiangxi were withdrawn, leaving government troops guarding a few outposts on the fringes of the Communist-held territory.

Chiang tried diplomacy with Japan, while students camped outside government buildings in Chiang's capital, Nanjing, were calling for war against Japan. Chiang did not want an all-out war with Japan. His government banned all student demonstrations and then he turned his attention again to fighting Communists.


Copyright © 1998-2014 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.