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
In 1929, two years after Chiang Kai-shek's crackdown against China's Communists, his government moved against the Soviet Union owning the Chinese Eastern Railroad – a railway across Manchuria and an ownership from tsarist times. On May 27, the Chinese arrested everyone at the Soviet consulate at Harbin, a city on the rail line in Manchuria. In July, Chiang Kai-shek and 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, drove the Chinese into a rout and occupied the Manchurian city of Hailar, near the Soviet border. The Chinese then settled with the Soviet Union. The Chinese 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. And Chiang Kai-shek summed up the matter by describing Soviet Russia as having continued tsarist Russia's aggressive policy toward China.
Communists remained underground in China's cities, hunted by Chiang's police, who believed it was better to kill an innocent person than to miss killing a Communist. Quietly, Communists were organizing in factories, where people, many of them children, were working under turn-of-the-century conditions. Many of the overworked found hope in the messages of Communist organizers, and they saw the Communists as friends and kept silent.
Communists were still gathered in a number of remote areas in central China, where they joined poor peasants in revolt and promoted 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 December 29, 1930, his regime sent its military against those Communists in southern Jiangxi Province – where Mao Zedong was located. It was Zhu De who led the Communists militarily – a brilliant former warlord turned
communist. It was Zhe De who established the four principles, "when the enemy advances, we retreat," et cetera. And numerous other rules for the Communist force.
In the first couple of days, the 100,000-man Guomindang force penetrated deep into Communist territory and found no resistance and no Communist troops. The Communist force in the area was inferior in numbers and equipment, but they took advantage of familiar terrain and were more mobile. When the Guomindang's army lines were stretched thin, the Communists ambushed them at points of their choosing. In a little more than one week the Guomindang force retreated from the area, having lost something like 9,000 men and quantities of supplies.
On April 1, 1931, Chiang sent another offensive into Jiangxi, a force of 200,000 men, and this second campaign ended in June with more heavy losses in men and arms for Chiang. A third campaign was attempted into Jiangxi, and it came to a standstill in September 1931, when Japan began expanding in Manchuria. Most Guomindang divisions in southern Jiangxi were withdrawn, leaving government troops guarding a few outposts on the fringes of the Communist-held territory.
With the failure to prevent the Kwantung army's expansion, Chiang resorted to diplomacy with Japan. China's students camped outside government buildings in Chiang's capital, Nanjing, and they continued their passionate call for war against Japan. But Chiang believed it was better that he allow himself to be vilified by some Chinese than to take China into an all-out war with Japan, and his government cracked down and banned all student demonstrations. Then, again, Chiang turned his attention to the Communists.
Copyright © 1998-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.