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History of the PRC – Part Nine Posted by on Dec 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

With China “unified” under Chiang’s rule and the capital relocated, the Nanjing decade (南京十年 – Nán jīng shí nián) commenced. The Nanjing government quickly received international recognition as the legitimate leader of China, and the Nationalists set about following the policies of their former leader – Sun Yat-sen. As stage one (military unification) had already been completed, it was time to move on to stages two and three – political tutelage and constitutional democracy. Under the KMT, the policy was “Party-State” (党国 – dǎng guó), where people owed their allegiance to the KMT first and the State second.

Since there was no National Assembly, the party congress of the KMT took its place in making decisions. In October 1928, the government elected Chiang as President. Of course, the government was split up into different cliques, some of which were pro-Chiang and others that were anti-Chiang. The left opposition to Chiang was led by Wang Jingwei and the right was led by Hu Hanmin. Chiang did his best to pit these cliques against each other to take the heat off of himself.

While all of these was going on, there was still a Civil War raging in China. Although the Nationalists were in control, the Communists were organizing and planning to overthrow the government. Events such as the Nanchang Uprising (南昌起义 – Nán chāng qǐ yì) and the Autumn Harvest Uprising (covered in the last post), were becoming more and more common. This period of struggle is known as the Ten Year’s War (十年内战 – Shí nián nèi zhàn).

As if the Communist rebellion wasn’t enough for Chiang to worry about, the internal conflict within his own party soon intensified. Yan Xishan, Feng Yuxiang, and Li Zongren, all previously allied with Chiang, joined together to oppose him. Thus began the Central Plains War (中原大战 – Zhōng yuán dà zhàn) in 1930. This was a devastating war, with over 300,000 casualties in the end. Although the rebel forces had some success, ultimately they would succumb to Chiang’s forces and retire in defeat. While Chiang and the Nationalists were victorious, their government control was weakening. The defense in Manchuria was also weakening, which led to an invasion by the Japanese in the September 18 Incident (九•一八事变 – Jiǔ•yī bā shì biàn).

Elsewhere, rebel Communists were hatching other plots to threaten the KMT. Mao Zedong, along with other Communist leaders, established the Chinese Soviet Republic (中华苏维埃共和国 – Zhōng huá sū wéi āi gòng hé guó) in November 1931. Ruijin (瑞金) was chosen as the capital, in Jiangxi province, and they even printed their own currency. With Mao as the State Chairman (国家主席 –  guó jiā zhǔ xí) and Prime Minister (总理 – zǒng lǐ), this new territory expanded gradually, eventually reaching an area of 30,000 km2. Its Red Army (红军 – hóng jūn) was also massive and sophisticated. In response to the growing power and influence of Mao’s Soviet Republic, Chiang and the Nationalists launched several Encirclment Campaigns aimed at destroying the Red Army. With help from German advisors, Chiang’s campaigns would eventually prove successful… mostly.

Little did Chiang know that about a dozen moles had been planted amongst his inner circle, one of whom was Mo Xiong (莫雄). When Chiang was ready to finish off the Communists for good, he sent out his top secret plan – the “Iron Bucket Plan” – to everyone in his general headquarters. He planned to build a blockade around Ruijin to starve the Communists. However, Mo passed on the secret document to Xiang Yunian (項與年). Xiang bravely took on the task of delivering the intelligence to the Jiangxi Soviet. He hid in the mountains for days and even used a rock to knock out his own teeth in order to look like a lowly, unimportant peasant. His journey was successful, and the Communists were made aware of Chiang’s plan with enough time to begin a retreat. The Communists were down, but they were not out.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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