Second United Front

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A Communist soldier waving the Nationalists' flag of the Republic of China after a victorious battle against the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War Hundred Regiments Offensive 1940.jpg
A Communist soldier waving the Nationalists' flag of the Republic of China after a victorious battle against the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War

The Second United Front was the alliance between the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, or KMT) and Communist Party of China (CPC) to resist the Japanese invasion during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which suspended the Chinese Civil War from 1937 to 1941.

Kuomintang political party in the Republic of China

The Kuomintang of China is a major political party in the Republic of China on Taiwan, based in Taipei and is currently an opposition political party in the Legislative Yuan.

Communist Party of China Political party of the Peoples Republic of China

The Communist Party of China (CPC), also referred to as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China. The Communist Party is the sole governing party within mainland China, permitting only eight other, subordinated parties to co-exist, those making up the United Front. It was founded in 1921, chiefly by Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao. The party grew quickly, and by 1949 it had driven the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) government from mainland China after the Chinese Civil War, leading to the establishment of the People's Republic of China. It also controls the world's largest armed forces, the People's Liberation Army.

Second Sino-Japanese War military conflict between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from 1937 to 1945

The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945. It began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 in which a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops escalated into a battle.

Contents

Background

In 1927 the Chinese Communists revolted against Kuomintang following a purge of its members in Shanghai by National Revolutionary Army commander Chiang Kai-shek, which marked the end of the KMT's four-year alliance with Soviet Union and its cooperation with the CCP during the Northern Expedition to defeat warlords and unify China. [1]

National Revolutionary Army Nationalist Army of the Republic of China

The National Revolutionary Army (NRA), sometimes shortened to Revolutionary Army (革命軍) before 1928, and as National Army (國軍) after 1928, was the military arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947 in the Republic of China. It also became the regular army of the ROC during the KMT's period of party rule beginning in 1928. It was renamed the Republic of China Armed Forces after the 1947 Constitution, which instituted civilian control of the military.

Chiang Kai-shek Chinese politician and military leader

Chiang Kai-shek, also known as Generalissimo Chiang or Chiang Chungcheng and romanized as Chiang Chieh-shih or Jiang Jieshi, was a politician and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, first in mainland China until 1949 and then in Taiwan until his death. He was recognized by much of the world as the head of the legitimate government of China until 1971, during which the United Nations passed Resolution 2758.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk.

In 1931 the Japanese launched its invasion and subsequent occupation of Manchuria. Chiang Kai-shek, who led the central government of China, decided that China must avoid all-out war with Japan due to domestic turmoil and inadequate preparation. Therefore, he "pursued a strategy of appeasing Japan while struggling for real national unity and over time sufficient strength to confront the Imperial army. This appeasement policy lasted for another six years". [2] Even though his campaigns against the Communists resulted in their retreat and a 90% reduction in their fighting strength, he was unable to eliminate their forces entirely, and his policy of "internal pacification before external resistance" ((in Chinese):攘外必先安内) was very unpopular with the Chinese populace, which caused widespread resentment against the ruling KMT leadership and its regional warlord allies. [3]

Mukden Incident event in which Lt. Suemori Kawamoto of the Japanese Army detonated dynamite on a Japan-owned railway line near Mukden (now Shenyang) in 18 Sept. 1931, blamed by Japan on Chinese dissidents and used as a pretext for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria

The Mukden Incident, or Manchurian Incident, was an event staged by Japanese military personnel as a pretext for the Japanese invasion in 1931 of northeastern China, known as Manchuria.

Pacification of Manchukuo campaign led by the Imperial Japanese Army to pacify resistance to the puppet state of Manchukuo

The Pacification of Manchukuo was a Japanese anti-insurgency campaign during the Second Sino-Japanese War to suppress any armed resistance to the newly established puppet state of Manchukuo from various anti-Japanese volunteer armies in occupied Manchuria and later the Communist Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army. The operations were carried out by the Imperial Japanese Kwantung Army and the collaborationist forces of the Manchukuo government from March 1932 until 1942, and resulted in a Japanese victory.

Manchuria geographic region in Northeast Asia

Manchuria is a name first used in the 17th century by Japanese people to refer to a large geographic region in Northeast Asia. Depending on the context, Manchuria can either refer to a region that falls entirely within the People's Republic of China or a larger region divided between China and Russia. "Manchuria" is widely used outside China to denote the geographical and historical region. This region is the traditional homeland of the Xianbei, Khitan, and Jurchen peoples, who built several states within the area historically.

Xi'an Incident

In 1936, Chiang Kai-shek assigned the "young marshal" Zhang Xueliang the duty of suppressing the Red Army of the CCP. Battles with the Red Army resulted in great casualties for Zhang's forces, but Chiang Kai-shek did not provide any support to his troops.

Zhang Xueliang ruler of Manchuria

Zhang Xueliang or Chang Hsueh-liang, nicknamed the "Young Marshal" (少帥), was the effective ruler of Northeast China and much of northern China after the assassination of his father, Zhang Zuolin, by the Japanese on 4 June 1928. He was an instigator of the 1936 Xi'an Incident, in which Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of China's ruling party, was arrested in order to force him to enter into a truce with the insurgent Chinese Communist Party and form a united front against Japan, which had occupied Manchuria. As a result, he spent over 50 years under house arrest, first in mainland China and then in Taiwan. He is regarded by the Chinese Communist Party as a patriotic hero for his role in the Xi'an Incident.

Chinese Red Army Army of the Chinese Soviet Republic

The Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, renamed Chinese People's Red Army in 1936, commonly known as the Chinese Red Army or simply the Red Army, was the armed forces of the Communist Party of China from 1928 to 1937. The Red Army was incorporated into the National Revolutionary Army as part of the Second United Front with the Kuomintang to fight against the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937. In the later stages of the Chinese Civil War, they were eventually renamed the People's Liberation Army.

On 12 December 1936, a deeply disgruntled Zhang Xueliang kidnapped Chiang Kai-shek in Xi'an to force an end to the conflict between KMT and CCP. To secure the release of Chiang, the KMT was forced to agree to a temporary end to the Chinese Civil War and the forming of a united front between the CCP and KMT against Japan on 24 December 1936. [4]

Xian Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Shaanxi, Peoples Republic of China

Xi'an is the capital of Shaanxi Province, China. A sub-provincial city on the Guanzhong Plain in northwestern China, it is one of the oldest cities in China, and the oldest of the Four Great Ancient Capitals, having held the position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui, and Tang. Xi'an is the starting point of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Chinese Civil War 1927–1950 civil war in China

The Chinese Civil War was a war fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led government of the Republic of China and the Communist Party of China (CPC). Although particular attention is paid to the four years of Chinese Communist Revolution from 1945 to 1949, the war actually started in August 1927, with the White Terror at the end of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's Northern Expedition, and essentially ended when major hostilities between the two sides ceased in 1950. The conflict took place in two stages: the first between 1927 and 1937, and the second from 1946 to 1950, with the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937–1945 separating them. The war marked a major turning point in modern Chinese history, with the Communists gaining control of mainland China and establishing the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, forcing the Republic of China (ROC) to retreat to Taiwan. It resulted in a lasting political and military standoff between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, with the ROC in Taiwan and the PRC in mainland China both officially claiming to be the legitimate government of all China.

The China Democratic League, an umbrella organization for three political parties and three political pressure groups, also agreed to take part in the united front formed by KMT and CCP.

China Democratic League political party in China

The China Democratic League is one of the eight legally recognised political parties in the People's Republic of China.

Cooperation during the War of Resistance

As a result of the truce between KMT and CCP, the Red Army was reorganized into the New Fourth Army and the 8th Route Army, which were placed under the command of the National Revolutionary Army. The CCP agreed to accept the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, and began to receive some financial support from the central government run by KMT.

After the commencement of full-scale war between China and Japan, the Communists forces fought in alliance with the KMT forces during the Battle of Taiyuan, and the high point of their cooperation came in 1938 during the Battle of Wuhan.

However, the Communists submission to the chain of command of the National Revolutionary Army was in name only. The Communists acted independently and hardly ever engaged the Japanese in conventional battles but proved efficient in guerrilla warfare. The level of actual coordination between the CCP and KMT during the Second Sino-Japanese War was minimal. [5]

Breakdown and aftermath

In the midst of the Second United Front, the Communists and the Kuomintang were still vying for territorial advantage in "Free China" (i.e. those areas not occupied by the Japanese or ruled by puppet governments). The uneasy alliance began to break down by late 1938 as a result of the Communists' efforts to aggressively expand their military strength through absorbing Chinese guerrilla forces behind enemy lines. For Chinese militia who refused to switch their allegiance, the CPC would call them "collaborators" and then attack to eliminate their forces. For example, the Red Army led by He Long attacked and wiped out a brigade of Chinese militia led by Zhang Yin-wu in Hebei in June, 1939. [6]

The situation came to a head in late 1940 and early 1941 when there were major clashes between the Communist and KMT forces. In December 1940, Chiang Kai-shek demanded that the CPC's New Fourth Army evacuate Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces. Under intense pressure, the New Fourth Army commanders complied, but they were ambushed and defeated by Nationalist troops in January 1941. This clash, which would be known as the New Fourth Army Incident, weakened the CPC position in Central China and effectively ended any substantive co-operation between the Nationalists and the Communists and both sides concentrated on jockeying for position in the inevitable Civil War. [7] It also ended the Second United Front formed earlier to fight the Japanese. [7]

Afterwards, within the Japanese occupied provinces and behind enemy lines the KMT and CPC forces carried on warfare with each other, with the Communists eventually destroying or absorbing the KMT partisan forces or driving them into the puppet forces of the Japanese. The communists under the leadership of Mao Zedong also began to focus most of their energy on building up their sphere of influence wherever opportunities were presented, mainly through rural mass organizations, administrative, land and tax reform measures favoring poor peasants; while the KMT allocated many divisions of its regular army to carry out military blockade of the CPC areas in an attempt to neutralize the spread of Communist influence until the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War. [8]

After the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chiang Kai Shek and Mao Zedong attempted to engage in peace talks. This effort failed and by 1946 the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party were engaged in all-out civil war. The Communists were able to obtain seized Japanese weapons and took the opportunity to engage the already weakened KMT. In October 1949, Mao Zedong established the People's Republic of China, while Chiang Kai-Shek retreated to the island of Taiwan. [9]

See also

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References

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  2. Taylor, Jay (2009). The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the struggle for modern China, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press P.94
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
  4. Ye, Zhaoyan Ye, Berry, Michael. (2003). Nanjing 1937: A Love Story. Columbia University Press. ISBN   0-231-12754-5.
  5. Buss, Claude Albert. (1972). Stanford Alumni Association. The People's Republic of China and Richard Nixon. United States.
  6. Ray Huang, 從大歷史的角度讀蔣介石日記 (Reading Chiang Kai-shek's Diary from a Macro History Perspective) China Times Publishing Company, 1994-1-31 ISBN   957-13-0962-1, p.259
  7. 1 2 Schoppa, R. Keith. (2000). The Columbia Guide to Modern Chinese History. Columbia University Press. ISBN   0-231-11276-9.
  8. "Crisis". Time . 13 November 1944.
  9. https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/cwr/88312.htm