Xi'an Incident

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Xi'an Incident
Part of the Chinese Civil War
Zhang Xueliang, Yang Hucheng and Chiang Kai-shek.jpg
The three principals involved in the Xi'an Incident: Zhang Xueliang, Yang Hucheng, and Chiang Kai-shek
Date12 December – 26 December 1936
Location
34.3416° N, 108.9398° E
Result End of Encirclement Campaigns
Creation of the Second United Front
Temporary end of the Chinese Civil War
The map showing the situation of China during the Xi'an Incident in December 1936 Xi'an Incident Map.png
The map showing the situation of China during the Xi'an Incident in December 1936

The Xi'an Incident (traditional Chinese :西安事變; simplified Chinese :西安事变; pinyin :Xī'ān Shìbìan) was a political crisis that took place in Xi'an, Republic of China in 1936. Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Republic of China, was detained by his subordinates, Generals Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng, in order to force the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT) to change its policies regarding the Empire of Japan and the Communist Party of China (CPC). [1]

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Simplified Chinese characters Standardized Chinese characters developed in mainland China

Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.

Pinyin Chinese romanization scheme for Mandarin

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

Contents

Prior to the incident, Chiang Kai-shek focused on fighting Communists within China rather than the external threat of the Japanese. [2] After the incident, Chiang aligned with the Communists against the Japanese. The crisis ended after two weeks of negotiation, in which Chiang was eventually released and returned to Nanjing, accompanied by Zhang. Chiang agreed to end the ongoing civil war against the CPC and began actively preparing for the impending war with Japan. [1]

Nanjing Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Jiangsu, Peoples Republic of China

Nanjing, alternatively romanized as Nanking and Nankin, is the capital of Jiangsu province of the People's Republic of China and the second largest city in the East China region, with an administrative area of 6,600 km2 (2,500 sq mi) and a total population of 8,270,500 as of 2016. The inner area of Nanjing enclosed by the city wall is Nanjing City (南京城), with an area of 55 km2 (21 sq mi), while the Nanjing Metropolitan Region includes surrounding cities and areas, covering over 60,000 km2 (23,000 sq mi), with a population of over 30 million.

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. Some sources in the modern People's Republic of China date the beginning of the war to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. It is known as the War of Resistance in China.

Background

Japanese invasion of Manchuria

In 1931, the Empire of Japan continued to escalate aggression against China through the Mukden Incident and the eventual occupation of Northeast China. The "Young Marshal" Zhang Xueliang, the successor of Fengtian army stationed in the Northeast, was widely criticized for the loss of his territory against the Imperial Japanese Army. In response, Zhang resigned from his position and went on a tour of Europe. [3]

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

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.

Japanese invasion of Manchuria part of the Second Sino-Japanese War

The Japanese invasion of Manchuria began on 18 September 1931, when the Kwantung Army of the Empire of Japan invaded Manchuria immediately following the Mukden Incident. After the war, the Japanese established the puppet state of Manchukuo. Their occupation lasted until the Soviet Union and Mongolia launched the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation in 1945.

Nationalist-Communist conflicts

In the aftermath of the Northern Expedition in 1928, China was nominally unified under the authority of the Nationalist government in Nanjing. Simultaneously, the Nationalist government violently purged members of the CPC in the Kuomintang, effectively ending the alliance between the two parties. [4] Beginning in the 1930s, the Nationalist government launched a series of campaigns against the CPC. After Zhang returned from his tour of Europe, he was given the task of overseeing these campaigns with his Northeast Army. [5] In the meanwhile, the impending war against Japan led to nationwide unrest and surge of Chinese nationalism. [6] Consequently, the campaigns against the Communist Party were becoming increasingly unpopular. Chiang, fearing the loss of leadership to China, continued the civil war against the CPC despite lacking popular support. [7] Zhang was hoping to reverse the Nationalist policy of prioritizing the purge of Communists, and instead focusing on military preparation against Japanese aggression. [8] After his proposal was rejected by Chiang, the CPC was able to convince Zhang of their commitment to fight the Japanese as a united front, and Zhang began to plot a coup in "great secrecy". [9] By June 1936, the secret agreement between Zhang and the CPC had been successfully settled. [10]

Northern Expedition Kuomintang (KMT) military campaign

The Northern Expedition was a military campaign launched by the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) of the Kuomintang (KMT), also known as the "Chinese Nationalist Party", against the Beiyang government and other regional warlords in 1926. The purpose of the campaign was to reunify China, which had become fragmented in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1911. The expedition was led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, and was divided into two phases. The first phase ended in a 1927 political split between two factions of the KMT: the right-leaning Nanjing faction, led by Chiang, and the left-leaning faction in Wuhan, led by Wang Jingwei. The split was partially motivated by Chiang's purging of communists within the KMT, which marked the end of the First United Front. In an effort to mend this schism, Chiang Kai-shek stepped down as the commander of the NRA in August 1927, and went into exile in Japan.

The Shanghai massacre of April 12, 1927, known commonly in China as the April 12 Purge or April 12 Incident, was the violent suppression of Communist Party of China (CPC) organizations in Shanghai by the military forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and conservative factions in the Kuomintang. Following the incident, conservative KMT elements carried out a full-scale purge of Communists in all areas under their control, and even more violent suppression occurred in Guangzhou and Changsha. The purge led to an open split between left and right wing factions in the KMT, with Chiang Kai-shek establishing himself as the leader of the right wing faction based in Nanjing, in opposition to the original left-wing KMT government based in Wuhan led by Wang Jingwei.

First United Front united front

The First United Front, also known as the KMT–CPC Alliance, of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Communist Party of China (CPC), was formed in 1924 as an alliance to end warlordism in China. Together they formed the National Revolutionary Army and set out in 1926 on the Northern Expedition. The CPC joined the KMT as individuals, making use of KMT's superiority in numbers to help spread communism. The KMT, on the other hand, wanted to control the communists from within. Both parties had their own aims and the Front was unsustainable. In 1927, KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek purged the Communists from the Front while the Northern Expedition was still half-complete. This initiated a civil war between the two parties that lasted until the Second United Front was formed in 1936 to prepare for the coming Second Sino-Japanese War.

Events

Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng in 1936 Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng.jpg
Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng in 1936

On 12 December 1936, bodyguards of Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng stormed the cabin where Chiang was staying and detained the Nationalist leader. [11] A telegram was sent to Nanjing to demand immediate end to civil war against the CPC, and to reorganize the Nationalist government by expelling pro-Japanese factions and adopting an active anti-Japanese stance. As conflicting reports unfolded, the Nationalist government in Nanjing was sent into disarray. [8]

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.

Yang Hucheng Chinese warlord

Yang Hucheng was a Chinese general during the Warlord Era of Republican China and Kuomintang general during the Chinese Civil War.

Negotiations and release

Many young officers in the Northeast Army demanded Chiang be killed, but this was refused by Zhang as his intention was "only to change his policy". [12] The responses to the coup from high-level Nationalist figures in Nanjing were divided. The Military Affairs Commission led by He Yingqin recommended a military campaign against Xi'an, and immediately send a regiment to capture Tongguan. [13] Soong Mei-ling and Kong Xiangxi were strongly in favor of negotiating a settlement to ensure the safety of Chiang. [14]

He Yingqin Taiwanese politician

He Yingqin, also Ho Ying-chin, was one of the most senior generals of the Kuomintang (KMT) during Republic of China, and a close ally of Chiang Kai-shek.

Tongguan County County in Shaanxi, Peoples Republic of China

Tongguan County is a county in the east of Shaanxi province, China, administered as part of the prefecture-level city of Weinan. It is named after the Tong Pass, located south of the confluence of the Wei and Yellow Rivers. It is the southeastern corner of the Ordos Loop, the point at which the Qin Mountains turn the Yellow River sharply eastward, forcing it into the North China Plain, and borders the provinces of Shanxi to the north and Henan to the east.

Soong Mei-ling Chiang Kai-sheks wife, First Lady of the Republic of China

Soong Mei-ling or Soong May-ling, also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek or Madame Chiang, was a Chinese political figure who was First Lady of the Republic of China, the wife of Generalissimo and President Chiang Kai-shek. Soong played a prominent role in the politics of the Republic of China and was the sister-in-law of Sun Yat-sen, the founder and the leader of the Republic of China. She was active in the civic life of her country and held many honorary and active positions, including chairwoman of Fu Jen Catholic University. During the Second Sino-Japanese War she rallied her people against the Japanese invasion and in 1943 conducted an eight month speaking tour of the United States of America to gain support. She was also the youngest and the last surviving of the three Soong sisters, and one of only two first ladies during World War II who lived into the 21st century. Her life traversed three centuries.

On 16 December, Zhou Enlai arrived in Xi'an for negotiations, accompanied by fellow CPC diplomat Lin Boqu. At first, Chiang was opposed to negotiating with a CPC delegate, but withdrew his opposition when it became clear that his life and freedom were largely dependent on Communist goodwill towards him. Influencing his decision was also the arrival of Madame Chiang on 22 December, who had travelled to Xi'an hoping to secure his speedy release, fearing military intervention from factions within the Kuomintang. On 24 December, Chiang received Zhou for a meeting, the first time that the two had seen each other since Zhou had left Whampoa Military Academy over ten years earlier. Zhou began the conversation by saying: "In the ten years since we have met, you seem to have aged very little." Chiang nodded and said: "Enlai, you were my subordinate. You should do what I say." Zhou replied that if Chiang would halt the civil war and resist the Japanese instead, the Red Army would willingly accept Chiang's command. By the end of the meeting, Chiang promised to end the civil war, to resist the Japanese together, and to invite Zhou to Nanjing for further talks. [15]

Aftermath

The Xi'an Incident was a turning point for the CPC. Chiang's leadership over political and military affairs in China was affirmed, the CPC was able to expand its own strength under the new united front, which later played a factor in the Chinese Communist Revolution. [16]

Zhang was kept under house arrest for over 50 years before emigrating to Hawaii in 1993, while Yang was imprisoned and eventually executed on the order of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, before the Nationalist retreat to Taiwan. [17]

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References

  1. 1 2 Taylor 2009, p. 136–37.
  2. "Chiang Kai-shek | Biography & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  3. Taylor 2009, p. 100.
  4. Taylor 2009, p. 68.
  5. Taylor 2009, p. 116.
  6. Garver 1988, p. 5.
  7. Taylor 2009, p. 125.
  8. 1 2 Worthing 2017, p. 168.
  9. Eastman 1986, p. 109-111.
  10. Taylor 2009, p. 119.
  11. Taylor 2009, p. 127.
  12. Eastman 1986, p. 48.
  13. Taylor 2009, p. 128.
  14. Worthing 2017, p. 169.
  15. Barnouin, Barbara and Yu Changgen. Zhou Enlai: A Political Life. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press: 2006. p. 67
  16. Garver 1988, p. 78.
  17. Wakeman 2003, p. 234.

Sources

Coordinates: 34°16′N108°56′E / 34.267°N 108.933°E / 34.267; 108.933