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The Nanchang Uprising


In 1927, Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Jingwei struck counter-revolutionary blows against the Communist membership of the KMT, and the KMT-CPC cooperation came to a premature end. The revolution nationwide took a sharp turn in a new direction, and the CPC embarked on an arduous journey of exploring a new path through independent leadership of the agrarian revolution.

At this critical moment, in mid-July 1927, the Standing Committee of the Provisional Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee decided to move the forces that the CPC could control or influence to Nanchang in preparation for an armed uprising, and to launch autumn harvest uprisings in Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces, where workers and peasants movements were built on solid foundations.

On July 27, Zhou Enlai (1898-1976) arrived with a group in Nanchang, capital city of Jiangxi Province. Immediately on arrival they set up a Front Committee to take charge of preparations with Zhou as secretary. Together with He Long (1896-1969), Ye Ting, Zhu De (1886-1976) and Liu Bocheng (1892-1986), the Front Committee, on August 1, started an armed uprising in Nanchang with a 20,000-strong Northern Expedition army under the CPC's control or influence. After four hours of fierce fighting, the insurgent army overcame the defending force of 3,000 and took control of the whole city.

On learning of the uprising, Wang Jingwei of the KMT immediately ordered Zhang Fakui (1896-1980) and Zhu Peide (1889-1937) to attack Nanchang with their troops. In line with the CPC Central Committee's plan, the Front Committee decided to lead the uprising army to withdraw from Nanchang and head southward for Guangdong, with the intention of using the province as the base to continue the Northern Expedition. From August 3 to 6, the uprising troops pulled out of Nanchang.

In early October, they lost a number of engagements on the way southward. Some of the remaining forces made their way to the Haifeng-Lufeng region in Guangdong to continue their struggles. The other forces, led by Zhu De and Chen Yi (1901-1972), arrived at the revolutionary base in the Jinggang Mountains in April 1928, where they rendezvoused with the Autumn Harvest Uprising troops led by Mao Zedong.

The Nanchang Uprising fired the first shots of armed Communist resistance against Chiang's Kuomintang, and demonstrated the CPC's firm resolve to continue the revolution. From this point the CPC established independent leadership of the revolutionary war, and began to strive to seize state power through military action. It marked the birth of a new army of the people.

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