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Distress, the Self-Defense Committee and the Cultural Committee. Infiltration of these organizations provided the first concentrated attempt to adapt the Shanghai party’s goals to the socio-political environment of the city. While capacity was limited, this work enabled the party to gain experience and develop contacts that would stand it in good stead when the National Salvation Movement developed following the Beijing anti- Japanese demonstrations of 1935. This meant that when the united front with the GMD was reactivated in 1937 there was the remnants of an organization for Liu Xiao to work with on his appointment to run the Shanghai apparatus.

These developments increased the relative importance of the party organizations in the base areas that had been set up. The Party Center in Shanghai was reduced to little more than a liaison organization relaying instructions from the Comintern to the soviets. Indeed, it appears that in early 1931 the Comintern made the suggestion that the Party Center consider a move to the rural Soviets. The departure of the CC for the Jiangxi Soviet in 1933 had left the Shanghai party without effective leadership. It is also debatable to what extent and how often the rump in Shanghai was in contact with the CC.

While the Party Center became more involved in the work of the soviets, transferring key personnel, it was not until early 1933 that Bo Gu and the Party Center arrived at the Central Soviet. The conditions under which the Party Center began its move to the soviets meant that in reality legitimate leadership of the revolutionary movement had passed to the soviets. However, the process inevitably produced conflicts and frictions. Yet this is not to say that Mao and his supporters were an immediate conscious target of the "returned students" who dominated the Party Center when it began its transfer to the Jiangxi Soviet.

Despite the repression in the urban areas, 1931 saw the CCP in a much better position. At one point in 1927, membership had dipped as low as 10,000. By the end of 1930, membership had grown tenfold but the momentum had shifted from the urban to the rural soviets. The way forward now for the CCP was to rely on the steady expansion of the soviet bases and the Red Army. In addition to the Jiangxi Soviet under Mao, important bases had been developed in west Hunan-Hubei (Xiang-Exi) under He Long, and in Hubei-Henan-Anhui (E-Yu-Wan) under Xu Xiangqian. The soviets had been provided a breathing space to develop by Chiang Kai-shek’s conflict with Feng Yuxiang and Yan Xishan. However, the respite did not last long as Chiang was victorious in November 1930 and in October he had already launched the first of five "suppression" campaigns to annihilate the communists. Despite the failure to take over a major city or win a victory in one or more provinces, the military capacity of the Red Army had generally increased.

In November 1931, the First All-China Soviet Congress was convened in Ruijin, Jiangxi and it founded the Chinese Soviet Republic as a national regime and established separate state and military structures to operate at the national level. While direct control over the military was taken away from Mao Zedong, he was appointed to the new post of Chair of the Soviet government. Xiang Ying and Zhang Guotao were appointed as his deputies. Zhu De was appointed chair of the newly established Central Revolutionary Military Commission, with Peng Dehuai and Wang Jiaxiang as his deputies. The Congress also

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