and surrendering a soviet in a particular place in order to gain victory for the soviet movement throughout the country as a whole. In October, the CCP began to move out on what it called the "strategic transfer" or what later became known as the Long March. They left behind a party organization under the leadership of Xiang Ying who was also in control of military affairs. In addition, the Office of the Central Government of the Chinese Soviet Republic was established under Chen Yi’s leadership. This Office was to direct the struggle of the guerrilla armies left behind in the former base areas of South China. Initially, the withdrawal did not go well. The CCP had no idea where it was going and by late-November military engagements had caused its personnel to be reduced from the 86,000 who set out to around 30,000.
In January 1935, the Red Army reached northern Guizhou and found some time for a break. Vitally, during these days from 15 to 18 January the most important meeting of the Long March was held at Zunyi and it marked the start of Mao Zedong’s rise to preeminent power in the CCP. While the meeting was probably called to discuss the current situation and where the Red Army should go, it turned into a major review of past policy and heralded a shift in the party leadership. While Bo Gu and Zhou Enlai started off the meeting, the most decisive event was Mao’s speech that criticized military policy. On the basis of subsequent debates and very much in line with Mao’s speech, Zhang Wentian drafted the meeting documents. The Resolution criticizes Bo Gu and Braun for their previous errors but adopts a compromise. Braun firmly rejected all criticism of himself and Bo Gu was only willing to admit to partial errors in judgment. While it approved the political line of the party, the military failures were ascribed to the erroneous military line of "pure positional defense" promoted by Bo and Braun.
Mao was promoted to the five-person secretariat and joined Zhang Wentian (general secretary), Zhou Enlai, Chen Yun, and Bo Gu. Along with Zhou and Wang Jiaxiang, Mao was to serve on the CCP Central Military Leadership Group. While Zhou was to be the chief decision-maker, Mao was to be chief assistant. This broke Braun’s control over military affairs. Mao did not become chair of the Military Council or the Politburo as some historians have suggested, but he did become one of the top five leaders of the party and had the right to be involved in all party and army decisions.
During the Long March, Mao was a major challenge from Zhang Guotao for leadership of the party. Zhang did not accept the decisions taken at Zunyi as binding and had not attended the meeting. At the time he commanded a far larger military force than those soldiers with Mao, some 80,000 to Mao’s 20,000 at best. Yet Zhang was thoroughly outmaneuvered and came under severe criticism in Yan’an in early 1937 and in March a party resolution was passed criticizing his past mistakes. With renewed collaboration between the GMD and the CCP, Zhang decided to flee the communists new home in Yan’an and joined the GMD in April 1938.
While the Red Army was on the Long March the last decision taken by the Comintern to impact on the CCP was beginning to take effect. This led to a second period of alliance with the GMD in 1937. The Comintern’s Seventh Congress (July-August 1935) adopted a new policy that called for a united front of all elements, classes and nations in the fight