against fascism. This policy shift came primarily as a result of Soviet Russia’s awareness of the increasing threat to its security posed by Germany and Japan.
This new policy line was applied to China by Wang Ming, the head of the CCP Mission to the Comintern in Moscow. However, it should be pointed out that Wang Ming’s own ideas had been evolving from the notion of a united front from below to a united from above. Indeed, the Japanese occupation of Northeast China had caused the CC to suggest a shift in policy in the Manchuria region in January 1933. This letter from the CC to the local party organization indicated that it would be possible to cooperate with the national bourgeoisie if a solid united front from below had been assured. This, according to the letter, would ensure proletarian leadership in the united front.
The "August First Declaration" (1935) issued in Moscow in the name of the CCP and the Chinese Soviet Republic, was a clear signal that the CCP was to make the strategic shift from civil war to a new united front. The declaration claimed that it was the "sacred duty of everyone to resist Japan and save the nation." It then criticized the actions of "scum" and "traitors" such as Chiang Kai-shek, Yan Xishan and Zhang Xueliang who had not adopted a policy of resistance to Japan. If the GMD would stop its attacks, the CCP and the Soviet Government pledged that it would cooperate closely with them to defend the country against the Japanese no matter what their other differences might be. The CCP declared its willingness to cooperate with all those prepared to join a government of national defense that would pursue a ten-point programme to expel the Japanese. The suggestion was clearly for a united front from above.
It is not entirely clear when this news reached the Party Center as communications with Moscow had been severed during the Long March. Certainly communications were restored in November 1935 when Zhang Hao, an envoy of the CCP Mission to the Comintern, arrived in north Shaanxi but evidence suggests that its contents were known earlier. A CC secret directive in October 1935 reflected the thrust of the declaration.
In December 1935, an enlarged Politburo meeting was convened at Wayaobao to discuss the implications of the united front strategy. The meeting decided to adopt the widest political front possible to oppose Japanese imperialism and Chiang Kai-shek. This front would include workers, peasants and the petty bourgeoisie and even members of the national bourgeoisie, rich peasants and small landlords. The party was to strive for leadership of this coalition. The highest manifestation of this new united front would be the government of national defense and the united anti-Japanese army that would be united on the basis of the ten-point program. This conciliatory approach was reflected in the change of name of the Worker and Peasant Soviet Republic into the People’s Soviet Republic and in policy shifts. Policy was moderated, rich peasants were to enjoy the same rights as others and not have their property confiscated while industrial and commercial entrepreneurs would be welcomed to invest in the area. In line with this new approach, the meeting also adopted a resolution on military affairs that called for combining the civil war with the national war against Japan. The main task for 1936 was to gather strength to fight against Japan. The base areas were to be expanded and to link up with the Soviet Union as would the two armies link to fight the Japanese. Widespread guerrilla