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THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY DURING THE ERA OF THE - page 37 / 48

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position. The conference adopted a resolution to convene the Seventh Party Congress as soon as possible. A twenty-five person committee was set up to prepare the congress to which Mao was appointed Chair, with Wang Ming as Secretary. This reflected the power relations at the time as Wang, despite his prestige, must have realized that he could not take over from Mao. Further, on the Comintern's instructions, it was decided to abolish the post of General Secretary to encourage collective leadership. Thus, Zhang Wentian lost his position and a Secretariat was formed consisting of Zhang Wentian, Mao Zedong, Chen Yun and Kang Sheng. Mao retained his influential position as Chair of the Military Council.

After the conference Wang Ming, accompanied by Zhou Enlai and Bo Gu, left Yan’an for Wuhan to take up his position as Secretary of the party's Yangtze Bureau. This removed him from the Party Center, leaving Mao to run it together with the Army Headquarters. In Wuhan, Wang Ming began to develop an approach to the united front that was seriously at odds with Mao’s. Initially dictated by the vastly different conditions in Wuhan, Wang’s policy of cooperation and taking advantage of opportunities to work legally and to expand communist influence paid off.

The conflict between Mao and Wang reached a high point at the Politburo meeting held in Yan’an in early March 1938. The key issues discussed were the role of the CCP in the Sino-Japanese War and the relationship between the CCP and the GMD. As in December, Wang Ming delivered the key-note address while Mao made no formal speech. However, Mao’s opposition meant that no formal resolution was adopted, although a written version of Wang’s report was published and circulated widely.

Wang’s report stated that the united front was to be consolidated in the form of a "national revolutionary alliance" that would resemble the first united front or would be a confederation within which all parties would have political and organizational independence. He stressed the need for a "united army, united assignment, united command, united combat." He also stressed the need for the GMD to formalize the legal activities of other groups. He proposed establishing a national assembly so that other parties could be consulted and that the government legalize and encourage the development of mass organizations. Finally, Wang stated that the correct military strategy was to use mobile warfare as the main form of combat coordinated with positional warfare. Guerrilla warfare was relegated to a support function.

The downgrading of guerrilla warfare was at odds with Mao's approach and the question of military strategy took on increased importance in the following months especially after the fall of Xuzhou to Japanese forces in late May led to Wuhan being threatened. Throughout April, Mao called for the development of guerrilla bases in north China and in May, Mao stressed that the main task of the Eighth Route Army was to engage in guerrilla warfare and only to engage in mobile warfare where the conditions were favorable.

This clash of approaches became crucial as Wang Ming began to participate in the defense of Wuhan. On 14 May, the Party Center sent out instructions to the New Fourth

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