Army and the Party’s Yangtze Bureau instructing them to shift their work to the rural areas where they were to set up guerrilla forces. This was followed on 22 May 1938, by instructions to the Hebei, Hunan and Wuhan party branches that, after the fall of Xuzhou, they should focus their work on guerrilla warfare in the countryside and the creation of bases there. To this end, the majority of students, workers and revolutionary elements were to return to their home villages to help with this process. The instructions peripheralized party work in Wuhan.
In stark contrast, Wang Ming in his public statement of 15 June, while acknowledging that Wuhan might fall, mooted Madrid as an example of heroic defense. Wang favored a massive mobilization under the GMD's leadership to engage the Japanese in mobile warfare before they could reach Wuhan. The Eighth Route Army, operating in the enemy’s rear was to be used to destroy supply lines.
These proposals backfired. As always, the GMD was suspicious of CCP calls for mass mobilization and, on 5 August placed restrictions on the activities of the local mass organizations. A number were closed down and the activities of the CCP came under close scrutiny by the GMD secret police. Wang Ming’s attempt to expand communist influence through legal means ended in failure. His prestige in party circles received another major blow when Wuhan fell to the Japanese on 25 October 1938.
Mao then used the Sixth Plenum of the Sixth CC held from 29 September to 6 November 1938 to press home his advantage. His dominance was enhanced by news brought from Moscow by Wang Jiaxiang. Wang relayed information contained in a September Comintern directive and Dimitrov’s ideas. The directive approved of the political line of the CCP during the past year in its united front work while Dimitrov fully endorsed Mao's leading position in the party. This stripped any claim that Wang Ming could have made to be the "Comintern’s man." Indeed, many believe that it was only after receiving this news that Mao decided to convene the Plenum. The loss of Wuhan during the Plenum shifted things further in Mao’s favor. By the end of the meeting, Mao made his differences with Wang clear. The sharpness of Mao’s tone in his concluding speeches was aided by the fact that Wang had left the meeting early to attend the National Political Consultative Assembly apparently believing that he and Mao had reached a compromise. Wang obviously had not made a very good study of Mao as a political strategist.
Mao had no intention of wrecking the united front and he realized that it was vital to the CCP’s interests. Thus his opening speech praised both the GMD and Chiang Kai-shek personally. Mao even stated that the GMD played the dominant role in the united front. Class struggle was not to detract from the task of national resistance. Mao still proposed that the "new democratic republic" would be based on Sun Yat-sen’s "Three Principles of the People," rather than on those of socialism. These were all sentiments that Wang could wholeheartedly endorse and he even praised indirectly the pivotal role which Mao played in the CCP.
However, with Wang gone and Wuhan fallen, Mao told a different story. Mao blamed the GMD for not allowing the united front to assume a proper organizational form and