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Divergence in Strategic Planning: Chian Kai-shek's Mission to Moscow, 1923* by Eugene W. Wu For three months from September 2 to November 29, 1923, Chiang Kai-shek was in the Soviet Union as head of a four-man military mission appointed by Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The purpose of the mission was to seek Russian support of and participation in a military strategy aimed at the defeat of the northern militarists and the seizing of power by the Kuomintang. But Chiang's mission was not successful. While the Kuomintang focused its attention on unifying China through military means, the Soviet Union favored political mobilization of the masses before milttary action. This paper attempts to analyze this divergent approach to strategic planning by Canton and Moscow as illustrated by Chiang Kai-shek' s mission in 1923. In order to understand the mission in its proper historical context. we shall first examine the relations between Sun Yat-sen and the Soviet Union prior to the mission. Sun Yat-sen and the Soviet Union Sun Yat-sen's earliest official contact with the Soviet Union was in 1918, when he sent Lenin a congratulatory message on the success of the Russian Revolution. [1] Georgii Chicherin, Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, in his response praised Sun for his struggle against "the north Chinese and foreign imperialist governments ," and cast the Soviet lot with that of the Chinese. [2] It was two years after this initial exchange of good will that Sun had his first direct contact with a representative of the Soviet Un:ion.[3] This took place in November 1920, when Gregory Voitinsky, head of the Eastern Department of the Communist International, called on him in Shanghai. Sun asked questions about Russia and the Russian Revolution, and explained to Voitinsky his military plans to carry the revolutionary movement from the South to the central and northern provinces. Although not seeking Russian assistance at this time, he did propose that the Russians build a powerful radio station in Vl~divostok or Manchuria, so that Canton could communicate with the Russians.[4] In March 1921, Dr. Sun met with one Alexieff, who had come to Canton to establish a branch of the Rosta News Agency, reportedly for the purpose of helping with Chinese propaganda work.[5] * This is a revised version of a paper presented at the Conference on Chiang Kai-shek and Modern China held in Taipei in 1986. The paper was published in the Proceedings of the Conference on Chiang Kai-shek and Modern China (Taipei, 1987), Vol. 2: 58-76. I am grateful to Professor Li Yun-han for permission to republish it here. 18 By this time Sun Yat-sen 1 s interest in Russia and Russian experience was deepening. In response to a communication from Chicherin of June 1921, Sun wrote on August 28 of that year: I would like to enter into personal contact with you and your friends in Moscow. I am extremely interested in your work, and particularly in the organization ·of your soviets, your army, and educational system. I would like to know what you and your friends can tell me about these matters, and particularly about education .... [6] These early contacts paved the way for three subsequent meetings Sun Yat-sen had with representaiives of the Communist International on the substance of a prpspective Canton-Moscow alliance: his meeting with Hendrick SneevHet (Maring) in December 1921; with Serge Dalin in June ,1922; and with Adolf Joffe in January 1923. Maring, as Sneevliet was known in China, was a Dutch Comintern agent who was active in Java before his expulsion, and arrived in China in June 1921 to succeed Voi tinsky as the Comintern agent. Much has been written about his meetings with Sun Yat-sen in December 1921, in Kweilin.[9] Based on these accounts, we learn that Maring urged an alliance between the Kuomintang and the Soviet Union, and that he also put forth three other proposals: ( 1) reorganizing the Kuomintang to include all social classes, especially the peasants and the workers; (2) establishing a military academy to build up a revolutionary armed force; and (3) cooperating with the Chinese Communist Party...


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