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CHANGES IN THE LEADERSHIP OF THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY DURING AND AFTER THE LONG MARCH Thomas Kampen The Long March was the most crucial turning-point in the pre1949 history of the Chinese Communist Party. The narrow escape out of Jiangxi ended communist activity in South China for more than a decade, but the small group of survivors managed to establish a more powerful base in Shaanxi and finally succeeded in taking over the whole country. Simultaneously the Long March ended the dominant influence of Comintern advisers and Moscow-trained Party leaders and created a new leadership, which, despite many changes, ruled China for many decades. Chen Yun is now the only survivor of the old Politburo, but Dang Xiaoping was already participating in the most important Party meetings during the March and improved his position considerably. Participation in the March--as a cadre of the Youth League--also made Hu Yaobang•s rise to general secretary possible. The changes in CCP leadership during that period are usually associated with the Zunyi Conference, which has often been characterized as the beginning of the reign of •chairman Mao.• But for a long time the actual discussions and decisions of this important conference were only known to very few people outside and even inside China. While Chinese publications only maintained that Mao Zedong was promoted to a leading position in the Party, Western scholars repeatedly claimed that Mao had become chairman of either the Standing Committee, the Politburo, the Central Committee, or the Military Affairs Committee.[!] But recent Chinese articles have provided more information about the conference and contradicted most speculations of Western scholars.[2] It has now become clear that during the Long March Mao Zedong did not become chairman of any of the above-mentioned committees and that his rise to the top of the Party was more complicated than has often been thought. This article intends to answer the following questions• Which changes in the Party leadership were decided in Zunyi? When did Mao rise to chairmanship of the different committees? The Zunyi Conference When the Red Army left Jiangxi in October 1934 the military leadership lay in the hands of the Qin Bangxian-Zhou Enlai-Otto Braun triumvirate (sanrentuan). The chairman of the Central Military Affairs Committee was Zhu De, and Zhou Enlai and Wang Jiaxiang were vice-chairmen.[J] The unofficial •standing Committee• of the Politburo under •general secretary• Qin Bangxian also included Zhang 28 Wentian, Zhou Enlai and Chen Yun, while Mao Zedong and Zhu De were just members of the Politburo.{4) But the failure to withstand the Guomindang's fifth encirclement campaign had necessitated a hurried flight out of Jiangxi and the inefficient military leadership at the beginning of the Long March had led to the loss of two thirds of the Red Army within two months. This caused considerable dissatisfaction with the triumvirate and the Comintern adviser Otto Braun in particular.{S) associated of five held in 1934 and The changes in military policy and leadership often with the Zunyi Conference, were, in fact, the result different meetings of Party and Army leaders. These were Tongdao, Liping, Zunyi, Jiming, and Yaxi between December March 1935. Confronted with strong Guomindang troops in Western Hunan, on 11 December 1934 some Party and Army leaders, including Zhou Enlai, Zhang Wentian, Wang Jiaxiang, Mao Zedong and Otto Braun met in Tongdao, east of the Hunan-Guizhou border, to hold an urgent conference.{6) Mao Zedong proposed to move westwards into Guizhou to avoid a hopeless battle with the strong enemy, while Otto Braun insisted on the original plan to march northwards. Supporting Mao's view, Zhou Enlai, Zhang Wentian, and Wang Jiaxiang decided to move westwards and thus ended Otto Braun's (and Oin Bangxian's) military dominance.[7) On 18 December 1934--after arriving in Liping on the western side of the border--a full meeting of the Politburo decided to give up the original plan to move north to join forces with the Second and Sixth Army Corps. Instead the Red Army should march to Zunyi, hold an enlarged Politburo meeting to discuss further strategies and establish a base in northern Guizhou.[8) This decision...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 28-36
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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