Theme 15. End of ‘Great Game’ in Chinese Central Asia: Communist takeover in 1949
British consulates’ activity. Closure of British consulates in 1947 with British independence and American after the Communist takeover in 1949. Geoffry Turral, Walter Graham – consuls in Urumchi. Consulate in Kashgar. End of the Great Game. Cold War in Asia: rivalry between the Soviet Union and its allies and the USA and its allies. Loss of China for the USA. Enmity between China and the USA. Problem of Taiwan. Soviet-Chinese friendship in early 1950s. Closure of the Soviet consulates in Xinjiang 1962. Exodus of local peoples to Soviet Central Asia. Repressions of the local Turkic leaders in Xinjiang.
During the 1920s CPC activists retreated underground or to the countryside, where they fomented an armed rebellion. The revolt of the CPC against the Nationalist government began on 1 August 1927 in Nanchang, Jiangxi.The Nanchang Uprising saw the formation of a Communist rebel army, which would later become thePeople's Liberation Army. After a few days government forces recaptured Nanchang, while surviving rebels escaped into the countryside.Attempts were later made by the CPC to take the cities of Changsha, Shantou and Guangzhou. The Communist force consisted of mutinous former NRA soldiers as well as armed peasants. They established control over several areas in southern China. The Guangzhou commune was able to control Guangzhou for three days and a "soviet" was established. KMT armies continued to suppress the rebellions.This marked the beginning of the ten-year struggle, known in mainland China as the "Ten Year's Civil War" (Traditional Chinese: Simplified Chinese: Pinyin:Shínían Nèizhàn). It lasted until the Xi'an Incident when Chiang Kai-shek was forced to form the Second United Front against invading forces from Japan. An armed rural insurrection, known as the Autumn Harvest Uprising, was staged by peasants, miners and CPC members in Hunan Province, led by Mao Zedong.It was unsuccessful.There were now three capitals in China: the internationally recognized republic capital in Beijing, the CPC and left-wing KMT at Wuhan and the right-wing KMT regime at Nanjing, which would remain the KMT capital for the next decade.
In 1930 the Central Plains War broke out as an internal conflict of the KMT. It was launched by Feng Yuxiang, Yan Xishan and Wang Jingwei. The attention was turned to root out remaining pockets of Communist activity in a series of encirclement campaigns. There were a total of five campaigns.The first and second campaigns failed and the third was aborted due to the Mukden Incident. The fourth campaign (1932–1933) achieved some early successes, but Chiang’s armies were badly mauled when they tried to penetrate into the heart of Mao’s Soviet Chinese Republic. During these campaigns KMT columns struck swiftly into Communist areas, but were easily engulfed by the vast countryside and were not able to consolidate their foothold.
Finally, in late 1934, Chiang launched a fifth campaign that involved the systematic encirclement of the Jiangxi Soviet region with fortified blockhouses.Unlike previous campaigns in which they penetrated deeply in a single strike, this time the KMT troops patiently built blockhouses, each separated by five or so miles, to surround the Communist areas and cut off their supplies and food sources.
In October 1934 the CPC took advantage of gaps in the ring of blockhouses (manned by the forces of a warlord ally of Chiang Kai-shek's, rather than regular KMT troops) to escape Jiangxi. The warlord armies were reluctant to challenge Communist forces for fear of losing their own men and did not pursue the CPC with much fervor. In addition, the main KMT forces were preoccupied with annihilating Zhang Guotao's army, which was much larger than Mao's. The massive military retreat of Communist forces lasted a year and covered what Mao estimated as 12,500 km (25,000 Li); it became known as the Long March.
The march ended when the CPC reached the interior of Shaanxi. Zhang Guotao's army, which took a different route through northwest China, was largely destroyed by the forces of Chiang Kai-shek and his Chinese Muslim allies, the Ma clique. Along the way, the Communist army confiscated property and weapons from local warlords and landlords, while recruiting peasants and the poor, solidifying its appeal to the masses. Of the 90,000-100,000 people who began the Long March from the Soviet Chinese Republic, only around 7,000-8,000 made it to Shaanxi. The remnants of Zhang's forces eventually joined Mao in Shaanxi, but with his army destroyed, Zhang, even as a founding member of the CPC, was never able to challenge Mao's authority. Essentially, the great retreat made Mao the undisputed leader of the Communist Party of China.
The Kuomintang used Khampa troops—who were former bandits—to battle the Communist Red Army as it advanced, and to undermine local warlords who often refused to fight Communist forces to conserve their own strength. The KMT enlisted 300 "Khampa bandits" into its Consolatory Commission military in Sichuan, where they were part of the effort of the central government to penetrate and destabilize local Han warlords such as Liu Wenhui. The government was seeking to exert full control over frontier areas against the warlords. Liu had refused to battle the Communists in order to conserve his army. The Consolatary Commission forces were used to battle the Red Army, but they were defeated when their religious leader was captured by the Communists.