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|Central Revolutionary Base|
|Revolutionary base area of the Chinese Soviet Republic|
|Historical era||Chinese Civil War|
|Central Revolutionary Base Area|
|Central Soviet Zone|
The Central Revolutionary Base, commonly called the Central Soviet (Zone), the Kiangsi–Fukien Soviet, or the Jiangxi–Fujian Soviet, was the largest component territory of the Chinese Soviet Republic, an unrecognized state established in November 1931 by Mao Zedong and Zhu De during the Chinese civil war. Geographically, the Jiangxi–Fujian Soviet-occupied the mountainous parts of Jiangxi and Fujian provinces of China and was home to the town of Ruijin, the county seat and headquarters of the Chinese Soviet government.
The Jiangxi-Fujian base area was defended ably by the First Red Front Army but in 1934 was finally overrun by the Kuomintang government's National Revolutionary Army in the Fifth of its Encirclement Campaigns. This last campaign in 1934-35 precipitated the most famous of the grand retreats known collectively as the Long March.
On November 7, 1931, on the anniversary of the 1917 Russian Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet Union helped organize a National Soviet People's Delegates Conference in Ruijin (瑞金), Jiangxi province. Ruijin was the county seat and was selected as the capital of the new Soviet republic. The "Chinese Soviet Republic" (Chinese: 中華蘇維埃共和國) was born, though the majority of China was still under the control of the nationalist Government of the Republic of China. On that day, they had an open ceremony for the new country, and Mao Zedong and other Communists attended a military parade. Claiming its own bank, printing its own money, and collecting tax through its own tax bureau, the modern Chinese Communist Party considers this the beginning of Two Chinas.
With Mao Zedong as both head of state (Chinese: 中央执行委员会主席) and head of government (人民委员会主席), the CSR expanded, especially within Jiangxi-Fujian, reaching a peak territory claim of more than 30,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi) and a population that numbered more than three million, covering considerable parts of two provinces (with Tingzhou in Fujian). Its economy was doing better than most other areas that were under the control of the Chinese warlords, though still suffered by comparison to non-warlord-controlled China. In addition to militia, its regular army numbered more than 140,000 by the early 1930s -- larger than the armies of most contemporary Chinese warlords, though still smaller than the Nationalist forces. The Chinese Red Army also possessed modern communications equipment, such as telephones, telegraphs, and radios, which most Chinese warlords' armies still lacked, and was regularly transmitting and receiving wireless coded messages.
Purges and massacres
As Marc Opper (2018) wrote,
In its drive to prevent defection to the GMD [also spelled "KMT"] and to ensure continued compliance, the CCP engaged in a widespread campaign of violence against civilians. The CCP detained those it suspected of being unreliable, confiscated their property, and organized them into hard labor brigades. Yet others were killed because they were regarded as suspect by the CCP because they criticized the CSR [Chinese Soviet Republic in Jiangxi]’s enormous extraction of manpower and resources. But by far the greatest amount of violence was against those the CCP suspected of being sympathetic to the advancing GMD. [...] Mass killings took place throughout the CSR in anticipation of the GMD attack, as well as prior to the CCP’s evacuation of territory. Mass executions of civilians were reported in Ruijin and Ningdu, and relief work by the Red Swastika Society, a religious charity, gave proper burials to thousands of bodies in Ningdu and Guangchang. The scale of the killing was so extensive that the then-leader of the CCP, Zhang Wentian, called for moderation, but only once and only briefly.
According to Li Weihan, a high-ranking communist in Jiangxi at the time, "The reaction from local authorities, he noted, was usually to send armed squads after those attempting to flee and kill them on the spot, producing numerous mass graves throughout the CSR [Chinese Soviet Republic in Jiangxi] that would later be uncovered by the KMT and its allies." According to censuses, Jiangxi's population reduced 3.16 million from 1931 to January 1936 due to the Chinese Civil War, among which, there was a drop of 700,000 (roughly 20%) in the 15 counties under the Jiangxi-Fujian Soviet. Jon Halliday and Jung Chang in the book Mao: The Unknown Story, estimated all these 700,000 deaths, were attributable to the regime of Jiangxi-Fujian Soviet. Causes of death included being murdered as class enemies, worked to death, or committed suicide.
In 1983, the Ministry of Civil Affairs ordered local governments to politically rehabilitate the dead who were wrongfully purged during this period. As a result, around 250,000 Jiangxi people were posthumously recognized as "revolutionary martyrs", including both the purged and civilian war casualties. Among these 250,000, 160,000 were from Ganzhou and Ji'an, the base of Jiangxi Soviet.
The government of China, the Kuomintang (KMT), led by Chiang Kai-shek, moved against the Soviet republic, consolidating many former Chinese warlords in the creation of the National Revolutionary Army to repeatedly besiege the various enclaves of the Soviet Republic, launching what Chiang and his fellow nationalists called Encirclement Campaigns (the Communists called their counterattacks counter encirclement campaigns). While the first, second and third military encirclements were defeated by the First Front Red Army, they suffered massive losses: the Red Army was nearly halved, with most its equipment lost during Chiang and von Seeckt's Fifth Encirclement Campaign, utilizing fortified blockhouses.
In an effort to break the blockade, the Red Army under the orders of the three-man committee besieged the forts many times but continued to suffer heavy casualties with little success at the hands of untrained, untested, and uncaring leadership. The Jiangxi–Fujian Soviet shrank significantly in size due to the disastrous leadership, manpower, and material losses. By the fall of 1934, the Communists faced near-total annihilation. This situation had already convinced Mao Zedong and his supporters to believe that the Communists should abandon their bases in the Jiangxi Soviet republic. However, the Communist leadership refused to accept the failure, continuing to plot the defeat of the nationalist forces. The three-man committee devised a plan of diversions, and then a regroup after a temporary retreat. Once the regroup was complete, a counterattack would be launched in conjunction with the earlier diversion forces, driving the enemy out of the Jiangxi Soviet.
The first movements of the retreating diversion were undertaken by Fang Zhimin. Fang Zhimin and his deputy, Xun Weizhou, were first to break through Kuomintang lines in June, followed by Xiao Ke in August. Though these movements were unexpected, as the Kuomintang were numerically superior to the Communists at the time and did not expect an attack on their fortified perimeter, things did not turn out as the Communists had hoped: Fang Zhimin's force was crushed after its initial success, and with Xun Weizhou killed in action, nearly every commander in this force was wounded and captured alive, including Fang Zhimin himself, and all were executed. The only exception was Su Yu, who managed to escape. Xiao Ke fared no better: although his force initially managed to break through and then reached He Long's Communist base in Hubei, but even with their combined forces, they were entirely defeated and unable to challenge the far superior nationalist force besieging the Jiangxi Soviet, never to return until the establishment of the People's Republic of China 15 years later.
The failure of the diversion forces resulted in their loss of contacts with the Jiangxi Soviet, and the Communist leadership failed to coordinate its next proper move in a timely fashion, still believing that a temporary retreat near or within the Jiangxi Soviet would allow them to recover and counterattack, eventually driving out the nationalist force.
In late September 1934, Chiang distributed his top-secret plan named "Iron Bucket Plan" to everyone in his general headquarter at Lushan (the alternative summer site to Nanchang), which detailed the final push to totally annihilate all Communist forces. The plan was to build 30 blockade lines supported by 30 barbed wire fences, most of them electric, in the region 150 km (93 mi) around Ruijin, to starve the Communists. In addition, more than 1,000 trucks were to be mobilized to form a rapid reaction force in order to prevent any Communist breakout. Realizing the certain annihilation of the Communists, Mo Xiong (莫雄) handed the document weighing several kilograms to his Communist handler Xiang Yunian (項與年) the same night he received it, risking not only his own life but that of his entire family.
With the help of Liu Yafo (劉亞佛) and Lu Zhiying (盧志英), the Communist agents copied the important intelligence onto four dictionaries and Xiang Yunian (項與年) was tasked to take the intelligence personally to the Jiangxi Soviet. The trip was hazardous, as the nationalist force would arrest and even execute anyone who attempted to cross the blockade. Xiang Yunian (項與年) was forced to hide in the mountains for a while, and then used rocks to knock out 4 of his own teeth, resulting in swollen face. Disguised as a beggar, he tore off the covers of the four dictionaries and hid them at the bottom of his bag with rotten food, then successfully crossed several lines of the blockade and reached Ruijin on October 7, 1934. The valuable intelligence provided by Mo Xiong (莫雄) finally convinced the Communists in Jiangxi Soviet to abandon its base and started a general retreat before Chiang could complete the building of his blockade lines with supporting barbed wire fences and mobilizing trucks and troops, thus saving themselves from total annihilation.
As the result of their catastrophic defeat, Xiang Ying was removed from his post of the chairman of the communist central military committee, and replaced by Zhou Enlai. Xiang Ying was put in charge of 20,000 soldiers that were assigned to stay behind in Jiangxi Soviet to continue the fight against the nationalists after the communist main force consisted of more than 80,000 had broken out. Xiang Ying was assisted by other top-ranking communist cadres assigned to stay behind with him, including Chen Yi, Zeng Shan, He Chang (贺昌), and Ruan Xiaoxian (阮啸仙), but Xiang had not learned from his previous disastrous blunder and continued his early practice when conducting battles, against the strong objection of Chen Yi. As a result of another huge blunder committed by Xiang Ying, the Chinese Red Army stayed behind was soon annihilated by the superior nationalist force, Xiang was barely able to escape with his own life, while many of his comrades were killed, including He Chang (贺昌) and Ruan Xiaoxian (阮啸仙). So insignificant was the communist threat left had become that the nationalist reward for capturing Chen Yi was once dropped to 500 dollars in silver, a tiny .25% of its earlier peak of 200,000 dollars in silver.
On October 10, 1934, the three-man committee Communist leadership formally issued the order of the general retreat, and on October 16, 1934, the Chinese Red Army begun what was later known as the Long March, fully abandoning the Jiangxi Soviet. 17 days after the main Communist force had already left its base, the nationalists were finally aware that the enemy had escaped after reaching the empty city of Ruijin on November 5, 1934. Contrary to the common erroneous belief, the original destination was He Long's Communist base in Hubei, and the final destination Yan'an was not decided on until much later during the Long March, well after the rise of Mao Zedong. To avoid panic, the goal was kept a secret from most people, including Mao Zedong, and the public was told that only a portion of the Chinese Red Army would be engaged in mobile warfare to defeat nationalist forces, and thus this part of the army would be renamed as Field Army.
First Front Red Army
However, the so-called the portion of the Chinese Red Army engaged in the mobile warfare was actually the majority portion of the Communist force making a general retreat, but the bulk of this force was only a fraction of what used to be more than 140,000 men army at its peak. With most of its equipment lost, many of the surviving members of the Chinese Red Army were forced to arm themselves with ancient weaponry. According to the Statistical Chart of the Field Army Personnel, Weaponry, Ammunition, and Supply completed by the Chinese Red Army on October 8, 1934, two days before the Long March began, the Communist Long March force consisted of:
Order of battle
The escaping communists included a total of 72,313 combatants and additional noncombatants, and they were organized into 7 formations, 5 armies (called legions by the communists) and 2 divisions (called columns by the communists), and these included:
- (Communist) Central Military Committee Column (1st Column)
- (Communist) Central (Committee) Column (2nd Column)
- Commander: Zhou Enlai
- Political commissar: Li Weihan (using alias Luo Mai 罗迈参 at the time)
- Chief-of-staff: Zhang Yunyi (张云逸)
- Security Bureau chief: Deng Fa
- Senior Cadres Regiment consisted of Chinese Red Army University cadets:
- Commander: Xiao Jingguan (萧劲光)
- Cadres Regiment consisted of Chinese Red Army (Junior) Academy cadets:
- National Garrison Regiment
- Commander: Yao Zhe (姚喆)
- Political commissar: Zhang Nansheng (张南生)
- The 1st Legion (The largest of the five armies, with 19,880 combatants)
- The 3rd Legion
- Commander: Peng Dehuai
- Political commissar: Yang Shangkun
- Chief-of-staff: Deng Ping (邓萍)
- Director of the Political Directorate: Yuan Guoping (袁国平)
- (Communist) Central (Committee) Local Work Regiment commander: Guo Qian (郭潜), later defected to the nationalist side and changed his name to Guo Qianhui (郭乾辉)
- Security Bureau special appointee: Zhang Chunqing (张纯清)
- The 5th Legion
- Commander: Dong Zhengtang (董振堂)
- Political commissar: Cai Shufan (蔡树藩)
- Chief-of-staff: Chen Bojun (陈伯钧)
- Director of the Political Directorate: Li Zhuoran (李卓然)
- (Communist) Central (Committee) Local Work Regiment commander: Zheng Zhenxun (郑询振)
- The 8th Legion (The newest and smallest of the five, with 10,922 combatants)
- Commander: Zhou Kun (周昆)
- Political commissar: He Kequan (何克全)
- Chief-of-staff: Zhong Weijian (钟伟剑)
- Director of the Political Directorate: Liu Shaoqi
- (Communist) Central (Committee) Local Work Regiment commander: Liu Xiao (刘晓)
- The 9th Legion
The 5 armies and the 2 columns had a total of 86,859 combatants when they first left their abandoned base in Jiangxi.
The Statistical Chart of Field Army Personnel, Weaponry, Ammunition, and Supply (Currently kept at the People's Liberation Army's Archives) also provided the weaponry and provisions prepared for the Long March, and the weapons deployed included:
- Artillery: 39 total
- Breechloading Firearms: 33,244 total (with 1,858,156 rounds of munition), and of these, a total of 29,016 were distributed to the 5 corps, including:
Other weapons included:
Various weapons were also deployed but their numbers were not counted, and these included:
- muzzle-loading rifled muskets and smoothbore muskets
- Flintlock and Snaphance guns
- Matchlock and Wheellock guns
- Spears and rakes (though later during the Long March, spears were most useful as canes)
- Axes and polearms (though later during the Long March, poles were most useful as building material such as that for stretchers)
- daggers and knives
Other material included:
1.642 million dollars of the Soviet Republic. Most of the stamps are imperforate and are printed on white newspaper-quality paper. The numerals printed on the stamp are of the complex style to prevent forgery.
- They are quite rare today, with prices ranging from US$1,000 to over $25,000.
When the Long March began in October 1934, the Communist bank was part of the retreating force, with 14 bank employees, over a hundred coolies and a company of soldiers escorting them while they carried all of the money and mint machinery. One of the important tasks of the bank during the Long March whenever the Chinese Red Army stayed in a place for longer than a day was to tell the local population to exchange any Communist paper bills and copper coins to goods and currency used in nationalist controlled regions, so that the local population would not be persecuted by the pursuing nationalists after the Communists had left. After the Zunyi Conference, it was decided that carrying the entire bank on the march was not practical, so on January 29, 1935, at Earth Town (Tucheng, 土城), the bank employees burned all Communist paper bills and mint machinery under order. By the time the Long March had concluded in October 1935, only 8 out of the 14 original employees survived; the other 6 had died along the way.
- China Soviet Silver Dollars were made at that time. These dollars do have the full name of China Soviet Republic and the hammer and sickle on the other side. Some coins also have the slogan of "Proletarians of all countries, unite!". The hammer and sickle is a symbol inside a globe-like shape on the reverse of the coin. China Soviet Silver coins are rare and in November 2008, a copy (not real) China Soviet Dollar was sold on Ebay for US$695. The seller stated clearly that it is just a replica or counterfeit but it still had a good ending value. The fair retail value for that piece is around US$5000 without mentioning of the word "copy". A genuine China Soviet Silver coin should have a fair market value of US$20000-25000 (200,000 China yuan). China Soviet Silver coin is like the Cultural Revolution type of China stamps - historic or cultural item of the PRC. For example, a W7 China Cultural Revolution stamp set has a value of around US$2500–3000. A genuine coin of China Soviet is 8-10 times more expensive but 100 times more difficult to find than the W7 stamp set. China Soviet Republic Silver Coins are truly a very special type of treasure coins of China. Only time can tell when Chinese and other people can truly understand and give them the true value as the current value is still low compared with China stamps and coins of same rarity in other countries like USA and Canada.
- In 2002 the building of the CSR National Tax Bureau was fixed for visitors.
- Opper, Marc (2018). "Revolution Defeated: The Collapse of the Chinese Soviet Republic". Twentieth-Century China. 43 (1): 60. doi:10.1353/tcc.2018.0003. S2CID 148775889.
- Opper, Marc (2019). "The Chinese Soviet Republic, 1931-1934" (PDF). People's Wars in China, Malaya, and Vietnam. University of Michigan Press. p. 58. ISBN 9780472131846. JSTOR 10.3998/mpub.11413902.8. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 18, 2022.
- 侯杨方 (2001). 中国人口史 第六卷: 1910-1953年. 复旦大学出版社. pp. 170–171.
1936年1月的户口统计数字的大幅度下降并不奇怪, 这是江西为第二之国内革命战争主战场的必然结果, 是年人口数较之1931年下降了300万人以上 [頁170表5-12: 1931年人口18,724,133, 1936年1月人口15,565,299.]
- Halliday, Jon; Chang, Jung (September 30, 2012). Mao: The Unknown Story. p. 133. ISBN 9781448156863. The English and Chinese versions of the book had different interpretations of the statistics. The Chinese version: "中央苏区地处江西、福建。在它存在的四年中，人口在全国下降最多。根据中国人口统计，从一九三一到一九三五年，江西根据地内为中共完全控制的十五个县(不包括为中共部分控制的边缘县)，人口减少五十多万，占总人口的百分之二十。闽西根据地的减少幅度也差不多。中央苏区人口共下降七十万。由于住在这些地带的人很难外逃，这七十万基本上应属于死亡人数。毛死后的一九八三年，江西有二十三万八千八百四十四人被官方追认为“烈士”，包括战死的和肃反被杀的。" English version: The Ruijin base, the seat of the first Red state, consisted of large parts of the provinces of Jiangxi and Fujian. These two provinces suffered the greatest population decrease in the whole of China from the year when the Communist state was founded, 1931, to the year after the Reds left, 1935. The population of Red Jiangxi fell by more than half a million — a drop of 20 percent. The fall in Red Fujian was comparable. Given that escapes were few, this means that altogether some 700,000 people died in the Ruijin base. A large part of these were murdered as “class enemies,” or were worked to death, or committed suicide, or died other premature deaths attributable to the regime.
- State Council of China (June 8, 1983). 国务院批转民政部关于对第二次国内革命战争时期肃反中被错杀人员的处理意见的通知（国发91号）. Archived from the original on January 21, 2021.
- "江西省有名有姓革命烈士达25万人 赣州吉安上饶烈士最多". 江西晨报. August 29, 2014. Archived from the original on January 28, 2022.
- 刘勉玉 (2000). "曾山对江西苏维埃运动的重大贡献" (PDF). 南昌大学学报( 人社版). 31 (1): 74.
苏区群众以各种形式配合红军作战...从1933年至1934年, 全中央苏区有16万青年参加红军, 其中大部分是江西省的青年。据江西省民政厅资料, 江西革命烈士25万多人, 占全国烈士总数的六分之一, 其中赣州地区11万, 吉安地区近5万, 占全省烈士总数的三分之二。
- Preface to Fundamental Laws of the Chinese Soviet Repub
- 2 photos of a handwritten official declaration document and the Conference
- flags from FOTW website
- 12 stamps (explanatory caption in Simplified Chinese)