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Communist Party and the Guomindang Party

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Both the Communist Party and the Guomindang (Nationalist) Party were created around 1920 and had a socialist orientation. The Guomindang although it had a socialist orientation was primarily concerned with establishing a nation state. This meant suppressing the numerous warlords and uniting China. The Guomindang needed financial aid to achieve this and it was not going to get such aid from the imperialist powers. The founder and leader of the Guomindang, Sun Yatsen, sought and received aid from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union not only sent material aid, it also sent advisors, Michael Borodin and Otto Braun. The latter was a German Communist representing the Communist International, the Comintern. The Soviet Union also required that the Guomindang admit to its membership the members of the Communist Party of China.

The Communists worked within the Guomindang during the early and middle 1920's. The arrangement appeared to work well. Chiang Kai-shek directed the Whampoa Military Academy and Zhou Enlai served as the political officer for that academy. Chiang Kai-shek went to Moscow for training and later his son, Chiang Ching-guo, went to Moscow.

The trouble came when Sun Yat-sen died of cancer in 1925. It was uncertain who would succeed him as leader of the Guomindang. After a short period of political maneuvering Chiang Kai-shek emerged as the leader. The Guomindang actually split at this time into two factions, a left faction headed by Chiang Kai-shek who accepted continued cooperation with the Communists and a right faction which opposed such cooperation.

After consolidating his hold on the Guomindang Chiang Kai-shek organized a northern expedition to defeat the many warlords who controlled local areas of northern China.

Chiang's Northern Expedition of 1926-27 was a great success. Thirty nine war lords were defeated. The Northern Expedition then moved to Shanghai. The Communist-dominated labor unions staged an uprising prior to the entry of Chiang's army into the city. This uprising established a city government without Chiang's approval. This and other actions by the Communists within the Guomindang led Chiang to fear the Communists were following their own agenda and were striving for control. Chiang's followers turned upon the Communists in Shanghai and massacred them. A similar slaughter and purge of the Communists within the Guomindang throughout other parts of China took place shortly afterwards.

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