Biography in English

T'an P'ing-shan (1887-2 April 1956), one of the most influential Communists in the Kuomintang hierarchy during the 1924-26 period of alliance. Upon his expulsion from both parties in 1927, he became a leader of the so-called Third party at Shanghai. He was readmitted to the Kuomintang in 1937, but he later helped organize the dissident San-min-chu-i Comrades Association. After 1949, he held office in the Central People's Government at Peking. Little is known about T'an P'ing-shan's family background or early life except that his father was a longshoreman and that he was born in Kaoming hsien, Kwangtung. He apparently joined the T'ung-meng-hui soon after its founding, and he took part in the unsuccessful revolt against the Manchu authorities at Chennan-kuan in 1907. Not until the period of the May Fourth Movement, after he was 30 years old, did he begin to emerge from obscurity. About 1917 he enrolled at Peking University, where he later became an editor of the influential student journal Hsin-cKao [renaissance]. He and his roommate, Ch'en Kung-po (q.v.), became interested in Marxism and the Russian Revolution, and under the influence of Ch'en Tu-hsiu and Li Ta-chao (qq.v.) they became members of the nascent Chinese Communist organization about 1920.

After graduation in 1920, T'an P'ing-shan and Ch'en Kung-po went to Canton, where they accepted teaching positions (T'an at the Higher Normal College), established a newspaper called the Ch'un-pao [the masses], and organized the Socialist Youth Corps, from which they recruited young intellectuals for membership in a small Communist organization in Canton. In 1921 T'an and Ch'en were associated with Ch'en Tu-hsiu, who had come to Canton at the invitation of Ch'en Chiung-ming (q.v.) to head the Kwangtung provincial education department. During the first years of Communist activity at Canton, T'an P'ing-shan appears to have been overshadowed by Ch'en Kung-po. Though T'an was secretary of the Kwangtung Communist group, it was Ch'en, the head of its organization department, who represented the Kwangtung group at the First Congress of the Chinese Communist party, held at Shanghai in July 1921. In 1922, with Ch'en Kung-po's withdrawal from the party, T'an emerged as the leader of the party's Kwangtung branch. Although he was obliged to leave the province for a time because of the enmity of Ch'en Chiung-ming, he returned to Canton after Ch'en's defeat early in 1923 by Sun Yat-sen's allies. He then became a member of the propaganda committee at Sun Yat-sen's headquarters. In June 1923 he attended the Third National Congress of the Chinese Communist party as a delegate from Kwangtung.

In January 1924 T'an P'ing-shan was a delegate to the First National Congress of the Kuomintang and was one of three Communists, the others being Li Ta-chao and Yü Shu-te, elected to full membership in the Central Executive Committee. He also was named head of the organization department. In July he was appointed to the 12-man Kuomintang Political Council, organized by Sun Yat-sen to curb the right wing of the Kuomintang, and in October he was named to the Revolutionary Committee to"*serve as deputy political commissar, under Liao Chung-k'ai (q.v.), of the Kuomintang military units organized to suppress the revolt of the Canton Merchants Corps at Canton. Thus at the height of the period of Kuomintang-Communist collaboration, T'an apparently enjoyed the confidence of the top Kuomintang leadership. As head of the organization department, he did much to further the Chinese Communist plan to infiltrate the Kuomintang hierarchy. He had his protege Yang P'ao-an appointed secretary of the organization department, and he used his authority to fill many departmental and provincial posts with Communist cadres. By January 1926, when the Second National Congress of the Kuomintang convened at Canton, the Communists had built up a powerful representation within the Kuomintang, led by T'an and Chang Kuo-t'ao (q.v.). At this congress, T'an and six other Communists were elected to the Central Executive Committee. Shortly thereafter, on 22 January, T'an was one of three Communists elected to that committee's Standing Committee. Within a few months, however, his influence waned as the Kuomintang began to split into factions over the question of Communist affiliation. In May 1926 the Central Executive Committee decided that members of the Chinese Communist party should not be allowed to head Kuomintang departments, and T'an was replaced as head of the organization department.

T'an P'ing-shan was among those Chinese Communists who supported the Northern Expedition as a way to promote agrarian revolution in China. In November 1926 he went to Moscow as the Chinese Communist party delegate to the seventh plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern. In addressing the committee he declared that Communists should strengthen the Kuomintang's left wing, fight its right wing, and seek to win the support of the faction led by Chiang Kai-shek. When the committee, at the prompting of Stalin and Bukharin, declared its continued support of the Kuomintang as the leader of the Chinese revolution, T'an cautiously pointed to Chiang Kai-shek's anti-Communist coup of 20 March at Canton and to the tactical difficulties inherent in the Kuomintang-Communist collaboration. Despite his reservations, T'an apparently agreed not to push a policy of agrarian revolution and acceded to the Comintern decision to maintain affiliation with the Kuomintang.

After returning to Canton in February 1927, T'an P'ing-shan found it increasingly difficult to follow the Comintern policy, for friction had increased between Chiang Kai-shek's faction of the Kuomintang and the left wing at Wuhan. With a number of Comintern observers, T'an left Canton for Wuhan, where, at the third plenum of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee (10-17 March) , he was elected to the seven-man presidium of the Political Council and was named minister of agriculture in the new National Government at Wuhan. He also was appointed to the land commission. T'an appears to have followed a cautious policy of conciliating the Kuomintang left wing in agrarian matters. Accordingly, when peasant revolts broke out in Hupeh and Hunan in May, he called for the suppression of peasant "excesses" and on 26 May set out from Wuhan at the head of a committee of five to restrain the peasant forces that had been mobilized by Communist agitators in Hunan for an attack on Changsha. The committee, which included the Russian adviser Borodin, was turned back at the Hunan border by the troops of Ho Chien (q.v.).

T'an's task of reconciling the Comintern line with the policies of the Kuomintang left wing was difficult in the spring of 1927, and by the summer it had become impossible. On 30 June he requested a leave of absence from the Wuhan government on the grounds ofill health. During July and August the Comintern began to call for an increasingly radical policy of agrarian revolt in China and ordered preparations for an armed insurrection of peasants and workers. In response, the Chinese Communist party called a meeting of its leaders late in July, at which T'an was elected to a preparatory committee (including Liu Po-ch'eng, Chou En-lai, Yeh T'ing, and Ho Lung) to plan an uprising at Nanchang. On 1 August, after the fall of Nanchang to the Communist insurgents, T'an became chairman of the short-lived revolutionary committee established there, but with the recapture of Nanchang a few days later by the army of Chang Fa-k'uei (q.v.) T'an was forced to flee with the battered forces of Yeh T'ing and Ho Lung (qq.v.), which retreated southward through Kiangsi and Fukien to eastern Kwangtung, where they succeeded in seizing Swatow on 24 September. Within a week, however, Yeh and Ho had been defeated by the Nationalists. As the remnants of the Communist forces retired to Haifeng, T'an and other Communist leaders made their way separately to Hong Kong. In the meantime, T'an P'ing-shan's standing within the Chinese Communist party had been shaken by successive Communist failures. Following the Kuomintang-Communist split, Stalin and the Comintern had shifted onto the Chinese Communists full responsibility for the failure of Comintern policy in Wuhan and had directed the Chinese Communist party to rectify the errors of its leaders. At a secret emergency conference at Kiukiang on 7 August 1927, Ch'en Tu-hsiu was replaced as general secretary of the Chinese Communist party by Ch'ü Ch'iupai (q.v.), and T'an P'ing-shan was severely censured. After the unsuccessful uprisings at Nanchang, in Hunan, and in Kwangtung during the summer and autumn of 1927, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party met on 9 November to assess these failures. T'an was charged with responsibility for the failure at Nanchang and was expelled from the party for his "Kuomintang Left" illusions.

By that time, however, T'an P'ing-shan had already left the Chinese Communist party. After reaching Hong Kong early in October, he began to form a political group composed mainly of former Communists who, like himself, were dissatisfied with the Comintern's insistence on a policy of armed insurrection and who believed that the goals of Communism could be achieved by less drastic means. The size of T'an's following was increased considerably after the disastrous Canton Commune (see Chang T'ai-lei) of December 1927, when a large number of dissident Communists joined T'an in Hong Kong and went with him to Shanghai in the winter of 1927. At Shanghai, T'an and his followers joined forces with the so-called Third party, a group of former Kuomintang members who opposed the policies of both the Chinese Communist party and the Kuomintang at Nanking and who formed an independent political organization without formally breaking from the Kuomintang. Assuming leadership of the Third party during the prolonged absence of Teng Yen-ta (q.v.) in Europe, T'an P'ing-shan attempted to reorganize it as a political party. Although T'an reportedly sought a rapprochement with the Chinese Communist party, at the party's Sixth National Congress, held in Moscow in 1928, a resolution was adopted which denounced the Third party as a potential "counterrevolutionary tool of the gentry, landlords, and bourgeoisie" that would only "dull the class consciousness of the masses." Moreover, within the Third party itselfj T'an's political leanings and his efforts to reorganize the party were criticized by Teng Yen-ta in Europe and by Teng's followers in Shanghai. Late in 1928 T'an reportedly made another unsuccessful attempt to reorganize the Third party into the Chung-kuo she-hui min-chu tang [Chinese social democratic party] with a view to securing recognition of this party by the Comintern. Discouraged by his repeated failures to unite the Third party under his leadership, he returned to Hong Kong. Little is known about T'an P'ing-shan's activities for several years after 1930. Not until after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in 1937 did he reappear on the national scene. At that time he was readmitted to the Kuomintang, and in 1938 he was invited to serve on the council of advisers of the San Min Chu I Youth Corps at the wartime capital of Chungking. In this capacity he helped organize and direct the activities of the corps while serving in the National Government as a member of the People's Political Council.

During the later years of the war T'an appears to have become restive under the increasing political restrictions imposed by the men who dominated the Kuomintang and the National Government. By 1944 he and Ch'en Ming-shu (q.v.) had become the center of a group ofpolitical dissidents in Chungking known as the San-min-chu-i Comrades Forum. In 1945 T'an and Ch'en joined with Liu Ya-tzu, Yang Chieh, and others in forming the Sanmin-chu-i Comrades Association as a political organization advocating a return to the principles enunciated at the First National Congress of the Kuomintang in 1924. At war's end, T'an left Chungking for Shanghai, where he remained for more than two years. Following the outbreak of full-scale civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists in 1947, T'an's political attitudes moved steadily leftward. In January 1948 he went to Hong Kong, where he joined other political opponents of the National Government in founding the Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee. He left Hong Kong in August 1948 for Communist-held areas in north China, and in January 1949 at Mukden he announced his support of plans to convene under Communist auspices a conference of all political parties in China. He attended the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in September 1949 as a delegate of the San-min-chu-i Comrades Association. With the formal establishment of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949, T'an P'ing-shan was appointed to important posts in the Central People's Government at Peking: he became a member of the Government Council and the Government Administration Council and chairman of the People's Supervisory Committee. He also became an executive board member of the Sino-Soviet Friendship Association. As a delegate from Kwangtung province, he attended the National People's Congress in 1954, and he was appointed to the congress's Standing Committee. In March 1956 he was awarded a vice chairmanship of the Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee. On 2 April 1956 he died at Peking. A public funeral ceremony, attended by several Communist dignitaries, was held in his honor in Peking, at which he was lauded as a "revolutionary patriot." T'an was survived by Sun Sun-ch'uan, whom he had married at Chungking in 1940. Under the name Sun Hsiang-chieh, she had been known as a writer and a professor of Chinese literature at Peking.

Biography in Chinese

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