Biography in English

Chang Kuo-t'ao (1897-), one of the founders of the Chinese Communist movement, was an influential leader of the Chinese Communist party until 1938, when he defected to the National Government after coming into conflict with Mao Tse-tung. In the 1920's, Chang headed the China Trade Union Secretariat. In the early 1930's, he was one of the senior men in the Hupei-Honan-Anhwei soviet.

A native of Chishui, Chang Kuo-t'ao was born into a prosperous landlord family of the Hakka community in P'inghsiang hsien, Kiangsi province. The family had lived in the area since the seventeenth century. Chang's native district was linked more closely with adjacent Hunan province than with the rest of P'inghsiang. As a result, notably during his years at Peking University, Chang was grouped with the Hunanese students rather than with the Kiangsi students.

After initial schooling in his native district, Chang went to Nanchang, the capital of Kiangsi, where he enrolled in a middle school which was then regarded as progressive because of its emphasis on Western learning. At the provincial capital, Chang was exposed to the conflicts between old and new that marked the early republican period in China. Before the revolution of 1911 he worked covertly with a young agent in Sun Yat-sen's underground network, helping to smuggle arms. While a middle school student at Nanchang, he sustained his contacts with the republican revolutionaries at Shanghai and led agitation against Yuan Shih-k'aün 1915.

In the autumn of 1916, Chang Kuo-t'ao went to north China to enroll at the National Peking University, where Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei had just become chancellor. The following year, when Ch'en Tu-hsiu (q.v.) joined the faculty as dean of the college of letters, Chang threw himself into the so-called new culture movement led by Ch'en and other prominent figures. It was at Peking University during the 1917-19 period that Chang Kuo-t'ao's personal friendship with Ch'en Tu-hsiu, who was nearly 20 years his senior, began. Although the two men frequently disagreed on political issues during their later association in the Chinese Communist party, their personal cordiality continued until Ch'en's death. Chang's closest faculty tie at Peking University, however, was that with the university librarian, Li Ta-chao (q.v.), whose disciple he became.

While at Peking University, Chang Kuo-t'ao became a prominent figure in radical student groups. Students met informally to discuss such topics as the future of China and the relevance to China of Western political and social theories. The ideas of Hegel and John Dewey were probed and criticized. Chang founded a Peking student group which was devoted to studying anarchism. He and his associates banded together and rented a house, where they lived and worked communally, doing the cooking and the household chores normally done by servants in China. The group also took upon itself the mission of investigating economically depressed groups in Peking and published the results of these rudimentary social surveys in the press. Chang Kuo-t'ao also played a leading role in the mass patriotic demonstrations of4 May 1919, when he organized and directed student agitators. He was jailed when he defied an official ban on these activities by leading a demonstration across the street from the central police station in Peking. It was the arrest of this squad that touched off general student defiance of the ban in north China. Chang was also prominent in the formation of a north China federation to link the student organizations of that area. In the summer of 1919 he escaped a second arrest by leaving Peking to go to Shanghai, where he attended the meeting to found the All-China Federation of Student Unions. While in Shanghai, he had two interviews with Sun Yatsen, who was then living in semi-retirement in the French concession. Chang was depressed at the apparent ineffectualness of Sun's cause, however, and soon returned to Peking to resume his activities as a radical student leader. During 1919 Chang Kuo-t'ao had begun studying the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. At that time, however, little first-hand information regarding either the Soviet experiment or Marxism was available in China. After the collapse of Allied intervention in Siberia in 1920, however, direct communication between the Soviet Union and China opened up for the first time, and a flow of Communist materials began to reach Peking. Chang had previously read anarchist works by Kropotkin and others. In the spring of 1920 he became a serious student of Marxism under the tutelage of Li Ta-chao. Chang was not, however, a member of any of the Marxist study groups which were being organized in Peking and elsewhere in China. By that time, both Ch'en Tu-hsiu, who was living in Shanghai, and Li Ta-chao had already accepted the major assumptions of Marxism and had decided that an organizational structure was required to implement these doctrines in China. In mid- 1920, faced with the threat of another arrest by the authorities at Peking, Chang Kuo-t'ao again went to Shanghai, where he stayed with Ch'en Tu-hsiu. While he was there, Gregory Voitinsky and Yang Ming-chai, representing the Comintern, were in Shanghai to discuss organizational plans and prospects with Ch'en Tu-hsiu.

As a result of these talks during the summer of 1920, Ch'en established a Communist nucleus at Shanghai. The immediate task was to form nuclei in other key cities. During the latter part of 1920, groups were formed at Peking, Wuhan, Canton, and Changsha to organize labor unions, to establish units of the Socialist Youth League, and to disseminate materials on Marxism among student and labor groups. In September 1920, after a summer of exhaustive discussions with Ch'en Tu-hsiu at Shanghai, Chang Kuot'ao returned to north China to work under Li Ta-chao in establishing the Peking nucleus. Since the basic doctrinal framework guiding activities was Marxism, labor was a key target. During the winter of 1920-21 Li Ta-chao brought together a group of former Peking University students, including Chang Kuo-t'ao and Teng Chung-hsia (q.v.), to carry the message of Marxism to the railroad workers of north China. Early in 1921 these young intellectuals went to Ch'ang-hsin-tien, where they established a club and a night school for the laborers. They also began to publish a small newspaper for the workers to prepare the way for organizational activities. When the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China met at Shanghai in July 1921, Chang Kuo-t'ao attended as one of the two delegates (Liu Jen-ching being the other) representing Peking and, in the absence of Ch'en Tu-hsiu, presided at the small but historic gathering. Ch'en was unanimously elected in absentiato be chairman of the Central Committee. Chang Kuo-t'ao was chosen to head the organization department and was assigned principal responsibility for work in the labor field. A start was made with the establishment at Shanghai in the summer of 1921 of the China Trade Union Secretariat, headed from its inception by Chang Kuo-t'ao. During the early 1920's Chang was one of the leading young intellectuals involved in the Communist effort to create a unified national labor movement as the basis for genuine social revolution in China. In November 1921 he made his first trip to the Soviet Union to attend the Congress of the Toilers of the East, scheduled to be held at Irkutsk. Domestic developments in Russia forced its postponement, however, until January 1922, when it met at Moscow, with a oneday session at Leningrad. While in Russia, Chang Kuo-t'ao was received by Lenin in the Kremlin.

Chang returned to China, and in May 1922 he directed the meeting at Canton, sponsored by the China Trade Union Secretariat, which established the All-China Federation of Labor. Teng Chung-hsia was elected to head the new organization's secretariat, which soon was moved to Peking. Chang Kuo-t'ao himself went to Shanghai to attend the Second National Congress of the Chinese Communist party, held in July 1922. The Comintern, through Maring, its representative in China, informed the Chinese Communist leaders of Moscow's decision to work with Sun Yat-sen and the Kuomintang. Although Chang favored the establishment of some sort of united front with the Kuomintang, he opposed the policy, voiced by Maring, that members of the Chinese Communist party should join the Kuomintang and work on its behalf. Chang contended that such a procedure would involve the risk that the Chinese Communists would lose their party identity and sense of political purpose. He also argued that the Kuomintang leaders would resent any indication that the Communists were attempting to become Kuomintang leaders. After Maring invoked the authority of the Comintern, the Chinese Communist leaders reluctantly adopted the Comintern decision.

During 1922 and 1923, Chang Kuo-t'ao continued to devote himself to trade union work. Writing in December 1922 in Hsiang-tao [guide weekly], then the Chinese Communist party journal, he deprecated the political capacities of the Chinese peasant. In February 1923, working with Teng Chung-hsia, Chang made plans for the organization of a general labor union of the workers on the Peking-Hankow Railroad and called a strike to mark the opening of the union office. That step attracted the active opposition of Wu P'ei-fu (q.v.), who was then heavily dependent on the rail line for revenue and for troop transport. The resulting suppression, in which some 80 workers and Communist organizers were killed by Wu P'eifu's troops, was called the 7 February Incident by the Communists. After the failure of the attempt to organize the railroad workers, Chang visited Moscow briefly to discuss the problems and potentialities of the Chinese labor movement. At the Third National Congress of the Chinese Communist party, held at Canton in June 1923, Chang continued to resist the Comintern policy of creating a Communist bloc within the Kuomintang. After being defeated on that issue, he fought to keep the labor unions from control by either the Kuomintang or the Communist party.

In January 1924, when the First National Congress of the Kuomintang met at Canton, Chang, despite his earlier objections, was elected an alternate member of its Central Executive Committee. Although he assumed that post, he held no official position in the Nationalist government at Canton. His election to the highest organ of the Kuomintang, however, automatically made him a marked man in north China, where the organization of the Kuomintang, like that of the Chinese Communist party, was forced to operate underground. Chang was imprisoned by the government authorities at Peking, but regained his freedom in October 1924, when Feng Yu-hsiang (q.v.) staged his coup and occupied the capital. Together with Teng Chung-hsia, Chang Kuot'ao was a leading figure in the establishment in October 1924 of the Chung-kuo kung-jen [China worker]. Chang was a principal editor and wrote vigorous political analyses under his alternate name, Chang T'e-li.

Chang was in Peking when Sun Yat-sen died there in March 1925. He then left for Shanghai, where he played an active role in the antiimperialist agitation that followed the May Thirtieth Incident of 1925, when police in the International Settlement fired on Chinese. Chang then organized and directed the trade unions of Shanghai. After the initial success of the Northern Expedition in mid- 1926, the left- Kuomintang leaders at Canton moved both the party headquarters and the newly formed National Government to Wuhan in central China. Chang Kuo-t'ao also moved to Wuhan, where he attempted to extend the influence of the Communist party in the affairs of the regime there. Since the central organs of the Communist party operating underground in Shanghai confronted growing difficulties at that time, many Communist leaders moved to Wuhan, where the party held its Fifth National Congress during late April and early May of 1927. Chang urged a formal end to the alliance with the Kuomintang. The Comintern, however, insisted on the maintenance of the union, and Ch'en Tu-hsiu, then still general secretary of the Chinese Communist party, carried the Fifth Congress on behalf of that policy, despite his strong personal reservations. At the Fifth Congress, the Chinese Communist party created the Political Bureau, and Chang Kuo-t'ao was elected to membership on that body. The Kuomintang-Communist coalition was doomed: the Nanking faction of the Kuomintang had already carried out a violent purge of the Communists in Shanghai, Canton, and other cities under its control, and the Wuhan authorities were revealing clear signs of similar intentions. The Comintern, however, clung stubbornly to its position that the alliance must be sustained. Moscow refused to endorse the plan of the Communist leaders at Nanchang in Kiangsi province to stage a coup with Nationalist military units led by Yeh T'ing and Ho Lung (qq.v.). Chang Kuo-t'ao, acting on orders from the Communist leaders at Wuhan, reluctantly went to Nanchang to halt the uprising. He discovered that plans for the insurrection had gone too far to be halted. As the ranking Chinese Communist leader present, he thus took over the direction of the 1 August 1927 uprising at Nanchang, since observed by the Chinese Communists as the founding of the Red Army.

The Communists held the city for only three days. Unable to win over Chang Fa-k'uei to their support or to defeat his forces, the insurgents left the city on 3 August and marched southward with the aim of taking Canton. They reached Swatow and turned westward toward Canton, but then were completely routed by Nationalist forces attacking from all sides. Chang Kuo-t'ao, Chou En-lai, and other Communist leaders fled to Hong Kong and then returned covertly to Shanghai.

Early in 1928, on his return to active duty, Chang Kuo-t'ao again visited Moscow, where the Sixth National Congress of the Chinese Communist party was convened that summer. A review of past failures ensued, and charges and counter-charges were exchanged. Although Chang Kuo-t'ao was severely criticized for his so-called left opportunism, he was reelected to the Central Committee and named a representative of the Chinese Communist party to the Comintern. Chang remained in the Soviet Union for three years. During that period, Li Li-san was in effective control of the central apparatus of the Communist party in China. His revolutionary strategy, generally called the Li Li-san line, also failed. Early in 1931, Chang Kuo-t'ao was recalled to China in an attempt to restore unity to the top command. By that time, after Li Li-san's political downfall and departure for Moscow, the youthful Ch'en Shao-yü (q.v.) had become general secretary, and the central apparatus was finding it increasingly difficult to operate underground in Shanghai. Soon its members had to flee Shanghai and seek shelter in the Communist rural base in Kiangsi, which had been created by Mao Tse-tung and Chu Teh.

Another Communist group, which had its beginnings in northern Hupeh in 1929, had developed a significant military force and was occupying the area on the borders of the three provinces of Hupeh, Honan, and Anhwei. Chang Kuo-t'ao was sent to this area, generally known as the O-yu-wan soviet, to direct the establishment of a border region administration and to serve as political commissar to the Fourth Front Army, commanded by Hsu Hsiang-ch'ien. In November 1931 the first All-China Congress of Soviets met at Juichin in Kiangsi. Its delegates elected Mao Tse-tung chairman of the central soviet government, with Hsiang Ying and Chang Kuo-t'ao, the two vice chairmen. Chang Kuo-t'ao was chosen in absentia and, despite his nominally senior post in the central soviet, he remained at the Hupeh-Honan- Anhwei base.

As Communist strength in the rural areas grew, the Kuomintang, having established a new National Government at Nanking in 1928, regarded that development with growing concern. Beginning in the winter of 1930, Chiang Kai-shek conducted several campaigns in an attempt to annihilate the Communists. In June 1932 he called a conference to deal with the suppression of the Communists in the five provinces of Honan, Anhwei, Hupeh, Hunan, and Kiangsi. Chiang Kai-shek established his headquarters at Hankow to direct military operations, and a large force was sent against the O-yu-wan area. Confronted with greatly superior force, Chang Kuo-t'ao, the senior political leader in the area, had to order evacuation.

On 25 November 1932, Chang and Hsu Hsiang-ch'ien led the Fourth Front Army on a westward retreat from the Hupeh-Honan-Anhwei border area into northern Szechwan. There, early in 1933, they established the Szechwan- Shensi border area, with Chang Kuo-t'ao as chairman and Hsu Hsiang-ch'ien as senior military commander. Isolated from their comrades in the central soviet area in distant Kiangsi, this group carried on independently in an attempt to rehabilitate their forces and to expand Communist influence and control. For a period, their operations were successful because the local generals of Szechwan were then committed to their own internecine struggles. Late in 1934, however, the Szechwan provincial forces moved together to bring renewed pressure on the Szechwan-Shensi base. By February 1935, the Communists there had been forced to retreat again. They crossed the Chialing river and moved along the Szechwan-Sikang border in the spring of 1935 to establish a new base. This branch of the Chinese Communist forces was then headed by the so-called northwest revolutionary military council, with Chang Kuo-t'ao as chairman. Hsu Hsiang-ch'ien was its top military commander, with Ch'en Ch'ang-hao as his political commissar. Their strategy was to extend Communist control throughout the areas of China's northwest provinces which were inhabited by ethnic minorities.

In the meantime, the ragged Communist forces from the former central soviet base in Kiangsi had marched and fought their way to the Szechwan-Sikang border. In June 1935 these Long March forces pushed forward to effect a rendezvous with Chang Kuo-t'ao's forces near Mou-kung. Although the Political Bureau, meeting at Tsunyi, Kweichow, in January 1935, had placed Mao Tse-tung in charge of a new central leadership of the Chinese Communist party, Chang Kuo-t'ao was still a major figure. The two men, who had not met since the Fifth Congress at Wuhan in 1927, came into open conflict in the summer of 1935. The basic issues were control of the Communist military forces and delineation of future political strategy. Chang Kuo-t'ao had for some time controlled an autonomous area and a separate base of military power. He was clearly an obstacle to Mao Tse-tung's domination of the Chinese Communist party. During the summer of 1935, both Chang Kuo-t'ao and Mao Tsetung gained recognition from the Comintern, which elected them to membership on its Executive Committee.

Related to the central issue of political authority were the practical problems of logistics and plans. Chang Kuo-t'ao proposed moving west to establish a new base in Sikang. Mao proposed moving north to Shensi province, where a Communist base already existed. Buttressed by his victory a few months earlier at the Tsunyi meeting of the Political Bureau, Mao Tse-tung apparently carried the day. As a result, Mao and his associates of the First Front Army continued toward Shensi, where they arrived in October 1935.

Chang Kuo-t'ao, with the acquiescence of Chu Teh and Liu Po-ch'eng, drove into Sikang. In October 1935 they established a new regime at K'ang-ting, designed to mobilize the non-Chinese minorities of the area. Early in 1936, the Szechwan armies and National Government troops led by Hsueh Yueh moved westward from Chengtu, launched sharp attacks on this base, and dislodged the Communists. In March, Chang and the Fourth Front Army had to flee to Kantzu, but the country there was so barren that the Communists found it difficult to feed their troops. Li Hsien-nien (q.v.), then political commissar of the Thirtieth Army, managed to make local arrangements with the Tibetans which, to some extent, solved the dire food problem. In June 1936 these Communist forces were joined by the Second Front Army under Ho Lung, which had retreated separately from the western Hunan-Hupeh base. The combined Communist forces then abandoned Sikang and marched northeast, arriving in southern Kansu in August and in Shensi in October.

Chang Kuo-t'ao resolved to march on, perhaps to prove the practicality of his plan for establishing a soviet in the far northwest and of making direct contact with the Soviet Union. Chang crossed the Yellow River at Chingyuan and ordered his forces to move up the Kansu corridor toward Sinkiang. He returned to Yenan, and his forces in Kansu encountered heavy resistance from the Muslim cavalry troops of Ma Pu-fang (q.v.) . The Communists suffered heavy losses and were forced to retreat. Some of the survivors did not return to join the main body of the Communist forces in northern Shensi until the spring of 1937.

Chang Kuo-t'ao had repudiated Mao Tsetung's political authority during the 1935-36 period by creating his own center of operations. Afterwards, his military losses in the northwest undermined his prestige and his power position. Although Chang remained an active member of the political bureau in Shensi, his policies were strongly criticized by Mao's supporters on such occasions as the enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau, the so-called Lo-ch'uan conference, in August 1937. After the outbreak of war with Japan, the National Government declared a general amnesty under which Ch'en Tu-hsiu and many lesser Communist figures who had been imprisoned on political charges were released. In April 1938, Chang Kuo-t'ao left Yenan to represent the Communists in the traditional ceremony held at Sian to offer sacrifices to the legendary Yellow Emperor of the Chinese people. Chang took the opportunity to go directly to Hankow. There he requested the protection of the National Government and issued a public statement announcing that he had severed connections with the Chinese Communist party. He later moved to Chungking, where he remained for the duration of the war. He was nominated to the Third and Fourth People's Political councils but took no active role in them. Toward the end of the war, Chang Kuo-t'ao was appointed to membership on the provisional provincial council of his native Kiangsi province. After the war, he served in 1946 as the director of the Kiangsi regional office of the Chinese National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

At the time of Mao Tse-tung's movement to national power on the mainland of China in 1949, Chang Kuo-t'ao moved to the British colony of Hong Kong; he lived simply and quietly. He knew many of the senior party and government figures at Peking. For example, Liu Shao-ch'i (q.v.), who in 1959 became Chairman of the People's Republic of China, began his political career as a Communist labor organizer under Chang Kuo-t'ao when Chang headed the China Trade Union Secretariat at Shanghai in the early 1920's.

Biography in Chinese

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