Chu Ch'i-hua (28 December 1907-1945), a professional Communist agitator from 1921 to 1929, left the Chinese Communist party and began to write in the field of modern Chinese social history. He served (1938-41) under Hu Tsung-nan at the Sian training center for political workers. In 1941 he was arrested and imprisoned as a Communist spy; he was executed in 1945.
Although Chu Ch'i-hua's ancestral home was Haining, Chekiang, his family probably had lived at Shanghai for some time before his birth. Little is known of his early years except that the family was poverty stricken. In 1914, at the age of 12 sui, he became an apprentice in a printing shop, learned to set type, and taught himself to read. About 1920 he came in contact with the new Communist group in Shanghai. When the Chinese Communist party was formally established in 1921, Chu was one of the first group of workers to join the party.
Chu soon became a liaison worker in the party, then operating underground in Shanghai. Meanwhile, he had made notable progress in educating himself and had become proficient in writing propaganda and in delivering political speeches. He soon left his job as a printer to become a professional Communist agitator. He was arrested three times in the early 1920's. During the first period of collaboration between the Chinese Communists and the Kuomintang, Chu Ch'i-hua, under orders from his party, joined the Kuomintang and went to Canton. He was assigned to work in the political department of the Whampoa Military Academy, first as a section member with the rank of captain, then as a section chief with the rank of major. One of his colleagues at that time was Ch'en Li-fu (q.v.), then a secretary with the rank of major.
When the Kuomintang launched the Northern Expedition in the summer of 1926, Chu Ch'ihua accompanied the 12th Division (later and better known as the Fourth Army), commanded by Chang Fa-k'uei (q.v.), on the march northward. Chu was attached to the political department of division headquarters, and he participated in the battles of Ting-ssu-ch'iao and Ho-sheng-ch'iao in Hupeh, which made Chang Fa-k'uei famous. After the capture of Wuhan, the Chinese Communist party transferred Chu to work in its central apparatus there. He remained in Wuhan for several months. In the meantime, the Kuomintang government, or at least the left-Kuomintang faction of the government, had moved to Wuhan. Chang Fa-k'uei's armies, which then included his own Fourth Army, the Eleventh Army under Ch'en Ming-shu (q.v.), and the Twentieth Army under the radical Ho Lung (q.v.), formed the first column on the continued march northward toward Honan. Chang Fa-k'uei's chief political officer at the time was Kao Yü-han, who had been a Communist comrade of Chu Ch'i-hua since 1921. Chu directed political workers on the front lines and in the newly occupied areas. He later stated that this period was the most rewarding of his life. After the capture of Kaifeng, Chang Fa-k'uei moved his army back to Wuhan.
In the summer of 1927 the left-Kuomintang leaders, headed by Wang Ching-wei (q.v.), broke with the Communists. To forestall action by the Wuhan government to remove Communists from the army, the Communists moved their officers and men to Nanchang. On 1 August 1927 they staged an insurrection, led by the men under Ho Lung (q.v.) and Yeh T'ing. Although most Chinese Communist political workers left Wuhan with the troops, Chu Ch'ihua remained behind for awhile because of his position in the Central Committee of the party. He was present at the 7 August meeting which established the authority ofCh'ü Ch'iu-pai (q.v.) and which led directly to the series of insurrections launched by the Communists in various parts of China. After the conference ended, Chu went south to join the forces that Ho Lung and others, after the defeat at Nanchang, were leading toward Kwangtung. The main force of the Communists was defeated in the Swatow area, and the leaders, including Chang Kuo-t'ao and Chou En-lai (qq.v.), fled to Hong Kong and then went to Shanghai.
Chu Ch'i-hua escaped to Hong Kong, but he did not proceed to Shanghai immediately. By that time the Communists had made plans for an insurrection to be staged at Canton in December 1927, and Chu was among those ordered to participate in it. The principal leaders of the Canton Commune were Chang T'ai-lei (q.v.), the secretary of the Kwangtung provincial committee of the Chinese Communist party; Yeh Chien-ying (q.v.), and Yeh T'ing. After the Communists were defeated at Canton, Chu went to Shanghai. He then participated in a few unsuccessful insurrections in Chekiang. In 1 928 he was sent to the Soviet Union to attend the Sixth National Congress of the Chinese Communist party. However, for reasons that -are unclear, he went only as far as Irkutsk and then returned to Shanghai. In 1929, when the Communists began to establish rural base areas, Chu Ch'i-hua was named commander of the Fourteenth Red Army, with Nan-t'ung, Kiangsu, as his base. When he discovered that his army was composed of 200 men armed with swords and spears, he returned to Shanghai and severed his connections with the Chinese Communist party.
Chu turned his attention to the serious study of Chinese society. He shared a small room with Yeh Ch'ing (Jen Cho-hsuan), and T'ao Hsisheng (qq.v.), and he came to know Kuo Mo-jo, Liu Ya-tzu, Lu Hsün, Mao Tun, and Chou Fo-hsi. Chu Ch'i-hua specialized in modern Chinese history and produced three books, all published under the name Chu Hsin-fan. These were Chung-kuo tzu-pen chu-i te fa-chan [development of capitalism in China], Chung-kuo nungts'un ching-chi kuan-hsi chi ch'i Ve-chih [China's rural economy and its special characteristics], and Chung-kuo ko-ming yü Chung-kuo she-hui ko chieh-chi [the Chinese revolution and the classes in Chinese society]. All were published in 1930. Late in 1930 the Kuomintang arrested and executed many Communists and men suspected of being Communists. Chu was arrested and, although his life was spared through the intervention of Shao Li-tzu (q.v.) and others, he was kept in prison for some time. While imprisoned he wrote Memoirs of the Great Revolution of 1925 to 1927, which attacked the policies and leaders of the Chinese Communist party. He was released in 1931. He then was invited to join the Kuomintang, but he declined to do so. He was placed under the control of the security apparatus of the Kuomintang. After his release from prison, Chu married a student from Futan University who had been introduced to him by Shao Li-tzu. He continued to write and produced another book, Chung-kuo chin-tai she-hui shih chieh-p'ou [analysis of the history of modern Chinese society]. He also participated in the discussions of Chinese social history published in the magazine Tu-shu [study] and became a major contributor to the She-hui hsin-wen [social news], a newspaper published every three days by Ting Mo-ts'un for the so-called CC faction (see Ch'en Kuo-fu). Chu, using a variety of pen names, wrote articles for the She-hui hsin-wen which purported to analyze Chinese politics and to report the machinations of prominent political and military men, with the notable exception of Chiang Kai-shek. Chu reportedly admitted that much of his information was unreliable.
In 1934 Chu visited rural areas north of the Yangtze to study social conditions in the countryside. He showed keen interest in the rural reconstruction movement led by Liang Shuming (q.v.) and others. He did not share the views of the reformers, but he thought that their rural surveys were useful.
After the outbreak of war between China and Japan in 1937, the small Trotskyist group in Shanghai called a meeting to discuss the crisis. Chu Ch'i-hua attended the meeting, but he did not agree with the Trotskyist appraisal of the situation. He went to Sian at the end of 1937 and became a political instructor in the Chinese army. Chu and his colleague Yeh Ch'ing frequently contributed articles to the biweekly magazine K'ang-chan yü wen-hua [resistance and culture], which was supported by the Nationalist general Chiang Ting-wen. One of the pen names used by Chu was Liu Ning (the second character was taken from the Chinese rendering of Lenin). The Chinese Communists apparently failed to identify him; their list of China's "ten major Trotskyists" included both Chu Ch'i-hua and Liu Ning.
In 1938 the Youth Training Corps commanded by Chiang Ting-wen at Sian was taken over by Hu Tsung-nan (q.v.) and was reorganized as a training center for political workers. Chu Ch'i-hua became a political instructor. In 1939, after a disagreement with the dean of the training center, Chu was imprisoned for three weeks on charges of being a Communist spy. Hu Tsung-nan transferred him to a training corps at Lanchow. Later, he was sent back to Sian and was given the title of senior instructor. However, he was given no teaching responsibilities. Hu Tsung-nan reportedly respected Chu's energy and ability, but Hu's followers consistently spoke ill of Chu. In the spring of 1941 Chu was arrested and imprisoned on charges of being a Communist spy.
During the next four years, Chu was treated well and was permitted to read and write. It has been estimated that during his imprisonment Chu read more than 1,000 books and wrote nearly 1,000,000 words. Most of his articles were published pseudonymously in Chinese magazines. Two of his best-known works of this period were issued at Chungking as pamphlets : Hung-se wu-t'ai [the red stage] and Hsi-pei shanchi [random notes on the northwest]. Chu reportedly wrote two other important works. The manuscript of one, an analysis of the Communist technique of political struggle, was confiscated by the authorities. The fate of the other, an autobiography entitled Ta-shih-tai te ying-tzu [the shadow of a great age], is unknown. Chu Ch'i-hua was executed on the order of Hu Tsung-nan in the autumn of 1945. After the war ended, Chu's wife brought her three children to Sian to seek a reunion with her husband, from whom she had been separated for eight years. The authorities told her that Chu had been sent to Manchuria. She remained in Sian for several months, but finally returned with the children to Shanghai in despair.