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Founding member of Chinese Communist Party: Hakka Zhang Guotao
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- Subject: Founding member of Chinese Communist Party: Hakka Zhang Guotao
- From: "Dixie" <Dixie@singnet.com.sg>
- Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 23:58:02 +0800
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Pinyin ZHANG GUOTAO (b. 1897, Chi-shui, Kiangsi Province, China--d. Dec. 3,
1979, near Toronto, Can.), founding member and leader of the Chinese
Communist Party in the late 1920s and 1930s. After briefly contesting the
leadership of the party with Mao Zedong in 1935 (the last time Mao's
leadership was contested), Chang fell from power and in 1938 defected to
the Chinese Nationalists.
Chang gained prominence as a student leader of the antigovernment May
Fourth Movement, the political and cultural upheaval that began with a
series of demonstrations on May 4, 1919. Originally an anarchist, he was
influenced by Marxism and took part in the meeting in July 1921 that marked
the official founding of the Chinese Communist Party. He then directed many
of the initial Communist attempts to organize the small Chinese urban
proletariat, leading the Peking-Hankow Railroad strike that was crushed by
the warlord Wu P'ei-fu on Feb. 7, 1923.
After the formation of the first alliance between the Nationalist Party
(Kuomintang) of the Nationalist leader Sun Yat-sen and the Chinese
Communist Party, Chang became an official of the Kuomintang. When this
alliance collapsed, he participated in the Aug. 1, 1927, Communist-led
uprising at Nan-ch'ang, considered the official founding of the Chinese Red
Army. Chang then went to the Soviet Union, where he remained until 1931,
when he was dispatched to assume control of a small Communist enclave in
the north central Chinese province of Hupeh.
Under pressure from Nationalist troops, Chang shifted his base several
times, and finally in June 1935 he rendezvoused with the Communist forces
of Mao Zedong, which were on their Long March to northwest China. A short
time before, Mao had been elected head of the Chinese Communist Party, of
which Chang was a senior member, as well as being head of an independent
Communist enclave. Hence Chang represented a challenge to Mao's power.
Their quarrel over where to establish the new Communist base split the
party; the majority followed Mao into Shensi province, and another faction
went with Chang into extreme southwestern China, almost on the Tibetan
border. As Mao had predicted, Chang was unable to find support in that
desolate region, and he was eventually forced to rejoin Mao in Shensi in
the spring of 1937.
Although Chang remained an active member of the party's ruling Political
Bureau, his influence slipped greatly. In 1938 he took advantage of an
appointment as a delegate to a conference between the Communists and the
Nationalists to defect to the latter. He lived in the Nationalist capital
at Chungking throughout World War II but was given little political power.
After Mao's victory in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, Chang moved to the
British colony of Hong Kong. He emigrated to Canada in 1968.