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A History of China by Wolfram Eberhard

Chiang Kai shek already played a prominent part


The

People's Party of the south and its governments, at that time fairly radical in politics, were disliked by the foreign powers; only Japan supported them for a time, owing to the anti-British feeling of the South Chinese and in order to further her purpose of maintaining disunion in China. The first serious collision with the outer world came on May 30th, 1925, when British soldiers shot at a crowd demonstrating in Shanghai. This produced a widespread boycott of British goods in Canton and in British Hong Kong, inflicting a great loss on British trade with China and bringing considerable advantages in consequence to Japanese trade and shipping: from the time of this boycott began the Japanese grip on Chinese coastwise shipping.

The second party congress was held in Canton in 1926. Chiang Kai-shek already played a prominent part. The People's Party, under Chiang Kai-shek and with the support of the communists, began the great campaign against the north. At first it had good success: the various provincial governors and generals and the Peking government were played off against each other, and in a short time one leader after another was defeated. The Yangtze was reached, and in 1926 the southern government moved to Hankow. All over the southern provinces there now came a genuine rising of the masses of the people, mainly the result of communist propaganda and of the government's promise to give land to the peasants, to set limits to the big estates,

and to bring order into the taxation. In spite of its communist element, at the beginning of 1927 the southern government was essentially one of the middle class and the peasantry, with a socialistic tendency.

3 _Second period of the Republic: Nationalist China_

With the continued success of the northern campaign, and with Chiang Kai-shek's southern army at the gates of Shanghai (March 21st, 1927), a decision had to be taken. Should the left wing be allowed to gain the upper hand, and the great capitalists of Shanghai be expropriated as it was proposed to expropriate the gentry? Or should the right wing prevail, an alliance be concluded with the capitalists, and limits be set to the expropriation of landed estates? Chiang Kai-shek, through his marriage with Sun Yat-sen's wife's sister, had become allied with one of the greatest banking families. In the days of the siege of Shanghai Chiang, together with his closest colleagues (with the exception of Hu Han-min and Wang Chying-wei, a leader who will be mentioned later), decided on the second alternative. Shanghai came into his hands without a struggle, and the capital of the Shanghai financiers, and soon foreign capital as well, was placed at his disposal, so that he was able to pay his troops and finance his administration. At the same time the Russian advisers were dismissed or executed.

The decision arrived at by Chiang Kai-shek and his friends did not remain unopposed, and he parted from the "left group" (1927) which formed a rival government in Hankow, while Chiang Kai-shek made Nanking the seat of his government (April 1927). In that year Chiang not only concluded peace with the financiers and industrialists, but also a sort of "armistice" with the landowning gentry. "Land reform" still stood on the party program, but nothing was done, and in this way the confidence and co-operation of large sections of the gentry was secured. The choice of Nanking as the new capital pleased both the industrialists and the agrarians: the great bulk of China's young industries lay in the Yangtze region, and that region was still the principal one for agricultural produce; the landowners of the region were also in a better position with the great market of the capital in their neighbourhood.


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