Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 May 2021
Chapter 2 focuses on the critical role played by Chinese Comintern delegate Wang Ming in the birth of the second Communist–Nationalist “United Front” of 1937 following the outbreak of the second Sino-Japanese War. It begins with a summary of the first months of the war, with the capture of Peking and Shanghai, and soon the Nationalist capital of Nanjing. This is followed by a summary of the situation for socialism in Germany, Spain, and the Soviet Union, providing context for Soviet support of the Chinese in their war against Japan. Wang’s meeting with Mao Zedong in the Communist Party (CCP) wartime base of Yan’an is discussed, with an overview of his arguments for uniting with KMT forces under Chiang Kai-shek, before turning to a discussion of Wang’s meeting with the Nationalist leader in Wuhan. Zhou Enlai’s appointment to vice director of the Political Department is discussed as a way of pulling Communists into Chiang’s government without recognizing them as equals. In contrast, evidence of Wang’s relative success in developing a political platform around which all anti-Japanese groups could unite in Wuhan is presented. Finally, the eventual abandonment of Wuhan under the orders of Chiang is discussed, and the conflict between Mao and Wang is explored in light of later purges.