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Wang Ching-wei

On 30 March 1940, Japan established its own government in conquered Nanking, the former capital of Nationalist China. The new Chinese government was led by former Chinese Kuomintang Vice Chairman Wang Ching-wei (Wang Jingwei / Wong Ching-wai), a defector from the Nationalist cause and now a Japanese puppet. Since then, the war against Japan turned into a “Three Kingdoms” period – Wang Jingwei's National Government in Nanjing, Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government in Chongqing, and Mao Zedong in the Ningxia Border Region. Wang Ching-wei, the brilliant Kuomintang leader who in his youth plotted to assassinate the Manchu emperor and then became premier of China, became the chief puppet of the Japanese and ended up his days behind guarded walls, a prisoner of his greed and his fear.

Wong Ching-wai was a famous revolutionary, more famous than Chiang Kai Shek. Wong Ching-wai actually was a great hero. He was the most famous revolutionary at that time. He was famous because he had tried to assassinate the last Chinese emperor. Not many people know about him now. If they do, they think of him as a traitor but he helped China retain some form of independence. He could save the Chinese from being controlled directly by the Japanese. Life would have been much harsher under direct Japanese rule. Because of his position he could demand what he wanted and the Japanese had to give it to him to give him face and to make people understand that he had real authority. Of course, secretly, the Japanese had the real authority. But if China had been under the direct control of the Japanese, life wouldn’t have been so busy and prosperous.

In the early 1920s, among party members, Liao Chung-k'ai, Hu Han-min, and Wang Ching-wei were perhaps the staunchest advocates of Sun's program for national regeneration. They had been Sun's close associates for at least seventeen years, dating from the founding of the T'ung-meng-huiin 1905. In the early 1920s they formed the core of the Elders Faction (yuan-lao p'ai) of the Kuomintang, and they supported Sun's plan for the military reunification of China, as well as his alliance with Soviet Russia.

Sun Zhongshan made friends with the leaders of the Black Dragon Society, an expansionist organization that supported the Japanese invasion of China and financed Sun’s revolution around the same time. While seeking Russian support in the early twenties, Sun ignored his northern rivals’ request that Russian troops withdraw from outer Mongolia, part of China under Manchu rule. Sun even asked the United States around the same time, though unsuccessfully, to send its troops and occupy China for a few years in order to save China “from ultimate ruin.” All these facts regarding the “other side” of Sun’s story have remained a taboo in Chinese “official” or “nationalist history.” But Wang Jingwei knew it. He was also familiar with the Chinese tradition or history of making accommodations with foreign or “barbarian” invaders.

Over the years the Kuomintang Left has continuously attracted interest from scholarly communities in the west and in China. Chinese historianshave applied the term KMT Left to the Wang Jingwei group in 1924-1927 but not in 1927-1931. Instead they have used the term Gaizu pai (The Reorganization clique) in the latter period. Historians in the west and in japan have no such restrictions and they have used KMT Left to depict the Wang group in the two different periods. In the period 1924-1927. when the KMT was m alliance with the CCP against the Beijing militarist government, the left was defined those who supported anti-imperialism. anti-warlordism and the alliance with the Soviet Union and the CCP. Those party members who supported the policy of admitting thecommunists into the KMT, a policy which was initiated by Sun Yat-sen, were labeled the Left. Wang Jingwei was the leader of this leftist group.

After Sun's death the Kuomintang was run by a triumvirate composed of Chiang Kai-Shek, Liao Zhongkai and Wang Jingwei, but in August 1925 Liao (father of Liao Chengzhi and grandfather to Liao Hui, both prominent PRC politicians), was assassinated by a Nationalist assassin. Chiang Kai-shek used this assassination to declare martial law and consolidate right wing control of the Nationalists. On 18 March 1926, Chiang created a further incident to usurp power over the communists. Wang Jingwei, considered too sympathetic to the communists, was persuaded to leave on a “study tour” in Europe.

Wang Ching-wei and Chiang Kai-shek often changed their political attitude in the Great Revolution in China. The young CPC failed to take appropriate measures in time in accordance with this situation and lost the restriction on them. This failure in tactics resulted from internal and external factors. The Kuomintang turned against the Communist Party, and staged counter-revolutionary coups in 1927 by Chiang Kai-shek in Shanghai and Nanking and by Wang Ching-wei in Wuhan. Chiang Kai-shek, Wang Ching-wei and Chen Tu-hsiu, teachers by negative example, made the Communists understand that "without armed struggle neither the proletariat, nor the people, nor the Communist Party would have any standing at all in China and that it would be impossible for the revolution to triumph," and they made the Communists understand this Marxist-Leninist truth: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." To save the revolution, the Nanchang Uprising was staged on August 1, 1927.

The opposition movement against the Nanjing government during 1928-1931 was engineered by the Reorganization clique. The Wang Jingwei group organized the Reorganization Comrades Association which later engineered a vast scale opposition movement with also the participation of regional militarists against the Nanjing government. In their denunciation of this opposition movement, Chiang Kai-shek and his high party officials spoke of the Wang group as the Reorganization clique rather than the KMT Left. Chiang, in silencing the leftists' advocacy of autonomous mass organizations, land reform, democratic procedures within the Kuomintang, and Kuomintang control of the government and army, rejected measures that might possibly have created a sound basis for a popular and efficient movement.

During the fall of 1930 the Central Government of China under Chiang-Kai-Shek consolidated its power over the greater part of China and effected an understanding with Chang-Hsueh-Liang, who then assumed control of all the territory north of the Yellow River. Banditry had assumed large propositions. In May, 1931, a new National Government of China was set up in Canton under the leadership of Wang Ching-wei and Eugene Chen. The strength of this faction was not immediately demonstrated; however, it appeared that China was due of a considerable period of unrest.

On September 18, 1931, Japanese troops launched the long-premeditated war of aggression against China in Shenyang, with the aim of annexing the country. The Leftist leadership did not completely jettison their ideas when they ended the opposition movement and came to ally with Chiang Kai-shek in 1932. It is noteworthy that key elements of the Leftist program were still part and parcel of their political mind and were advocaled in their political journals before the Sino-Japanese War. Their Leftist program was a real alternative in the building of a modem China and not merely a political gimmick manufactured by the Wang Jingwei group. The Leftist ideas of building a non-capitalist and democratic China with the state enterprise as the dominant sector in the Chinese economy and the rural land to be distributed to the land tillers represented some of the enduring strains of thought among the Chinese on the modernization of China in the 20th century.

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Page last modified: 20-11-2011 19:12:39 ZULU