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Wuhan - History

With a 1,500-year history, Wuhan has been a hotbed of sedition. In Chinese history, Wuhan has been of great political and military importance. The three cities that make up Wuhan had separate histories until recently. Wuchang was founded in the 1st century AD and was established as a regional capital under the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). Hankou flourished since the Song dynasty (960-1279) as one of China's leading commercial centers, opening to foreign trade as a treaty port in 1861 and becoming the center of the booming tea trade. The British, Russian, French, German and Japanese all had Foreign Concessions here, and foreign nations enjoyed an imported lifestyle similar to that of foreigners in Shanghai. However, during the 1911 revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty, Hankou was burned to the ground. In 1937-38 the Kuomintang set up their capital in Hankou, before being pushed out by the Japanese in a bloody battle.

At the initiative of a Qing dynasty official, the village of Hanyang became one of the first Chinese-developed factory towns in the 1890s. After suffering from the depression of the 1930s and the Japanese occupation of 1938-45, heavy industry declined and light industry has since prevailed in Hanyang. In 1911, the Republican Revolution broke out in the barracks at Wuchang, which led to the toppling of the last emperor of China. While helping slowly build the Communist movement in China, Mao Zedong ran a Peasant Movement Institute in Wuchang in the late 1920s.

China has not always been ruled as an empire. During more than five hundred years the Kingdom of Wu was in this central basin. The petty principalities into which China was divided during the Contending States period were constantly quarelling with each other and war seems to have been almost their normal condition. The ancient kingdom of Wu, mentioned in the Ch'un ts'iu period, occupied present Kiang su and a part of An hui and Che kiang. The capital was near the present Su chou fu, which is still called Wuhien. This district has heen so named since the Earlier Han.

Owing principally to the good judgement of Wu Sz-sii, to whom Hoh Lii largely committed the affairs of his kingdom, the country was soon brought to a great state of strength and prosperity, so that Hoh Lii asserted his independence and threw off even the semblance of allegiance to the House of Cheu which his predecessors had acknowledged as due to the central or Proper Government. He succeeded in subjugating Ts'i and Yueh, capturing the king of the latter, who together with his principal minister were held in close captivity for many years, and made to preform services to the king of Wu of the most degrading character. The cause of the quarrel between Wu and Yueh is not stated, but it was probably rival ambition to be possessed of larger territory and mutual jealousy of encroachments on each other's dominions.

In process of time, these two principalities became involved in wars with each other; and the kingdom of Yueh was gradually driven back, until the Tsien-tang river became its northern boundary, with Shau-hing as the capital; and finally the kingdom of Yueh entirely succumbed, and this whole region was called the kingdom of Wu.

But the kingdom of Wu, in turn, was gradually encroached upon by the more powerful kingdom of Tsu, which in the end took forcible possession of the whole. Ts'u was in turn conquered and annexed to the dominions of She Hwang Ti, the first emperor of the T'sin. He divided tho whole empire iuto districts or provinces, and the former kingdom of Wu was a part of the province of Kwe Ki of which Hangchow was the capital. The Kingdom of Wu never regained its independence. During the time of the Three Kingdoms, about AD 250, the old kingdom of Wu formed a part of the new kingdom of Wu founded by Sun Kuen whose capital was at Nanking.

At the dawn of the 20th Century, not only did Wuhan control the commerce of central China, but in no interior Chinese community had foreign influence made more progress; this was evident in the iron works, cotton mills, silk factories, and electric lighting systems, but specially in the hospitals and schools of the three cities; some of the schools stood on the sites of abandoned temples. Of the three parts of Wuhan, Wuchang contained the most national sentiment, because it was once the capital of a kingdom.

By 1920 the population of these three cities was over a million and could be easily doubled or trebled if improvements would be made. Hanyang possessed the largest iron works in China, and Hankow, many modern industries, while Wuchang was becoming a great cotton manufacturing city. Besides, Hankow was the trade center of Central and West China, and the greatest tea market of China. The provinces of Hupeh, Hunan, Szechuen, and Kweichow and a part of Honan, Shensi, and Kansu all depended upon Hankow as their only port to the outside world. As railways were developed in China, Wuhan will be still more important and will surely become one of the greatest cities in the world.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen launched his first revolutionary uprising in Canton on September 9, 1895. It failed. Three more unsuccessful attempts were made in 1900, 1902 and 1904, respectively. The Chung Kuo Tung Men Hui, or the Revolutionary League of China, was inaugurated in Tokyo in August, 1905, and Dr. Sun elected its Tsung-li, director-general. It had branches in Chinese provinces and overseas Chinese colonies. Between the organization in 1905 and the successful Wuhan Uprising on October 10, 1911, the Tung Men Hui instigated no less than 13 abortive revolts and eight assassination attempts. When the revolutionaries struck at Wuchang in Hupeh on 10 October 1911, their comrades and sympathizers in other provinces rose in response. Dr. Sun was elected provisional president of the Republic of China, and assumed office on 01 January 1912. On 12 February 1912, the Manchu Emperor abdicated. On February 23, Dr. Sun resigned in favor of Yuan Shih-kai, a general.

In 1927, the National Government announced that Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang were integrated into the Jingzhao Region and named Wuhan.

When the leaders of the Autumn Harvest Uprising at the Jiangxi-Hunan borderline explored the road of Chinese revolution, the leaders of Huangma Uprising were also making efforts to explore. According to the actual circumstance of the Hubei-Henan borderline area, they always treated armed struggle as the center of work and the first task. Meanwhile, they closely combined the agrarian revolution with the construction of revolutionary base, and strengthened the regime construction in the area under control, forming the situation of armed independent regime of workers and peasants early. From November 1927 to November 1929, Comrades Wu Guangjie, Pan Zhongru and Dai Kejie led the peasant uprising in Hubei province, Huangan and Macheng, Comrades Zhou Weiyan, Qi Dewei, Xu Qixu, and Jiang Jingtang led the peasants uprising in Henan province Gaocheng, Anhui Province Liuan and Huodi. They founded the Red Army and Revolutionary government, later developed into Eyuwan Revolution base.

The "Wuhan Government" was a coalition in Central China in which more than half of the Kuomintang's central committee still cooperated with Communists. Chen Tu-hsiu "still retreated." He allowed workers' pickets to be disarmed in the Wuhan cities. When a notorious warlord siezed Changsha, provincial capital of Hunan, and a hundred thousand peasants besieged that city, all set to take it over for "our democratic government of Wuhan," Chen Tu-hsiu, under pressure of the Wuhan government, ordered the peasants to go home. The bewildered peasants, broken by confusion, were massacred by the warlord's troops. This retreat of the Communists left the workers and peasants leaderless and made possible the July counter-revolution in Wuhan.

In 1927, Wuhan was the capital of China under the left wing of the Kuomintang government led by Wang Jingwei. Chinas capital was moved to Wuhan in 1937, and the city served as the wartime capital of China.

Wuhan was formed in 1950 when three cities-Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang-were combined into one administrative unit and received a new name, but the cities still retain their individual identities. Hankou, the commercial center and largest of the three, occupies the northwestern quadrant, lying west of the Yangtze and north of the Han River. Hanyang, the smallest of the three and a manufacturing and residential section, lies west of the Yangtze and south of the Han River. Wuchang, the administrative and educational center, is on the eastern bank of the Yangtze.

At the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, the Chinese press reported that Chairman Mao Zedong (then age 73) swam across the Yangtze River at Wuhan. The story was intended to quash rumors that Mao was either gravely ill or dead.

Unlike previous resistance to the Cultural Revolution in the Mainland, the July 1967 Wuhan Rebellion constituted a large-scale, direct and open challenge to the Mao-Lin rule in Peking. This rebellion involved about one million people including students, workers, peasants, armed forces and Party cadres. Opponents in Wuhan to the Mao-Lin faction recruited workers, anti-Mao Red Guards, security officers, policemen and organized them into the One Million Strong Forces. They were secretly supported by the commander of the Wuhan Military Region.

In order to cope with the Anti-Mao activitles in Wuhan, Hsieh Fu-chih, Vice Premier and Minister of Public Security, and Wang Li, Member of the Cultural Revolutionary Committee of the Party and first Deputy Editor in Chief of the Red Flag, were sent to Hankow on July 14, 1967. Wang Li at a military conference in Hankow on July 19 recommended that the One Million Strong Forces be considered conservative and reprimanded. The local officers immediately rejected Wang's recommendation and accused him of falsifying Premier Chou En-Lai's intentions and instructions. At midnight of the same day, Wang was arrested by the local forces. Hsieh Fu-chih vainly intervened. On the following day, Wang was dragged into the streets. Hsieh was insulted and placed under house arrest.

When Peking learned of the assault and abduction of Wang and Hsieh, airborne troops were sent to surround the Triple cities of Wuhan from July 20 to 22, 1967. Then Chairman Mao unexpectedly adopted a conciliatory policy towards the Wuhan rebels, and Wang and Hsieh, together With their secretaries and suites, were allowed to return to Peking. Mao issued these instructions to the Wuhan authorities: (a) To pardon those persons who were involved in the rebellion, as long as they would not continue their erroneous acts. (b) The One Million Strong Forces' thereafter should follow Chairman Mao's line of thinking and action. (c) All were to be aware of the bad elements' who try to destroy or upset the social order.

The Wuhan Rebellion was temporarily suppressed by power and persuasion, but the basic causes of dissatisfaction with the policies and actions of the Mao-Lin faction were not removed. Mao's policy in solving the Wuhan Rebellion was an adroit piece of diplomacy. It avoided open armed large-scale conflict in Mainland China, which might have led to the overthrow of the Mao-Lin rule. The Mao-Lin group which had preached the theory of Rebellion is justifled against the authorities, began to get just a bit of their own medicine. After the Wuhan Rebellion, Peking adopted a policy known as the Revolutionary Three-Way Alliance, hoping for cooperation among the revolutionary cadres, the army and the masses.

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Page last modified: 02-02-2020 19:02:47 ZULU