The Torch of Revolution in Northwest China—Weihua Uprising

2017-04-28 12:04:27 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

“Tian Wei Zhi Chi” stone arch

After the cooperation between the KMT and the CPC broke down, the revolution failed and the civil war took the place of cooperation. Terrors spread throughout the whole country, and the revolution in Xi’an entered a quiet period. The communists organized and led the Qingjian Uprising, the Weihua Uprising and the Xunyi Uprising against the reactionary ruling of KMT, lighting the torch of the armed struggle in Northwestern China. Although the uprisings failed, they lit the revolutionary fire, which, after several twists and turns, developed into prairie fi res in vast rural areas of the Northwestern China.

After the failure of the revolution in 1927, the CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee called on party members to go to rural areas and to the army, so as to prepare and get armed for the struggle against the reactionary government of KMT. In March 1928, the Provincial Committee decided to rise up in Weinan and Huaxian counties where the communist party was relatively powerful and the mass base was good. This area was one of the earliest areas for the development of CPC and the Youth League. In 1921, revolutionary pioneers Wei Yechou and Wang Shangqin spread Marxism-Leninism with the Xianlin Middle School, the Chishui Vocational School and the Gaotang Primary School as the bases and sewed the seeds of revolution. Later on, farmers’ associations were established in these two areas, making it one of the areas with most active mass movements, especially peasant revolutions, in Shaanxi.

On May 1, 1928, under the leadership of the CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee and the CPC East Shaanxi Special Committee, peasants in Weinan and Huaxian counties held a mass meeting to announce the uprising, and established district-level and township-level Soviet governments as well as the armed forces—the East Shaanxi Red Guards. Soon after that, a region under the leadership of the CPC was formed with the center of Gaotang in Huaxian and Tashan in Weinan, extending to Shaohua Mountain in the east, Lintong County in the west, Weihe River in the north and Qinling Mountain in the south. It covered an area of more than 200 square kilometers. Meanwhile, Soviet governments were established in 48 districts and villages in Huaxian, Weinan and Wuyi counties (Wuyi County was a county at the beginning of the Republic of China and is currently under the territory of Gushi Town, Linwei District of Weinan City).

The reactionary government KMT and Shaanxi warlords regarded the Weihua Uprising as the most serious threat. They could not tolerate the existence of the revolutionary forces, so they worked together to suppress the uprising. The heroic soldiers and civilians fought against the reactionaries for more than three months but were defeated in the end due to the wide power gap between the two sides.

The Weihua Uprising was one of the uprisings led by the CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee after the failure of the Great Revolution and was based on the combined strength of military power and peasant revolution. It had a significant impact across the country and was a great attempt at creating a rural revolutionary base. Like a bright torch on the earth of North China and the spring thunder resounded through Northwest China, the Weihua Uprising became the most influential uprising after the Nanchang Uprising, the Autumn Harvest Uprising and the Guangzhou Uprising. It filled the gap in the revolutionary history of Northwest China, and established a monument for the people’s revolutionary struggle in the northwest. The uprising attacked the arrogance of the reactionary ruling class, encouraged people to fight against the reactionaries and cultivated a large number of outstanding revolutionary leaders. Among them, Liu Zhidan, who was praised by Mao Zedong as “a leader of the people and a national hero”, had a quite legendary revolutionary career and set off a red storm in northern Shaanxi.

As a communist who graduated from the Huangpu Military Academy, Liu Zhidan was born in Baoan County of Shaanxi. Although he had a short life, he gave a profound impact on China’s revolution. After the failure of the Weihua Uprising, he went back to northern Shaanxi in the spring of 1929 and served as a secretary of the CPC Shaanxi Special Military Commission. His job was to penetrate into the warlord and militia forces in northern Shaanxi as well as the bordering areas between Shaanxi and Gansu for the aim of carrying out military operations and organizing the armed forces for revolution. He once served as battalion commander, regimental commander and brigade commander of the armed forces. In October 1931, Liu Zhidan, Xie Zichang, Xi Zhongxun and others formed the Northwest Anti-imperialist Allies, which later became the Shaanxi & Gansu Guerrilla of Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, and established the fi rst revolutionary base, with Zhaojin and Nanliang as the center, in Northwest China in 1932. In 1934, with Liu Zhidan as commander, the 42nd Division of the Fourth Front Army of the Red Army and the Red Army guerrillas defeated an attack by the KMT on the Shaanxi-Gansu Base; Soviet political powers were established in more than a dozen counties. In 1935, he served as chairman of the Northwest Revolutionary Military Committee and frontline commander-in-chief and led the second resistance against the attack, after which the revolutionary base was expanded to the Yellow River in the east, Chunhua and Yaoxian in the south, Qingyang in the west as well as the Great Wall in the north, thus connecting the Shaanxi-Gansu Base and the Northern Shaanxi Base. Moreover, the Northwest Revolutionary Base he created was the only remaining piece of the 19 bases created by the CPC during the Second Revolutionary Civil War, so it became not only the place where the Red Army lived after the Long March but also the starting point for the anti-Japanese War. On April 14, 1936, Liu Zhidan died a heroic death in battle. To commemorate the 33-year-old martyr of the revolution, the CPC Central Committee and the governments of the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region renamed his hometown of Baoan County as Zhidan County in his honor.

The huge brick-paved slogan in honor of Weihua Uprising

The Weihua Uprising Memorial Hall in Shaanxi still keeps the bricks with fifteen characters, which were on the campus of Gaotang Primary School. In November 1927, Communist teachers Chen Shushan, Li Weijun and others organized teachers and students from Gaotang and Gudui primary schools to hold a memorial meeting in honor of revolutionary martyr Li Dazhao. With bricks and pebble stones they paved a huge banner with a length of 20 meters and a width of 2 meters, “Comrades, march forward quickly following the blood of martyrs.” This special banner in the memory of revolutionary martyrs was embedded in the ground, and is unique among all the revolutionary relics in the whole country.

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