Xi’an Incident—Turning Point of the Political Situation

2017-04-28 13:26:30 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

On December 9, 1935, under the leadership of the CPC, the Beijing Students’ Federation organized and launched the famous anti-Japanese patriotic movement, known as the 129 Movement, which happened on December 9th. The Movement disclosed the Japanese conspiracy to annex Northern China and invade the rest of the country. It also attacked the compromise—concession policy of the KMT government, making a great contribution to the awakening of the Chinese nation as well as marking a new climax in the national anti-Japanese democratic movement.

At that time, the main KMT forces stationed in Xi’an were the Northeast Army led by General Zhang Xueliang and Seventeenth Army led by General Yang Hucheng, who were both not a part of Chiang Kai-shek’s own clique and were not favored by the central KMT government. These two armies were extremely dissatisfied with their situations, especially the Northeast Army. They blindly carried out Chiang Kai-shek’s non-resistance policy and abandoned Northeastern China, thus being blamed by the people all over the country. Later on they were ordered to suppress communists. After suffering signifi cant losses, they realized that “suppressing communists” would lead to a dead end so they were eager to fight against the Japanese and recover the northeast territory. Yang Hucheng and his army had the same idea. The CPC Central Committee communicated with these two armies through various channels and strengthened Zhang and Yang’s determination to fight against the Japanese together with CPC, so that the policy of an anti-Japanese national united front was first established in Northwestern China.

Since the implementation of the cooperation policy with the CPC to fight against the Japanese in Northwestern China, Zhang Xueliang had repeatedly remonstrated with Chiang Kai-shek to stop the civil war and fight against the external enemy, but he was rejected. Not only that, but in December 1936 Chiang Kai-shek visited Xi’an, forcing Zhang and Yang to attack the Red Army in northern Shaanxi. When people from Xi’an marched to Lintong to make a petition, Chiang ordered the soldiers to fire at them with machine-guns. All these deeply puzzled and disturbed Zhang. Zhang and Yang found no way to persuade Chiang Kai-shek, so they were forced to carry out “armed remonstration”.

Armed Remonstration Pavilion near Huaqing Pool

On the early morning of December 12, Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng detained Chiang Kai-shek in Lishan Mountain of Lintong, and then announced to the whole country with a proposal of 8 claims of an anti-Japanese war. The proposal included the restructuring of the National Government in Nanjing and suspension of the civil war. This was the famous Xi’an Incident.

The Xi’an Incident aroused a strong reaction at home and abroad. Various political sects and forces launched mediations and struggles for the purpose of handling the incident. Xi’an, which gradually lost its status of being the capital since the Tang Dynasty, was pushed to the center of the historical storm once again and attracted worldwide attention. The CPC Central Committee had such a correct recognition of the complex political situation that it determined a principle of peaceful settlement after repeated studies. Zhou Enlai, Qin Bangxian and Ye Jianying were dispatched to Xi’an to deal with the incident. The National Government in Nanjing also sent Chiang Kai-shek’s wife, Song Meiling, and his brother-in-law, Song Ziwen, to Xi’an for the aim of negotiation. Through these joint efforts, Chiang Kai-shek was forced to accept the conditions of establishing an anti-Japanese alliance with the CPC, thus the Xi’an Incident was settled peacefully.

After the Xi’an Incident, the National Government in Nanjing finally changed its longstanding policy of “to fight against the foreign invader, one must firstly defeat the domestic enemy” and basically stop the civil war as well as begin to prepare the war against Japanese. The CPC also wiped out the old dissent, and determined a second collaboration with the KMT for the same national interests. The anti-Japanese national united front was initially formed.

Peaceful settlement of the Xi’an Incident became the turning point for converting from a civil war to the united front against the foreign invaders. China’s political situation and historical process underwent a fundamental reversal. Two famous patriotic generals who initiated the incident, Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng, became the “eternal heroes” of the Chinese nation because of their great contribution to the anti-Japanese war. In early February 1937, shortly after the peaceful settlement of the Xi’an Incident, the Xi’an office for the Red Army was founded at No. 1 Qixianzhuang, Beixin Street in Xi’an City. On August 25,1937, the main force of the Red Army was formally reorganized into the National Revolutionary Army as the Eighth Route Army, and its Xi’an office was officially renamed as the Shaanxi Office of the Eighth Route Army of the National Revolutionary Army, which was a public legal authority set by the CPC Central Committee in the area controlled by KMT during the years from 1937 to 1946. The main leaders of the CPC and the army, including Zhou Enlai, Zhu De, Liu Shaoqi, Peng Dehuai, Ye Jianying, Deng Xiaoping, Bo Gu, and Wu Yuzhang, once worked and lived here. According to statistics, from 1937 to 1938, more than 20,000 patriotic young people all over the country were introduced to Yan’an by the office. During nine years, the Eighth Route Army Xi’an Office, led by Ye Jianying, Lin Boqu, Dong Biwu and so on, carried out united anti-Japanese front work, introduced progressive young people to Yan’an while it purchased and delivered materials for Yan’an, making an important contribution to the victory of the war. It was the office which was set up earliest, lasted longest, and had the most influence among the country’s 15 Eighth Route Army offices during the war. In 1988, the historical site of the Eighth Route Army Xi’an Office was established as a national key protection unit of cultural relics by the State Council. In 1959, the Eighth Route Army Memorial was established on the site of the Eighth Route Army Xi’an Office.

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