The Northern Expedition: China's National Revolution of 1926–1928
The Chinese state of the 1920s was one of disunified parts, ruled by warlords too strong for civilians to oust and too weak to resist the demands and bribes of foreign powers. China's treaty ports were crucibles of change in which congregated the educated elite, exposed to modern ways, who felt the need for a national revolution to revitalize their country and to provide her with a new, more integrated political system. Nationwide in their origins and representing varying political ideologies, this elite formed a loose coalition to achieve a common goal. In 1926 the first step in the military campaign known as the Northern Expedition was launched to conquer the armed forces of the warlords, the greatest obstacle in the path toward reunification of China.
Until now, historians have ascribed much of the success of the Northern Expedition, culminating in the capture of Peking, to the Communist-led mass organizations who were reported to have won over the populace in the territory ahead of the National Revolutionary Army. Dr. Jordan's research, especially in Communist materials, has uncovered evidence indicating that, although the mass organizations did aid the army at particular points in 1925 and 1926, there had also been a side to the mass movement that was disruptive to the goal of reunification.
Of additional import, some of the key participants in the later governments of Taiwan and Peking—among them Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Tse-tung, Chou En-lai, and Lin Piao—received their basic political training in the National Revolution.
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