What could be more humiliating for a dedicated Chinese communist than to sign a newspaper declaration renouncing allegiance to communism and affiliation to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? This was the humiliation that one particular group of cadres reluctantly swallowed in the late summer of 1936 in order to gain their release from a Guomindang (GMD) prison in Beijing. Authorized by the CCP Central Committee, the Party’s North Bureau had secretly ordered them to recant because their release would serve a most important purpose – in fact, a dual purpose. As Japan’s creeping domination of China’s northern provinces advanced, urban China burned with patriotic fervour. The CCP urgently needed an appropriately skilled cadre corps who could galvanize this ‘inflamed state of mind’ into an effective anti- Japanese united front, and at the same time rebuild the party’s pathetically depleted presence in northern China.2 Experienced in CCP–GMDunited-front work in its previous incarnation (1923–27) and in urban underground work since 1927, these imprisoned comrades fitted the bill. They knew the cities, they knew the campuses and they had the contacts.
KeywordsWhite Area Chinese Communist Party Cultural Revolution Central Committee Party Leadership
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