The Chinese Communist Party was founded in the early 1920s by people who were influenced by the ideas of anarchism and Marxism. They were inspired by the 1918 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the May the Fourth Movement, which swept across China at the end of World War I.
When the CCP was founded, China was a divided country ruled by various local warlords and controlled by treaties which gave other countries special trading rights. The individuals who founded the CCP believed that a revolution was the best path to strengthen and empower China.
In 1922, the CCP joined the bigger and more powerful revolutionary party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), to form the First United Front (1922-27). Under the First United Front, the CCP was absorbed into the KMT. Its members worked within the KMT to organize urban workers and farmers to support the KMT army’s Northern Expedition (1926-27).
During the Northern Expedition, in which the warlords were successfully defeated, the KMT split and its leader Chiang Kai-shek led an anti-Communist purge in which thousands of CCP members and supporters were killed. After the KMT established the new Republic of China government in Nanjing, it continued its persecution on the CCP.
After the break-up of the First United Front in 1927, the CCP and its supporters fled from the cities to the countryside, where the Party established “Soviet base areas,” which they called the Chinese Soviet Republic (1927-1937). In the countryside, the CCP organized its own military force, the Red Army. The CCPs headquarters moved from Shanghai to the Jiangxi Soviet base area, which was led by Mao Zedong.
The government launched a series of military campaigns against the CCP-controlled base areas, forcing the CCP to undertake the Long March (1934-35), a several thousand mile march that ended in the rural village of Yenan in Shaanxi Province. During the Long March, Mao Zedong took over control of the Party.
Following Japan’s invasion of China, the...