History of China from 1600 to 1987 - Page 22
History of China: A College Paper By Paul Noll

O. Mao Zedong Takes Control of CCP

In January 15-18, 1935 the Zunyi conference convened to assess the failure and cause of the forced retreat. Because they cost the Red Army so many defeats, the Russians lost their place in the CCP structure and their decision-making positions. Mao took over the military leadership from Zhou Enlai. Of the 80,000 troops who began the march only 8,000 survived to arrive in northern Sha'anxi Province. There the CCP set up a base to begin again the war for liberation.

The Japanese launched a full-scale war in 1936, which quickly expanded. The Guomindang did not press the fight against the Japanese but primarily against the CCP. Captured by his own troops in Xi'an, Chiang's fate hung in the balance for a while. Stalin urged that the fate of China would best remain in Chiang's hands to unite all Chinese forces to fight Japan. After negotiations, Chiang agreed and after his release Chiang reneged all agreements and arrested the general who engineered his capture.

What of the 479,084,651 Chinese in 1936, divided among 85,827,345 households, where did their desires lie? While their lives had improved, millions still lived in terrible and stifling poverty too preoccupied with daily poverty to look far ahead or brood about the national scene. The absentee landlords dominated and exploited the rural countryside. These landlords received protection from the Guomindang police state. Tens of millions of rural families owned farms too small to be fully viable economically. Many had to sell their children or watch them starve. Mao built a power base among these simple peasants with a promise of a better future.