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AFTER A BLOODY split in April 1927, Chiang Kaishek of the Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, ruling China broke with his allies in the Communist Party. He launched a series of “extermination” campaigns that gradually were destroying the communists and their Red Army. At that time, Wang Ming, the leader of the Communist Party, had been discredited when he had fled for his life to the Soviet Union in January 1931. Within China, the de facto leader of the party became Mao Zedong, who had become involved in progressive politics while still a student at the First Normal School of Hunan in 1912, the year the Chinese Republic had been proclaimed by Sun Yatsen. In October 1934, Mao and the communists set out upon their ...

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