Autumn Harvest Uprising

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The Autumn Harvest Uprising (simplified Chinese: 秋收起义; traditional Chinese: 秋收起義; pinyin: Qīushōu Qǐyì) was an insurrection that took place in Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, China, on September 7, 1927, led by Mao Zedong, who established a short-lived Hunan Soviet.

Mao led a small army of peasants against the Kuomintang and the landlords of Hunan. The uprising was defeated by Kuomintang forces and Mao was forced to retreat to the Jinggang Mountains on the border between Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, where emerged an army of miners. This was the first armed uprising by the Communists, and it marked a significant change in their strategy. Mao and Red Army founder Zhu De went on to develop a rural-based strategy that centred on guerrilla tactics, paving the way to the Long March of 1934 (the first Long March in 1918 not accountable).

In their biography of Mao, Mao: the unknown story, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday dispute this version of events.[1] Chang and Halliday claim that the 'uprising' was in fact sabotaged by Mao to allow him to snare a force of Nationalist mutineers from Nanchang who were crossing over to the CCP, prevent them from defecting to any other CCP leader, and enhance his own personal power within the CCP. They claim that Mao's three day delay in seeing the other leaders of the Hunan uprising, scheduled for 15 August but delayed by Mao until 18 August, was to allow Mao to check that the mutineers would still be passing close by and that if Mao had not had the opportunity of adding this force to his own forces within the CCP he would not have gone to south Hunan.[2]

Chang and Halliday also claim that Mao lobbied to 'narrow down' the uprising and talked the other leaders (including Russian diplomats at the Soviet consulate in Changsha who, Chang and Halliday claim, had been controlling much of the CCP activity) into striking only at Changsha. This, they say, was in order to allow Mao to also gain control of a force of 1,700 peasant rebels and defectors from the Nationalist army who were near Changsha. Chang and Halliday point out that once Mao had gained control of these men, he then moved to a position 100 km east of Changsha at Wenjiashi and was there on 11 September, the uprising's launch date, far from his troops, and that on 14 September, before the troops had reached Changsha or met heavy resistance, Mao ordered them to abandon the assault on Changsha and converge on his position. Chang and Halliday report a view sent to Moscow by the secretary of the Soviet Consulate in Changsha that the retreat was 'the most despicable treachery and cowardice.'[3] Chang and Halliday allege that Mao later fabricated the version of events (which is still that taught by the CCP) in order to hide the fact that far from leading a peasant uprising, he hijacked it for his own personal ends, sabotaged the organisation, and ran away with the new troops before the attack on Changsha had begun.[4]


  1. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday; Mao: The unknown story, 2005, Random House
  2. Chang, Halliday; Mao, Chapt.5
  3. Chang, Halliday; Mao, Chapt.5
  4. Chang, Halliday; Mao, Chapt.5

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