Wang Ming

Wang Ming

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Wang Ming was a senior leader of the early Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the mastermind of the famous 28 Bolsheviks
28 Bolsheviks
The 28 Bolsheviks were a group of Chinese students who studied at the Moscow Sun Yat-sen University from the late 1920s until early 1935, also known as the "Returned Students". The university was founded in 1925 as a result of Kuomintang's founder Sun Yat-Sen's policy of alliance with the Soviet...

 group. Wang was also a major political rival of Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 during the 1930s, opposing Mao's nationalist deviation from the Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

 and orthodox Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 and Leninism
Leninism
In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body of political theory for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, and the achievement of a direct-democracy dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism...

 lines. Wang epitomized the intellectualism and foreign dogmatism Mao criticized in his essays "On Practice" and "On Contradiction". The competition between Wang and Mao was a reflection of the power struggle between the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, through the vehicle of the Comintern, and the CCP to control both the direction and future of the Chinese revolution.

Early life


On May 23, 1904, Wang was born in Jinzhai
Jinzhai County
Jinzhai County is a county in Anhui Province, People's Republic of China under the jurisdiction of Lu'an City. It has a population of 640,000 and an area of . The government of Jinzhai County was in Meishan Town before 2006 when it relocated to nearby Jiangdian Town...

, Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

, as Chen Shaoyu (陈绍禹) to a poor peasant family. In 1920, he entered the Zhicheng Elementary School in Gushi County. Wang then entered the Third Agricultural School of the Anhui Province, which was founded by the revolutionary Zhu Yunshan. Zhu had a strong influence on the school's students, introducing many progressive journals and books such as New Youth and Communism ABC. In the school, Wang would encounter another strong influential figure in his life, A Ying (Qian Xinchun), his teacher. A Ying would teach Wang about Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 and Chen Duxiu
Chen Duxiu
Chen Duxiu played many different roles in Chinese history. He was a leading figure in the anti-imperial Xinhai Revolution and the May Fourth Movement for Science and Democracy. Along with Li Dazhao, Chen was a co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921. He was its first General Secretary....

.

During his school years, Wang was also active in the political movement. He led boycotts of Japanese products and corrupt elections. After his graduation in 1924, Wang enrolled in the Wuchang Business School, where he studied for a year. There he published several articles on revolution and communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

. That same year he joined the May 30 Movement
May 30 Movement
The May Thirtieth Movement was a labor and anti-imperalist movement during the middle-period of the Republic of China era. It began when Shanghai Municipal Police officers opened fire on Chinese protesters in Shanghai's International Settlement...

, which involved strikes and protests against imperialism during the Northern Expedition in Wuchang. In the summer of 1924, Wang joined the CCP.

From Moscow to Shanghai


In November 1925, the CCP sent Wang to Moscow Sun Yat-sen University
Moscow Sun Yat-sen University
Moscow Sun Yat-sen University, officially the Sun Yat-sen Communist University of the Toilers of China, was a Comintern school, which operated from 1925-1930. It was a training camp for Chinese revolutionaries from both the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China .-Origins:In 1923, Dr...

 in Russia, founded by the Chinese nationalist Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen was a Chinese doctor, revolutionary and political leader. As the foremost pioneer of Nationalist China, Sun is frequently referred to as the "Father of the Nation" , a view agreed upon by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China...

. During this time, Wang mastered both the Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 and Marxist-Leninist theory
Leninism
In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body of political theory for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, and the achievement of a direct-democracy dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism...

. It was also during this time that Wang encountered his first major political adversary, Ren Zhuoxuan. Ren was appointed as the secretary of the University's student CCP branch. Eventually Wang's eloquence won over Ren's authoritarian style in various debates. Consequently, in April 1926, Wang was elected as chairman of the University's CCP branch. After the election, Pavel Mif
Pavel Mif
Pavel Mif was the pseudonym of Mikhail Alexandrovich Fortus , Russian Bolshevik Party member from May 1917, historian with a Doctor's degree in economics , participant of Russian civil war , a student at Yakov Sverdlov Communist University , did communist party work in Ukraine...

, the University's vice president, became fond of Wang. In January 1927, when Mif came to China as the head of a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 delegation, Wang was his interpreter.

After the CCP's split with the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 (KMT) in 1927, Wang and Mif attended the CCP's 5th National Congress in Wuhan
Wuhan
Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China, and is the most populous city in Central China. It lies at the east of the Jianghan Plain, and the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers...

, after which Wang became Secretary for the CCP's Propaganda Department for two months. Wang was also a part-time editor of the Guidance journal where he published a few articles. After the July 15 Coup in Wuhan
Whuan Coup
The Wuhan coup was a political shift made on July 15, 1927 by Wang Jingwei towards Chiang Kai-shek, and his Shanghai-based rival in the Kuomintang ....

, Wang returned to Moscow with Mif.

After the purge of Karl Radek
Karl Radek
Karl Bernhardovic Radek was a socialist active in the Polish and German movements before World War I and an international Communist leader after the Russian Revolution....

 by Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, Mif was appointed as President of Moscow Sun Yat-sen University
Moscow Sun Yat-sen University
Moscow Sun Yat-sen University, officially the Sun Yat-sen Communist University of the Toilers of China, was a Comintern school, which operated from 1925-1930. It was a training camp for Chinese revolutionaries from both the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China .-Origins:In 1923, Dr...

, and then Vice Minister of the Eastern Department of Comintern. For his service and loyalty, Wang became Mif's protégé. Along with other activists such as Zhang Mintian, Bo Gu and Wang Jiaxiang
Wang Jiaxiang
Wang Jiaxiang , one of the senior leaders of the Communist Party of China in its early stage and a member of the 28 Bolsheviks, with his life of up and down indicating the cruel reality of politics.-Biography:...

, Wang Ming founded the 28 Bolsheviks
28 Bolsheviks
The 28 Bolsheviks were a group of Chinese students who studied at the Moscow Sun Yat-sen University from the late 1920s until early 1935, also known as the "Returned Students". The university was founded in 1925 as a result of Kuomintang's founder Sun Yat-Sen's policy of alliance with the Soviet...

 group. They labeled themselves as orthodox communists.

In 1929, Wang, along with the rest of the 28 Bolsheviks, was sent back to China with the goal of taking over the leadership of the CCP. However, they met strong resistance within the CCP from members such as Zhang Guotao
Zhang Guotao
Zhang Guotao was a founding member and important leader of the Chinese Communist Party and bitter rival to Mao Zedong. During the 1920s he studied in the Soviet Union and became a key contact with the Comintern and organized the CCP labor movement in the United Front with the Guomindang...

 and Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

. Not surprisingly, they were assigned insignificant positions. Meanwhile, Wang found comfort in dating a member of the 28 Bolsheviks, Meng Qingshu, who later became his wife. Wang was then transferred to the Propaganda Department of CCP, where Li Lisan
Li Lisan
Lǐ Lìsān was an early leader of the Chinese communists, and the top leader of the Chinese Communist Party from 1928 to 1930, member of Polit Bureau, and later member of Central Committee.-Early years:...

 was the incumbent minister. During a half year from 1929 to 1930, Wang published many articles in the party newspaper Red Flag and magazine Bolshevik, which supported the leftism embraced by Li. In 1930, when Wang attended a secret meeting in Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, he was promptly arrested. But Wang was lucky enough to be ignored by the KMT secret police, who had no idea what value this young man might be to them. Wang was soon released after bribing the guard.

Wang was transferred to CCP's Central Labor Union after his release. Although Wang was a leftist and abided by the Communism dogma strictly in essence, his beliefs were different from those of Li. Wang was more strict about and constrained by the dogmas of Marxism textbooks and the policies of Comintern. He quickly found a temporary alliance with old CCP members, labor activists such as He Mengxiong (何孟雄), Lin Yunan (林育南, a relative of Lin Biao
Lin Biao
Lin Biao was a major Chinese Communist military leader who was pivotal in the communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, especially in Northeastern China...

) against Li. In a meeting, Wang argued with Li and offended Li. As a price for his being impulsive and immature, Wang was discharged from his position and demoted to the Jiangsu
Jiangsu
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

 division of CCP.

In August 1930, Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

 and Qu Qiubai
Qu Qiubai
Qu Qiubai was born in Changzhou, Jiangsu, China. He was a leader of the Communist Party of China in the late 1920s.-Early life:...

 were sent back to China by the Comintern to correct the leftism of Li, and Li was called to Moscow for repentance and lost his power. In December of the same year, Mif came to China as an envoy of the Comintern. With his mentor's strong support, Wang and his 28 Bolshevik associates entered the power center of the CCP in the 4th Plenary Meeting of 6th National Congress of CCP, by way of labeling both Li and old CCP members such as He and Luo Zhanglong (罗章龙) as dissidents.

Of all the so-called 28 Bolsheviks, only Wang was an elected member of the CCP politburo
Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

. He was not a Commissioner of the Central Committee of CCP yet, this being a prerequisite for being a politburo member under the system proposed by Wang himself. With Mif staying in China for almost a year, the CCP was under his control, and Wang played an important role as his consultant. Although Xiang Zhongfa
Xiang Zhongfa
Xiang Zhongfa was one of the early senior leaders of the Communist Party of China .-Early life:Xiang was born in 1880 to a poor family living in Shanghai. He dropped out of elementary school to move with his parents to their ancestral home in Hubei...

 was the incumbent General Secretary, he was manipulated by Mif and Wang. While He and Luo were still acting to set up another group to divorce from this center, they suffered a deadly loss: He and more than 30 senior associates were arrested by the KMT in a secret meeting. He and 24 others were later executed. There was a rumor that it was Wang who sold them out to purge the dissidents, but it was baseless and without strong evidence. The only certainty was that Wang did benefit from this mysterious incident.

Before long, with the arrest of Gu ShunZhang (顾顺章), who was in charge of security for the CCP, many senior leaders such as Xiang and Yun Daiying (恽代英) were arrested and executed. Wang returned to Moscow with his wife with a medical excuse. After Wang's departure, under the direction of Zhou Enlai, an acting politburo was set up in Shanghai. Zhou, Zhang Mintian, Bo Gu, Kang Sheng
Kang Sheng
Kang Sheng , Communist Party of China official, oversaw the work of the People's Republic of China's security and intelligence apparatus at the height of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. He was a close associate of Mao Zedong and remained at or near the pinnacle of power for decades...

, Chen Yun
Chen Yun
Chen Yun was one of the most influential leaders of the People's Republic of China during the 1980s and 90s, and one of the top leaders of the Communist Party of China for almost its entire history. He was also known as Liao Chengyun ; it's unclear whether this was his original name or a pseudonym...

, and Lu Futan (卢福坦), Li Zhusheng (李竹声) were selected to be in charge of the daily work of the CCP. Among these people, Zhang, Bo Gu and Li were members of the 28 Bolsheviks and close associates of Wang, so Wang could still keep remote control over the CCP through his associates. Furthermore, Kang and Chen met him and became his supporters in Moscow several years later. Both Lu and Li would later defect to the KMT.

From Moscow to Yan'an


From November 1931 to November 1937, Wang worked and lived in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 as Director of the CCP's delegation to the Comintern. During that period, he was elected as Executive Commissioner, member of the Presidium, and Alternate General of the Comintern. This indicated his prominence and popularity in the Comintern.

It was also during this time, under the direction of Bo Gu, that the CCP suffered greatly at the hands of the KMT, both in the cities and the countryside. This led to a general retreat of the CCP to the distant countryside, called the Long March
Long March
The Long March was a massive military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China, the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang army. There was not one Long March, but a series of marches, as various Communist armies in the south...

. In the Zunyi Conference
Zunyi Conference
The Zunyi Conference was a meeting of the Communist Party of China in January of 1935 during the Long March. This meeting involved a power struggle between the leadership of Bo Gu and Otto Braun and the opposition led by Mao Zedong. The result was that Mao left the meeting in position to take...

, the 28 Bolsheviks
28 Bolsheviks
The 28 Bolsheviks were a group of Chinese students who studied at the Moscow Sun Yat-sen University from the late 1920s until early 1935, also known as the "Returned Students". The university was founded in 1925 as a result of Kuomintang's founder Sun Yat-Sen's policy of alliance with the Soviet...

 dissolved. Key members of the group — Zhang Mintian, Wang Jiaxiang
Wang Jiaxiang
Wang Jiaxiang , one of the senior leaders of the Communist Party of China in its early stage and a member of the 28 Bolsheviks, with his life of up and down indicating the cruel reality of politics.-Biography:...

, and Yang Shangkun
Yang Shangkun
Yang Shangkun was President of the People's Republic of China from 1988 to 1993, and was permanent Vice-chair of the Central Military Commission...

 — defected to Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

's camp. Moreover, Mao had replaced Bo Gu as head of the military, which was unknown to Wang and Comintern. As Mao consolidated his power, he became the actual paramount leader of CCP, even though Zhang Wentian
Zhang Wentian
Zhang Wentian . He is also known as Luo Fu . His names in Wade-Giles are Chang Wen-t'ien and Lo Fu.Born in Jiangsu, he attended engineering school in Nanjing and also spent a year at the University of California. He later joined the Communist Party and was sent to study at Sun Yat-sen University...

 was officially appointed as General Secretary of the CCP in Zunyi Conference.

In 1931, Imperial Japan successfully invaded the three provinces that formed Chinese Manchuria
Northeast China
Northeast China, historically known in English as Manchuria, is a geographical region of China, consisting of the three provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang. The region is sometimes called the Three Northeast Provinces...

. Wang made his contribution to China by lecturing on the united front against imperialism in the 7th Congress of Comintern in 1935. In August 1935, the CCP delegation to the Comintern issued the August 1 Manifesto, which called upon the Chinese to unite against Japan. In the same month, a CCP delegation to the Comintern held meetings to discuss the united front against imperialism. In the meeting, Wang pointed out that the archenemy of China was Japan, not Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

, and that it was possible for Chinese revolutionaries to set up an alliance with Chiang.

After that, the delegation sent Zhang Hao (张浩), whose real name was Lin Yuying (林育英), also a relative of Lin Biao
Lin Biao
Lin Biao was a major Chinese Communist military leader who was pivotal in the communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, especially in Northeastern China...

 and a senior worker activist of CCP, back to Yan'an to announce the decision of this meeting. In the CCP politburo meeting (Wayaobao Meeting 瓦窑堡会议) in December, CCP made a decision to set up a united front against Japanese action, but still held out by labeling Chiang as the archenemy of the revolution, as much as Japan. In 1936 the Secretariat of the Comintern issued a telegram to the Secretariat of CCP to point out the error of listing Chiang with Japan as the archenemies of Chinese revolution, and that it was necessary to include Chiang's army in the war against Japan.

With the occurrence of the Xi'an Incident
Xi'an Incident
The Xi'an Incident of December 1936 is an important episode of Chinese modern history, taking place in the city of Xi'an during the Chinese Civil War between the ruling Kuomintang and the rebel Chinese Communist Party and just before the Second Sino-Japanese War...

 in 1936, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
Marco Polo Bridge Incident
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident was a battle between the Republic of China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army, often used as the marker for the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War .The eleven-arch granite bridge, Lugouqiao, is an architecturally significant structure,...

 and the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport Incident in 1937, a general war between China and Japan was unavoidable. Wang's blueprint for a united front against Japan was under construction, with the Red Army of the CCP transferred into the Eighth Route Army
Eighth Route Army
The Eighth Route Army was the larger of the two major Chinese communist forces that formed a unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China which fought the Japanese from 1937 to 1945. In contrast to most of the National Revolutionary Army, it was controlled by the Communist...

 and the New Fourth Army
New Fourth Army
The New Fourth Army was a unit of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China established in 1937. In contrast to most of the National Revolutionary Army, it was controlled by the Communist Party of China and not by the ruling Kuomintang. The New Fourth Army and the Eighth Route Army...

 fighting against Japan.

For the further direction of United Front, Wang was sent back to Yan'an with Kang Sheng and Chen Yun after being absent from China for 6 years. After the return of Wang, Mao expressed his respect for Wang as an envoy of the Comintern and for his great influence for putting forward the concept of United Front against Japan. Possibly Mao wanted to appeal to the Comintern and Soviet Union behind Wang, from whom Mao desperately needed support both in money and weaponry. So when Wang brought forward a new list of leaders of CCP, Mao showed his humility by putting Wang in the first place. Wang demoted his former ally Zhang Wentian from the number 1 place to the number 7 place, which weakened his own camp and created new opponents by driving Zhang to Mao's group.

Wang, Kang and Chen were elected into the new politburo, with Wang as Secretariat for the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CCP which was in charge of the daily operation of CCP headquarters. Chen was in charge of organization and Kang in charge of security, but oddly enough, Chen and Kang turned to Mao's camp, and as a result, Wang lost two important potential supporters. Moreover, when Wang passed by Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 during his trip to China, he ordered Deng Fa, the notorious security boss for CCP, to arrest senior leaders of CCP Yu Xiusong, Huang Cao, Li Te and two others, who were his former opponents now working for the warlord Sheng Shicai under the direction of CCP. Five of them were tortured and executed in the prison of Sheng, accused of being Trotskyists. When Wang boasted about his dirty work to Zhang Guotao, Zhang, who was regarded as dissident himself, was greatly irritated, for he had known these old CCP members quite well and worried about being persecuted himself. After this incident, Zhang despised Wang and would never support him.

When Wang returned to Yan'an, he was admired by most of the CCP members as a talent of Marxism for his erudition and deep insights into Marxism and Leninism. Some senior CCP leaders, including Zhou Enlai and Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai was a prominent military leader of the Communist Party of China, and China's Defence Minister from 1954 to 1959. Peng was an important commander during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese civil war and was also the commander-in-chief of People's Volunteer Army in the Korean War...

, showed their respect for Wang, which reportedly made Mao jealous and irritated.

Furthermore, Wang began to disagree with Mao over major issues on the United Front. Wang believed all CCP work should be carried out within the framework of the United Front; Mao insisted CCP should maintain its independence from the United Front instead. In order to enforce his policy, Wang made the mistake of leaving the position of Secretariat of the CCP in charge of the daily operations of the CCP headquarters, and went for the position of General Secretary of the Yangtze Division of CCP to handle United Front issues with the KMT in Wuhan, which meant Wang had left the power base in Yan'an, with Mao now able to use all means to strengthen his power grip without any interference.

Decline


In its battle against Imperial Japan, the KMT suffered great losses due to internal corruption, incompetence in military command, outdated military supplies and logistics, and the general strength of the Japanese military. As a strong advocate of the United Front, Wang was damaged as well by the KMT's failure in the battlefield as the KMT forces bore the brunt of the fighting; under Mao's urging the Communists rarely engaged the Japanese army in significant battles. After the KMT lost the battles of Xuzhou
Battle of Xuzhou
The Battle of Xuzhou was fought between Japanese and Chinese forces in May 1938 during Second Sino-Japanese War. In contemporary accounts in English, the event was usually referred to as the "Battle of Hsuchow", using the Chinese Postal Map Romanization....

 and Wuhan
Battle of Wuhan
The Battle of Wuhan, popularly known to the Chinese as the Defence of Wuhan, and to the Japanese as the Capture of Wuhan, was a large-scale battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War...

, in 1938, Wang suffered a heavy blow as the Yangtze Division was abolished and he himself was dismissed back to Yanan. Yanan was divided into the Southern China
Northern and southern China
Northern China and southern China are two approximate regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions has never been precisely defined...

 and Central Plain Divisions, led by Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi
Liu Shaoqi
Liu Shaoqi was a Chinese revolutionary, statesman, and theorist. He was Chairman of the People's Republic of China, China's head of state, from 27 April 1959 to 31 October 1968, during which he implemented policies of economic reconstruction in China...

 respectively; this was part of Mao's plot to break up the alliance of Wang and Zhou, and to promote his associate Liu. Wang was called back to Yanan to await his fate.

Wang was reassigned to several insignificant ceremonial jobs. Moreover, Mao deprived Wang of authority by use of propaganda, preventing Wang from publishing his opinions and articles. With the dissolution of the Comintern in 1941, Wang lost all hope for saving his political life. In 1942 Mao launched the zhengfeng or "Rectification" Movement against dogmatism and empiricism. Wang became Mao's main target as representative of dogmatism and Zhou as representative of empiricism. Although Wang experienced great humiliation, he was still fortunate to escape from tortures similar to those inflicted by Kang Sheng's secret police on other CCP members. Nonetheless, in his later book 50 Years of the CCP and Yanan Diary, written by a reporter from the Soviet Union, Wang accused Mao of plotting to murder him by poison. Although there are still disagreements over this accusation, Wang's health was certainly greatly damaged under this stress.

In the later stages of the Zhengfeng campaign, Wang had to announce his confession and apology in a public meeting. It was only after Mao received a telegram from Georgi Dimitrov
Georgi Dimitrov
Georgi Dimitrov Mikhaylov , also known as Georgi Mikhaylovich Dimitrov , was a Bulgarian Communist politician...

 that he stopped the persecution. As a show of leniency and a sign of appeasement to Dimitrov (and the Soviet Union standing behind him), Mao placed Wang on the CCP's Central Committee in the 7th National Congress. Eventually, as Wang's credibility and influence waned, Moscow's leaders began to acknowledge Mao's leadership. During the period of the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

, Wang was appointed as director of policy research of the CCP and responsible for some insignificant legislative work.

From Beijing to Moscow


It was only after the establishment of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 in 1949, that Wang reappeared from the shadows on to the political stage. He was elected as Director of the Central Legal Committee of the CCP and the Central People's Government. It was an irony for him to be responsible for advising on legislation in a dictatorial regime. Before he was elected as Commissioner of Central Committee of CCP in the 8th National Congress of CPC in 1956, Wang went to Moscow for medical treatment and would never return.

Wang wrote many articles denouncing the CCP during the conflict between the CCP and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s. His memoirs did provide some useful information about CCP history. Above all, Wang was lucky to escape the persecution of the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, and lived in peace till his death in 1974 in Moscow.

Wang's thought and works



There are great controversies on the appraisal of Wang, his works and thoughts.

According to the orthodox appraisal of Wang of the CCP, the label given by Mao to Wang as a representative of dogmatism, subjectivism
Subjectivism
Subjectivism is a philosophical tenet that accords primacy to subjective experience as fundamental of all measure and law. In extreme forms like Solipsism, it may hold that the nature and existence of every object depends solely on someone's subjective awareness of it...

 and sectarianism
Sectarianism
Sectarianism, according to one definition, is bigotry, discrimination or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religion, class, regional or factions of a political movement.The ideological...

hits the nail on the head. Wang adhered to the principles he learned from textbooks on Marxist theory. For example, during the struggle with Li Lisan, in his pamphlet Two Routes, Wang showed more leftism than Li by declaring the proletariat and low-level bourgeoisie as the only revolutionists in China, and claiming that there was no third party or middle camp in the revolution and that all capitalists and upper-level bourgeoisie should be overthrown. Wang advocated for a revolution of extremism in several parts of China and then spreading to the whole country, despite that the CCP was much weaker than the KMT at that time. Wang insisted that urban revolution was preferable to rural revolution, despite the fact that China was actually a largely agricultural country. Furthermore, Wang advocated unconditional obedience to the Comintern and the Soviet Union, without regard for Chinese realities and keeping the independence of the CCP, which (he claimed) would be harmful to Chinese national interest and pride.

Furthermore, Wang was a theorist and lecturer rather than an activist, an idealist rather than a realist, and an intellectual rather than a politician. The CCP would never win the revolution through speeches and theories. When Wang won power, his immaturity and recklessness, with little experience of struggling under tough conditions, was uncovered. He seldom realized that his power was built on sand. Compared with Mao, who was a veteran survivor of the cruel power struggle inside and outside CCP, Wang was destined to fall once he lost support from Moscow.

However, there is no doubt that Wang was a good student of Marxism and a practitioner of revolution. The best proof of Wang's talent and deep understanding of Marxism and Leninism was the large number of articles and speeches he produced before his thirtieswhich most Chinese Marxists did not equal in output in their whole lives. His talent in theory and propaganda won him fame and power, and he contributed to the Chinese revolution to some extent. Chief among his contributions are his theories on the Chinese revolution and the United Front, about which he wrote a pamphlet Two Routes and gave a lecture for the Comintern in 1935. Moreover, Wang did provide in his memoirs valuable information about the early stages of the CCP, especially in his book 50 Years of the CCP.

In particular, unlike Mao, who was a pragmatist and politician who learned all his tactics from the Chinese history rather than from the Marxism and Leninism classics, Wang was a zealot of Marxism and Leninism. He might have longed for power, but his ultimate goal was the realization of communism.