Long March

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long march

long march, Chin., Changzheng, the journey of c.6,000 mi (9,660 km) undertaken by the Red Army of China in 1934–35. When their Jiangxi prov. Soviet base was encircled by the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek, some 90,000 men and women broke through the siege (Oct., 1934) and marched westward to Guizhou prov. There, at the Zunyi Conference (Jan., 1935), Mao Zedong won leadership of the Communist party and decided to join the remote Shaanxi prov. Soviet base. Overcoming numerous natural obstacles (such as towering mountain ranges and turbulent rivers) and despite constant harassment by Nationalist troops and the armies of provincial warlords, the Red Army arrived at its new home in the north in Oct., 1935. However, more than half of the original marchers were lost in this almost incredible trek. Those who survived settled around the city of Yan'an.


See E. Snow, Red Star over China (rev. ed. 1968) and R. G. Wilson, The Long March, 1935 (1971).

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Long March

(Changzheng; Cz) A family of liquid-fuelled rockets used as the main launch vehicles in China's space program. One of its members, the Long March 2F, carried the first Chinese astronaut into space in October 2003. The series of Long March rockets was the outcome of a gradual process that began with China's early attempts to build missiles in the mid-1950s, initially with help from the Soviet Union. Although hampered by political upheavals during the 1960s, Chinese rocket scientists had by 1970 completed the country's first intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles. One of these, the medium-range DF-3, became the basis of the Long March 1, which carried China's first artificial satellite, Mao 1, into orbit Apr 24 1970. The long-range ICBM DF-5 provided the template for the later Long March 2 (introduced 1975), 3 (1983), and 4 (1988).

Between 1970 and 2003, the Long March series carried out more than 70 launches. But a number of failures, some involving fatalities, attracted unfavorable criticism outside China. A human spaceflight project was abandoned, and in the 1980s China turned to developing less ambitious crewless spacecraft. Eventually, the Long March proved itself reliable enough for China to enter the international satellite-launching market. Using newly developed cryogenic engines and taking a modular approach to the design, the Chinese produced a family of Long March rockets. Between 1985 and 2000, Long March vehicles lifted 27 foreign satellites into space. The workhorse of the family, the Long March 4, is a three-stage rocket that can develop more than 272 000 kg of thrust and carry a payload of up to 5000 kg into low-Earth orbit, 3600 kg to medium orbit, and 2270 kg to geosynchronous orbit.

In April 1992, the Chinese government reinitiated its human spaceflight program using the Long March 2F, a two-stage rocket equipped with four liquid-fueled strap-on boosters. Between that year and 2003, this vehicle launched four crewless prototypes of a piloted spacecraft, the Shenzhou (‘divine vessel’). The fifth, launched Oct 15 2003 from Jiuquan in the northern Gobi Desert of western China, one of the country's four isolated launch sites, carried Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut, on a 21-hour, 14-orbit spaceflight. The exploit made China only the third nation in the world to be capable of independently sending its citizens into space.

Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Long March


(in Russian, Northwestern March), the movement during the period 1934–36 of the main forces of the Chinese Red Army (CRA) from Chinese soviet areas in Central and South China to the northwestern provinces of Shensi and Kansu.

By September 1934, the soviet base areas in Central China, at the juncture of Kiangsi and Fukien provinces, were encircled by Kuomintang troops. As a result, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) decided to break through the encirclement with the main forces of the CRA First Front and to continue the struggle under the banner of the soviets. The Long March began Oct. 16, 1934. Pursued by Kuomintang forces, the units of the CRA First Front (together with the CPC Central Committee) in November and December 1934 passed through the provinces of Kiangsi, Kwangtung, Hunan, and Kwangsi and entered Kweichow Province. There, in January 1935 in the city of Tsuni, a conference was held by members of the Politburo and of the Central Committee, which led to a strengthening of the position of Mao Tse-tung and his supporters in the leadership of the CPC.

From Kweichow, the troops of the First Front were compelled to move on to Yünnan Province. After crossing the Chin-sha Chiang River (upper Yangtze) on May 8, 1935, they entered Hsik’ang Province. In early June 1935, they entered western Szechwan Province, where they rendezvoused with the troops of the CRA Fourth Front, commanded by Hsü Hsiang-ch’ien and Chang Kuo-t’ao. In early August 1935 a decision was reached at a meeting of the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee in Mao-erh-kai to continue the march with the combined forces of two columns (eastern and western) northward to the regions bordering on the USSR. However, a critical struggle within the party leadership between Mao Tse-tung, who strove to seize leadership of the party and army, and Chang Kuo-t’ao and his supporters, led to a split in the party and the armed forces.

Accompanied by some of the members of the CPC Central Committee and its Politburo, including Mao Tse-tung, the First Front’s I and III corps (part of the eastern column of the CRA) in October 1935 reached the soviet region at the border of Shensi and Kansu provinces, which was under the control of Kao Kang and Liu Chih-tang. Large units of the CRA, headed by Chu Te and Chang Kuo-t’ao (the western column of the CRA), which operated for a year at the border of Szechwan and Sikang provinces, arrived in the border region of Shensi and Kansu provinces in October-November 1936, together with the II and VI corps (Second Front) of the CRA, which until then had operated at the border of Hunan, Szechwan, and Kweichow provinces. The Long March was at an end.

Despite the tremendous losses suffered by the CRA and the CPC as a result of the long, grueling journey, with fighting along the way, and despite the difficulties created for the party by the fractional struggle of Mao Tse-tung and others, the Long March ended by strengthening the revolutionary base in the border region of Shensi and Kansu provinces, which became the seat of the CPC Central Committee until the summer of 1947. Thus ended a dramatic page in the history of the heroic liberation struggle of the Chinese people.


Noveishaia istoriia Kitaia. Moscow, 1972. Pages 156–70.
Braun, O. Kitaiskie zapiski, 1932–1939. Moscow, 1974. (Translated from German.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
"It is a long march," replied Waziri, "and I am an old man, but if you will wait until the rainy season is over and the rivers have gone down I will take some of my warriors and go with you."
Busuli, the warrior whom he had stalked to the village, told him many of the tribal legends--how, many years before, his people had come many long marches from the north; how once they had been a great and powerful tribe; and how the slave raiders had wrought such havoc among them with their death-dealing guns that they had been reduced to a mere remnant of their former numbers and power.
You know (I am sure you know) how unfit you are to brave exposure to cold, and long marches over the snow."
Much depended upon food supply, climatic conditions, and the prevalence of animals of the more dangerous species; though Kerchak often led them on long marches for no other reason than that he had tired of remaining in the same place.
His face became browned by exposure to the Syrian sun in long marches; he suffered hunger and thirst; he pined in prisons, he languished in loathsome plague-hospitals.
For three long marches we followed the left bank of the growing river, until at last we saw it roll its mighty volume into the vast waters of the sea.
Not one of the party, excepting the leader, had ever seen an Indian or handled a rifle; they were without guide or interpreter, and totally unacquainted with "wood craft" and the modes of making their way among savage hordes, and subsisting themselves during long marches over wild mountains and barren plains.
I know the red men of the woods make long marches on foot, but we, who live where the eye cannot see from one lodge to another, love our horses."
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