Northern Expedition


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Northern Expedition,

in modern Chinese history, the military campaign by which the KuomintangKuomintang
[Chin.,=national people's party] (KMT), Chinese and Taiwanese political party. Sung Chiao-jen organized the party in 1912, under the nominal leadership of Sun Yat-sen, to succeed the Revolutionary Alliance.
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 party overthrew the warlordwarlord,
in modern Chinese history, autonomous regional military commander. In the political chaos following the death (1916) of republican China's first president and commander in chief, Yüan Shih-kai, central authority fell to the provincial military governors and
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-backed Beijing government and established a new government at Nanjing. At the outset of the campaign in July, 1926, the Kuomintang controlled only Guangdong and Guangxi provs. It was allied with the smaller Communist party and was receiving aid from the Soviet Union. Communist activists spread out across SE China, fomenting strikes and thereby weakening the enemy's rear. By Mar., 1927, the Kuomintang armies (swelled by the defection of intact enemy units) had pushed back the warlord armies of Wu P'ei-fuWu P'ei-fu
, 1874–1939, Chinese general and political leader. He had a distinguished military career under the Ch'ing dynasty and was an important figure in the republic. For the most part Wu supported Yüan Shih-k'ai during his presidency.
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 and Sun Ch'uan-fang and had taken all of SE China including the economic centers of Wuhan and Shanghai. At this point, a struggle broke out between the right-wing Kuomintang commander in chief, Chiang Kai-shekChiang Kai-shek
, 1887–1975, Chinese Nationalist leader. He was also called Chiang Chung-cheng.

After completing military training with the Japanese Army, he returned to China in 1911 and took part in the revolution against the Manchus (see Ch'ing).
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, and the left-wing-controlled provisional government at Wuhan under Wang Ching-weiWang Ching-wei
, 1883–1944, Chinese revolutionary and political leader. A supporter of Sun Yat-sen, Wang was sentenced (1910) to life imprisonment for attempting to assassinate the regent of China.
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. Arguing that Communist activities were socially and economically disruptive and would slow the primary task of political unification under the Kuomintang, Chiang launched a purge of Communists. When he was stripped of command (Apr., 1927), Chiang formed a rival regime at Nanjing. Finally, in July, 1927, the Wuhan government also broke with the Communists, and in Feb., 1928, the two factions reunited at Nanjing under Chiang's leadership. The Kuomintang renewed the offensive against the remaining northern forces (notably the army of Chang Tso-linChang Tso-lin
, 1873–1928, Chinese general. Chang was of humble birth. As the leader of a unit of Manchurian militia he assisted (1904–5) the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War. He held various military posts under the Chinese republic.
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). Beijing was taken by the Kuomintang in June, 1928, and the national government was moved to Nanjing.

Bibliography

See H. R. Isaacs, The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution (2d rev. ed. 1966); C. M. Wilbur, The Nationalist Revolution in China 1923–28 (1985).

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Join the Anchorage Museum on a Northern expedition.
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I also felt the author overstates the degree to which scholars of post 1949 China neglect the Imperial inheritance, and found it difficult to agree that "Most specialists argue that the Northern Expedition of the Nationalist Party in 1926 reunited the country, making the succeeding decade from 1927 to 1937 the only period between 1911 and 1949 that the country was united" (p.
As the Northern Expedition developed in 1926-27, the party moved into the countryside and used the pre-existing peasant Red Spears organization to instigate rural revolution.

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