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China – The Rise of the Chinese Communist Party, 1921-49

2. The Kuomintang

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In this module, we think about the Kuomintang (KMT), or Chinese Nationalists, who were the principal antagonists of the CCP in the period 1921-49. In particular, we focus on: (i) the figure of Sun Yat-sen, and his importance in the foundation of the Kuomintang; (ii) the figure of Yuan Shikai; (iii) the figure of Chiang Kai-shek, whose becomes undisputed leader of the KMT following Sun Yat-sen’s death in 1925; and (iv) the importance of the military in Chinese politics in this period more generally.


In this course, Professor Michael Dillon (Durham University) explores the rise of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) between 1921 (when it was founded) to 1949 (when it became the governing party of the newly-established People’s Republic of China). In the first module, we think about the conditions that prompted the creation of the CCP in July 1921. After that, we turn of the Chinese Nationalists, the Kuomintang (KMT), who formed the main antagonists the CCP in the years 1929-49, and remain a force even today. In the third module, we think about how and why the CCP cooperated with the KMT in the Northern Expedition, before turning in the fourth module to the severing of relations following the Shanghai Massacre on 12 April 1927. In the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth modules, we continue the story through the Long March (1934-5), the Yan’an Period (1936-43), the Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) and the second phase of the Chinese Civil War (1945-9), before turning in the ninth and final module to consider the creation of the People’s Republic of China (1949) and the ways in which the CCP established themselves as the legitimate government of China.


Michael Dillon was founding director of the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies at Durham University, where he taught courses on modern China, Chinese history, and Chinese language. He has also been a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Asiatic Society, and a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Dillon, M. (2020, December 05). China – The Rise of the Chinese Communist Party, 1921-49 - The Kuomintang [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Dillon, M. "China – The Rise of the Chinese Communist Party, 1921-49 – The Kuomintang." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 Dec 2020,

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