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

7. The Yan’an Period, 1936-43

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About this Lecture


In this module, we trace events from the end of the Long March, when the Communists established themselves at Yan’an in Shaanxi province, to the Rectification Campaign of 1942-43. In particular, we think about: (i) the location of Yan’an, and the protection it afforded the CCP from Nationalist attacks; (ii) the Japanese invasion of China in July 1937; (iii) the extent to which support for the CCP grew, and the reasons why this happened; (iv) the stuttering response of the KMT to the Japanese threat, culminating in the Xi’an Incident of 1936; (v) the growth in membership of the CCP, and the two major sources of this growth – people fleeing occupied China and the local peasantry; (vi) the extent to which the CCP were able to capitalise on this support once the Japanese had been defeated in 1945; (vii) the emergence of Mao as a leader; and (viii) the Yan’an Rectification Campaign, its short- and longer-term impacts.


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 Yan’an Period, 1936-43 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Dillon, M. "China – The Rise of the Chinese Communist Party, 1921-49 – The Yan’an Period, 1936-43." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 Dec 2020,