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In 1920 and 1921 the Guomindang promoted a federalist movement by trying to get Hunan, Hubei, and Shaanxi to become independent. In the summer of 1920 Liu Xiang and Xiong Kewu drove Tang Jiyao’s Yunnan troops out of Sichuan and declared independence, and the next year Liu ousted Xiong. Tan Yankai tried to make Hunan independent in 1920, but he was pushed out by the warlord Zhao Hengti, who proclaimed Hunan independent and even promulgated a constitution in January 1922. However, as Mao Zedong pointed out, he used force to suppress students and workers. In the spring of 1921 federalists in Hubei overthrew the Anfu governor Wang Zhanyuan, but the Zhili clique in Beijing sent General Wu Peifu to crush the federalist effort in 1921. Wu received massive arms shipments from the United States and loans from British banks. Zhejiang’s governor Lu Yongxiang proclaimed independence in September 1921 but still ruled autocratically. Yu Youren led an independence movement in Shaanxi in the summer of 1921 and set up a Citizens’ Assembly. In October some Chinese bankers in Shanghai issued a manifesto calling for international cooperation, an end to extraterritoriality, and Chinese control over their own railways.

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Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

Zhang Zuolin was the warlord who controlled Manchuria, and in the fall of 1924 he sent troops south to challenge his rival Wu Peifu in Beijing. They took over the Tianjin-Pukou railway and invaded the Yangzi Valley. In the spring of 1925 the Zhili army of Jiangsu defeated the Anfu faction in Zhejiang, and the warlord Sun Chuanfang took over the five provinces of the lower Yangzi. In 1925 the Russians provided Feng Yuxiang with weapons, money, and advisers, but he tried to prevent the political indoctrination of his troops. After his war against Zhang Zuolin went badly in late 1925 and ended, Feng resigned in early 1926 and went to the Soviet Union for five months.

Kelli Kennedy, Brendan Farrington and Curt Anderson, Associated Press

In January 1922 about forty Chinese delegates joined others from Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Java, and India to attend the Far Eastern Workers’ Congress in Petrograd. Qu Qiubai served as an interpreter for Grigory Zinoviev, who urged them to cooperate with the nationalist bourgeoisie to expel foreign imperialists at this stage of the revolution. The CCP grew slowly and had about two hundred members in 1922. In July at Shanghai the second congress of the CCP passed a resolution that explained that the world’s economic order had been destroyed by the imperialist war of 1914-18 and that the capitalists were planning to exploit the raw materials and the working class in their colonies. They noted that China had been suffering from the violence of warlords for the past eleven years and that Wu Peifu was intending to use military means to unify China. They set as their goals to overthrow the feudal warlords and stop civil wars, free China from imperialist oppression, unify China in a federal system while recognizing the autonomy of Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang, and protect all freedoms of workers, peasants, women, and children. The Russian agent called Maring urged the CCP to ally itself with the Guomindang to fight the warlords in a democratic revolution.

Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press

Chinese workers suffered from low wages, long hours, few if any vacations, and miserable housing conditions. Wages were often docked, and kickbacks were demanded. Children worked in bad conditions up to thirteen hours a day. In 1918 twenty-five major strikes took place, and in 1919 Shanghai cotton mills had to increase wages by 12% or more. In January 1922 Guomindang activists instigated a strike in Hong Kong and Guangzhou involving 40,000 sailors and dock-workers that affected more than 150 ships. Others joined the strike in March, and with more than 120,000 on strike the owners granted wage increases of 15% to 30% with benefits and recognition of the union. In May the Communists Li Lisan and Liu Shaoqi began organizing workers’ clubs among Anyuan coal miners and Daye steel workers, but the strike by 50,000 coal miners in Tangshan failed in October. That August the first major strike by women occurred in the silk-spinning mills of Pudong outside Shanghai. That summer the Trade Union Secretariat appealed unsuccessfully to the new government of President Li Yuanhong to pass labor laws including the eight-hour day. There had been 50 major strikes in 1921, but in 1922 there were 91.

Terry Spencer, Associated Press

Hu Shi wanted to “reorganize the national heritage” by applying the methods of science to evaluate with historical criticism religion and other traditions. In 1922 he helped found the journal that was dedicated to political action. He criticized the dogmatic assumptions of both Sun Yat-sen and the Marxists. Gu Jiegang studied the customs, folklore, and folksongs of the people with scientific methods, and he founded the journals and . Zhang Junmai (Carsun Chang) was influenced by spiritual philosophy, , and Henri Bergson. He argued that science has its limits and does not account for subjectivity, intuition, synthesis, free will, and personal unity. Later Zhang tried to develop a liberal mean between the extremes of the Nationalists and Communists by founding a socialist party that emphasized human rights, free expression, and the constitutional separation of powers. They influenced intellectuals but did not have a large popular following. Wu Chihui argued for science and denied the spiritual elements and soul. Hu Shi saw the limits of a materialistic philosophy and offered a synthesis that accepted science and a philosophy of life. Hu suggested that beyond the small self of the individual is the large self of society that does not die. He believed that living for the sake of the species and posterity is a higher religion than the selfish pursuit of a future life in Heaven or the Pure Land.

Darlene Superville, Associated Press

In April 1922 Zhang Zuolin attacked the Zhili clique near Beijing, but Feng Yuxiang’s forces drove them back to Manchuria. The Luoyang faction led by Wu Peifu tried to unify China by having Xu Shichang yield the presidency to Li Yuanhong. Wu asked Sun Yat-sen to resign too, but he refused. The new Finance minister Luo Wengan reduced the government debt by £200 million by renegotiating the Austrian loans while obtaining £80,000 for ready use. When he was charged with corruption, President Li had him arrested on November 18. The cabinet resigned although Luo was exonerated eighteen months later. Wu extorted 300,000 yuan from the Hankou Chamber of Commerce and another 100,000 from the bankers. Feng got little support from Wu and was reported to have accepted a large bribe from Japan.