The New Fourth Army Incident
(新四軍事件), also known as the Wannan Incident
(皖南事变), occurred during the Second Sino-Japanese War
, during which the Chinese Civil War
was in theory suspended, uniting the Communists
against the Japanese
. It is significant as the end of real cooperation between the Nationalists and Communists.
historians view the New Fourth Army Incident differently. From the ROC point of view it was punishment of Communist insubordination; from the PRC view it was Nationalist treachery.
In the fall of 1940, the Communist New Fourth Army
attacked Nationalist forces under Han Deqin
. However, Benton's book New Fourth Army
argues the Communist attack was a counterattack, a response to an initial attack by Han Deqin, and that this initial attack was the result of Chen Yi
's goading and harassment of Nationalist forces. Regardless, the conflict led to heavy losses for the Nationalists.
For PRC historians the incident began in December 1940, when Chiang Kai-shek
ordered Eighth Route Army
and the New Fourth Army
to withdraw from Anhui
in a month. The Communist Party agreed to move the New Fourth Army troops in Southern Anhui
(Wannan) to the northern shore of the Yangtze River
. On January 4, the 9000-strong troops started to move from Yunling Township
of Jing County
towards Jiangsu, planning to cross the river in three routes.
On January 5, they were surrounded in Maolin Township
by a Nationalist force of 80,000 led by Shangguan Yunxiang
and attacked days later. After days of fighting, heavy losses — including many civilian workers who staffed the army's political headquarters — were inflicted on the New Fourth Army due to the overwhelming numbers. On January 13, Ye Ting
, wanting to save his men, went to Shangguan Yunxiang's headquarters to negotiate the terms. Upon arrival, Ye was detained. The New Fourth Army's political chief of staff Xiang Ying
was killed, and only 2,000 people, led by Huang Huoxing
and Fu Qiutao
, were able to break through.
Chiang Kai-shek ordered the New Fourth Army disbanded on January 17, and sent Ye Ting to a military tribunal
. However, on January 20, the Chinese Communist Party in Yan'an
ordered the reorganization of the army. Chen Yi
was the new army commander. Liu Shaoqi
was the political commissar. The new headquarters was in Jiangsu, which was the general headquarters for the New Fourth Army and the Eighth Route Army
. Together, they comprised seven divisions and one independent brigade, totalling over ninety thousand troops.
Because of this incident, the Nationalist Party of China was criticized for creating internal strife when the Chinese were supposed to be united against the Japanese; the Communist Party of China, on the other hand, was seen as heroes at the vanguard of the fight against the Japanese and Nationalist treachery. Although as a result of this incident, the Communist Party lost possession of the lands south of Changjiang, but it drew the party support from the population, which strengthened their foundations north of Changjiang.
The novelist Mao Dun's story Fushi is about this incident.
- New Fourth Army: Communist Resistance along the Yangtze and the Huai, 1938-1941. Benton, Gregor. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 949 pages. ISBN 0-520-21992-9
- This articles uses the translation of the 皖南事变, retrieved on August 24, 2006.