Can anyone provide a few details on this? Did Stalin telegraph to order disarmament of Chinese workers and to whom? And when? I am very confused about the chronology of Events. The book I mention below suggests Stalin earlier telegraphed to Communists in Wuhan to order uprisings, so as to appear having accomplished something in China. He was supposedly anxious because of the impeding Fifteenth Party Congress (in Russia). A bit later he supposedly disarmed local communists, but no more information is given of this. Confronted with these two claims, I totally don't understand when he wanted uprisings in China and when not. Below is information about how my question arose. I have already searched the web, but found nothing but brief repetition of the claim that he ordered disarmament in China.

I wondered about this while reading P. Zarrow's Book China in War and Revolution. In several places it states that Stalin disarmed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). I can supply page numbers if desired. From the context I gather that the author means the disarmament of the General Labour Union in Shanghai, just before the anti-communist crackdown by Chiang Kai-shek. However, nowhere does he elaborate on Stalin's role in this. To make things more confusing, on page 239 he said that the CCP disarmed Shanghai's workers in order to maintain the United front with the GuoMinDang. Nowhere a mention of Stalin.

  • @MarkC.Wallace rather irrelevant here. Reason 1) I show claims Stalin wanted an uprising, then supposedly wanted disarmament, so I believe my confusion is justified 2) the information is so sparse it can hardly count as a respectable narrative . Had I been presented with a fleshed out and sourced account, I would not have questioned it out of fancy.
    – Ludi
    Aug 2, 2016 at 18:29
  • 1
    @MarkC.Wallace I think my wording was extremely poor, I have attempted to correct it.
    – Ludi
    Aug 2, 2016 at 18:36
  • Much improved - the current phrasing makes it clear why this was confusing. Thank you.
    – MCW
    Aug 2, 2016 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


The disarmanent theory would seem not to be the case. That's because Stalin's agent in China was one Mikhail Borodin.

Up to about 1925, Stalin, through Borodin, had maintained a fairly even-handed policy between the Nationalists and Communists in order to keep them in a "united front" (against the warlords). By 1927, Stalin and Borodin were tilting "left" on the Chinese scene. That partly meant being "pro" Communist, and partly favoring leftists in the Nationalist Party such as Wang Jing Wei over Chiang Kai Shek. The uprising in Wuhan appears to have been part of this strategy.

Stalin never had the power to "disarm" the Chinese Communists. What he could do was to stop the flow of arms to them, but it did not appear that he did so. If any Communists "disarmed" the workers in Shanghai, it was not Stalin but the local Chinese Communist party, although most of the actual disarming was done by the Nationalists under martial law. There may even have been a misunderstanding, whereby an order to restrain the Shanghai workers (from e.g. attacking foreign property) was misinterpreted as an order to disarm them.

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