The story

Long March

Long March

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During the Great Revolution, Chairman Mao was already aware that the peasants were the largest ally and that the people's revolution could not triumph without them. And sure enough, the revolution suffered defeat because his views weren't listened to. Later, when we got to the countryside. Chairman Mao saw that in order to carry out the revolution it is necessary not only to rely on the peasants, but also to win over the middle and petty bourgeoisie. As Chiang Kai-shek's counter-revolutionary treachery became further exposed, only the comprador-bureaucrat and feudal landlord classes supported him. But a group of people inside the Communist Party made "Left" deviationist mistakes and were very narrow in their outlook, holding that the middle and petty bourgeoisie were unreliable. They didn't listen to Chairman Mao, and the result was that the revolution suffered another setback and we had to march 25,000 li.

The conditions under which the Long March began could not have been worse, with totally inadequate food supplies, much cumbersome and useless baggage, no battle plans in relation to enemy troop movements. Li Teh was the man chiefly responsible for the conduct of this evacuation. Backed by Chin Pang-hsien, he overrode the opinions of other members of the Revolutionary Military Council, as he had done persistently during the fifth counter campaign.

During the last four months, up till the final day of departure, peasants of the base had laboured at earth fortifications and trenches; the new recruits in the Army had very poor training, severe shortages had affected their health. "Where were we going? Some were told we were going to beat the landlords and make revolution . We were told many different things. We did not know where we were going."

It appears that all that Li Teh knew of military science was the straight, straight line. He drew a straight line and that was the line of march. But one important detail had been forgotten. Maps. There were no maps except the maps Mao had collected. These maps did not indicate the straight, straight roads which Li Teh wanted for marching on. The Red Army men, exhausted after months of combat, of malnutrition, lack of salt, defeats, had had no time to rest. Yet these incredible peasants and workers hurled themselves at the lines of blockhouses, machine gun nests, trenches, fortifications, barbed wire entanglements, which surrounded the Juichin base, and broke them. Nine battles were fought against 100 regiments of the Kuomintang; 25,000 Red Army men died in the breakthrough.

During the first ten days the orders were to walk by night and rest by day; but there was no rest, as the open columns were pitilessly strafed by German-manned airplanes. The orders were changed to four hours of marching and four hours rest, day and night. But again there was no rest, for they were attacked, had no time to eat, to find shelter, water, before they were on the march again.

We fought every day, we were outnumbered. We could only pluck up courage, and sing: "The Red Army fears not

death/Who fears death is not a Red Army man." From the rear, from both sides as well as from the air, in front of them, the enemy attacked. "We were so tired, we strapped ourselves to trees, to our guns, we strung ourselves to each other. We slept standing up, we slept walking. We had only one thing in mind, sleep. But there was no sleep. The strong pulled the weak. We did not want to straggle, to be left behind. Long rows of us roped ourselves together so as to keep on the march. We called it sleep flying.

Always going straight as a ruler, the Red Army arrived on the east bank of the Hsiang river. It had to be crossed, for now the "plan" was to march straight across Hunan and then northwest, to join the base of the Second Front Army, although by then the bulk of the Second Front Army was elsewhere. A vast Kuomintang force barred the way, yet the river had to be forded. The Red Army waded through, the tall carrying the short; the children of 12 and 13 who in their hundreds had come to the Army and served as orderlies, cookboys, carriers and trumpeters hitched themselves onto the veterans' shoulders.

The Red Army fought (how they fought!) with marvellous courage, stood in two columns to allow their noncombatants to

use the lane between them to cross the river. There were not enough stretcher-bearers, many wounded lay in heaps dying. They stuffed cloth in their own mouths to keep from screaming. Many cadres also died, fighting side by side with the soldiers. Mao Zedong went to the wounded, but could not do very much except cover one with his overcoat.

The battle of the Hsiang river lasted a week, with horrifying losses. The dead and the dying littered the bank. This insane

attempt cost another 30,000 men. "We had to leave some of the wounded behind, there was no way to carry them. By now we had no footwear, some of us did not eat for four days; yet we fought." "I remember how it rained and it rained, we wallowed in mud, we sank in it; but we went through." According to Liu Po-cheng, by now half of the troops had been either killed or wounded grievously. But the "Head on, straight on" Li Teh would not change the orders.

From Kangmaoszu, the marshes stretched like a great sea, vague, gloomy and illimitable. In sunless days, there was no way to tell the direction. Treacherous bogs were everywhere which sucked a man down once he stepped off the firmer parts, and more quickly if he tried to extricate himself. We could advance only with minute care, stepping on grass-clumps. Even so, one could not help feeling nervous, for the grass mounds sank with the pressure and black water would rise and submerge the foot. Soon after one passed, the grass mound would rise to its original position, leaving not a trace of the footprint. It was really like traversing a treacherous quicksand. Fortunately, the advance unit had left a course hair rope which led meanderingly to the depth of the morass. We proceeded carefully along this rope, fearing that we might break it, for we knew clearly this was no ordinary rope, but a "life-line" that was set up by fraternal units at the cost of the lives of many good comrades.

We tried out almost all kinds of wild plants along our way. Later we discovered a sort of prickly, stumpy tree denuded of

leaves but with tiny red berries the size of a pea, and with a sour-sweet taste like cherries. This was accounted the best of our discoveries. Whenever this tree appeared in the distance, we would run straight toward it with a sudden flush of vigour. And some comrades, forgetting they were in a swamp, would run headlong into the mire and disappear. Those who reached the tree would begin eating, and when they had their fill, would pluck the rest for the wounded and sick comrades.

On the sixth day, someone dug out a kind of aqueous plant the size of a green turnip which tasted sweet and crisp. Everybody at once searched for it. It proved poisonous. Those who ate it vomited after half an hour; several died on the spot. Death, however, could not be allowed to delay our progress. Unfastening the quilts of the martyrs and covering their bodies we paid them the deep tribute all Red Army heroes warrant, and continued to push forward.

Today I discovered a comrade struggling in the muddy water. His body was crunched together and he was covered with muck. He gripped his rifle fiercely, which looked like a muddy stick. Thinking he had merely fallen down and was trying to get up, I tried to help him stand. After I pulled him up he took two steps, but the entire weight of his body was on me, and he was so heavy that I could neither hold him up nor take a step. Urging him to try and walk alone, I released him. He fell on the path and tried to rise. I tried again to lift him but he was so heavy and I so weak that it was impossible. Then I saw that he was dying. I still had some parched wheat with me and I gave him some but he could not chew, and it was clear that no food could save him. I carefully put the parched wheat back in my pocket, and when he died I arose and passed on and left him lying there. Later, when we reached a resting place I took the wheat from my pocket but I could not chew it. I kept thinking of our dying comrades. I had no choice but to leave him where he fell, and had I not done this I would have fallen behind and lost contact with our army and died. Yet I could not eat that parched wheat.

The higher we went, the narrower the path became. The slope was getting steeper, the air thinner. It was very dangerous to ride, so I dismounted and, grasping the tail of the mule, continued to struggle upwards. On this path rising through the sombre, virgin forest, were several other comrades who like me, were ill. They climbed, gritting their teeth, following closely the footsteps of the comrade in front.

At eleven a.m. we had, after much difficulty, reached to within six li of the summit when the bugle sounded for a rest. All sat down on the side of the path. Some ran down to the gully to drink water. Others took out their rations and began to eat. We would give the final battle to the snow mountain after we had eaten.

Though this section was not long, every step demanded the strength of my whole body. I purged less frequently, but I felt

awfully weak, as if I had not eaten for a long, long time. The air suddenly became thinner when we were some two hundred metres from the summit. Breathing became more difficult. With head spinning and eyes blurred, I could hardly stand, let alone go forward. 'Now I am done for', I said to myself. But immediately thought: 'Am I going to be defeated when the summit is in sight? I must not fall, for that would be the end of everything.'

I controlled myself with the utmost effort. I was struggling desperately when, luckily, comrades from the signal squad came up and gave me a hand. Just at this moment there was a thud from behind, followed by an outcry. I looked back. A carrier had fallen to the track, pole and all. Steadying my gaze, I saw that it was the young comrade Li Chiu-sheng who, so short a time before, had challenged me to a competition. I was racked with grief. We had lost another close comrade-in-arms.

The Supply Section head, hearing what happened, quickly hurried back and, with tear-filled eyes, buried Li Chiu-sheng's


Without warning there came a blast of wind. The sun was quickly shrouded by a heavy black cloud, and soon the whole sky darkened. Rain, intermixed with hail, came pattering down. The storm gathered force, and hailstones, the size of potatoes, beat down on us. The men covered their heads with basins, or shrouded them in quilts. I struggled with all my might to fold up two sheepskins. One I gave to my chief; the other I wrapped over my head.

Eventually the storm passed. Strewn on the track were ice and snow which were soon trodden into a lane as deep as a man's height as the troops proceeded. On both sides of this lane lay numerous dear comrades who, for the future of the people of the motherland, had struggled until they breathed their last. They sleep everlasting on this snow mountain. 'The nation's heroes are immortal.'

My chief, pole on his shoulder, leading me by the hand, continued to advance towards the last stretch.

'It is no easy task to carry on the revolution', he kept saying to me. 'And aren't those comrades who now lie on the roadside heroes who sacrificed themselves for it?'

As he talked, I saw his eyes redden. A few hot tears fell on my hand.

'We are still alive,' he went on, 'we mustn't slacken our effort. We must take up the cause of the martyrs and continue to


Hearing his words I was too moved for speech. Though I had not eaten for days and was racked by illness, I was a Communist. I was still quite young. But so long as I had one breath left in me, I would exert my last ounce of strength to scale the mountain. Gritting my teeth, I climbed and climbed and at last was at the summit.

In June 1955, after crossing the Dadu River, we came to the foot of Jiajin Mountain, a towering, snowcovered peak. The June sun had not yet set but its heat had lost its power in the face of this great icy mass.

We paused for a day at its foot. Chairman Mao had advised us to collect ginger and chilli to fortify ourselves against the bitter cold as we climbed the pass over the mountain. We started the climb in the early morning of the next day.

The peak of Jiajin Mountain pierced the sky like a sword point glittering in the sunlight. Its whole mass sparkled as if decorated with a myriad glittering mirrors. Its brightness dazzled your eyes. Every now and again clouds of snow swirled around the peak like a vast umbrella. It was an unearthly, fairyland sight.

At the start the snow was not so deep and we could walk on it fairly easily. But after twenty minutes or so the drifts became deeper and deeper. A single careless step could throw you into a crevasse and then it might take hours to extricate you. If you walked where the mantle of snow was lighter, it was slippery; for every step you took, you slid back three! Chairman Mao was walking ahead of us, his shoulders hunched, climbing with difficulty. Sometimes he would slip back several steps. Then we gave him a hand; but we too had difficulty in keeping our foothold and then it was he who caught our arms in a firm grip and pulled us up. He wore no padded clothes. Soon his thin grey trousers were wet through and his black cotton shoes were shiny with frost.

The climb was taking it out of us. I clambered up to him and said: "Chairman! It's too hard for you, better let us support you!" I stood firm beside him. But he only answered shortly: "No, you're just as tired as I am!" and went on.

Half way up the mountain a sudden, sharp wind blew up. Thick, dark clouds drifted along the top of the range. The gusts blew up the snow which swirled around us viciously.

I hurried a few steps forward and pulled at his jacket. "Snow's coming. Chairman!" I yelled.

He looked ahead against the wind. "Yes, it'll be on us almost at once. Let's get ready!" No sooner had he spoken than hailstones, as big as small eggs, whistled and splashed down on us. Umbrellas were useless against this gusty sea of snow and ice. We held an oilskin sheet up and huddled together under it with Chairman Mao in the centre. The storm raged around us as if the very sky were falling. All we could hear were the confused shouts of people, neighing of horses and deafening thunder claps. Then came a hoarse voice from above us.

"Comrades! Hold on! Don't give up! Persistence means victory!" I lifted my head and looked up. Red flags were flying from the top of the pass. I looked enquiringly at Chairman-Mao.

"Who's that shouting there?"

"Comrades from the propaganda team," the Chairman replied. "We must learn from them. They've got a stubborn spirit!"

The snowstorm dropped as suddenly as it had started, and the warm, red sun came out again. Chairman Mao left the oilskin shelter and stood up on the snowy mountainside. The last snowflakes still whirled around him.

"Well, how did we come out of that battle?" he asked. "Anyone wounded?"

No one reported any hurts.

As we went up higher, the going grew more difficult. When we were still at the foot of the mountain, the local people had told us: "When you get to the top of the mountain, don't talk nor laugh, otherwise the god of the mountain will choke you to death." We weren't superstitious, but there was some harsh truth in what they said. Now I could hardly breathe. It seemed as if my chest was being pressed between two millstones. My heartbeats were fast and I had difficulty in talking, let alone laughing. I felt as if my heart would pop out of my mouth if I opened it. Then I looked at Chairman Mao again. He was walking ahead, stepping firmly against the wind and snow. At the top of the mountain the propaganda team shouted again:

"Comrades, step up! Look forward! Keep going!"

Finally we gained the summit of the mountain pass. White snow blanketed everything. People sat in groups of three or five. Some were so exhausted that they lay down.

Popa was the largest mountain village around there, with 900 Tibetan families living in stone houses that looked like square fortifications. The Tibetans had all fled before the troops arrived. We could see red cloth strips hanging at all the doors which were sealed with charms or even locked. The yards were bare of everything, excepting a bit of firewood. To show our respect for minority people, the leadership decided that we should not enter the houses but bivouac outside the village.

The weather in early spring was still cold enough to make one shiver. More so, sleeping in the open at night, for a fire warmed the front but left the back icy cold. All one could do against the damp ground was to spread some straw over it.

Food posed a serious problem, for there was not enough even of grass roots and tree bark to suffice for all. The number of the wounded and the sick was mounting every day.

We decided to rest, recuperate and reorganise here.

It was said that a melon couldn't be detached from its stem, nor a child from its mother. So how could the Red Army exist apart from the people? But no troops had ever come here before, and the Tibetans were far from knowing that we were troops of the people. When they heard that troops were coming, their headman led them off to the mountains-, driving away sheep and cattle. The llamas in the temple also left.

We must get our strength, the people, to come back. The leadership issued orders that mass discipline should be strictly observed; that the customs and habits of the national minority should be respected; that the red cloth strips and charms on the doors should be left untouched; that the streets should be swept every day; and that we, the propaganda section, should all go out with the interpreters (one or two Hans who knew Tibetan were attached to every company) and try all we could to find the people and persuade them to return.

We divided our section into several groups. Some inscribed on walls big characters in Tibetan in conspicuous places in the village, slogans of the "three disciplines and eight points for attention" of the Red Army, and the Party's policy towards national minorities. Some went to the mountains to look for the people. We spent three or four days each trip, passing the nights in the wild mountains, in the forests or on the unbounded grassland. Often we would hear human voices and spot fresh dung of sheep or cattle without seeing a human shadow.

We had been on the job a dozen days when luck directed us to a stone cave in which the Tibetan headman was hidden. After much explaining and propagandising we learned that he longed for a horse. That would have been no difficulty at all in the past; but now all horses had been killed for food except the one ridden by the divisional commander. When on our return we mentioned this, he at once ordered his orderly to send the horse over.

The headman was extremely happy with the gift; yet he did not feel completely assured. He sent some men back with us to have a look at things. When these people saw the slogans at the village entrance, and discovered that the locks, the red cloth strips and the charms over the doors were untouched, that not one of the articles hidden within the seams of the walls was missing, that the streets were swept clean, and that we bivouacked outside the village in the cold, with stewed wild vegetables for food, they were profoundly moved and, palm to palm, saluted to us. Some did not wait but ran straight back to the mountain and related to the headman and their countrymen what they had seen in their village.

One by one the Tibetans returned from the mountains and the grassland, driving some 37,000 sheep and cattle laden with bags of barley and chanpa (a food made of barley flour and butter). With the headman in the lead, they opened the doors of their houses and, despite our protestations, took us into their homes with great fuss and ceremony. Some unearthed bacon which had been buried underground and presented it to us. They also made a gift of 300 sheep and cattle to us.

Sixteen names were called. Looking at these husky fellows, I thought the battalion commander had chosen well.

Suddenly a fighter broke from the ranks. 'I'll go too! I must go!' he cried, running towards the battalion commander. It was the messenger of the 2nd Company.

The battalion commander looked at him. 'Go!' he said, after a while. He was moved by the scene and approved this exception. The messenger brushed away his tears and ran quickly to join the crossing party.

The eighteen heroes (the battalion commander himself included) were equipped each with a broad sword, a tommy-gun, a pistol, half a dozen grenades and some working tools. They were organised into two parties. The one led by Hsiung Shang-lin, commander of the 2nd Company, was to cross first.

The waters of the Tatu rushed and roared. I scanned the enemy on the opposite shore through my field-glasses. They seemed very quiet.

The solemn moment had come. Hsiung Shang-lin and his men - eight in all - jumped on to the boat.

'Comrades! The lives of the one hundred thousand Red Army men depend on you. Cross resolutely and wipe out the enemy!'

Amid cheering the boat left the south bank.

The enemy, obviously getting impatient, fired at the boat.

'Give it to them!'

Our artillery opened up. Chao Chang-cheng, our magic gunner, swung his gun into position. 'Bang! Bang!' The enemy's

fortifications were sent flying into the sky. Our machine-guns and rifles also spoke. The sharp-shooters, more tense than their fellow fighters crossing, fired away feverishly. Shells showered on the enemy fortifications; machine-gun fire swept the opposite shore. The boatmen dug their blades into the water with zest.

The boat progressed, tossing on the surging waters. Bullets landed around it, sending up spray. The eyes of everybody ashore were glued on the courageous team.

Suddenly, a shell dropped beside the boat, creating a wave which shook the craft violently.

'Ah, it's the end!' My heart was in my mouth. The boat rose and fell with the wave, then resumed its normal course.

On it went, nearer and nearer the opposite shore. Now it was only five or six metres from it. The soldiers stood at the bow, ready to jump.

Suddenly a grenade and a hand mine were rolled from the top of the hill, exploding with a loud report halfway down, sending up a pall of white smoke. It seemed the enemy was really going to make a charge. I looked through my field-glasses and, just as I had expected, the enemy soldiers were sallying out from the hamlet. There were at least 200 of them against our few. Our crossing party would be fighting against overwhelming odds with the river at their back. My heart tightened.

'Fire!' I ordered the gunners.

Followed two deafening reports. The mortar shells directed by Chao Chang-cheng exploded right among the enemy. The heavy machine-guns rat-rattled.

'Come on! Give it to them hard!'

Shouts arose from the slope. The enemy scattered in a fluster, running for their lives.

'Fire, fire!' I ordered.

We pumped another shower of metal at them. Our heroes who had landed dashed forward, firing with their light and heavy weapons. The enemy retreated. Our men occupied the defence works at the ferry. But the enemy was still around.

The boat came back quickly. The eight other men, led by the battalion commander, went on board.

'Advance with the greatest possible speed, support the comrades who have landed!' I heard the battalion commander say to his men.

The boat pushed away and made quickly for the opposite shore. The enemy on the hill, trying to organise its entire fire to

destroy our second landing party, fired desperately towards the middle of the river.

The little boat dashed through wave after wave and dodged shower after shower of bullets.

A whole hour passed before it reached the shore. I took a deep breath of relief.

There ensued a duel of artillery fire between us and the enemy on the hill. The enemy threw a shower of hand mines and began to charge at the call of the bugle.

The two groups of landing heroes joined forces - eighteen of them - rushing towards the enemy, hurling their grenades, firing their tommy-guns and brandishing their swords. Utterly routed, the enemy ran desperately towards the rear of the hill. The north bank came under the complete control of our landing party.

After a while the boat returned to the south bank. This time I brought with me a number of heavy machine-gunners to consolidate the defence of the position.

It was getting dark. More and more Red Army men crossed safely. Pursuing the enemy, we captured two more boats on the lower reaches which sped up our crossing. By the forenoon of the next day, the whole regiment was on the opposite bank.

Long March (rocket family)

The Long March rockets are a family of expendable launch system rockets operated by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). Development and design falls under the auspices of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). In English, the rockets are abbreviated as LM- for export and CZ- within China, as "Chang Zheng" ( 长征 ) which means Long March in Chinese pinyin. The rockets are named after the Chinese Red Army's 1934–35 Long March, during the Chinese Civil War.

What Is Pride Month and the History of Pride?

Around the world, Pride celebrations take a variety of forms, from parades to parties to protests and proms. Since the start of the modern LGBTQ+ liberation movement in the 1970s, hundreds of independent Pride events have sprung up in cities worldwide, each distinctly local and generally tied in some way to the foundational Stonewall Riots in June.

After 50 years of Pride celebrations, these events have become so varied that you can usually find a way to celebrate that feels best to you, whether it’s the raucous jubilation of the NYC Pride parade, community forums at the LGBT Center in San Francisco, or the massive crowds that attend World Pride in a different city every two years.

But how did the last half-century of Pride become what it is today, and what are the best ways to celebrate? Let’s take a deep dive into Pride and explore its history, Pride around the world, and what the future of Pride might be.

The Stonewall Riots weren’t the first time that LGBTQ+ people stood up against police harassment — before Stonewall, there was a riot in Los Angeles at Cooper Do-Nuts, and in San Francisco at Compton’s Cafeteria. But Stonewall is definitely the best-known, and led to the creation of what we know as Pride today.

It started with a police raid on a hot summer night in Greenwich Village. Cops stormed the Stonewall Inn, arresting patrons and forcing them into waiting police vehicles. But a nearby crowd grew restless and angry, and eventually someone — there’s debate over who — started whipping onlookers into fighting back. They pelted the police, forcing homophobic cops to retreat, and aggressive street confrontations continued over the next few nights.

Following the Stonewall Riots, organizers wanted to build on that spirit of resistance. The following year, they organized a march to Central Park, and adopted the theme of “Gay Pride” as a counterpoint to the prevailing attitude of shame. That march down Christopher Street soon expanded to other cities, with many more joining in year over year through the 1970s until Pride became the massive celebration that we know today.

Each city’s Pride schedule is different, but most Pride celebrations, parades, and marches take place in June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. A handful of cities opt for other months, usually due to inhospitable June weather, such as Palm Springs Pride (November), Auckland Pride (February), and Vancouver Pride (August).

Many of the larger cities coordinate their pride months through the international organization InterPride, which helps manage Pride celebrations around the world. Because there are only a limited number of days in June and hundreds of Pride celebrations, there’s bound to be a little overlap!

But major cities that are close to each other tend to avoid scheduling their events at the same time. The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association maintains a calendar of over a hundred Pride events around the world, updated every year, to help you find the celebration that works best for your schedule.

Just a few weeks after the Stonewall Riots, LGBTQ+ gathered for a “gay power” rally in Washington Square Park. It was clear that there was interest in holding more events like it, and over the following year local activists proposed a larger annual march, modeled on quieter protests that had been happening for years in Philadelphia.

The new annual protest was to be called “Christopher Street Liberation Day,” and were organized by representatives from groups like The Mattachine Society, Gay Activists Alliance, and the Gay Liberation Front. The first parade in New York City occurred on June 28, 1970, and attracted thousands of marchers carrying banners and signs.

Since its beginning, Pride has been a political event. And although it may feel like a party today, protests have always been embedded in its very reason for existing. Pride has always been a protest against unjust systems, even when it’s lighthearted and fun.

Community organizers in New York included Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who protested against unjust treatment and advocated for legal reform even before Stonewall. Once Pride events were established in major cities, they became opportunities to register queer people to vote, for groups like ACT UP to demand action on HIV, and to pressure politicians to express their support for the community by marching.

Several major Supreme Court rulings on LGBTQ+ equality have taken place in June, such as the Obergefell decision that legalized marriage equality the Lawrence decision that ended sodomy bans and the Bostock ruling that stopped hospitals from turning away trans patients. When those victories occurred, Pride events celebrated the win and redoubled efforts to advance queer liberation even further.

As Pride has grown, so has commercial and corporate influence. That’s led to concerns that Pride is moving away from its protest roots and becoming a party, at a time when there’s still a lot of work to be done — not just for the LGBTQ+ community, but for communities that overlap.

For years, organizers have raised concerns about the prominence of corporate logos at Pride, and about the money pouring in from wealthy companies. Of particular concern is the participation of politicians and corporations that don’t have LGBTQ+ interests at heart. In San Francisco, for example, organizers were outraged to see that the local Pride event was partially funded by Google, despite the company’s refusal to fully address homophobic harassment on its YouTube platform.

In response, activists have established independent Pride events in many cities. They have a variety of names, such as Alternative Pride or Queer Liberation March or Reclaim Pride. Those events take the form of raucous protests, sometimes disrupting the orderly, wealthy, corporate funded events to remind everyone that Pride is about more than just rainbows — it’s about radical change.

Mao: the legend of the Long March

Mao Zedong made great political capital out of the Red Army's epic trek to escape the clutches of their enemies in China 80 years ago. But, as Edward Stourton explains, the communist leader's version of the march did not always reflect reality

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Published: March 1, 2014 at 9:00 am

“The Long March is propaganda,” declared Mao Zedong in a speech in December 1935. “It has announced to some 200 million people in 11 provinces that the road of the Red Army is their only road to liberation.”

We almost always use the word ‘propaganda’ pejoratively, often as shorthand for official lies. For Mao, it meant something much closer to ‘evangelisation’, in the sense that the term is used of the early Christian church. Propaganda was the means by which the good news of his new creed was to be spread across China’s vast territories, and his 1935 speech was a claim of success, not a confession of deceit.

It was the first time Mao used the phrase ‘Long March’ and the term has since become familiar all over the world. But the complex historical background to the episode it describes is little understood outside China.

Chinese politics in the mid-1930s were chaotic and uncertain. Chiang Kai-shek, the ‘Generalissimo’ as he was known in the west, was China’s nominal ruler, governing the country through the Guomindang, or Nationalist Party. But much of the country was controlled by local warlords and Chiang faced two powerful threats to his authority: the Japanese invasion and occupation of Manchuria, in northern China, which began in 1931 and the communist rebellion centred in the south-eastern province of Jiangxi.

Mao Zedong arrived in Jiangxi in 1929, where he and the Communist Party leadership set about establishing a prototype communist state – the Jiangxi Soviet Republic of China, as they called it. The reality was rather more modest than that ambitious title suggests.

While recording my BBC Radio 4 series on the Long March, I visited the Communist Party offices in the Jiangxi city of Yudu. During the ‘Soviet’ period of the early 1930s, the local government was run from a requisitioned salt-merchant’s house, with entire government departments housed in bedrooms the size of those in an average British family home today.

Chiang Kai-shek’s forces squeezed the communists in a series of ‘encirclements’ and, by the autumn of 1934, it had become clear that the Jiangxi Soviet could not hold out for much longer. Harrison Salisbury, an American journalist and historian who wrote an account of the Long March (with official Chinese Communist Party backing) in the mid-1980s, quotes an estimate that the communists lost 60,000 men in the last of the defensive campaigns against the Guomindang. Their only option was to run away.

That October, 86,000 Red Army troops crossed the Yudu river on pontoon bridges built from doors, bed boards and even – so they tell you in the city of Yudu today – the odd coffin lid. They marched in straw sandals, hundreds of thousands of which had been woven in the weeks leading up to their departure. The leaders hoped to link up with other Red Army units operating in south-central China, with a view to establishing a new Soviet Republic on the Jiangxi model.

They took everything with them – from a printing press to an x-ray machine – while the ordinary soldiers, many of them local recruits who had never left home, had no idea where they were heading.

The first serious battle they fought was a catastrophic defeat. Chiang’s forces caught up with them at the Xiang river in Guangxi Province and ambushed them as they crossed. Estimates of the number of troops they lost range between 15,000 and 40,000.

But Mao was an alchemist, with an astonishing ability to turn the base metal of defeat into political gold. When the Long March began, the Communist Party leadership was divided between a pro-Moscow faction (including a German military adviser called Otto Braun, sent by Stalin) and Chinese nationalists like Mao who wanted to build a home-grown revolution. Mao used the Xiang debacle as a stick with which to beat the Moscow loyalists and, at a series of meetings, he cemented his own leadership position and sidelined Braun and his allies.

Political propaganda was always central to the military campaign. The Red Army had no outside resources to draw upon and its survival depended on the support of the local population in the areas it marched through. Wherever they went, the communists enforced the policy of ‘land reform’ – a summary form of asset redistribution that often involved the execution of existing landlords.

Brilliant operation?

Military victories were few and far between – and when they came, the propaganda teams exploited them to the full. The most famous, the battle of Luding Bridge, has gone down in official history as a brilliant commando operation, but many modern historians have questioned whether it was quite as dramatic or decisive as the communists’ version claims.

In May 1935, the Red Army was in danger of being trapped on the banks of the Dadu river in Sichuan. The troops were spooked by a powerful folk-memory: in the mid-19th century, one of the last surviving armies of the Taiping rebellion against the Qing Dynasty had been forced to surrender at the same spot. Its leader, the inspirational Prince Shi Dakai, was subsequently executed by ‘the slicing method’, or ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

In a requisitioned Catholic priest’s house in the mountain town of Moxi, Mao decided on a daring plan to ensure that he and the Red Army did not come to grief in a similar way. It involved the taking and holding of an 18th-century chain suspension bridge across the Dadu in the remote town of Luding. Speed was of the essence the Red Army detachment charged with taking the bridge made a forced march of 75 miles in 24 hours over unforgiving mountain roads.

Towards the end, they found themselves in a straight race with Guomindang reinforcements on the opposite bank of the river. Pung Min Yi, now a 94-year-old farmer who lives just outside Luding, was looking after the family goats that day and witnessed the scene. He still vividly remembers the bullets pinging off the troops’ cooking pots as the Nationalists took shots from across the water.

When the Reds reached Luding, they found that the Nationalist defenders had removed most of the planks from the bridge to make it even more difficult to cross. Twenty-two commandoes clambered along the chains as they swung wildly above the swirling mountain river, they were under constant fire from the bridge house on the opposite bank. The bridge is about 100 metres long, but almost all of them made it across. The defenders fled and the crossing was secured.

That account, based on a memoir by Yang Chengwu, a Red Army commissar who was there that day, has become a staple of the many celebrations of the Long March in song and drama, and was immortalised in the hugely popular film Ten Thousand Rivers and a Thousand Mountains. Whether Yang’s version of the story is entirely accurate is another matter – but no one doubts the dreadful physical suffering the Long Marchers endured.

Scrub and bog

The Snow Mountains of Sichuan, rising to 5,500 metres, exacted a terrible toll on troops marching in light clothes with straw sandals. Then came the grasslands, an unforgiving and treacherous plateau of scrub and bog that took nearly a week to cross. Zhong Ming, one of the few Long March veterans still living, told me he watched men die as they were sucked into the mud, too exhausted to resist. It’s said that some soldiers were driven by hunger to sift through the faeces of those who had gone before in search of undigested grain to eat.

Chairman Mao declared the Long March over when he reached the province of Shaanxi, which was to serve as the Communist Party’s base for most of the time until its eventual victory in 1949. His Red Army had shrunk to no more than a few thousand troops some estimates put the figure as low as 4,000. But simply by surviving they had secured a kind of victory.

And, in a way, the Long March has never ended. In that 1935 speech, Mao called it “a machine for sowing… It has sown many seeds which will sprout, leaf, blossom and bear fruit, and will bear a harvest for the future.”

Mao’s own reputation was badly tarnished by the Cultural Revolution, but the legend of the Long March remains as powerful as ever. It is modern China’s founding myth.

Anbin Shi, a professor of cultural studies at Tsinghua University, compares it to the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. And, as he pointed out to me, you can understand the importance of the exodus without accepting every word of the biblical text.

Mao’s myths

Edward Stourton separates Long March fact from Long March fiction

The Long March wasn’t quite as long as Mao claimed

“By using our two legs, we swept across a distance of 25,000 li,” Mao declared. In the 1930s, the li was understood to equal half a kilometre, or 550 yards, so Mao was claiming a march of 12,500 kilometres or a little over 7,800 miles. Author Ed Jocelyn, who retraced the route 10 years ago, calculated that he had walked less than half that distance – 12,000 li, or 3,750 miles.

Mao’s “heroes” routinely beheaded captives

Mao said that the March “has proclaimed to the world that the Red Army is an army of heroes”. Two Protestant missionaries who were taken hostage by the Reds – Rudolph Bosshardt and Arnolis Hayman – painted them in very different colours. Hayman’s diary, unpublished until four years ago, records that “class enemies” were routinely taken hostage and tortured.

“The Reds did not seem to hold any of their prisoners for more than three days,” he wrote, “during which time the ransom was either paid by a messenger or the captive’s life is summarily ended.” Beheading was the preferred method of execution.

Many of Mao’s “heroes” were little more than child soldiers, some of them as young as 11. Large numbers deserted and faced execution if they were caught. In Shanxi, I interviewed a woman whose mother was effectively kidnapped by the Red Army as a child while she was playing in the street. She was 11 or 12 at the time and never found her home village again.

An insignificant event that became a “turning point”

The Communist Party meeting at the small town of Zunyi in January 1935 was described in a standard Chinese textbook as “the turning point of life and death in the Chinese Revolution”.

It was said to be the climax of Mao’s campaign to sideline the pro-Soviet faction and every Chinese student is taught its significance. But no minutes were kept and there was no mention of the Zunyi Resolution in party documents until after 1949. Even the official dates of the meeting were wrong.

“The truth,” explains a local historian, “is that the Zunyi Conference was perhaps not as important at the time as it was made out later.”

Edward Stourton is a broadcaster and former presenter of Today on BBC Radio 4. His books include Cruel Crossing: Escaping Hitler Across the Pyrenees (Doubleday, 2013).

Retracing the Long March

Villagers cross the Luding Bridge in Sichuan Province, site of a 1935 battle during the Long March.

Villagers cross the Luding Bridge in Sichuan Province, site of a 1935 battle during the Long March.

Barney Loehnis poses above the Three Gorges during his Long March trek 20 years ago. Photos: Courtesy of Barney Loehnis

Barney Loehnis poses above the Three Gorges during his Long March trek 20 years ago. Photos: Courtesy of Barney Loehnis

Barney Loehnis wasn't quite the stereotypical backpacker when he left home in the UK and traveled to China 20 years ago. Sure, he was young, possessed a keen spirit of adventure and was determined to scrape by on a shoestring budget. But instead of planning an itinerary involving rickety overnight trains or packed buses, he hiked 9,000 kilometers across China to retrace the Red Army's historic Long March.

"I wake at six and it is barely light. My heart is pounding. I am riddled with apprehension about the endless unknown before me. I cannot speak the language. I do not know the laws concerning travel in China," Loehnis, then 22, wrote in his journal on the eve of his trek in October 1993, which began in Yudu county, Jiangxi Province.

"I have only managed to obtain a three-month visa for a nine-month journey. I have not walked more than a gentle stroll in the past three years. And now before me is 6,000 miles of remote and unchartered country."

Despite its uncompromising terrain including 18 mountain ranges and 24 rivers and a propaganda-rich hangover, the Long March still beckons Chinese and foreign adventurers as a "red tourism" pillar. However, surprising derision directed at some people who trek it today has raised doubts over whether Long March nostalgia has reached the end of the road.

Following history's footsteps

Loehnis had been warned of bandits, bureaucratic police and even wolves while planning his Long March journey, yet he was prepared for the adventure of a lifetime with his 30-kilogram backpack containing his tent, sleeping bag, clothing and other provisions.

Loehnis was following in the footsteps of Communist forces led by Mao Zedong 59 years after their famous retreat from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang Army. In a circling retreat to the west and north covering 14 provinces over 370 days, the journey ended on October 19, 1935, in Yan'an, Shaanxi Province.

Loehnis ended his trek in Wuqi county, north of Yan'an, in June 1994, becoming the first foreigner to conquer the Long March route.

"Even now, I still feel the pains in my body," recalled the scholarly-looking Loehnis, lost in thought over a tumbler of vodka in a downtown Beijing Irish pub. "Blisters on my feet were always tough, but you get used to these things. Pain is a temporary problem, but memories are eternal."

Loehnis, who now works for an advertising agency in Hong Kong but still routinely visits Beijing, has taken the final step of modern Long March trekkers by writing a book titled The Long March Revisited, which will be published next year.

Chinese adventurer Yang Bo speaks to students at a primary school in Yunnan Province during his Long March trek

Chinese adventurer Yang Bo speaks to students at a primary school in Yunnan Province during his Long March trek

standing in front of a calligraphy-adorned wall in Liping, Guizhou Province

standing in front of a calligraphy-adorned wall in Liping, Guizhou Province

atop of Mount Mengbi in Nanping, Fujian Province. Photos: Courtesy of Yang Bo

atop of Mount Mengbi in Nanping, Fujian Province. Photos: Courtesy of Yang Bo

Different historical depictions

The Long March, which helped seal Mao's rise to power, remains one of the most storied events in the Party's history. The epic retreat's completion despite fatigue, hunger and sickness claiming nearly 70,000 lives inspired a spirit among Chinese of overcoming hardship, no matter how grave, at all odds.

In October 2006, the Party marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Long March with books, a 20-episode TV series, documentaries and a musical production depicting heroic actions and drama of the trek. Even China's family of indigenous rockets used to launch satellites into orbit is named after the Long March.

Away from its glorification, controversy has been stoked by some scholars who question the Chinese historical account of the event. British historian Ed Jocelyn, who in November 2003 completed the trek with compatriot Andrew McEwen, writes in his book The Long March (2006) the 25,000 li (12,500 kilometers) Mao claimed the retreat spanned was a gross overestimation, with the real distance being closer to 6,000 kilometers.

Sun Shuyun, who wrote The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth (2007), also questioned the historical accuracy of the 1934 Xiang River Battle in Jiangxi Province, arguing Communist troops had suffered a major loss due to widespread desertion rather than a heroic victory.

Answering the call of patriotism

Unlike history buffs, Loehnis' interest in retracing the trek was sparked by reading The Long March: The Untold Story (1985) by American journalist Harrison Salisbury.

Having already walked 6,000 kilometers from Istanbul to London just a few months after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, Loehnis undertook the Long March to experience the remote Chinese countryside and examine the original trek's effects on locals.

But for Chinese adventurers, tackling the Long March can be a quest rooted in nationalism and nostalgia.

Yang Bo, a 41-year-old Guizhou native who in March capped off his Long March odyssey, said he wanted to experience the hardships the Red Army endured firsthand.

"Life is short and people's souls are weak. I felt my life would be more meaningful if I completed the Long March. The hike has indeed brought me many breakthroughs," said Yang, a former education training company worker in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, who survived his 21-month trek with 50,000 yuan ($8,145) from his family.

"Only around one-tenth of the Red Army survived the Long March, but nevertheless the Party was able to take over the country. The Long March spirit played a major role in this accomplishment."

Pushing a 70-kilogram metal cart, Yang visited local Party offices during his trek to have his notebook stamped. He also spoke at schools to share his own experiences and keep the Long March spirit alive.

Same terrain, different receptions

The most difficult sections for both Loehnis and Yang were transversing the snowy Jiajin mountain range in Sichuan Province and crossing the high-altitude grasslands and marshlands between the Tibetan Plateau and the Sichuan Basin.

They often had to turn to locals to retrace the original route because some sections were either lost in under-developed mountainous regions or had been altered for road construction.

"There is such a fear of the grasslands in history and reality," said Loehnis, whose lack of spoken Chinese meant he relied on English teachers in the countryside when he encountered problems with village heads or the police.

An experienced traveler despite his youth, Loehnis had a valuable instinct for retracing the route when directions led him astray.

"When climbing mountains, I aimed for the lowest horizon. When coming down, I followed the water because I knew it would always bring me to a village at some point. I stopped and listened for sounds. Dogs, chickens and ducks would always lead me to a village," he said.

Setting off in summer last year, it was late October when Yang reached the Jiajin mountain range in southwestern Sichuan. Overrun by thick vegetation, paths were slippery and the high-altitude triggered constant headaches.

The temperature was -20 C at the summit, and Yang battled continuous drizzle and snow on his lonesome.

"There was hardly enough air for to breathe, and I was almost too tired to survive the altitude sickness," said Yang, who mustered all his strength to keep pushing his cart. "If I had fallen from there, my life would have been in extreme danger."

While Yang could handle the rugged terrain, harder to take were the jeers and condescending comments some of his compatriots gave him along his journey.

Dressed in a gray Red Army uniform and hoisting a red flag, Yang's mission to spread the Long March spirit was sometimes met with cynicism even from locals in "revolutionary" counties.

"Most people think the Long March belongs in history and advocating spirit is unrealistic. People are busy making money nowadays, and are also cynical about society in general," he said.

But when Loehnis made his landmark journey as the first foreigner 20 years ago, the situation could hardly have been more different.

Despite the language barrier, he was welcomed and encouraged by almost everyone along the route. Knowledgeable locals often shared their expertise and helped Loehnis map out each phase of his trek.

"Almost everyone I met seemed to love the fact I was walking across China. They seemed particularly delighted that I was following the Long March," he said.

"It struck me that [Chinese villagers] held a great deal of admiration for those early pioneers, for their sacrifices and struggle. The fact that I was doing the Long March also helped me when the police stopped me."

The reason for such contrasting attitudes, said Yang, is that growing materialism in society over the past 20 years has eroded the sense of community.

"People are getting rich, but they are still poor in regards to their spiritual pursuit. 'Red tourism' at revolutionary sites could help people feel more fulfilled and inspired," Yang said of a government-initiated tourism drive launched on the 70th anniversary of Long March in 2004.

Loehnis, now 42, still taps such a "spiritual" value from his Long March trek, using the event to remind him there are few insurmountable challenges in life.

"In some ways, it gives me inner-strength to know that it (the Long March trek) was not easy. There were at times a lot of pain and a lot of danger, yet to persevere was a big achievement. Today … I can more readily put 'small' things into perspective," he noted.

While conquering the Long March route might not be for ordinary tourists, "red tourism" appeals largely to middle aged Chinese travelers.

But for many young people whose main link to China's revolutionary past lies with their parents or grandparents, visiting sites made famous in history textbooks holds little allure.

Benjamin Tian, who studies political science at China Foreign Affairs University, said he has never visited a "red tourism" site even though his hometown of Changzhi, Shaanxi Province, has a Red Army museum.

"The idea of 'red tourism' is akin to indoctrination of an ideology. The revolutionary spirit promoted by the Party is too far away from reality, and a lot of young people are more engaged in striving for a better life. They just aren't interested in such ideology," he said.

Long March

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Long March, Chinese Chang Zheng, family of Chinese launch vehicles. Like those of the United States and Soviet Union, China’s first launch vehicles were also based on ballistic missiles. The Long March 1 (LM-1, or Chang Zheng 1) vehicle, which put China’s first satellite into orbit in 1970, was based on the Dong Feng 3 intermediate-range ballistic missile, and the Long March 2 family of launch vehicles, which has been used for roughly half of Chinese launches, was based on the Dong Feng 5 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). There are several models of the LM-2 vehicle, with different first stages and solid strap-ons an LM-2F vehicle was used to launch the first Chinese astronaut, Yang Liwei, into space in October 2003. There are also LM-3 and LM-4 launchers. The LM-3 is optimized for launches to geostationary orbit, and the LM-4, first launched in 1988, uses hypergolic propellants rather than the conventional kerosene–liquid oxygen combination used in previous Long March variants.

China has developed a second-generation family of launchers, identified as LM-5, LM-6, and LM-7, that are not based on an ICBM design. All three had their first flight in 2016. The LM-5 can launch payloads to geostationary orbit that are more than five times heavier than those carried by the LM-4. The LM-6 is designed to launch small payloads of about 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds) to low Earth orbit. The LM-7 launched slightly smaller payloads than those carried by the LM-5. Aside from this second-generation family, China has also built a small solid-fuel rocket, the LM-11, which can be launched from either a floating barge or a mobile launcher and which had its first flight in 2015.

China is developing two new Long March launch vehicles. The LM-8 has a central core with two solid-fueled boosters on the side and is scheduled to have its first flight in 2021. The first stage would return to Earth along with the boosters for future reuse. The LM-8 is designed to launch payloads of up to five tonnes to Sun-synchronous orbit (a special kind of polar orbit in which a satellite keeps the same position relative to the Sun so that it passes over a certain point at the same local time every day). The LM-9 will be a super-heavy-lift launch vehicle and China’s largest rocket ever. It is designed to lift payloads of 140 tonnes to Earth orbit and 44 tonnes to Mars. Its first test launch is scheduled for 2030, and its mission is planned to be a Mars sample return probe.


The development of the Long March 3B began in 1986 to meet the needs of the international GEO communications satellite market. During its maiden flight, on 14 February 1996 carrying the Intelsat 708 satellite, the rocket suffered a guidance failure two seconds into the flight and destroyed a nearby town, killing at least six people, [8] but outside estimates suggest that anywhere between 200 and 500 people might have been killed. [9] However, the author of the report [9] later ruled out large casualties, because evidence suggest that the crash site was evacuated before the launch. [10]

The Long March 3B and 3B/E rockets conducted ten successful launches between 1997 and 2008. [5]

In 1997, the Agila 2 satellite was forced to use onboard propellant to reach its correct orbit because of poor injection accuracy on the part of its Long March 3B launch vehicle. [11] In 2009, a Long March 3B partially failed during launch due to a third stage anomaly, which resulted in the Palapa-D satellite reaching a lower orbit than planned. [12] Nonetheless, the satellite was able to maneuver itself into the planned orbit. The Long March 3B and its variants remain in active use as of January 2021 [update] , having conducted a total of 26 consecutive successful launches, since 19 June 2017 until 9 March 2020.

In December 2013, a Long March 3B/E successfully lifted Chang'e 3, China's first Lunar lander and rover into the projected lunar-transfer orbit.

In April 2020, the third stage of the Long March 3B/E failed during a Palapa-N1 communications satellite mission this was the first total failure of the Long March 3B/E. [13]

The Long March 3B is based on the Long March 3A as its core stage, with four liquid boosters strapped on the first stage. It has a low Earth orbit (LEO) cargo capacity of 11,200 kg (24,700 lb) and a GTO capacity is 5,100 kg (11,200 lb).

Long March 3B/E Edit

The Long March 3B/E, also known as 3B/G2, is an enhanced variant of the Long March 3B, featuring an enlarged first stage and boosters, increasing its GTO payload capacity to 5,500 kg (12,100 lb). [14] Its maiden flight took place on 13 May 2007, when it successfully launched Nigeria's NigComSat-1, the first African geosynchronous communications satellite. In 2013, it successfully launched China's first lunar lander Chang'e 3 and lunar rover Yutu.

Since 2015, the Long March 3B and 3C can optionally accommodate a YZ-1 upper stage, which has been used to carry dual launches or BeiDou navigation satellites into medium Earth orbit (MEO).

Long March 3C Edit

A modified version of the Long March 3B, the Long March 3C, was developed in the mid-1990s to bridge the gap in payload capacity between the Long March 3B and 3A. It is almost identical to the Long March 3B, but has two boosters instead of four, giving it a reduced GTO payload capacity of 3,800 kg (8,400 lb). Its maiden launch took place on 25 April 2008.

Flight number Serial number Date (UTC) Launch site Version Payload Orbit Result
1 Y1 14 February 1996
XSLC, LA-2 3B Intelsat 708 GTO Failure
2 Y2 19 August 1997
XSLC, LA-2 3B Agila-2 GTO Success
3 Y3 16 October 1997
XSLC, LA-2 3B APStar 2R GTO Success
4 Y5 30 May 1998
XSLC, LA-2 3B Chinastar 1 GTO Success
5 Y4 18 July 1998
XSLC, LA-2 3B SinoSat 1 GTO Success
6 Y6 12 April 2005
XSLC, LA-2 3B APStar 6 GTO Success
7 Y7 28 October 2006
XSLC, LA-2 3B SinoSat 2 GTO Success
8 Y9 13 May 2007
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E NigComSat-1 GTO Success
9 Y10 5 July 2007
XSLC, LA-2 3B ChinaSat 6B GTO Success
10 Y11 9 June 2008
XSLC, LA-2 3B ChinaSat 9 GTO Success
11 Y12 29 October 2008
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Venesat-1 GTO Success
12 Y8 31 August 2009
XSLC, LA-2 3B Palapa-D GTO Partial failure
13 Y13 4 September 2010
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E SinoSat 6 GTO Success
14 Y20 20 June 2011
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E ChinaSat 10 GTO Success
15 Y19 11 August 2011
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Paksat-1R GTO Success
16 Y16 18 September 2011
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E ChinaSat 1A GTO Success
17 Y18 7 October 2011
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Eutelsat W3C GTO Success
18 Y21 19 December 2011
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E NigComSat-1R GTO Success
19 Y22 31 March 2012
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E APStar 7 GTO Success
20 Y14 29 April 2012
XSLC, LA-2 3B Compass-M3
MEO Success
21 Y17 26 May 2012
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E ChinaSat 2A GTO Success
22 Y15 18 September 2012
XSLC, LA-2 3B Compass-M5
MEO Success
23 Y24 27 November 2012
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E ChinaSat 12 GTO Success
24 Y25 1 May 2013
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E ChinaSat 11 GTO Success
25 Y23 1 December 2013
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Chang'e 3 TLI Success
26 Y27 20 December 2013
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Túpac Katari 1 GTO Success
27 Y26 25 July 2015
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou M1-S
BeiDou M2-S
MEO Success
28 Y32 12 September 2015
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E TJSW-1 GTO Success
29 Y33 29 September 2015
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E BeiDou I2-S GTO Success
30 Y36 16 October 2015
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E APStar 9 GTO Success
31 Y34 3 November 2015
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E ChinaSat 2C GTO Success
32 Y38 20 November 2015
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E LaoSat-1 GTO Success
33 Y31 9 December 2015
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E ChinaSat 1C GTO Success
34 Y37 28 December 2015
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Gaofen 4 GTO Success
35 Y29 15 January 2016
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E Belintersat-1 GTO Success
36 Y35 5 August 2016
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E Tiantong 1-01 GTO Success
37 Y42 10 December 2016
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E Fengyun-4A GTO Success
38 Y39 5 January 2017
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E TJSW-2 GTO Success
39 Y43 12 April 2017
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Shijian 13 GTO Success
40 Y28 19 June 2017
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Chinasat 9A GTO Partial failure
41 Y46 5 November 2017
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M1
BeiDou-3 M2
MEO Success
42 Y40 10 December 2017
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Alcomsat-1 GTO Success
43 Y45 11 January 2018
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M7
BeiDou-3 M8
MEO Success
44 Y47 12 February 2018
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M3
BeiDou-3 M4
MEO Success
45 Y48 29 March 2018
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M9
BeiDou-3 M10
MEO Success
46 Y55 3 May 2018
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Apstar 6C GTO Success
47 Y49 29 July 2018
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M5
BeiDou-3 M6
MEO Success
48 Y50 24 August 2018
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M11
BeiDou-3 M12
MEO Success
49 Y51 19 September 2018
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M13
BeiDou-3 M14
MEO Success
50 Y52 15 October 2018
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M15
BeiDou-3 M16
MEO Success
51 Y41 1 November 2018
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E BeiDou-3 G1 GTO Success
52 Y53 18 November 2018
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M17
BeiDou-3 M18
MEO Success
53 Y30 7 December 2018
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Chang'e 4 TLI Success
54 Y56 10 January 2019
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E ChinaSat 2D GTO Success
55 Y54 9 March 2019
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E ChinaSat 6C GTO Success
56 Y44 31 March 2019
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Tianlian 2-01 GTO Success
57 Y59 20 April 2019
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E BeiDou-3 I1 GTO Success
58 Y60 24 June 24, 2019
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E BeiDou-3 I2 GTO Success
59 Y58 19 August 2019
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E ChinaSat 18 GTO Success
60 Y65 22 September 2019
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M23
BeiDou-3 M24
MEO Success
61 Y57 17 October 2019
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E TJSW-4 GTO Success
62 Y61 4 November 2019
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E BeiDou-3 I3 GTO Success
63 Y66 23 November 2019
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M21
BeiDou-3 M22
MEO Success
64 Y67 16 December 2019
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E + YZ-1 BeiDou-3 M19
BeiDou-3 M20
MEO Success
65 Y62 7 January 2020
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E TJSW-5 GTO Success
66 Y69 9 March 2020
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E BeiDou-3 G2 GTO Success
67 Y71 9 April 2020
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Palapa-N1 (Nusantara Dua) GTO Failure [15]
68 Y68 23 June 2020
01:43 [16]
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E BeiDou-3 G3 GTO Success
69 Y64 9 July 2020
12:11 [17]
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Apstar 6D GTO Success
70 Y63 11 October 2020
16:57 [18]
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Gaofen-13 GTO Success
71 Y73 12 November 2020
15:59 [19]
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Tiantong 1-02 GTO Success
72 Y70 6 December 2020
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E Gaofen-14 SSO Success
73 Y74 19 January 2021
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Tiantong 1-03 GTO Success
74 Y77 4 February 2021
XSLC, LA-3 3B/E TJSW-6 GTO Success
75 Y72 2 June 2021
XSLC, LA-2 3B/E Fengyun 4B GTO Success

Intelsat 708 launch failure Edit

On 14 February 1996, the launch of the first Long March 3B with Intelsat 708 failed just after liftoff when the launch vehicle veered off course and exploded when it hit the ground at T+23 seconds. One person on the ground was killed by the explosion (the total number of casualties is unknown). The cause of the accident was traced to short-circuiting of the vehicle's guidance platform at liftoff. [20]

The participation of Space Systems/Loral in the accident investigation caused great political controversy in the United States since the information provided during the accident investigation would help China improve its rockets and ballistic missiles. The U.S. Congress reclassified satellite technology as a munition and placed it back under the restrictive International Traffic in Arms Regulations in 1998. [21] No license to launch United States spacecraft on Chinese rockets has been approved by the U.S. State Department since then, and an official at the Bureau of Industry and Security emphasized in 2016 that "no U.S.-origin content, regardless of significance, regardless of whether it's incorporated into a foreign-made item, can go to China". [22]

Palapa-D partial launch failure Edit

On 31 August 2009, during the launch of Palapa-D, the third stage engine under-performed and placed the satellite into a lower than planned orbit. The satellite was able to make up the performance shortfall using its own engine and reach geosynchronous orbit, but with its lifetime shortened to 10.5 years from the originally projected 15–16 years. The investigation found that the failure was due to burn-through of the engine's gas generator, and that "the most likely cause of the burn-through was a foreign matter or humidity-caused icing in the engine's liquid-hydrogen injectors". [23]

ChinaSat-9A partial launch failure Edit

On 19 June 2017, a Long March 3B/E mission carrying ChinaSat-9A ended in partial failure. Officials did not release details regarding the status of the mission for at least 4 hours after liftoff. [24] Two weeks later, on 7 July 2017, officials confirmed that the mission had been anomalous, with Space Daily reporting that "an anomaly was found on the carrier rocket's rolling control thruster, part of the attitude control engine, during the third gliding phase". The failure in the rocket's third stage left the payload in a lower than intended orbit, and the payload was forced to spend two weeks reaching its intended orbit under its own power. [25]

Palapa-N1 (Nusantara Dua) launch failure Edit

On 9 April 2020, a Long March 3B launcher failed after lifting off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern Sichuan province at 11:46 UTC during the launch of an Indonesian communications satellite, Palapa-N1 (Nusantara Dua) of a mass of 5500 kg and was expected to enter service in geostationary orbit at 113.0° East, replacing the Palapa-D satellite. But one of the two YF-75 third stage engines appeared failed to ignite, preventing the Palapa-N1 (Nusantara Dua) satellite to reach orbit. [26] Wreckage from the third stage and the Palapa-N1 spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere, leading to sightings of fiery debris in the skies over Guam. With the Long March 3B failure, Chinese rockets have faltered on two missions in less than a month. A Long March 7A rocket failed to place a satellite in orbit on 16 March 2020 after taking off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Hainan Island, located in southern China. [27] After two Chinese launch failures in less than a month, further Chinese launches will be likely delayed until it is sure that the quality control is satisfactory. [28]

There have been many confirmed reports and videos of boosters that have been jettisoned and landed in small villages in China. These boosters being hypergolic and highly toxic, there has been large amounts of controversy regarding photos taken of the staged boosters on fire and with civilians standing nearby. These photos ultimately led to questioning of the ethical aspect of the China National Space Administration (CNSA). Debris from the Long March 3B rocket ends up crashing into villages because unlike launchpads for other space agencies which are usually by the coastline, China's main launch pads are inland. [29] Jettisoning rocket boosters to follow a trajectory into the ocean from an inland launch pad is a very hard process as most satellite-carrying rockets follow an almost vertical trajectory until it reaches an apoapsis slightly higher than the Earth's higher atmosphere


Long March 3A rockets have been launched from Launch Areas 2 and 3 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

Flight number Serial number Date (UTC) Launch site Payload Orbit Result
1 Y1 February 8, 1994
LA-2, XSLC Shijian 4 HEO Success
2 Y2 November 29, 1994
LA-2, XSLC Dong Fang Hong 3 GTO Success
3 Y3 May 11, 1997
LA-2, XSLC ChinaSat 6 GTO Success
4 Y4 January 25, 2000
LA-2, XSLC ChinaSat 22 GTO Success
5 Y5 October 30, 2000
LA-2, XSLC Beidou-1A GTO Success
6 Y6 December 20, 2000
LA-2, XSLC Beidou-1B GTO Success
7 Y7 May 24, 2003
LA-2, XSLC Beidou-1C GTO Success
8 Y8 November 14, 2003
LA-2, XSLC ChinaSat 20 GTO Success
9 Y9 October 19, 2004
LA-2, XSLC Fengyun 2C GTO Success
10 Y10 September 12, 2006
LA-2, XSLC ChinaSat 22A GTO Success
11 Y11 December 8, 2006
LA-2, XSLC Fengyun 2D GTO Success
12 Y12 February 2, 2007
LA-2, XSLC Beidou-1D GTO Success
13 Y13 April 13, 2007
LA-3, XSLC Compass-M1 MEO Success
14 Y15 May 31, 2007
LA-3, XSLC SinoSat 3 GTO Success
15 Y14 October 24, 2007
LA-3, XSLC Chang'e 1 LTO Success
16 Y20 December 23, 2008
LA-3, XSLC Fengyun 2E GTO Success
17 Y16 July 31, 2010
LA-3, XSLC Compass-IGSO1 GTO Success
18 Y21 November 24, 2010
LA-3, XSLC ChinaSat 20A GTO Success
19 Y18 December 17, 2010
LA-3, XSLC Compass-IGSO2 GTO Success
20 Y19 April 9, 2011
LA-3, XSLC Compass-IGSO3 GTO Success
21 Y17 July 26, 2011
LA-3, XSLC Compass-IGSO4 GTO Success
22 Y23 December 1, 2011
LA-3, XSLC Compass-IGSO5 GTO Success
23 Y22 January 13, 2012
LA-3, XSLC Fengyun 2F GTO Success
24 Y24 December 31, 2014
LA-2, XSLC Fengyun 2G GTO Success
25 Y26 March 29, 2016
LA-2, XSLC Compass-IGSO6 GTO Success
26 Y25 June 5, 2018
LA-2, XSLC Fengyun 2H GTO Success
27 Y27 July 9, 2018
LA-2, XSLC Compass-IGSO7 GTO Success

LM-3A is a 3-stage launch vehicle developed on the basis of LM-3 and LM-2C. Its third stage is powered by cryogenic propellants: liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. It is dedicated for launching spacecraft into GTO. Its launch capability for GTO mission is 2,600 kg. The fairing static envelope is 3m in diameter. [4]

  1. ^ abc Mark Wade. "CZ-3A". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 2009-06-11 . Retrieved 2010-05-25 .
  2. ^ abc
  3. "LM-3A Series Launch Vehicle User's Manual - Issue 2011" (PDF) . China Great Wall Industries Corporation . Retrieved 2015-08-09 .
  4. ^ ab
  5. Gunter Krebs. "CZ-3A (Chang Zheng-3A)". Gunter's Space Page . Retrieved 2008-04-27 .
  6. ^ abcde
  7. "LM-3A". China Great Wall Industry Corporation . Retrieved 2010-05-25 .
  8. ^
  9. "Long March 3C/E - Rockets". . Retrieved 2016-11-25 .

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Long March - History

Edgar Snow's Account of "The Long March"

Having successfully broken through the first line of fortifications, the Red Army set out on its epochal year-long trek to the west and to the north, a varicolored and many-storied expedition describable here only in briefest outline. The Communists told me that they were writing a collective account of the Long March, with contributions from dozens who made it, which already totaled about 300,000 words. Adventure, exploration, discovery, human courage and cowardice, ecstasy and triumph, suffering, sacrifice, and loyalty, and then through it all, like a flame, an undimmed ardor and undying hope and amazing revolutionary optimism of those thousands of youths who would not admit defeat by man or nature or God or death — all this and more seemed embodied in the history of an odyssey unequaled in modem times.

The Reds themselves generally spoke of it as the "25,000-li March," and with all its twists, turns and countermarches, from the farthest point in Fukien to the end of the road in far northwest Shensi, some sections of the marchers undoubtedly did that much or more. An accurate stage-by-stage itinerary prepared by the First Army Corps [1] showed that its route covered a total of 18,088 li, or 6,000 miles — about twice the width of the American continent — and this figure was perhaps the average march of the main forces. The journey took them across some of the world's most difficult trails, unfit for wheeled traffic, and across the high snow mountains and the great rivers of Asia. It was one long battle from beginning to end.

Four main lines of defense works, supported by strings of concrete machine-gun nests and blockhouses, surrounded the Soviet districts in Southwest China, and the Reds had to shatter those before they could reach the unblockaded areas to the west. The first line, in Kiangsi, was broken on October 21, 1934 the second, in Hunan, was occupied on November 3 and a week later the third, also in Hunan, fell to the Reds after bloody fighting. The Kwangsi and Hunan troops gave up the fourth and last line on November 29, and the Reds swung northward into Hunan, to begin trekking in a straight line for Szechuan, where they planned to enter the Soviet districts and combine with the Fourth Front Army there, under Hsu Hsiang-ch'ien. Between the dates mentioned above, nine battles were fought. In all, a combination of 110 regiments had been mobilized in their path by Nanking and by the provincial warlords Ch'en Ch'i-tang, Ho Chien, and Pai Chung-hsi.

During the march through Kiangsi, Kwangtung, Kwangsi, and Hunan, the Reds suffered very heavy losses. Their numbers were reduced by about one-third by the time they reached the border of Kweichow province. This was due, first, to the impediment of a vast amount of transport, 5,000 men being engaged in that task alone. The vanguard was very much retarded, and in many cases the enemy was given time to prepare elaborate obstructions in the line of march. Second, from Kiangsi an undeviating northwesterly route was maintained, which enabled Nanking to anticipate most of the Red Army's movements.

Serious losses as a result of these errors caused the Reds to adopt new tactics in Kweichow. Instead of an arrowlike advance, they began a series of distracting maneuvers, so that it became more and more difficult for Nanking planes to identify the day-by-day objective of the main forces. Two columns, and sometimes as many as four columns, engaged in a baffling series of maneuvers on the flanks of the central column, and the vanguard developed a pincerlike front. Only the barest and lightest essentials of equipment were retained, and night marches for the greatly reduced transport corps — a daily target for the air bombing — became routine.

Anticipating an attempt to cross the Yangtze River into Szechuan, Chiang-Kai-shek withdrew thousands of troops from Hupeh, Anhui, and Kiangsi and shipped them hurriedly westward, to cut off ( from the north) the Red Army's route of advance. All crossings were heavily fortified all ferries were drawn to the north bank of the river all roads were blocked great areas were denuded of grain. Other thousands of Nanking troops poured into Kweichow to reinforce the opium-soaked provincials of warlord Wang Chia-lieh, whose army in the end was practically immobilized by the Reds. Still others were dispatched to the Yunnan border, to set up obstacles there. In Kweichow, therefore, the Reds found a reception committee of a couple of hundred thousand troops, and obstructions thrown up everywhere in their path. This necessitated two great countermarches across the province, and a wide circular movement around the capital.

Maneuvers in Kweichow occupied the Reds for four months, during which they destroyed five enemy divisions, captured the headquarters of Governor Wang and occupied his foreign-style palace in Tsunyi, recruited about 20,000 men, and visited most of the villages and towns of the province, calling mass meetings and organizing Communist cadres among the youth. Their losses were negligible, but they still faced the problem of crossing the Yangtze. By his swift concentration on the Kweichow-Szechuan border, Chiang Kai-shek had skillfully blocked the short, direct roads that led to the great river. He now placed his main hope of exterminating the Reds on the prevention of this crossing at any point, hoping to push them far to the southwest, or into the wastelands of Tibet. To his various commanders and the provincial warlords he telegraphed: "The fate of the nation and the party depends on bottling up the Reds south of the Yangtze."

Suddenly, early in May, 1935, the Reds turned southward and entered Yunnan, where China's frontier meets Burma and Indochina. A spectacular march in four days brought them within ten miles of the capital, Yunnanfu, and warlord Lung Yun (Dragon Cloud) frantically mobilized all available troops for defense. Chiang's reinforcements meanwhile moved in from Kweichow in hot pursuit. Chiang himself and Mme. Chiang, who had been staying in Yunnanfu, hastily repaired down the French railway toward Indochina. A big squadron of Nanking bombers kept up their daily egg-laying over the Reds, but on they came. Presently the panic ended. It was discovered that their drive on Yunnanfu had been only a diversion carried out by a few troops. The main Red forces were moving westward, obviously with the intention of crossing the river at Lengkai, one of the few navigable points of the Upper Yangtze.

Through the wild mountainous country of Yunnan, the Yangtze River flows deeply and swiftly between immense gorges, great peaks in places rising in defiles of a mile or more, with steep walls of rock lifting almost perpendicularly on either side. The few crossings had all been occupied long ago by government troops. Chiang was well pleased. He now ordered all boats drawn to the north bank of the river and burned. Then he started his own troops, and Lung Yun's, in an enveloping movement around the Red Army, hoping to finish it off forever on the banks of this historic and treacherous stream.

Seemingly unaware of their fate, the Reds continued to march rapidly westward in three columns toward Lengkai. The boats had been burned there, and Nanking pilots reported that a Red vanguard had begun building a bamboo bridge. Chiang became more confident this bridge-building would take weeks. But one evening, quite unobtrusively, a Red battalion suddenly reversed its direction. On a phenomenal forced march it covered eighty-five miles in one night and day, and in late afternoon descended upon the only other possible ferry crossing in the vicinity, at Chou P'ing Fort. Dressed in captured Nanking uniforms, the battalion entered the town at dusk without arousing comment, and quietly disarmed the garrison.

Boats had been withdrawn to the north bank — but they had not been destroyed. (Why spoil boats, when the Reds were hundreds of li distant, and not coming there anyway? So the government troops may have reasoned.) But how to get one over to the south bank? After dark the Reds escorted a village official to the river and forced him to call out to the guards on the opposite side that some government troops had arrived and wanted a boat. Unsuspectingly one was sent across. Into it piled a detachment of these "Nanking" soldiers, who soon disembarked on the north shore — in Szechuan at last. Calmly entering the garrison, they surprised guards who were peacefully playing mah-jong and whose stacked weapons the Reds took over without any struggle.

Meanwhile the main forces of the Red Army had executed a wide countermarch, and by noon of the next day the vanguard reached the fort. Crossing was now a simple matter. Six big boats worked constantly for nine days. The entire army was transported into Szechuan without a life lost. Having concluded the operation, the Reds promptly destroyed the vessels and lay down to sleep. When Chiang's forces reached the river, two days later, the rear guard of their enemy called cheerily to them from the north bank to come on over, the swimming was fine. The government troops were obliged to make a detour of over 200 li to the nearest crossing, and the Reds thus shook them from their trail. Infuriated, the Generalissimo now flew to Szechuan, where he mobilized new forces in the path of the oncoming horde, hoping to cut them off at one more strategic river — the great Tatu.

The crossing of the Tatu River was the most critical single incident of the Long March. Had the Red Army failed there, quite possibly it would have been exterminated. The historic precedent for such a fate already existed. On the banks of the remote Tatu the heroes of the Three Kingdoms and many warriors since then had met defeat, and in these same gorges the last of the T'ai-p'ing rebels, an army of 100,000 led by Prince Shih Ta-k'ai, was in the nineteenth century surrounded and completely destroyed by the Manchu forces under the famous Tseng Kuo-fan. To warlords Liu Hsiang and Liu Wen-hui, his allies in Szechuan, and to his own generals in command of the government pursuit, Generalissimo Chiang now wired an exhortation to repeat the history of the T'ai-p'ing.

But the Reds also knew about Shih Ta-k'ai, and that the main cause of his defeat had been a costly delay. Arriving at the banks of the Tatu, Prince Shih had paused for three days to honor the birth of his son — an imperial prince. Those days of rest had given his enemy the chance to concentrate against him, and to make the swift marches in his rear that blocked his line of retreat. Realizing his mistake too late, Prince Shih had tried to break the enemy encirclement, but it was impossible to maneuver in the narrow terrain of the defiles, and he was erased from the map.

The Reds determined not to repeat his error. Moving rapidly northward from the Gold Sand River (as the Yangtze there is known) into Szechuan, they soon entered the tribal country of warlike aborigines, the "White" and "Black" Lolos of Independent Lololand. Never conquered, never absorbed by the Chinese who dwelt all around them, the turbulent Lolos had for centuries occupied that densely forested and mountainous spur of Szechuan whose borders are marked by the great southward arc described by the Yangtze just east of Tibet. Chiang Kai-shek could well have confidently counted on a long delay and weakening of the Reds here which would enable him to concentrate north of the Tatu. The Lolos' hatred of the Chinese was traditional, and rarely had any Chinese army crossed their borders without heavy losses or extermination.

But the Reds had already safely passed through the tribal districts of the Miao and the Shan peoples, aborigines of Kweichow and Yunnan, and had won their friendship and even enlisted some tribesmen in their army. Now they sent envoys ahead to parley with the Lolos. On the way they captured several towns on the borders of independent Lololand, where they found a number of Lolo chieftains who had been imprisoned as hostages by provincial Chinese warlords. Freed and sent back to their people, these men naturally praised the Reds.

In the vanguard of the Red Army was Commander Liu Po-ch'eng, [2] who had once been an officer in a warlord army of Szechuan. Liu knew the tribal people, and their inner feuds and discontent. Especially he knew their hatred of Chinese, and he could speak something of the Lolo tongue. Assigned the task of negotiating a friendly alliance, he entered their territory and went into conference with the chieftains. The Lolos, he said, opposed warlords Liu Hsiang and Liu Wen-hui and the Kuomintang so did the Reds. The Lolos wanted to preserve their independence Red policies favored autonomy for all the national minorities of China. The Lolos hated the Chinese because they had been oppressed by them but there were "White" Chinese and "Red" Chinese, just as there were "White" Lolos and "Black" Lolos, and it was the White Chinese who had always slain and oppressed the Lolos. Should not the Red Chinese and the Black Lolos unite against their common enemies, the White Chinese? The Lolos listened interestedly. Slyly they asked for arms and bullets to guard their independence and help Red Chinese fight the Whites. To their astonishment, the Reds gave them both.

And so it happened that not only a speedy but a politically useful passage was accomplished. Hundreds of Lolos enlisted with the "Red" Chinese to march to the Tatu River to fight the common enemy. Some of those Lolos were to trek clear to the Northwest. Liu Po-ch'eng drank the blood of a newly killed chicken before the high chieftain of the Lolos, who drank also, and they swore blood brotherhood in the tribal manner. By this vow the Reds declared that whosoever should violate the terms of their alliance would be even as weak and cowardly as the fowl.

Thus a vanguard division of the First Army Corps, led by Lin Piao, reached the Tatu Ho. On the last day of the march they emerged from the forests of Lololand (in the thick foliage of which Nanking pilots had completely lost track of them), to descend suddenly on the river town of An Jen Ch'ang, just as unheralded as they had come into Chou P'ing Fort. Guided over narrow mountain trails by the Lolos, the vanguard crept quietly up to the little town and from the heights looked down to the river bank, and saw with amazement and delight one of the three ferryboats made fast on the south bank of the river! Once more an act of fate had befriended them.

How had it happened? On the opposite shore there was only one regiment of the troops of General Liu Wen-hui, the co-dictator of Szechuan province. Other Szechuan troops, as well as reinforcements from Nanking, were leisurely proceeding toward the Tatu, but the single regiment meanwhile must have seemed enough. A squad should have been ample, with all boats moored to the north. But the commander of that regiment was a native of the district he knew the country the Reds must pass through, and how long it would take them to penetrate to the river. They would be many days yet, he could have told his men. And his wife, one learned, had been a native of An Jen Ch'ang, so he must cross to the south bank to visit his relatives and his friends and to feast with them. Thus it happened that the Reds, taking the town by surprise, captured the commander, his boat, and their passage to the north.

Sixteen men from each of five companies volunteered to cross in the first boat and bring back the others, while on the south bank the Reds set up machine guns on the mountainsides and over the river spread a screen of protective fire concentrated on the enemy's exposed positions. It was May. Floods poured down the mountains, and the river was swift and even wider than the Yangtze. Starting far upstream, the ferry took two hours to cross and land just opposite the town. From the south bank the villagers of An Jen Ch'ang watched breathlessly. They would be wiped out! But wait. They saw the voyagers land almost beneath the guns of the enemy. Now, surely, they would be finished. And yet . . . from the south bank the Red machine guns barked on. The onlookers saw the little party climb ashore, hurriedly take cover, then slowly work their way up a steep cliff overhanging the enemy's positions. There they set up their own light machine guns and sent a downpour of lead and hand grenades into the enemy redoubts along the river.

Suddenly the White troops ceased firing, broke from their redoubts, and fled to a second and then a third line of defense. A great murmur went up from the south bank and shouts of "Hao!" drifted across the river to the little band who had captured the ferry landing. Meanwhile the first boat returned, towing two others, and on the second trip each carried eighty men. The enemy had fled. That day and night, and the next, and the next, those three ferries of An Jen Ch'ang worked back and forth until at last nearly a division had been transferred to the northern bank

But the river flowed faster and faster. The crossing became more and more difficult. On the third day it took four hours to shift a boatload of men from shore to shore. At this rate it would be weeks before the whole army and its animals and supplies could be moved. Long before the operation was completed they would be encircled. The First Army Corps had now crowded into An Jen Ch'ang, and behind were the flanking columns, and the transport and rear guard. Chiang Kai-shek's airplanes had found the spot, and heavily bombed it. Enemy troops were racing up from the southeast others approached from the north. A hurried military conference was summoned by Lin Piao. Chu Teh, Mao Tse-tung, Chou En-lai, and P'eng Teh-huai had by now reached the river. They took a decision and began to carry it out at once.

Some 400 li to the west of An Jen Ch'ang, where the gorges rise very high and the river flows narrow, deep, and swift, there was an iron-chain suspension bridge called the Liu Ting Chiao — the Bridge Fixed by Liu. [3] It was the last possible crossing of the Tatu east of Tibet. Toward this the barefoot Reds now set out along a trail that wound through the gorges, at times climbing several thousand feet, again dropping low to the level of the swollen stream itself and wallowing through waist-deep mud. If they captured the Liu Ting Chiao the whole army could enter central Szechuan. If they failed they would have to retrace their steps through Lololand, re-enter Yunnan, and fight their way westward toward Likiang on the Tibetan border — a detour of more than a thousand li, which few might hope to survive.

As their main forces pushed westward along the southern bank, the Red division already on the northern bank moved also. Sometimes the gorges between them closed so narrowly that the two lines of Reds could shout to each other across the stream sometimes that gulf between them measured their fear that the Tatu might separate them forever, and they stepped more swiftly. As they wound in long dragon Ales along the cliffs at night their 10,000 torches sent arrows of light slanting down the dark face of the imprisoning river. Day and night these vanguards moved at double-quick, pausing only for brief ten-minute rests and meals, when the soldiers listened to lectures by their weary political workers, who over and over again explained the importance of this one action, exhorting each to give his last breath, his last urgent strength, for victory in the test ahead of them. There could be no slackening of pace, no halfheartedness, no fatigue. "Victory was life," said P'eng Teh-huai "defeat was certain death."

On the second day the vanguard on the right bank fell behind. Szechuan troops had set up positions in the road, and skirmishes took place. Those on the southern bank pressed on more grimly. Presently new troops appeared on the opposite bank, and through their field glasses the Reds saw that they were White reinforcements, hurrying to the Bridge Fixed by Liu. For a whole day these troops raced each other along the stream, but gradually the Red vanguard, the pick of all the Red Army, pulled away from the enemy's tired soldiers, whose rests were longer and more frequent, whose energy seemed more spent, and who were perhaps none too anxious to die for a bridge.

The Bridge Fixed by Liu was built centuries ago, and in the manner of all bridges of the deep rivers of western China. Sixteen heavy iron chains, with a span of some 100 yards or more, were stretched across the river, their ends imbedded on each side under great piles of cemented rock, beneath the stone bridgeheads. Thick boards lashed over the chains made the road of the bridge, but upon their arrival the Reds found that half this wooden flooring had been removed, and before them only the bare iron chains swung to a point midway in the stream. At the northern bridgehead an enemy machine-gun nest faced them, and behind it were positions held by a regiment of White troops. The bridge should, of course, have been destroyed, but the Szechuanese were sentimental about their few bridges it was not easy to rebuild them, and they were costly. Of Liu Ting it was said that "the wealth of the eighteen provinces contributed to build it." And who would have thought the Reds would insanely try to cross on the chains alone? But that was what they did.

No time was to be lost. The bridge must be captured before enemy reinforcements arrived. Once more volunteers were called for. One by one Red soldiers stepped forward to risk their lives, and, of those who offered themselves, thirty were chosen. Hand grenades and Mausers were strapped to their backs, and soon they were swinging out above the boiling river, moving hand over hand, clinging to the iron chains. Red machine guns barked at enemy redoubts and spattered the bridgehead with bullets. The enemy replied with machine-gunning of his own, and snipers shot at the Reds tossing high above the water, working slowly toward them. The first warrior was hit, and dropped into the current below a second fell, and then a third. But as others drew nearer the center, the bridge flooring somewhat protected these dare-to-dies, and most of the enemy bullets glanced off, or ended in the cliffs on the opposite bank.

Probably never before had the Szechuanese seen fighters like these — men for whom soldiering was not just a rice bowl, and youths ready to commit suicide to win. Were they human beings or madmen or gods? Was their own morale affected? Did they perhaps not shoot to kill? Did some of them secretly pray that these men would succeed in their attempt? At last one Red crawled up over the bridge flooring, uncapped a grenade, and tossed it with perfect aim into the enemy redoubt. Nationalist officers ordered the rest of the planking torn up. It was already too late. More Reds were crawling into sight. Paraffin was thrown on the planking, and it began to bum. By then about twenty Reds were moving forward on their hands and knees, tossing grenade after grenade into the enemy machine-gun nest.

Suddenly, on the southern shore, their comrades began to shout with joy. "Long live the Red Army! Long live the Revolution! Long live the heroes of Tatu Ho!" For the enemy was withdrawing in pell-mell flight. Running full speed over the remaining planks of the bridge, through the flames licking toward them, the assailants nimbly hopped into the enemy's redoubt and turned the abandoned machine gun against the shore.

More Reds now swarmed over the chains, and arrived to help put out the fire and replace the boards. And soon afterwards the Red division that had crossed at An Jen Ch'ang came into sight, opening a flank attack on the remaining enemy positions, so that in a little while the White troops were wholly in flight — either in flight, that is, or with the Reds, for about a hundred Szechuan soldiers here threw down their rifles and turned to join their pursuers. In an hour or two the whole army was joyously tramping and singing its way across the River Tatu into Szechuan. Far overhead angrily and impotently roared the planes of Chiang Kai-shek, and the Reds cried out in delirious challenge to them.

For their distinguished bravery the heroes of An fen Ch'ang and Liu Ting Chiao were awarded the Gold Star, highest decoration in the Red Army of China.

[1] An Account of the Long March, First Army Corps (Yu Wang Pao, August, 1936).
[2] See BN.
[3] Literally the bridge "made fast" by Liu.

From Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China (New York: Grove Press, 1968). (Originally published 1938).

"The Long March": A Poem by Mao Zedong

The Red Army fears not the trials of the Long March
And thinks nothing of a thousand mountains and rivers.
The Wuling Ridges spread out like ripples
The Wumeng Ranges roll like balls of clay.
Warmly are the cliffs wrapped in clouds washed by the Gold Sand
Chilly are the iron chains lying across the width of the Great Ferry.
A thousand acres of snow on the Min Mountain delight
My troops who have just left them behind.

— Mao Zedong, September 1935

From David L. Weitzman, Mao Tse-tung and The Chinese Revolution.

On a map of China trace the route of the Long March. Why was the route so twisted and torturous? Why did the Communists travel all the way to Yenan? Find the places Mao's poem refers to. Why did he mention these particular places?

Compare the Long March of the Chinese Communists with other key events that become mythologized, for example: Paul Revere's ride, the storming of the Bastille in Paris, the attack on the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, the victory of Shaka Zulu in southern Africa, the slave mutiny on the Amistad, Rosa Parks' refusal to move to the back of the bus in the American Civil Rights movement.

“I Have a Dream” Speech

King agreed to speak last, as all the other presenters wanted to speak earlier, figuring news crews would head out by mid-afternoon. Though his speech was scheduled to be four minutes long, he ended up speaking for 16 minutes, in what would become one of the most famous orations of the civil rights movement𠅊nd of human history.

Though it has become known as the “I Have a Dream” speech, the famous line wasn’t actually part of King’s planned remarks that day. After leading into King’s speech with the classic spiritual “I’ve Been 𠆋uked, and I’ve Been Scorned,” gospel star Mahalia Jackson stood behind the civil rights leader on the podium.

At one point during his speech, she called out to him, “Tell 𠆎m about the dream, Martin, tell 𠆎m about the dream!” referring to a familiar theme he had referenced in earlier speeches.

Departing from his prepared notes, King then launched into the most famous part of his speech that day: 𠇊nd so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” From there, he built to his dramatic ending, in which he announced the tolling of the bells of freedom from one end of the country to the other.

𠇊nd when this happens…we will be able to speed up that day when all God’s children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 𠆏ree at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

Watch the video: Καταστροφή ή εθνική αναγέννηση για την Ελλάδα (June 2022).


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