All the way there was conflict between the CCP and the KMT. In October 1934 80 000 men, women and children broke through the Nationalist cordon, and they chose to push norton along the Yangtze, heading for the province of Shen-Si. They managed 40km per day. The KMT attacked (inflicting heavy losses) and they looked to attack again so Mao split his forces and moved west; and Golden Snads River, they moved north again. On the way they faced the cold, swamps, mountain passes, and attacks by both territorial tribesmen and the KMT itself. 20 000 survivors made it to Yenan; the ordeal gains support and admiration for the CCP, and Mao becomes the undisputed leader of the party.
On September the 18th, 1931, a section of the Japanese-owned railway in Manchuria was blown up (at Mukden), and the Japanese blamed the Chinese. Within hours Japanese forces had pushed Chinese forces out of the area and back to Chang Chung. China appealed to the League of Nations, but this did nothing because they were all caught up in the Depression. By 1932, Japan had total control of Manchuria, and placed Pu-Yi as a puppet ruler. They renamed it to Manchukuo in 1933, and added the formerly Chinese province of Jehol to it. Finally, Chiang Kai-Shek decides to attack the Japanese forces instead of the CCP.
April 1927 - Chaing's attacks at Shanghai set back the CCP. Mao tried to regain some ground by establishing a base in Hunan province. Mao also made an unsuccessful attack on the city of Chang-Sha; he musters all communist forces and assembles them (at the base) in mountainous country on the Kiangsi-Hunan border. Mao began his communist experiment here, basing his emphasis on the peasantry, rather than the urban masses (which is what Russia did); he gambled on the incentive of land reform. He set up a defence force, commanded by Chu-Teh, and used guerrilla warfare tactics against the KMT. Some land policies were implemented - landlords were killed and their land redistributed: these brutal measures were welcomed by the peasantry, and support for the CCP by the peasantry grows. Finally, the soviet begins to prosper in its isolated position and starts to exercise its influence.
Alarmed at the success of Mao's soviet, Chiang decided to eradicate his opposition. In the 1930 campaign, the KMT floundered because of the use of guerilla tactics by the CCP, and the support of the communists by the peasants. In 1931 there were two more campaigns - these did not work. In June 1932 he tried again, but this also failed. The KMT then surrounded the CCP and cut off their supply lines so Mao has to find new headquarters.
Chiang stepped up his attacks on the communists, while ignoring invading Japan. The CCP and the people called for a united front, but the KMT did not back down and nothing was done to stop the Japanese. Chiang used his reserve provincial troops, including the Manchurian ones, against the CCP - a poor choice as the Manchurian troops wanted to attack the Japanese. They were also interested in a united front. In October 1936 they continued to attack; however, negotiations started between the CCP and the KMT and co-operation was finally established.
On the 7th of July, 1937, fighting broke out between the Chinese and Japanese forces at the Marco Polo bridge near Peking, and at the end of July Peking falls to Japan. On the 2nd of August a second front develops with the Japanese attack of Shanghai; they used a form of "Blitzkreig" - typified in World War II by Germany - and crushed all the defenders in their path. Shanghai, and later Nanking, fell to them in this manner.
Chung King became China's wartime capital once Nanking and Hankau fell. Chiang's policy was to retreat and extend the Japanese over a large area. The Japanese set up a puppet government under Wang Ching Wei.
Chiang's war effort was rather passive and non-aggressive due to his isolated defensive position. Chiang, now isolated from his coastal supply base, raised taxes in the area he controlled to pay for the war. There were no land reforms introduced.
Mao used guerilla tactics with great success with great success, and peasants gave great support to the CCP. Areas under CCP operation were subject to land reform and this gained them further support.