The Communist breakthrough: How Hong Kong Became a Nexus of Information and Material Exchange for the Chinese Communist Party (1930-1949)


Bixiao He

The American Journal of Chinese Studies, 28 (2021): 13-30.

Abstract: In the 1930s and 1940s, Hong Kong figured centrally in efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to develop essential links that tied together its underground urban operations, its rural bases, and the outside world. The role of Hong Kong is often overlooked in conventional narratives that stress the successful mobilization of peasants from inland rural areas as the main basis for the CCP’s ultimate victory in 1949. Nonetheless, an examination of the Party’s activities in British-governed Hong Kong highlights the important role this city also played in the CCP’s success. Indeed, starting in the early 1930s and especially from 1946 to 1949, Hong Kong gradually replaced Shanghai as the CCP’s main nexus for information exchange and material transmission. This article seeks to show not only how the CCP developed an operational base in Hong Kong but also how this base became an effective transnational networking hub, through which the Party fostered Communist movements throughout Southeast Asia, incorporated supporters from the Chinese diaspora, and took in resources from the Soviet Union.

About the authorHe Bixiao was a HYI Chinese Politics Training Program Visiting Scholar from 2016-17.