The Maoist regime began not in 1949, with the declaration of the People’s Republic of China, but twenty years earlier, with the defeat of the Chinese working class movement at the hands of Chiang Kai Shek.
Masses of communist workers were slaughtered by the White Terror. After the Canton uprising of December 1927, the Chinese working class remained prostrate under the heel of Chiang. But it was still alive and capable of reviving – at least until the full-scale Japanese invasion of 1937 crushed political life in the cities.
What happened to the Chinese working class was partly determined by