An unsuccessful mission: the short-lived alliance of the Soviet Union with warlord Feng Yuxiang, 1925-1927




Petrov, Dmitry

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This Master’s thesis examines the reasons for the failure of the Soviet advisers’ mission in Chinese warlord Feng Yuxiang’s army in 1925-1927. The USSR had strategic interests in Northern China and needed an ally to help it promote them. Soviet leadership chose prominent Chinese political and military leader Feng Yuxiang as one of its main allies in Northern China and sent advisers to help him strengthen and indoctrinate his army. This mission’s goals were to establish close relations with Feng and his officers, to influence the organizational and military planning of his army and to promote Soviet nationalist and ideological interests. However, the Soviet advisers did not succeed. This thesis focuses on the three main reasons of the mission’s failure: the advisers’ group’s political, ideological and internal problems. Chapter I examines Soviet strategic interests in North China as well as reasons for Soviet-Feng alliance. Chapter II discusses the conflicts between Feng and advisers that were caused by differences in their political views, strategic interests and plans for China’s future. It also focuses on the ideological differences between Feng and the Soviet advisers, including Feng’s disapproval of the communist ideology and the advisers’ disapproval of Feng’s use of Christianity to improve the discipline in his army. Finally, Chapter III discusses a factor that has long been neglected in other studies: the group’s internal problems. Indeed, insufficient preparation of the mission caused communicational and cultural issues on a personal level between the advisers and Feng Yuxiang’s officers. This thesis brings together information from previous works and uses rare documents from the Communist International archives. Declassified advisers’ reports and letters, in combination with personal memoires of the survived advisers, allow the study to research this topic in a new, more personal perspective.



Feng Yuxiang, Northern China, Communist ideology, Soviet - Feng alliance