The Rise of the Chinese Communist Party

Ting Chen, James Kai-sing Kung

Research output: Working paperPreprint


We examine the historical rise of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from a small reading group that aimed to spread Marxism among students and industrial workers to the world’s second largest political party that increasingly challenges the established hegemonic order. Using a spatial regression discontinuity design and a number of measures – middle-to-high-ranking cadres, martyr soldiers, and guerrilla bases – as proxies for the rise of the CCP during the Sino-Japanese War, we find that it grew significantly more in counties occupied by the Japanese Army. We identify three particular channels behind the CCP’s political ascendancy. First, the Communists took advantage of the militarily weaker “puppet troops”. Second, they built more grassroots party organizations inside the occupied areas to mobilize support and gain loyalty. Last, support for the CCP was powered by a strong nationalist sentiment spurred by war suffering of various kinds, including struggle for survival and humiliation and hatred.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages57
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Publication series


User-Defined Keywords

  • Communist Revolution
  • Peasant Nationalism
  • Martyr Soldiers
  • Guerilla Base
  • Power Vacuum
  • War Suffering
  • Humiliation
  • Puppet Troops
  • China


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