The Chinese Railway Incident of 1929

In 1929, The Soviet Union was trying extremely hard to find itself and in doing so were trying to build a dominant world power under the Communist system that Stalin wanted to implement with his “5 Year Plan”. While the Soviet Union thought that Communism was the right system for the world to operate under, not every body had the same opinion.

In China, Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang forces fought against and destroyed the Chinese Communist forces and took over the majority of the power within China. Because of this, the Kuomintang cut off all ties with the Soviet Union and looked to extend their influence into Manchuria, a key strategic area for Soviet railways.



The railways in Manchuria were the property of the Soviet Union, but seeing the Communist Russians in the area angered many of the Kuomintang forces. Tired of this, on May 27, 1929, the Kuomintang raided the railway towns and captured many of the Soviet workers and their documents. Eventually, despite the wishes of the Soviet Union, the Kuomintang had full control of the area’s railways.



In September of the same year, the Red Army invaded Manchuria and seized the reigns to the railroad back from the Kuomintang by November and things were relatively back to normal. This inflamed relations not only between the Soviet Union and China but also with the Soviet Union and the United States, who did not support the Communist ways.

In summary, while the Soviet Union were bent on perfecting their Communist system and spreading it around the world, not quite everybody else shared the view and through some conflicts, international relations around the world were inflamed, leading to future conflicts.


Freeze, Gregory. Russia: A History. 3rd Ed. New York: Oxford, 2009. 344-345. Print.


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12 Responses to The Chinese Railway Incident of 1929

    joeconnorwilly says:

    This is an interesting post, because it begins by stating that the Soviets wanted to spread communism. However, the starting point of communism is the revolution of the proletariat, not an armed invasion. It is not surprising that the Soviets would invade Manchuria to defend its interests, but it could have caused a real international incident.

  1. Good topic, makes me curious though of how much of an impact did the five months without control of the railway in this area have on the USSR’s ability to distribute food and other supplies. Are there any other possible reasons that the Kuomintang forces would take control of the railway? Is just for the purposes of being a thorn in the foot of the communists at the time?

    • From what I understood, the Kuomintang were essentially excited about overthrowing the Communist rule in the areas and they wanted to get rid of any other traces. It just so happened that the railways were controlled by the Communists and the Kuomintang desired to have the railways under their control.

    Ben Wolfenstein says:

    Most of the world was scared of the Soviet communist experiment and Chiang Kai-Shek was one of the worlds most powerful communist haters. He hated communism so much that he was willing to risk war with a European country while China was still very weak. This incident does foreshadow the Koumintang’s war with Mao Zedong’s communist rebels, not just that there was a war, but that he would at first seem victorious before his enemies eventually won.

  2. I think it’s important to compare the situation between China and Russia in 1929 to some of their interactions that would occur later on and to their relationship today. It’s also a little bit ironic that the Kuomintang would attack a Russian railway considering how pro-sovereignty the Chinese are today.

    carastombock says:

    I had never put these two different “studies” of history together until reading this post! I’ve learned about Soviet Russia and about the nationalist vs. communist struggle in China, but had ever pictured them interacting with each other. Great job bringing these two giant puzzle pieces together! I agree with the previous comments, though, it’s very interesting to see the interactions between the two nations then and comparing it to their interactions now.

  3. Interesting article about an extremely complex situation and events that dovetail with the Muckden Incident and Japan’s invasion of Manchuria just two years later. Although Russia had originally built and operated the entire China Eastern Railway, the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth granted Japan rights to the southern portion from Harbin to Port Arthur, through which Japan expanded its business interests and political influence in the region, making this an important issue in relations between all three countries.

  4. Thanks for tying this incident back to the Russo-Japanese war and the Treaty of Portsmouth! There’s another really good post on this topic here:

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