The Guangzhou Uprising or Canton Riots of 1927 was a failed Communist uprising in the city of Guangzhou in southern China.
On December 11, 1927, Red Guard (the paramilitary units of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s) fighters, directed by Communist political leaders, took over Guangzhou (then romanized as "Canton"). The uprising occurred despite the strong objections of Communist military commanders such as Ye Ting, Ye Jianying and Xu Xiangqian. Using the element of surprise, rebel forces took most of the city within hours, despite a huge numerical and technical advantage held by government troops. The Communist leaders officially renamed the city's political structure "Guangzhou Soviet". However, the uprising was quickly crushed by warlord armies. Zhang Tailei, the leading Red Guard organizer, was killed in an ambush as he returned from a meeting. The takeover dissolved by the early morning of December 13, 1927.
In the resulting purges, many young Communists were executed and the Guangzhou Soviet became known as the "Guangzhou Commune" or "Paris Commune of the East"; it lasted only a short time at the cost of more than 5,700 Communists dead and an equal number missing. Around 8 p.m. on 13 December, the Soviet consulate in Guangzhou was surrounded and all its personnel were arrested. In the accident the consulate diplomats Ukolov, Ivanov and others were killed. Ye Ting, the military commander, was scapegoated, purged and blamed for the failure, despite the fact that the obvious disadvantages of the Communist force was the main cause of the defeat, as Ye Ting and other military commanders had correctly pointed out. Enraged by his unjustified treatment, Ye Ting left China and went into exile in Europe, not returning until nearly a decade later.
Despite being the third failed uprising of 1927, it encouraged further uprisings across China.
- Dirlik, Arif (1 October 1997), "Narrativizing Revolution: The Guangzhou Uprising (11-13 December 1927) in Workers' Perspective", Modern China.