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China's massive rural population made the small groups of workers seem negligible. Her cities were small, and few factories existed in them. Industrialization for China did not begun until World War I during which trade routes were cut off and production shifted from civil to military. Goods became scarce causing demand to soar, making it profitable to start factories. The overwhelming majority of China's population were composed of peasant farmers. The lack of industrialization created a chain reaction which led to further deviations.
The difference in size of the proletariate caused another deviation from Marxism. The main revolt did not come from the workers of industrial cities as Marx had envisioned. Instead, it came from the peasant farmers from the rural countryside. Communists had always believed that their revolution would have to be spearheaded by oppressed factory workers in the cities, but Mao showed that the revolutionary base could be established in a region far from the cities and towns. From these peasants Mao recruited members for the C.C.P. and the Chinese Red Army. The Communists originally hoped to create a massive revolt in all the cities to topple capitalism, but each riot was quickly put down by the Nationalist forces. There were not enough urban workers to effectively gain control of the cities.
In China, virtually all the revolts incited by the Chinese Communist Party were quickly ended. The few successful revolts were aided by the Guomindang which later sided against the Communists. The arrests and executions of Communist leaders were usually enough to stabilize the situation. One example is known as the Nanjing Road incident. When two thousand students distributed leaflets in the International Settlement, hundreds were arrested, others were brutally assaulted. Thirty thousand surrounded the police station the next day. The British police killed five, and injured fifty, leading to the formation of The Workers' General Union. Within half a month, one hundred and fifty thousand were on strike in Shanghai. Even a strike of this magnitude failed. The main reason for the failure was the workers' dependency upon the same market they struck against. This is why the peasants had much more success. Unions did poorly in winning their demands in China. This does not happen in a Marxist revolution. The proletariat would be so strong that they could not be defeated.