The subsequent merger of the forces led by Chu, Ch’en, and Lin with those under Mao Tse-tung’s command is treated in detail in the biography of Chu Te. These complex political and military maneuverings took part in the spring and summer of 1928. The details surrounding the establishment of the Fourth Red Army during this period are a matter of historical dispute, some accounts claim this was done in May 1928, others in August. In any case, the Chu-Mao forces were gathered together by the spring of 1928 in the Chingkang Mountains on the Hunan-Kiangsi border, and it is evident that Ch’en was one of the major figures in establishing the Fourth Red Army.10 Chu Te was the Army commander, Mao was the Party representative, and Ch’en served under Mao as head of the Political Department.
Coincident with the establishment of the Fourth Army, the First Party Congress of the Hunan-Kiangsi Border Area was convened at Mao-p’ing in Ning-kang hsien (May 20, 1928). Ch’en took part in the meeting, and at that time or shortly thereafter he became secretary of the Army Committee of the Party. He probably also became a member of the Party’s Border Area Special Committee, of which Mao was secretary. The Special Committee was then, in effect, the highest authority in the border area. Mao Tse-tung has reviewed many of the events in this period in his famous essay “The Struggle in the Chingkang Mountains.” This piece is no model of clarity, but it is evident that he was plagued both by attacks from local military forces and by the political maneuverings of his own provincial CCP committee, which was not enthusiastic about developments in Mao’s territory. Later in the year, when it appears that Mao had matters in control, a Second Special Committee was elected at the Second Border Area Party Congress (October). Mao, Chu, and Ch’en were all made committee members,12 but a month later, when a new Army Committee of the Party was established, Chu Te replaced Ch’en as the secretary. Soon after this, Ch’en was with Mao and Chu when they abandoned the Chingkang Mountain base and moved eastward toward the Kiangsi-Fukien border over the winter of 192829. Writing a quarter of a century later, Ch’en also reviewed the events in Chingkangshan in 1928, and predictably, he aligned himself with Mao’s “correct” actions.
Party affiliation: Chinese Communist Party