"Many KMT soldiers died without understanding why. If they were not able to match Japanese troops on the battlefield, they would raise the KMT flag and move towards the CCP's troops, only to be met by sweeping machine-gun fire. They had enemies front and back. These are facts that have been recorded by the CCP itself." – Ming Chu-cheng and Flora Chang, Taipei Times, July 12.
The Wuhan period of cooperation ended in 1941 with the New Fourth Army Incident. Chiang felt threatened by the growth of this Communist army in the east, a problem exarcerbated by the fact that they were standing astride important opium smuggling routes. He invoked his powers as commander of the united front and ordered them to march north into a Japanese buzzsaw. The Army declined the suicide mission and marched south instead, after Zhou Enlai believed he had negotiated safe passage for them with Chiang.
"Zhou went to see the Generalissimo who dismissed the reports from the battlefield; he had agreed to a safe passage for the Fourth Army, he recalled, so it could not have been attacked…. On January 12 the Nationalists unleashed an intense artillery and bombing attack. Two days later, Mao sent a message saying that Chang had agreed to a ceasefire. By then the battle was over. Estimates of Communist dead ranged from 2,000 to 10,000; Mao said at the time 7,000 had been 'finished off.' Survivors told of women being raped, and captives being marched 400 miles to a camp – 'when they sickened, they were beaten; some were shot and other were buried alive.'"
It is in this context that the incident to which the authors are apparently referring occurred: "The New Fourth Army Incident had broken the united front; in one engagement north of the Yellow River, Communist troops were seen attacking Nationalists fleeing from the Japanese. Not that Mao and his colleagues were immune from assault. The Japanese launched a campaign against their main base area known as the 'Three Alls' – kill all, bun all, destroy all. By the time it ended, the base population was reduced from 40 million to an estimated 25 million, and the party was plunged into its worst period since the Long March."
Excuse me, but invoking the incident in which the Communists fired on retreating Nationalists without mentioning the context of the New Fourth Army Incident is intellectually dishonest.