These reactionaries were Chiang Kai-shek and his henchmen. On June 12, 1939, acting on a secret order from Chiang Kai-shek, the Kuomintang's 27th Group Army dispatched troops to surround the New Fourth Army Liaison Office at Pingkiang, Hunan Province, and in cold blood murdered Comrade Tu Cheng-kun, staff officer of the New Fourth Army, Comrade Lo Tzu-ming, major and adjutant of the Eighth Route Army, and four other comrades. This massacre aroused indignation not only among the people in the anti-Japanese democratic base areas but also among honest people in the Kuomintang areas.
Comrade Mao Tse-tung defined unification in order to counter the Kuomintang reactionaries' use of "unification" as a pretext for their schemes to liquidate the Communist-led anti-Japanese armed forces and base areas. After the renewed Kuomintang-Communist co-operation for joint resistance to Japan, the slogan of "unification" became the Kuomintang's chief weapon in attacking the Communist Party, which it accused of always seeking to be different and of obstructing unification and damaging the cause of resistance. This reactionary clamour increased after January 1939, when the Fifth Plenary Session of the Kuomintang's Fifth Central Executive Committee adopted the "Measures for Restricting the Activities of Alien Parties" on the proposal of Chiang Kai-shek. Comrade Mao Tse-tung wrested the slogan of "unification" from the Kuomintang reactionaries and turned it into a revolutionary slogan for opposing the Kuomintang's divisive activities against the people and the nation.
After the fall of Wuhan in October 1938, Japan's main policy became one of employing political means to lure the Kuomintang into capitulation. International imperialism, including the British and U.S. imperialists, also repeatedly suggested to Chiang Kai-shek that he should negotiate peace, and Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, indicated that Britain would take part in the so-called "reconstruction of the Far East". The Japanese aggressors and the international imperialists stepped up their conspiracies in 1939. In April of that year, Clark-Kerr, the British ambassador to China, acted as an intermediary between Chiang Kai-shek and the Japanese aggressors in arranging a peace parley. In July an agreement was reached between Britain and Japan under which the British government was prepared to recognize the "actual situation" Japan had brought about in China.
The "Measures for Restricting the Activities of Alien Parties" were secretly issued by the central authorities of the Kuomintang in 1939. They imposed severe
restrictions on communist and all other progressive ideas, speech and action, with the aim of disrupting all the anti-Japanese organizations of the people. They also stipulated that in places where, in the opinion of the Kuomintang, "the Communists were most active", the "law of collective responsibility and collective punishment" was to be enforced and an "information network", or counter-revolutionary secret service, was to be generally established within the pao-chia organizations. Pao and chia were then the basic administrative units of the Kuomintang's fascist regime. Ten households formed a chia and ten chia a pao.