Crucial battle at Luding Bridge shapes course of history

Hunted by Nationalist forces in 1934, the Red Army was forced to leave Soviet districts and set off on one of the longest military retreats the world has ever known – the Long March – overcoming some of the toughest terrain in China on a 12,500-kilometer journey.

"Cold the iron chains spanning over the Dadu River," Chairman Mao Zedong wrote in a poem, describing the do-or-die battle which took place on Luding Bridge.

Erected 300 years ago during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the bridge was built with 13 thick iron chains, about 100 meters long and three meters wide. For centuries, it was a chokepoint on the battlefield. Shi Dakai, a Taiping Rebellion leader during the dynasty, was defeated there because the surging water blocked his army's retreat.

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