Northeast China saw the predatory Japanese Army burning, killing and pillaging wherever they went, even women and children not spared. These atrocities outraged Zhou Enlai and the Communist Party of China, who then proposed the Anti-Japanese National United Front, while Chiang Kai-shek insisted his policy of “internal pacification before resistance to foreign invasion'. He went to Xi’an to force Zhang Xueliang to suppress the Communists and repress people’s demonstrations.
Scene 1 Persuasion
In December 1936, when learning that Chiang Kai-shek personally having supervised the operations for suppressing the communists in Shaanxi, the Northeast exiled students who lost their homes and were then commemorating the December 9th Movement passionately and boldly drove into Lintong so as to request Chiang Kai-shek to stop the civil war and work with other forces to resist Japan. Chiang Kai-shek ordered Zhang Xueliang to obstruct the students by force. The students dwelt on the fact that they were destitute and homeless because of Japan's invasion, and advised Zhang Xueliang to fight back home. This touched Zhang Xueliang’s sore spot. He promised to take actions and persuaded the students to go back.
Scene 2 Private Meeting
Zhang Xueliang had a talk with Yang Hucheng about his depression for the failure in 'cry expostulation'. They conspired late at night and decided to jointly launch a forced remonstration.
Scene 3 Doubt
The Xi'an Incident shocked the whole world. Almost all the people in Xi'an hoped to kill Chiang Kai-shek, while Nanjing Nationalist Government had evil intentions and played within a play by mobilizing the troops against Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng. Zhang Xueliang wanted Yang Hucheng to go with him to meet Chiang Kai-shek, but Yang turned down and determined to kill Chiang Kai-shek. Again, Zhang Xueliang advised Chiang Kai-shek to agree with the Eight-Point Proposal. Chiang Kai-shek refused to make known his position, and asked Zhang Xueliang not to hand him over to the Communist Party.
Scene 4 Banquet
The Communist Party of China sent Zhou Enlai to Xi'an to find a solution together with Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng. Zhou Enlai, in the face of Xi'an the ancient city, sighed with emotion and probed into the facts. To answer the questions containing ulterior motives at the welcome party attended by the people of various circles, Zhou Enlai spoke his opinions out sternly or in a humorous and quick-witted manner or with fervor and assurance to expound the CPC's standpoint for peaceful settlement of the Xi'an Incident, which was well received by all walks of life.
Scene 5 Questioning
Upon her arrival at Xi'an, Soong Mei-ling began to worry about the fate of Chiang Kai-shek, and laid the blame on his failure to not taking Zhang Xueliang’s suggestion at ordinary times. . Zhou Enlai met with Chiang Kai-shek and persuaded him to stop the civil war, seek the KMT-CPC cooperation, establish a national united front, and lead the anti-Japanese war in China. By the persuasion of Soong Mei-ling and Soong Tse-ven et al., Chiang Kai-shek agreed to get down to the CPC's 'six-point proposal'.
Scene 6 Clarification
In view of Chiang Kai-shek's implied consent with the 'six-point proposal' and Soong Mei-ling's verbal guarantee, Zhang Xueliang agreed to set Chiang free. Yang Hucheng, however, refused to do so and quarreled with Zhang Xueliang violently. In order to resolve the difference between them, Zhou Enlai analyzed the situation on a fair and reasonable basis, and brought out the facts and reasons, having exhibited the broad mind of communists.
Scene 7 Release
In spite of Yang Hucheng's remonstration, Zhang Xueliang determined to go with Chiang back to Nanjing. Zhou Enlai rushed to the airport to stop Zhang Xueliang, when the plane has taken off. Zhou Enlai felt deeply sorry and concerned over the fate of Zhang Xueliang.
After being sentenced, Zhang Xueliang was filled with a thousand regrets. The Red Army was redesignated as the Eighth Route Army and went to the Anti-Japanese front. The peaceful settlement of Xi'an Incident preluded the second KMT-CPC cooperation and set off a new chapter in the history of the Chinese nation's comprehensive Anti-Japanese War.