In May, 1936, the All China Federation of National Salvation Associations was set up by Shen Junru and his followers in response to the call of the Chinese Communist Party to establish the nationwide united front to carry on the war of resistance against Japan. The federation demanded that the Kuomintang government suspend its civil war against the communists and instead devote its energies to fighting the Japanese. In November, with the support of the federation, workers in a Japanese invested spinning factory in Shanghai went on strike against Japanese aggression.
On November 23, 1936, Nanjing government put seven of the federation's leaders - Shen Junru, Zhang Naiqi, Zou Taofen, Li Gongpu, Sha Qianli and Wang Zaoshi - in prison for "Endangering the Republic". This event became known as the incident of the "Seven Gentlemen".
Soong Qingling, He Xiangning and others actively campaigned for the release of the seven gentlemen. Soon after the "July 7th Incident" in 1937, which marked the start of a full-scale Japanese invasion, Shen Junru and his followers were set free.