The Communist Party of China and Comrade Mao Tse-tung were able to lead the Chinese people to victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan primarily because they formulated and applied a Marxist-Leninist line.
Basing himself on the fundamental tenets of Marxism-Leninism and applying the method of class analysis, Comrade Mao Tse-tung analyzed, first, the mutual transformation of China’s principal and non-principal traditions following the invasion of China by Japanese imperialism, second, the consequent charges in class relations within China and in international relations, and, third, the balance of forces as between China and Japan. This analysis provided the scientific basis upon which the political and military lines of the War of Resistance were formulated.
There had long been two basic contradictions in China --the contradiction between imperialism and the Chinese nation, and the contradiction between feudalism and the masses of the people. For ten years before the outbreak of the War of Resistance, the Kuomintang reactionary clique, which represented the interests of imperialism, the big landlords and the big bourgeoisie, had waged civil war against the Communist Party of China and the Communist-led Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, which represented the interests of the Chinese people. In 1931, Japanese imperialism invaded and occupied northeastern China. Subsequently, especially after 1935, it stepped up and expanded its aggression against China, penetrating deeper and deeper into our territory. As a result of its invasion Japanese imperialism sharpened its contradiction with the Chinese nation to an extreme degree and brought about changes in class relations within China. To end the civil war and to unite against Japanese aggression became the pressing nationwide demand of the people. Changes of varying degrees also occurred in the political attitude of the national bourgeoisie and the various factions within the Kuomintang. And the Sian Incident of 1936 (1) was the best case in point.
How was one to assess the changes in China’s political situation, and what conclusion was to be drawn? This question had a direct bearing on the very survival of the Chinese nation.
For a period prior to the outbreak of the War of Resistance, the “Left” opportunists represented by Wang Ming within the Chinese Communist Party were blind to the important changes in China’s political situation caused by Japanese aggression since 1931 and denied the sharpening of the Sino-Japanese national contradiction and the demands of various social strata for a war of resistance; instead, they stressed that all the counterrevolutionary factions and intermediate forces in China and all the imperialist countries were a monolithic bloc. They persisted in their line of "closed-doorism" and continued to advocate: “Down with the whole lot.”
Comrade Mao Tse-tung resolutely fought the “Left” opportunist errors and penetratingly analyzed the new situation in the Chinese revolution.
He pointed out that the Japanese imperialist attempt to reduce China to a Japanese colony heightened the contradiction between China and Japan and made it the principal contradiction; that China’s internal class contradictions -- such as those between the masses of the people and feudalism, between the peasantry and the landlord class, between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and between the peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie on the one hand and the bourgeoisie on the other -- still remained, but that they had all been relegated to a secondary or subordinate position as a result of the war of aggression unleashed by Japan; and that throughout China opposition to Japanese imperialism had become the common demand of the people of all classes and strata, except for a handful of pro-Japanese traitors among the big landlords and the big bourgeoisie.
As the contradiction between China and Japan ascended and became the principal one, the contradiction between China and imperialist countries such as Britain and the United States descended to a secondary or subordinate position. The rift between Japan and the other imperialist countries had widened as a result of Japanese imperialism’s attempt to turn China into its own exclusive colony. This rendered it possible for China to make use of these contradictions to isolate and oppose Japanese imperialism.
In the face of Japanese imperialist aggression, was the Party to continue with the civil war and the Agrarian Revolution? Or was it to hold aloft the banner of national liberation, unite with all the forces that could be united to form a broad national united front and concentrate on fighting the Japanese aggressors? This was the problem sharply confronting our Party.
The Communist Party of China and Comrade Mao Tse-tung formulated the line of the Anti-Japanese National United Front on the basis of their analysis of the new situation. Holding aloft the banner of national liberation, our Party issued the call for national unity and united resistance to Japanese imperialism, a call which won fervent support from the people of the whole country. Thanks to the common efforts of our Party and of China’s patriotic armies and people, the Kuomintang ruling clique was eventually compelled to stop the civil war and a new situation with Kuomintang-Communist co-operation for joint resistance to Japan was brought about.
In the summer of 1937 Japanese imperialism unleashed its all-out war of aggression against China. The nation-wide War of Resistance thus broke out.
Could the War of Resistance be victorious? And how was victorious to be won? These were the questions to which all the Chinese people demanded immediate answers.
The defeatists came forward with the assertion that China was no match for Japan and that the nation was bound to be subjugated. The blind optimists came forward with the assertion that China could win very quickly, without much effort.
Basing himself on a concrete analysis of the Chinese nation and of Japanese imperialism -- the two aspects of the principal contradiction --Comrade Mao Tse-tung pointed out that while the “theory of national subjugation” was wrong, the “theory of quick victory” was untenable, and he concluded that the War of Resistance would be a protracted one in which China would finally be victorious. In his celebrated work On Protracted War, Comrade Mao Tse-tung pointed out the contrasting features of China and Japan, the two sides in the war. Japan was a powerful imperialist country. But Japanese imperialism was in its era of decline and doom. The war it had unleashed was a war of aggression, a war that was retrogressive and barbarous; it was deficient in manpower and material resources and could not stand a protracted war; it was engaged in an unjust cause and therefore had meager support internationally. China, on the other hand, was a weak semi-colonial and semi-feudal country. But she was in her era of progress. She was fighting a war against aggression, a war that was progressive and just; she had sufficient manpower and material resources to sustain a protracted war; internationally, China enjoyed extensive sympathy and support. These comprised all the basic factors in the Sino-Japanese war.
He went on to show how these factors would influence the course of the war. Japan’s advantage was temporary and would gradually diminish as a result of our efforts. Her disadvantages were fundamental; they could not be overcome and would gradually grow in the course of the war. China’s disadvantage was temporary and could be gradually overcome. China’s advantages were fundamental and would play an increasingly positive role in the course of the war. Japan’s advantage and China’s disadvantage determined the impossibility of quick victory for China. China’s advantages and Japan’s disadvantages determined the inevitability of Japan’s defeat and China’s ultimate victory.
On the basis of this analysis Comrade Mao Tse-tung formulated the strategy for a protracted war. China’s War of Resistance would be protracted, and prolonged efforts would be needed gradually to weaken the enemy’s forces and expand our own, so that the enemy would change from being strong to going weak and we would change from being weak to being strong and accumulate sufficient strength finally to defeat him. Comrade Mao Tse-tung pointed out that with the change in the balance of forces between the enemy and ourselves the War of Resistance would pass through three stages, namely, the strategic defensive, the strategic stalemate and the strategic offensive. The protracted war was also a process of mobilizing, organizing and arming the people. It was only by mobilizing the entire people to fight a people’s war that the War of Resistance could be persevered in and the Japanese aggressors defeated.
In order to turn the anti-Japanese war into a genuine people’s war, our party firmly relied on the broadest masses of the people, united with all the anti-Japanese forces that could be united, and consolidated and expanded the Anti-Japanese National United Front. The basic line of our party was: boldly to arouse the masses of the people and expand the people’s forces so that, under the leadership of the Party, they could defeat the aggressors and build a new China.
The War of Resistance Against Japan constituted a historical stage in China’s new-democratic revolution. The line of our party during the War of Resistance aimed not only at winning victory in the war, but also at laying the foundations for the nation-wide victory of the new-democratic revolution. Only the new democratic revolution makes it possible to carry out a socialist revolution. With respect to the relations between the democratic and the socialist revolutions, Comrade Mao Tse-tung said:
In the writing of an article the second half can be written only after the first half is finished. Resolute leadership of the democratic revolution is the prerequisite for the victory of socialism. (2)
The concrete analysis of concrete conditions and the concrete resolution of concrete contradictions is the living soul of Marxism-Leninism. Comrade Mao Tse-tung has invariably been able to single out the principal contradiction from among a complexity of contradictions, analyze the two aspects of this principal contradiction concretely and, “pressing on irresistibly from this commanding height”, successfully solve the problem of understanding and handling of the various contradictions.
It was precisely on the basis of such scientific analysis that Comrade Mao Tse-tung correctly formulated the political and military lines for the people’s war during the War of Resistance Against Japan, developed his thought on the establishment of rural base areas and the use of the countryside to encircle the cities and finally capture them, and formulated a whole range of principles and policies, strategies and tactics in the political, military, economic and cultural fields for the carrying out of the people’s war. It was this that ensured victory in the War of Resistance and created the conditions for the nation-wide victory of the new-democratic revolution.
1. Under the influence of the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army and the people’s anti-Japanese movement, the Kuomintang Northeastern Army Under Chang Hsueh-liang and the Kuomintang 17th Route Army under Yang Hu-Cheng agreed to the anti-Japanese national united front proposed by the Communist Party of China and demanded that Chiang Kai-Shek should stop the civil war and unite with the Communist Party to resist Japan. Chiang Kai-Shek refused. On December 12, 1936, Chang Hsueh-liang and Yang Hu-cheng arrested him in Sian. Proceeding from the interest of the entire nation, the Chinese Communist Party offered mediation and Chiang Kai-Shek was compelled to accept the terms of unity with the Communist Party and resistance to Japan.
2. Mao Tse-tung, “Win the Masses in Their Millions for the Anti-Japanese A National United Front”, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Press, Peking, 1965, Vol. I, p. 290.
Next: Correctly Apply the Line and Policy of the United Front