Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


May 4, 1940

[This directive was written by Comrade Mao Tse-tung on behalf of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and addressed to its Southeast Bureau. At the time of writing, Comrade Hsiang Ying, member of the Central Committee and secretary of its Southeast Bureau, held strong Rightist views and was irresolute in carrying out the line of the Central Committee. He did not dare fully to arouse the masses to action and to expand the Liberated Areas and the people's army in the Japanese-occupied areas, did not sufficiently realize the seriousness of the possibility of reactionary attacks by the Kuomintang, and was therefore unprepared for them mentally and organizationally. When the directive reached the Southeast Bureau, Comrade Chen Yi, member of the Southeast Bureau and commander of the First Detachment of the New Fourth Army, immediately put it into effect, but Comrade Hsiang Ying was reluctant to do so. He made no preparations against the attacks of the Kuomintang reactionaries so that he was in a weak and helpless position when Chiang Kai-shek staged the Southern Anhwei Incident in January 1941, in which nine thousand of our troops were annihilated and Comrade Hsiang Ying himself was killed.]

1. In all regions behind the enemy lines and in all the war zones, stress should be laid not on particularity, but on identity; to do otherwise would be a gross error. While each region has its individual peculiarities, they are all identical in that all are confronted by the enemy and all are engaged in the War of Resistance, whether in northern, central or southern China, in the areas north or south of the Yangtse River, or in the plains, the mountain or lake regions, and whether the force involved is the Eighth Route Army, the New Fourth Army or the South China Guerrilla Column.[1] It follows that in all cases we can and should expand. The Central Committee has pointed out this policy of expansion to you time and again. To expand means to reach out into all enemy-occupied areas and not to be bound by the Kuomintang's restrictions but to go beyond the limits allowed by the Kuomintang, not to expect official appointments from them or depend on the higher-ups for financial support but instead to expand the armed forces freely and independently, set up base areas unhesitatingly, independently arouse the masses in those areas to action and build up united front organs of political power under the leadership of the Communist Party. In Kiangsu Province, for example, despite the verbal attacks and the restrictions and oppression by anti-Communist elements such as Ku Chu-tung, Leng Hsin and Han Teh-chin,[2] we should gain control of as many districts as possible from Nanking in the west to the seacoast in the east and from Hangchow in the south to Hsuchow in the north, and do so as fast as possible and yet steadily and systematically; and we should independently expand the armed forces, establish organs of political power, set up fiscal offices to levy taxes for resistance to Japan and economic agencies to promote agriculture, industry and commerce, and open up schools of various kinds to train large numbers of cadres. The Central Committee previously instructed you to enlarge the anti-Japanese armed forces to 1,000,000 men, with as many rifles, and to set up organs of political power promptly in the regions behind the enemy lines in Kiangsu and Chekiang Provinces before the end of this year. What concrete measures have you taken? Opportunities have been missed before, and if this year they are missed again, things will become still more difficult.

2. At a time when the anti-Communist die-hards in the Kuomintang are obstinately persisting in their policy of containing, restricting and combating the Communist Party in preparation for capitulation to Japan, we must stress struggle and not unity; to do otherwise would be a gross error. Therefore, whether in the theoretical, the political, or the military sphere, we should as a matter of principle firmly resist all the verbal attacks, propaganda, orders and laws of the anti-Communist die-hards designed to contain, restrict and oppose the Communist Party, and our attitude towards them should be one of firm struggle. This struggle must be based on the principle of fighting on just grounds, to our advantage, and with restraint, that is, on the principles of self-defence, victory and truce, which means that every concrete struggle is defensive, limited and temporary in nature. We must take tit-for-tat action and conduct a determined struggle against all the reactionary verbal attacks, propaganda, orders and laws of the anti-Communist die-hards. For instance, when they demanded that our Fourth and Fifth Detachments [3] be moved to the south, we countered by insisting that it was absolutely impossible to do so; when they demanded that the units under Yeh Fei and Chang Yun-yi [4] be moved to the south, we countered by asking permission for a part of these units to move to the north; when they charged us with having undermined their conscription plans, we asked them to enlarge the recruiting area for the New Fourth Army; when they said we were carrying on wrong propaganda, we asked them to stop all their anti-Communist propaganda and to rescind all decrees and orders which cause "friction", and whenever they launch military attacks against us, we should smash them by counter-attacks. We are on just grounds in carrying out this tit-for-tat policy. And it is not only the Central Committee of our Party that should take action whenever we are on just grounds, but every unit of our army should do so. What Chang Yun-yi did to Li Pin-hsien and what Li Hsien-nien did to Li Tsung-jen [5] are both good examples of strong protests from the lower levels to the higher-ups. This kind of strong attitude towards the die-hards and the policy of struggling against them on just grounds, to our advantage, and with restraint are the only way to make the die-hards somewhat afraid of repressing us, to reduce the scope of their activities in containing, restricting and combating the Communist Party, to force them to recognize our legal status, and to make them think twice before causing a split. Therefore, struggle is by far the most important means of averting the danger of capitulation, of achieving a turn for the better in the situation and of strengthening Kuomintang-Communist co-operation. Within our own Party and army, persistence in the struggle against the die-hards is the only way to heighten our fighting spirit, give full play to our courage, unite our cadres, increase our strength and consolidate our army and Party. In our relations with the intermediate sections, persistence in the struggle against the die-hards is the only way to win over the waverers and give support to our sympathizers-- there is no other way. Similarly, struggle is the only policy which can ensure that the whole Party and the whole army are mentally on the alert against a possible nation-wide emergency and are prepared for it in their work. Otherwise, the mistake of 1927 [6] will be repeated.

3. In appraising the present situation, we should clearly understand that while the danger of capitulation has greatly increased, it is still possible to avert it. The present military clashes are still local and not national. They are acts of strategic reconnaissance by our opponents and not yet "Communist suppression" on a large scale; they are steps preparatory to capitulation and not yet steps immediately preceding capitulation. Our task is persistently and vigorously to carry out the threefold policy laid down by the Central Committee, which is the only correct policy, namely, to develop the progressive forces, win over the middle forces and isolate the die-hard forces, for the purpose of averting the danger of capitulation and bringing about a turn for the better in the situation. It would be perilous not to point out and correct any "Left" or Right deviations in appraising the situation and in defining our tasks.

4. The battles of self-defence fought by the Fourth and the Fifth Detachments against the attacks of Han Teh-chin and Li Tsung-jen in eastern Anhwei and those fought by Li Hsien-nien's column against the die-hards' attacks in central and eastern Hupeh, the determined struggle carried on by Peng Hsuch-feng's detachment north of the Huai River, the expansion of Yeh Fei's forces north of the Yangtse River, and the southward movement of over 20,000 men of the Eighth Route Army to areas north of the Huai River and to eastern Anhwei and northern Kiangsu [7]--all these were not only absolutely necessary and correct in themselves, but were indispensable for making Ku Chu-tung think twice before attacking you in southern Anhwei and southern Kiangsu. That is to say, the more victories we win and the more we expand north of the Yangtse River, the more will Ku Chu-tung be afraid to act rashly south of the Yangtse River, and the easier will it be for you to play your role in southern Anhwei and southern Kiangsu. Similarly, the more the Eighth Route Army, the New Fourth Army and the South China Guerrilla Column expand in northwestern, northern, central and southern China, and the more the Communist Party grows throughout the country, the greater will be the possibility of averting the danger of capitulation and bringing about a turn for the better in the situation, and the easier will it be for our Party to play its role in all parts of the country. It is wrong to make the opposite appraisal or adopt the opposite tactics in the belief that the more our forces expand, the more the die-hards will tend towards capitulation, that the more concessions we make, the more they will resist Japan, or that the whole country is on the verge of a split and Kuomintang-Communist co-operation is no longer possible.

5. The Anti-Japanese National United Front is our policy for the whole country in the War of Resistance. The establishment of democratic anti-Japanese base areas in the enemy rear is part of this policy. You should firmly carry out the Central Committee's decisions on the question of political power.

6. Our policy in the Kuomintang areas is different from that in the war zones and the areas behind the enemy lines. In the Kuomintang areas our policy is to have well-selected cadres working underground for a long period, to accumulate strength and bide our time, and to avoid rashness and exposure. In conformity with the principle of waging struggles on just grounds, to our advantage, and with restraint, our tactics in combating the die-hards are to wage steady and sure struggles and to build up our strength by utilizing all Kuomintang laws and decrees that can serve our purpose as well as everything permitted by social custom. If a member of our Party is forced to join the Kuomintang, let him do so; our members should penetrate the pao chia [8] and the educational, economic and military organizations everywhere; they should develop extensive united front work, i.e., make friends, in the Central Army and among the troops of miscellaneous brands.[9] In all the Kuomintang areas the Party's basic policy is likewise to develop the progressive forces (the Party organizations and the mass movements), to win over the middle forces (seven categories in all, namely, the national bourgeoisie, the enlightened gentry, the troops of miscellaneous brands, the intermediate sections in the Kuomintang, the intermediate sections in the Central Army, the upper stratum of the petty bourgeoisie, and the small political parties and groups) and to isolate the die-hard forces, in order to avert the danger of capitulation and bring about a favourable turn in the situation. At the same time we should be fully prepared to deal with any emergency on a local or national scale. Our Party organizations in the Kuomintang areas must be kept strictly secret. In the Southeast Bureau [10] and in all the provincial, special, county and district committees, the whole personnel (from Party secretaries to cooks) must be strictly scrutinized one by one, and no one open to the slightest suspicion should be allowed to remain in any of these leading bodies. Great care must be taken to protect our cadres, and whoever is in danger of being arrested and killed by the Kuomintang while working in an open or semi-open capacity should either be sent to some other locality and go underground or be transferred to the army. In the Japanese-occupied areas (in Shanghai, Nanking, Wuhu or Wusih, or in any other city, large or small, and also in the countryside), our policy is basically the same as in the Kuomintang areas.

7. The present tactical directive was decided upon by the Political Bureau of the Central Committee at its recent meeting, and comrades of the Southeast Bureau and the military sub-commission are requested to discuss it, relay it to all cadres in the Party organizations and the army, and firmly carry it out.

8. Comrade Hsiang Ying is instructed to relay this directive in southern Anhwei and Comrade Chen Yi to relay it in southern Kiangsu. Discussion and relaying should be completed within a month of receiving this telegram. Comrade Hsiang Ying has the over-all responsibility for arranging Party and army work in the whole area in accordance with the line of the Central Committee and should report the results to the Central Committee.


1. The South China Guerrilla Column was a general name given to a number of anti-Japanese guerrilla units in southern China led by the Chinese Communist Party.

2. Ku Chu-tung, Leng Hsin and Han Teh-chin were reactionary Kuomintang generals stationed in Kiangsu, Chekiang, southern Anhwei, Kiangsi and other places.

3. The Fourth and Fifth Detachments of the New Fourth Army were then building up an anti-Japanese base area in the Huai River valley on the Kiangsu-Anhwei provincial border.

4. The units of the New Fourth Army under Yeh Fei and Chang Yun-yi were then carrying on anti-Japanese guerrilla warfare and building up an anti-Japanese base area north of the Yangtse River in central Kiangsu and eastern Anhwei.

5. During March and April 1940, Li Pin-hsien, the Kuomintang provincial governor of Anhwei, and Li Tsung-jen, the Kuomintang commander of the 5th War Zone, both warlords of the Kwangsi clique, launched large-scale offensives on the New Fourth Army in the Anhwei-Hupeh border area. Comrade Chang Yun-yi commander of New Fourth Army units north of the Yangtse River, and Comrade Li Hsien-nien, commander of the Army's Hupeh-Honan Assault Troops, lodged strong protests and repulsed the offensives.

6. The mistake of 1927 refers to Chen Tu-hsiu's Right opportunism.

7. In January 1940 the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party dispatched more than 20,000 men of the Eighth Route Army from northern China to reinforce the New Fourth Army in its anti-Japanese warfare north of the Huai River and in eastern Anhwei and northern Kiangsu.

8. Pao chia was the administrative system by which the Kuomintang reactionary clique enforced its fascist rule at the primary level.

9. Chiang Kai-shek's clique called its own armed forces the Central Army and those belonging to other cliques troops of miscellaneous brands. It discriminated against the latter and did not treat them on an equal footing with the Central Army.

10. The Southeast Bureau directed the work in southeastern China (including the provinces of Kiangsu, Chekiang, Anhwei, Kiangsi, Hupeh and Hunan) on behalf of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in the period 1938-41.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung