Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


January 20, 1941

Yenan, January 20, 1941

The New Fourth Army of the National Revolutionary Army has won fame both at home and abroad by its distinguished service in the War of Resistance. Commander Yeh Ting has an outstanding record in leading the army against the enemy. Recently, however, while it was moving northward in accordance with instructions, this army was treacherously attacked by the pro-Japanese clique, and Commander Yeh, wounded and exhausted in the fighting, was thrown into jail. Informed of the whole course of the Southern Anhwei Incident by telegrams from Chen Yi, the Commander of the First Detachment of the army, and Chang Yun-yi, the army's Chief of Staff, the Commission expresses its great wrath and its deep solicitude for our comrades. In addition to the adoption of measures to deal with the towering crime of the pro-Japanese clique in sabotaging the War of Resistance, attacking the people's armed forces and launching civil war, the Commission hereby appoints Chen Yi as Acting Commander of the New Fourth Army of the National Revolutionary Army, Chang Yun-yi as Deputy Commander, Lai Chuan-chu as Chief of Staff, and Teng Tzu-hui as Director of the Political Department. Acting Commander Chen Yi and his associates are hereby instructed to devote their efforts to strengthening the army, reinforcing unity within its ranks, ensuring good relations with the people, carrying out the Three People's Principles, adhering to the Testament of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and consolidating and expanding the Anti-Japanese National United Front in the struggle to defend our people and our country, to carry the War of Resistance forward to the end and to guard against attacks by the pro-Japanese clique.

January 22, 1941

The recent anti-Communist Southern Anhwei Incident had been brewing for a long time. Present developments are but the opening phase of a national emergency. Since the formation of their triple alliance [1] with Germany and Italy, the Japanese aggressors have redoubled their efforts to engineer changes within China so as to find a quick solution to the Sino-Japanese war. Their purpose is to use the Chinese themselves to suppress the anti-Japanese movement and consolidate the rear for Japan's southward drive, so that she will be free to drive south in co-ordination with Hitler's offensive against Britain. A considerable number of ringleaders from the pro-Japanese clique have long entrenched themselves in the party, government and army organizations of the Kuomintang and have been carrying on agitation day and night. The preparations for their plot were completed by the end of last year. The attack on the New Fourth Army units in southern Anhwei and the reactionary Order of January 17 [2] are only the first open signs of this plot. Incidents of the gravest nature will now be staged one after another. What are the details of the plot of the Japanese aggressors and the pro-Japanese clique? They are as follows:

(1) To publish the two telegrams of October 19 and December 8 [3] to Chu Teh, Peng Teh-huai, Yeh Ting and Hsiang Ying over the signatures of Ho Ying-chin and Pal Chung-hsi, in order to arouse public opinion.

(2) To start a press campaign on the importance of observing military discipline and military orders in preparation for launching civil war.

(3) To wipe out the New Fourth Army units in southern Anhwei.

(4) To declare that the New Fourth Army has "mutinied" and cancel its official designation.

These four steps have already been taken.

(5) To appoint Tang En-po, Li Pin-hsien, Wang Chung-lien and Han Teh-chin as "Communist suppression" commanders of the various route armies in central China, with Li Tsung-jen as supreme commander, in order to attack the New Fourth Army units under Peng Hsuchfeng, Chang Yun-yi and Li Hsien-nien and, if this comes off, to make further attacks on the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army units in Shantung and northern Kiangsu, with the Japanese troops acting in close co-ordination.

This step is now being taken.

(6) To find a pretext to declare that the Eighth Route Army has "mutinied", cancel its official designation, and order the arrest of Chu Teh and Peng Teh-huai.

This move is now in preparation.

(7) To close down the liaison offices of the Eighth Route Army in Chungking, Sian and Kweilin, and arrest Chou En-lai, Yeh Chienying, Tung Pi-wu and Teng Ying-chao.

This move has begun with the closing down of the liaison office in Kweilin.

(8) To close down the New China Daily.

(9) To launch attacks on the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region and seize Yenan.

(10) To make wholesale arrests of prominent people favouring resistance to Japan and suppress the anti-Japanese movement in Chungking and in the provinces.

(11) To destroy Communist Party organizations in all provinces and make wholesale arrests of Communists.

(12) To proclaim "the recovery of lost territories" by the Kuomintang government upon the withdrawal of Japanese troops from central and southern China, and at the same time to carry out propaganda on the necessity of concluding a so-called "peace with honour".

(13) Japan to launch most ferocious attacks on the Eighth Route Army by bringing up her troops from central and southern China as reinforcements to the north, and to co-operate with the Kuomintang forces in order to annihilate the whole Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies.

(14) The Kuomintang to continue last year's state of cease-fire with Japan on all fronts in order to turn it into one of general truce and peace negotiations while ceaselessly attacking the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army.

(15) The Kuomintang government to sign a peace treaty with Japan and join the triple alliance.

Active preparations are now being made for these moves.

Such in general outline is the treacherous plot of Japan and the pro-Japanese clique. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China pointed out in its Manifesto of July 7, 1939: "Capitulation presents the greatest danger in the current situation, and anti-communism is the preparatory step to capitulation." Its Manifesto of July 7, 1940 stated: "The danger of capitulation has never been so serious and the difficulties in the war have never been so great as they are today." Chu Teh, Peng Teh-huai, Yeh Ting and Hsiang Ying pointed this out even more concretely in their telegram of November 9 of last year:

Certain people at home are engineering a new anti-Communist onslaught in an attempt to clear the way for capitulation.... They want to put an end to the War of Resistance by what they call Sino-Japanese co-operation in "suppressing the Communists". They want to substitute civil war for the War of Resistance, capitulation for independence, a split for unity and darkness for light. Their activities are sinister and their designs pernicious. People are telling each other the news and are horrified. Indeed, the situation has never been so critical as it is today.

Thus the Southern Anhwei Incident and the Order of January 17 of the Military Council in Chungking are merely the beginning of a series of incidents. The Order of January 17 in particular is full of grave political implications. The fact that those who issued this counterrevolutionary order dared to do so openly, risking universal condemnation, shows that they must have determined upon a complete split and out-and-out capitulation. For without their wire-pulling masters the political representatives of the flabby class of big landlords and big bourgeoisie in China cannot move an inch, let alone embark on an undertaking such as this which has shocked the whole world. In the present circumstances, it seems very difficult to make those who issued the order change their minds and it will probably be impossible to do so without emergency action by the whole nation and strong diplomatic pressure from abroad. Hence the urgent task of the whole nation now is to watch developments with the utmost vigilance and prepare itself against any sinister eventuality that the reactionaries may precipitate; there must not be the slightest negligence. As for China's future, the matter is quite clear. Even if the Japanese aggressors and the pro-Japanese clique are able to succeed in their plots, we Chinese Communists and the people will never allow them to keep up their tyranny indefinitely; not only are we duty bound to step forward and take control of the situation, we are also confident of our ability to do so. However dark the situation, however thorny the road, and whatever the price that road exacts (the loss of the New Fourth Army units in southern Anhwei is part of that price), the Japanese aggressors and the pro-Japanese clique are certainly doomed. The reasons are as follows:

(1) The Communist Party of China can no longer be easily deceived and crushed, as it was in 1927. It is now a major party standing firmly on its own feet.

(2) Many members of other parties and groups (including the Kuomintang) who are apprehensive of the disaster of national subjugation certainly have no wish to capitulate and fight a civil war. Some of them are hoodwinked for the moment, but they may come to their senses in due course.

(3) The same is true of the troops. Most of them oppose the Communist Party under compulsion.

(4) The vast majority of the Chinese people have no desire to be colonial slaves.

(5) The imperialist war is on the eve of a great change. However rampant they may be for the moment, the parasites who depend on imperialism will soon find out that their bosses are not reliable. The whole situation will change when the tree falls and the monkeys scatter.

(6) The outbreak of revolution in many countries is only a question of time, and it is certain that these revolutions and the Chinese revolution will support one another in the joint struggle for victory.

(7) The Soviet Union is the strongest force in the world and will definitely help China fight the War of Resistance to the very end.

For all these reasons we hope that those who are playing with fire will not get too dizzy. We now serve them with this formal warning: Better be careful. This fire is not a plaything. Look out for your own skins ! If you calm down and give the matter some thought, you will have to take the following steps promptly and in earnest:

(1) Rein in on the brink of the precipice and stop your provocations.

(2) Rescind the reactionary order of January 17 and publicly admit that you have been completely wrong.

(3) Punish Ho Ying-chin, Ku Chu-tung and Shangkuan Yun-hsiang the chief culprits in the Southern Anhwei Incident.

(4) Release Yeh Ting and reinstate him as Commander of the New Fourth Army.

(5) Return all the men and arms captured in southern Anhwei to the New Fourth Army.

(6) Compensate all the officers and men of the New Fourth Army who were wounded and the families of those who were killed in southern Anhwei.

(7) Withdraw the troops sent to central China for "Communist suppression".

(8) Demolish the blockade line in the Northwest.[4]

(9) Release all patriotic political prisoners.

(10) Abolish the one-party dictatorship and introduce democratic government.

(11) Carry out the Three People's Principles and observe Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Testament.

(12) Arrest the ringleaders of the pro-Japanese clique and bring them to trial in accordance with the law of the land.

There will, of course, be a return to normal if these twelve points are put into effect, and we Communists and the whole people will certainly not push matters to extremes. Otherwise, "Chi Sun's troubles, I am afraid, will not come from Chuanyu but will arise at home"; [5] in other words, the reactionaries will be lifting a rock only to drop it on their own toes, and then we will not be able to help them even if we would like to. We value co-operation, but they ought to set store by it, too. To be frank, there is a limit to our concessions; the stage of concessions is over as far as we are concerned. They have inflicted the first gash, and a very deep one at that. If they still care for their own future, they should come forward of their own accord and dress the wound. "It is not too late to mend the fold even after some of the sheep have been lost." It is a matter of life and death for them, and we feel obliged to give them this final piece of advice. But if they remain impenitent and keep up their wrongdoing, the people of China, having reached the end of their forbearance, will dump them on the muck heap and then it will be too late for repentance. As for the New Fourth Army, the Revolutionary Military Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China issued an order on January 20, appointing Chen Yi as Acting Commander, Chang Yun-yi as Deputy Commander, Lai Chuan-chu as Chief of Staff and Teng Tzu-hui as Director of the Political Department. With more than 90,000 troops remaining in central China and the southern part of Kiangsu, the New Fourth Army, though subjected to pincer attacks by the Japanese aggressors and the anti-Communist troops, will certainly fight on despite all hardships and will never cease to render loyal service to the nation. Meanwhile, the units of its brother army, the Eighth Route Army, will not sit by and watch it suffer these pincer attacks, but will certainly take steps to give the necessary assistance-- this I can say bluntly. As for the statement made by the spokesman of the Military Council in Chungking, the only possible comment is that it is self-contradictory. While the Chungking Military Council stated in its order that the New Fourth Army had "mutinied", the spokesman said that its aim was to move into the Nanking-Shanghai-Hangchow triangle in order to establish a base there. Now, suppose we accept what he says. Can a move into the Nanking-Shanghai-Hangchow triangle be regarded as a "mutiny"? That blockhead of a Chungking spokesman did not stop to think. Against whom would the New Fourth Army be mutinying in that area? Is it not an area under Japanese occupation? Then why should you prevent the New Fourth Army from moving into that area and try to wipe it out while it was still in southern Anhwei? Ah, of course! After all that is what loyal servants of Japanese imperialism would do. Hence their plan to mass seven divisions in an annihilation campaign, hence their Order of January 17, and hence their trial of Yeh Ting. However, I still say that the Chungking spokesman is an idiot, for without being pressed he has let the cat out of the bag and revealed the plans of Japanese imperialism to the whole people.


1. The triple alliance refers to the tripartite pact between Germany, Italy and Japan signed in Berlin on September 27, 1940.

2. The counter-revolutionary Order of January 17 for the disbandment of the New Fourth Army was issued by Chiang Kai-shek in the name of the Military Council of the National Government.

3. These two notorious telegrams were sent late in 1940 by Chiang Kai-shek when he launched the second anti-Communist onslaught, and they were signed by Ho Ying-chin and Pai Chung-hsi, Chief and Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Military Council of the Kuomintang government. The telegram of October 19 contained outrageous calumnies against the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army which were fighting in the enemy-occupied areas and peremptorily ordered their units operating against the Japanese south of the Yellow River to be shifted to the north by a specified date. In the interest of unity for armed resistance, Comrades Chu Teh, Peng Teh-huai, Yeh Ting and Hsiang Ying, in a joint reply on November 9 consented to shift the troops in southern Anhwei to the north, at the same time rebutting the slanders. The telegram of December 8 signed by Ho Ying-chin and Pai Chung-hsi, which was a reply to the telegram of November 9, represented a further attempt to turn public opinion against the Communists.

4. The blockade line in the Northwest was built by the Kuomintang reactionaries around the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region. From 1939 onward they pressed the local people into service and built five lines of blockhouses, stone walls and trenches. The line started from Ningsia in the west, ran along the Chingshui River in the south and terminated at the Yellow River in the east. On the eve of the Southern Anhwei Incident the Kuomintang troops surrounding the Border Region were increased to more than 200,000.

5. The quotation is from Confucian Analects, Book XVI, Chapter I. Confucius made this remark when Chi Sun, minister of the state of Lu, was about to attack Chuanyu, a small neighbouring state.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung