Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


September 1, 1947

[This inner-Party directive was drafted by Comrade Mao Tse-tung for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China when he and the Central Committee were at Chukuanchai, Chiahsien County, northern Shensi. The directive formulated the basic task for the second year of the War of Liberation. This task was to carry the war into the Kuomintang areas with our main forces and to switch from fighting on interior lines to fighting on exterior lines, that is, to pass from the stage of the strategic defensive to that of the strategic offensive. In accordance with the strategic plan laid down by Comrade Mao Tse-tung, the People's Liberation Army went over to the offensive on a country-wide scale during July-September 1947. The Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan Field Army forced the Yellow River in southwestern Shantung on June 30, crossed the Lunghai Railway early in August and thrust into the Tapieh Mountains. The Taiyueh Army of the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan Field Army forced the Yellow River from southern Shansi in late August and thrust into western Honan. The Eastern China Field Army thrust into southwestern Shantung early in September after smashing a concentrated attack by the enemy. In the same month the Shantung Army of the Eastern China Field Army started an offensive against the enemy in eastern Shantung. The Northwest Field Army went over to the offensive late in August. The Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Field Army started an offensive against the enemy along the northern section of the Peiping-Hankow Railway early in September. Immediately after its summer offensive throughout the Northeast, the Northeast Field Army, beginning in September, launched a large-scale autumn offensive in the Changchun-Kirin-Szepingkai region and in the Chinhsi-Ihsien sector along the Peiping-Liaoning Railway. The offensives in all these theatres of war constituted a general offensive by the entire People's Liberation Army. This large-scale offensive led to a turning point in the War of Liberation, marking a radical change in the war situation. See "The Present Situation and Our Tasks", pp. 157-76 of this volume.]

1. In the first year's fighting (from July last year to June this year), we wiped out 97 regular brigades, or 780,000 men, and puppet troops, peace preservation corps and others totalling 340,000 -- altogether 1,120,000 of the enemy. This was a great victory. It dealt the enemy a heavy blow, created profound defeatism in the whole enemy camp, elated the people throughout the country and laid the foundation for the complete annihilation of the enemy by our army and for final victory.

2. In the first year's fighting, the enemy launched a large-scale offensive against the Liberated Areas, using 218 of his 248 regular brigades, or more than 1,600,000 men, and nearly 1,000,000 men from the special arms (navy, air force, artillery, engineer corps and armoured units) and from the puppet troops, communications police corps and peace preservation corps. Our army rightly adopted the strategy of fighting on interior lines; and in order to hold the initiative at all times and places it did not balk at paying the price of over 300,000 casualties and of enemy occupation of large tracts of territory. Consequently, we succeeded in wiping out 1,120,000 enemy troops, forced the enemy to disperse his troops, steeled and strengthened our own forces, launched strategic counter-offensives in the Northeast, Jehol, eastern Hopei, southern Shansi and northern Honan, recovered large territories and liberated vast new areas.[1]

3. In the second year of fighting, our army's basic task is to launch a country-wide counter-offensive, that is, to use our main forces to fight our way to exterior lines, carry the war into the Kuomintang areas, wipe out large numbers of the enemy on the exterior lines and completely wreck the Kuomintang's counter-revolutionary strategy, which is, on the contrary, to continue to carry the war into the Liberated Areas, further damage and drain our manpower and material resources and make it impossible for us to hold out very long. In the second year's fighting, a partial task of our army is to use a portion of our main forces and large numbers of our regional troops to continue fighting on interior lines, wipe out the enemy there and recover lost territory.

4. Our army will of course meet many difficulties in carrying out the policy of fighting on exterior lines and bringing the war into the Kuomintang areas. For it takes time to build new bases in the Kuomintang areas and we can build stable bases only when we have wiped out large numbers of the enemy in many back-and-forth mobile operations, aroused the masses, distributed land, established our political power and built up the people's armed forces. Until then, there will be quite a few difficulties. But they can and must be overcome. For the enemy will be forced to spread out even more, and vast territories will be available to our army as battlefields for mobile operations, and so we will be able to wage mobile warfare; the broad masses in those territories hate the Kuomintang and support us; and though part of the enemy forces still has a comparatively high combat effectiveness, on the whole the enemy's morale and combat effectiveness are much lower than a year ago.

5. The keys to victory in fighting in the Kuomintang areas are, first, to be good at seizing the opportunities for fighting, to be brave and determined and win as many battles as possible; and, second, to carry out resolutely the policy of winning the masses and enable the broad masses to benefit so that they side with our army. If these two points are carried out, we shall win victory.

6. Up to the end of August this year, the distribution of enemy forces, including those which had been wiped out or dealt crushing blows, was 157 brigades on the southern front, 70 on the northern front and 21 in the Kuomintang rear areas. The total in the whole country was still 248 brigades and the actual number of troops was about 1,500,000. Troops in the special arms, puppet troops, communications police and peace preservation corps numbered about 1,200,000. Non-combatants in the military institutions in the enemy rear were about 1,000,000. The entire enemy forces totalled about 3,700,000 men. Of the troops on the southern front, 117 brigades belong to Ku Chu-tung's group, 7 to Cheng Chien's group and others, and 33 to Hu Tsung-nan's group. Of the 117 brigades of Ku Chu-tung's group, 63 have been wiped out or have received crushing blows. Of these, some have not been replenished; others, although they are being replenished, have few men and low combat effectiveness; and others, although their manpower and arms have been fairly well replenished and their combat effectiveness has to some extent been restored, are still far weaker than before. There are only 54 brigades which have neither been wiped out nor received crushing blows. Of Ku Chutung's entire forces, 82 to 85 brigades are employed for garrison duty and can be used only for local manoeuvres, and no more than 32 to 35 brigades can be used for strategic manoeuvres. The 7 brigades of Cheng Chien's group and others can in the main be used only for garrison duty, and one has already received a crushing blow. Of the 33 brigades of Hu Tsung-nan's group (including those east of Lanchow, south of Ningsia and Yulin, and west of Linfen and Loyang), 12 have been wiped out or received crushing blows, only 7 can be used for strategic manoeuvres, and the rest are on garrison duty. On the northern front the enemy has 70 brigades altogether. Of these, the Northeast group has 26 brigades, of which 16 have been wiped out or have received crushing blows, Sun Lien-chung's group has 19 brigades, of which 8 have been wiped out or received crushing blows; Fu Tso-yi has 10 brigades, of which 2 have received crushing blows; and Yen Hsi-shan has 15 brigades, of which 9 have been wiped out or received crushing blows. These enemy troops are now mainly on the defensive and only a small part is available for mobile operations. In the Kuomintang rear areas there are only 21 brigades on garrison duty. Of these, 8 brigades are in Sinkiang and western Kansu, 7 in Szechuan and Sikang, 2 in Yunnan, 2 in Kwangtung (that is, the 69th Division that was wiped out) and 2 in Taiwan. There are no regular troops at all in the six provinces of Hunan, Kwangsi, Kweichow, Fukien, Chekiang and Kiangsi. The Kuomintang is planning, with U.S. assistance, to draft 1,000,000 men this year to replenish the front and to train a number of new brigades and replacement regiments. However, if our army can wipe out an average of 8 enemy brigades a month, as it did in the first year of fighting, and wipe out another 96 to 100 brigades in the second year (already in July and August 16 brigades were wiped out), then the enemy army will be further and greatly weakened, its strategic reserve will be reduced to the minimum, and it will be forced into a defensive position in all parts of the country and will be attacked by us everywhere. Although the Kuomintang has this plan of drafting 1,000,000 men and training new brigades and replacement regiments, it will be of no avail. Since its only methods of recruiting are pressganging and hiring, to reach a million will certainly be difficult and many will desert. Moreover, by carrying out the policy of fighting on exterior lines our army will be able to reduce the enemy's manpower and material resources.

7. The operational principles of our army are still the same as those laid down before:

Attack dispersed, isolated enemy forces first (this applies also to a large-scale campaign of annihilation directed against several brigades, such as the Laiwu campaign[2] in February and the Southwestern Shantung campaign[3] in July this year); attack concentrated, strong enemy forces later.

Take medium and small cities and extensive rural areas first; take big cities later.

Make wiping out the enemy's effective strength our main objective; do not make holding or seizing a place our main objective. Holding or seizing a place is the outcome of wiping out the enemy's effective strength, and often a place can be held or seized for good only after it has changed hands a number of times.

In every battle, concentrate an absolutely superior force, encircle the enemy forces completely, strive to wipe them out thoroughly and do not let any escape from the net. In special circumstances, use the method of dealing crushing blows to the enemy, that is, concentrate all our strength to make a frontal attack and also to attack one or both of his flanks, with the aim of wiping out one part and routing another so that our army can swiftly move its troops to smash other enemy forces.

On the one hand, be sure to fight no battle unprepared, fight no battle you are not sure of winning; make every effort to be well prepared for each battle, make every effort to ensure victory in the given set of conditions as between the enemy and ourselves. On the other hand, give full play to our fine style of fighting -- courage in battle, no fear of sacrifice, no fear of fatigue, and continuous fighting (that is, fighting successive battles in a short time).

Strive to draw the enemy into mobile warfare, but at the same time lay great stress on learning the tactics of positional attack and on stepping up the building of the artillery and engineer corps in order to capture enemy fortified points and cities on a large scale.

Resolutely attack and seize all fortified points and cities which are weakly defended. Attack and seize at opportune moments all fortified points and cities defended with moderate strength, provided circumstances permit. For the time being, leave alone all fortified points and cities which are strongly defended.

Replenish our strength with all the arms and most of the soldiers captured from the enemy (80-90 per cent of the men and a small number of the junior officers). Seek replenishment chiefly from the enemy and from the Kuomintang areas and only partly from the old Liberated Areas; this applies especially to the armies on the southern front.

In all the new and old Liberated Areas, we must resolutely carry through the land reform (which is the most fundamental requirement for supporting a long war and winning country-wide victory), develop production, practice economy and strengthen the building of war industry -- all for victory at the front. Only by doing this can we support a long war and win victory in the whole country. If we do so, we shall certainly be able to support a long war and win victory throughout the country.

8. The above sums up the year's fighting and sets forth the principles for future fighting. Leading comrades in all areas are requested to pass the contents on to all cadres of regimental rank and above, of the level of prefectural Party committee and above and of the level of prefectural commissioner's office and above, so that everyone will understand his own task and carry it out resolutely and unwaveringly.


1. This strategic counter-offensive in the Northeast, Jehol and eastern Hopei was the 1947 summer offensive of the Northeast People's Liberation Army. On May 13, the People's Liberation Army began simultaneous offensives on these fronts and by July 1 had wiped out over 80,000 enemy troops and recovered more than 40 county towns. The enemy plan of cutting up the Liberated Areas in northeastern China was thus completely wrecked. The enemy troops, driven into two narrow corridors along the Chinese Changchun Railway and the Peiping-Liaoning Railway, were forced into the "defence of key points". This changed the whole situation in northeastern China. The strategic counter-offensive in southern Shansi and northern Honan comprised the offensives launched by the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan People's Liberation Army in northern Honan and on the flanks of the Tatung-Puchow Railway in southern Shansi between March and May 1947. Our army in northern Honan started attacking on March 23. After taking Yenchin, Yangwu, Puyang and Fengchiu one after another, our army turned north to exploit these successes. By May 28 it had captured Tsihsien, Chunhsien, Huahsien and Tangyin and wiped out over 45,000 enemy troops. Our troops in southern Shansi began offensive operations on April 4. By May 4 they had captured twenty-two county towns, including Chuwo, Hsinchiang and Yungtsi, and two important ferry crossings on the Yellow River, Yumenkou and Fenglingtu, and had wiped out over 18,000 enemy troops.

2. The Laiwu campaign was a campaign of mobile warfare fought by the Eastern China People's Liberation Army in the Laiwu region, southeast of Tsinan, Shantung Province. Towards the end of January 1947 the Kuomintang troops launched an offensive against the Shantung Liberated Areas from both the north and the south. From the south, eight Kuomintang reorganized divisions drove northward by three routes along the Yiho and Shuho Rivers towards Linyi and from the north, in coordination with them, three Kuomintang corps belonging to the Li Hsien-chou group advanced southward on Laiwu and Hsintai from Mingshui, Tsechuan and Poshan, seeking to engage the main force of the Eastern China People's Liberation Army in a decisive battle in the Yi-Meng mountain area. Our army used part of its forces to block the enemy from the south but marched its main force north towards Laiwu to destroy the Li Hsien-chou group. All the enemy troops, over 60,000 men, were wiped out in a battle which started on February 20 and ended on the afternoon of February 23. Li Hsien-chou, Deputy Commander of the 2nd Pacification Zone of the Kuomintang's Hsuchow Pacification Headquarters, was captured, and thirteen towns were recovered.

3. This Southwestern Shantung campaign was the campaign fought by the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan People's Liberation Army in July 1947 in the region of Hotse, Yuncheng, Chuyeh, Tingtao, Chinhsiang and Tsaohsien, in southwestern Shantung Province. In this campaign 4 Kuomintang division headquarters and 9 brigades, totalling more than 56,000 men, were wiped out.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung