Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


February 3, 1948

In carrying out the Land Law, it is necessary to distinguish three kinds of areas and to adopt different tactics for each.

1. Old Liberated Areas established before the Japanese surrender. In general, land in these areas has long been distributed, and only a part of the distribution needs to be readjusted. Our work here should centre on educating and consolidating the ranks of the Party and solving the contradictions between the Party and the masses by combining the efforts of Party and non-Party people according to the experience gained in Pingshan County.[1] In these old Liberated Areas what should be done is not to distribute the land a second time under the Land Law, or artificially and arbitrarily to organize poor peasant leagues to lead the peasant associations, but to organize poor peasant groups within the peasant associations. Activists in these groups can hold leading posts in the peasant associations and in the organs of political power in the rural areas, but it should not be made the rule that such posts go to the poor peasants to the exclusion of the middle peasants. In these areas the leading posts in the peasant associations and the organs of political power should be assumed by those activists among the poor and middle peasants who are correct in their thinking and fair and just in running affairs. The great majority of former poor peasants in these areas have developed into middle peasants, and the middle peasants now form the bulk of the rural population; therefore we must draw in the activists among the middle peasants to participate in the leadership of these rural areas.

2. Areas liberated between the Japanese surrender and the time of the general counter-offensive, that is, in the two years between September 1945 and August 1947. These now form the largest part of the Liberated Areas and can be called the semi-old Liberated Areas.

In these areas, through the struggle to settle accounts during the last two years and through the carrying out of the "May 4th Directive",[2] the level of political consciousness and the degree of organization of the masses have been raised considerably, and there has been a preliminary solution of the land problem. But the political consciousness and the organization of the masses have not yet reached a high level, and the land problem is not yet thoroughly solved. In these areas the Land Law is entirely applicable, the distribution of land should be universal and thorough, and if it is not done well the first time, we should be prepared for a second distribution with one or two check-ups afterwards. In these areas the middle peasants are a minority and are taking a wait-and-see attitude. The poor peasants are the majority and are eagerly demanding land. Poor peasant leagues must therefore be organized and their leading position established in the peasant associations and the organs of political power in the rural areas.

3. Areas newly liberated since the general counter-offensive. In these areas the masses have not yet been aroused, the Kuomintang, the landlords and the rich peasants still have great influence, and all our work has not yet taken root. Therefore, we should not try to enforce the Land Law all at once but should do it in two stages. The first stage is to neutralize the rich peasants and strike blows exclusively at the landlords. This stage should be further sub-divided into several steps, namely, propaganda, preliminary organization, distribution of the movable property[3] of the big landlords, distribution of the land of the big and middle landlords with some consideration being given to the small landlords, and finally the distribution of the land of the landlord class. During this stage, poor peasant leagues should be organized as the backbone of leadership, and peasant associations may also be organized with the poor peasants as the main body. The second stage is to distribute the land rented out by the rich peasants, their surplus land[4] and part of their other property, and to distribute that portion of the land of the landlords which was not thoroughly distributed in the first stage. The first stage should take about two years and the second a year. Haste will certainly do no good. Land reform and Party consolidation in the old and semi-old Liberated Areas should also take three years (counting from this January); here haste will do no good either.


1. Pingshan County situated in western Hopei Province, was then part of the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Liberated Area. The experience of Pingshan here referred to consisted in inviting non-Party people to attend Party meetings so as to help the consolidation of the Party's primary organizations in the rural areas during the land reform.

2. This refers to the "Directive on the Land Question" issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on May 4, 1946. See "A Three Months Summary", Note 4, p. 118 of this volume.

3. "Movable property" refers to grain, money, clothing, etc.

4. See "The Present Situation and Our Tasks", Note 6, p. 175 of this volume.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung