Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
March 7, 1948
[This commentary was drafted by Comrade Mao Tse-tung for the spokesman of the General Headquarters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. At that time the enemy offensive in the Northwest theatre of war had been smashed, and our army had gone over to its own offensive. This commentary analysed the situation in the Northwest theatre and also outlined conditions in the other theatres of war. More important, it stressed the great significance of the new type of ideological education movement in the army, carried out by the methods of "pouring out grievances" and of the "three check-ups". This new type of movement was an important development of the political work and the democratic movement in the People's Liberation Army. It was the reflection in the army of the movements for land reform and Party consolidation then vigorously proceeding in all the Liberated Areas. This movement greatly enhanced the political consciousness, discipline and combat effectiveness of all officers and soldiers. At the same time it most effectively speeded the process of reforming large numbers of captured Kuomintang soldiers into Liberation Army fighters. Thus it played an important role in consolidating and expanding the People's Liberation Army and in ensuring victories in the field. For the significance of this movement, see also "The Democratic Movement in the Army" pp. 191-92, "Speech at a Conference of Cadres in the Shansi-Suiyuan Liberated Area" pp. 227-39, and "On the September Meeting -- Circular of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China", pp. 269-77, of this volume. ]
Commenting on the recent great victory of the Northwest People's Liberation Army, a spokesman for the General Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army said: This victory has changed the situation in the Northwest and will affect the situation in the Central Plains. It has proved that through the new type of ideological education movement in the army by the methods of "pouring out grievances" and of the "three check-ups" the People's Liberation Army will make itself invincible.
The spokesman said: On this occasion, the Northwest People's Liberation Army suddenly encircled an enemy brigade at Yichuan, and Hu Tsung-nan ordered Liu Kan, Commander of his 29th Corps, to rush 4 brigades of 2 reorganized divisions from the Lochuan-Yichun line to the relief of Yichuan. They were the 31st and 47th Brigades of the Reorganized 27th Division and the 53rd and 61st Brigades of the Reorganized 90th Division, totalling more than 24,000 men; they reached the area southwest of Yichuan on February 28. The Northwest People's Liberation Army started a battle of annihilation and in thirty hours of fighting on February 29 and March 1 completely wiped out these reinforcements, letting none escape from the net. More than 18,000 men were captured, and more than 5,000 were killed and wounded; Liu Kan himself, Yen Ming, Commander of the 90th Division, and other officers were killed. Then on March 3 we captured Yichuan and here again wiped out over 5,000 men of the 24th Brigade of the enemy's Reorganized 76th Division which was defending the city. In this campaign we wiped out, all told, 1 corps headquarters, 2 division headquarters and 5 brigades of the enemy, a total of 30,000 men. This is our first great victory in the Northwest theatre.
Analysing the situation in the Northwest theatre, the spokesman said: Of the 28 brigades of the so-called "Central Army" directly commanded by Hu Tsung-nan, 8 belonged to his 3 crack divisions, the Reorganized 1st, 36th and 90th Divisions. Of these divisions, the 1st Brigade of the Reorganized 1st Division had been wiped out by us once before at Fushan, southern Shansi, in September 1946 and the main force of the same division's 167th Brigade had been wiped out once at Panlung town, northern Shensi, in May last year; the 123rd and 165th Brigades of the Reorganized 36th Division had been wiped out once at Shachiatien in Michih County, northern Shensi, in August last year; and this time the Reorganized 90th Division was also completely wiped out. Of the remainder of Hu Tsung-nan's main force, only the 78th Brigade of the Reorganized 1st Division and the 28th Brigade of the Reorganized 36th Division have not yet been wiped out. Hu Tsung-nan's whole army can therefore be said to have practically no more crack units. As a result of the Yichuan battle of annihilation, of the 28 regular brigades formerly under Hu Tsung-nan's direct command, only 23 are left. These 23 brigades are distributed in the following areas: 1 brigade at Linfen in southern Shansi is immobilized and doomed, 9 brigades are on the Shensi-Honan border and along the Loyang-Tungkuan line to cope with our field army under Chen Keng and Hsieh Fu-chih, and another brigade in southern Shensi is guarding the Hanchung area. The remaining 12 brigades are distributed along the T-shaped communication lines from Tungkuan to Paoki and from Hsienyang to Yenan. Of these, 3 are "reserve brigades" composed entirely of recruits, 2 have been completely wiped out by our army and replenished recently, another 2 have received crushing blows from us and 5 have received relatively few blows. It can be seen that not only are these forces very weak but also they are mostly on garrison duty. In addition to Hu Tsung-nan's army, there are 2 brigades under Teng Pao-shan defending Yulin, while 9 brigades under Ma Hung-kuei of Ningsia Province and Ma Pu-fang of Chinghai Province are distributed in the Sanpien and Lungtung areas. All the regular troops under Hu Tsung-nan, Teng Pao-shan and the two Mas now total 34 brigades, including the units replenished after having been wiped out once or twice.
That is how things stand with the enemy in the Northwest. To return to the T-shaped communication lines, of those 5 brigades which have received relatively few blows, 2 are hemmed in at Yenan and 3 are in the Greater Kuanchung Area. As for the other brigades there, most of them have been recently replenished, and a few have received crushing blows. In other words, the enemy's forces in the whole Greater Kuanchung Area and especially in Kansu Province are very sparse and weak and cannot possibly stop the offensive of the People's Liberation Army. This situation is bound to affect some of the dispositions of Chiang Kai-shek's forces on the southern front and, first of all, his dispositions vis-à-vis our field army under Chen Keng and Hsieh Fu-chih on the Honan-Shensi border. In its present southward drive the Northwest People's Liberation Army has won victory as soon as its banner was displayed, gained resounding fame and changed the relation of forces between the enemy and ourselves in the Northwest; from now on it will be able to fight even more effectively in co-ordination with the forces of the People's Liberation Army on the southern fronts.
The spokesman said: Since last summer and autumn our three field armies, commanded respectively by Liu Po-cheng and Teng Hsiao-ping, Chen Yi and Su Yu, and Chen Keng and Hsieh Fu-chih, have advanced south across the Yellow River, swept through the length and breadth of the territory enclosed by the Yangtse, Huai, Yellow and Han Rivers, wiped out large numbers of enemy troops, manipulated and drawn towards themselves some 90 out of the 160 odd brigades which Chiang Kai-shek has on the southern front, forced his armies into a passive position, played a decisive strategic role and won the acclaim of the people all over the country. In its winter offensive our Northeast Field Army braved bitter cold of 30 degrees below zero, annihilated most of the enemy troops, captured one well-known city after another and won resounding fame throughout the country. After wiping out large numbers of enemy troops in heroic battles last year, our field armies in the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei area, Shantung, northern Kiangsu and the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan area completed their training and consolidation last winter, and they will soon unfold their spring offensive. A review of the whole situation proves one truth. Provided we firmly oppose conservatism, fear of the enemy and fear of difficulties, and provided we follow the general strategy of the Central Committee of the Party and its directive on the ten major principles of operation, we can unfold our offensives, wipe out vast numbers of enemy troops and strike such blows at the forces of the Chiang Kai-shek bandit gang that they can only parry them for a time without being able to hit back, or that they cannot even parry our blows and will be completely wiped out, one after another.
The spokesman emphatically pointed out: The combat effectiveness of our Northwest Field Army is far higher than at any time last year. In last year's fighting the Northwest Field Army could destroy at most two enemy brigades at a time; now in the Yichuan campaign it has been able to wipe out five enemy brigades at one time. The reasons for this outstanding victory were many, among which we should point out the firm yet flexible command of the leading comrades at the front, the energetic support given by the leading comrades and the broad masses in the rear, the relative isolation of the enemy troops and a terrain favourable to us. What is most noteworthy, however, is the new type of ideological education movement in the army, which was carried out for more than two months last winter by the methods of pouring out grievances and the three check-ups. The correct unfolding of the movement for pouring out grievances (the wrongs done to the labouring people by the old society and by the reactionaries) and the three check-ups (on class origin, performance of duty and will to fight) greatly heightened the political consciousness of commanders and fighters throughout the army in the fight for the emancipation of the exploited working masses, for nation-wide land reform and for the destruction of the common enemy of the people, the Chiang Kai-shek bandit gang. It also greatly strengthened the firm unity of all commanders and fighters under the leadership of the Communist Party. On this basis, the army achieved greater purity in its ranks, strengthened discipline, unfolded a mass movement for training and further developed its political, economic and military democracy in a completely well-led and orderly way. Thus the army has become united as one man, with everybody contributing his ideas and his strength, fearless of sacrifice and capable of overcoming material difficulties, an army which displays mass heroism and daring in destroying the enemy. Such an army will be invincible.
The spokesman said: It is not only in the Northwest that this new type of ideological education movement in the army has been carried out; it has been, or is being, carried on in the People's Liberation Army throughout the country. Conducted between battles, the movement does not interfere with fighting. Taking in conjunction with the movement for Party consolidation and the land reform movement now being correctly carried out by our Party, taking in co-ordination with our Party's correct policy of narrowing the scope of attack by opposing only imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism, by strictly forbidding beating and killing without discrimination (the fewer killings, the better) and by firmly uniting the masses of the people who make up over 90 per cent of the country's population, and taking in co-ordination with the application of our Party's correct urban policy and its policy of firmly protecting and developing the industry and commerce of the national bourgeoisie, this ideological education movement is bound to make the People's Liberation Army invincible. However desperate the exertions of the Chiang Kai-shek bandit gang and its master, U.S. imperialism, against the great struggle of the Chinese people's democratic revolution, victory will certainly be ours.
1. See "Concentrate a Superior Force to Destroy the Enemy Forces One by One", Note 1, p. 106 of this volume.
2. Sanpien is an area in northwestern Shensi Province. Lungtung is the eastern part of Kansu Province. Both Sanpien and Lungtung were then prefectures in the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Liberated Area.
3. This refers to central Shensi and northwestern Kansu taken together.
4. Starting from June 30, 1947, 7 columns of the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan Field Army led by Liu Po-cheng, Teng Hsiao-ping and other comrades forced the Yellow River and pushed towards the Tapieh Mountains, thus ushering in the strategic offensive of the People's Liberation Army. By the end of March 1948, more than 100,000 enemy troops had been wiped out, and new base areas had been built on the Hupeh-Honan border, in western Anhwei, in the Tungpai mountain area on the Hupeh-Honan border, the plains between the Yangtse and Han Rivers and other places. Eight columns of the Eastern China Field Army led by Chen Yi, Su Yu and other comrades, having smashed the enemy's concentrated attacks on Shantung Province in August 1947, swept into southwestern Shantung and the Honan-Anhwei-Kiangsu Border Region, wiped out over 100,000 enemy troops, built the Honan-Anhwei-Kiangsu Liberated Area and isolated the enemy's strategic centres of Kaifeng and Chengchow. Two columns and one corps of the Taiyueh Army of the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan area, commanded by Chen Keng, Hsieh Fu-chih and other comrades, forced the Yellow River in southern Shansi in August 1947, advanced into western Honan, wiped out more than 40,000 enemy troops and built base areas on the Honan-Shensi-Hupeh border and in southern Shensi, completely isolating Loyang, the enemy's strategic centre in western Honan Province, and threatening Tungkuan.
6. Fighting continuously for ninety days from December 15, 1947 to March 15, 1948, 10 columns and 12 independent divisions of the Northeast Field Army led by Lin Piao, Lo Jung-huan and other comrades waged a winter offensive on an unprecedented scale along the Szepingkai-Tashihchiao section of the Chinese Changchun Railway and the Shanhaikuan-Shenyang section of the Peiping-Liaoning Railway; they wiped out more than 156,000 enemy troops and captured the enemy's heavily-fortified strategic centre of Szepingkai and eighteen other cities. One enemy division garrisoning Yingkow revolted and came over to our side. The enemy force defending the city of Kirin fled towards Changchun. After this, the area under enemy control in the Northeast shrank to only 1 per cent of the whole, and the enemy lairs in the cities along the Changchun-Shenyang-Chinchow line were isolated.
5. From early September to mid-November 1947, 5 columns of the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Field Army led by Nieh Jung-chen and other comrades fought successive battles in the area north of the Taching River and in the Chingfengtien area and the battle for the liberation of Shihchiachuang, wiping out a total of nearly 50,000 enemy troops and linking up the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei and Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan Liberated Areas into one contiguous territory. From September to December 1947, 3 columns of the Shantung Army belonging to the Eastern China Field Army and regional armed forces fought the Eastern Shantung campaign under the command of Hsu Shih-yu, Tan Chen-lin and other comrades, wiping out more than 63,000 of the enemy and recovering more than ten county towns; this changed the whole situation in Shantung Province. From August to December 1947, units of the Eastern China Field Army in northern Kiangsu, in successive battles at Yencheng, Lipao and other points, annihilated more than 24,000 enemy troops and recovered a wide area in northern Kiangsu. In December 1947, units of the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan Field Army led by Hsu Hsiang-chien and other comrades fought in co-ordination with units of the Northwest Field Army and captured Yuncheng, destroying more than 13,000 enemy troops; they wiped out all the enemy forces in southwestern Shansi and isolated the enemy at Linfen.
7. In the spring of 1948, following a period of training and consolidation in the previous winter, the field armies of the People's Liberation Army launched successive offensives. Between March and May, the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Field Army and units of the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan and Shansi-Suiyuan Field Armies campaigned in southern Chahar, eastern Suiyuan and the Linfen area of Shansi, wiping out more than 43,000 enemy troops and recovering much territory. Between March 7 and May 29, units of the Central Plains and Eastern China Field Armies fought successive battles at Loyang and Sungho and in the sectors west and east of Nanyang, wiped out more than 56,000 enemy troops and thus crushed the enemy's defence system on the Central Plains and expanded and consolidated the Liberated Area there. Between March 11 and May 8, the Shantung Army of the Eastern China Field Army fought battles first on the western section of the Tsingtao-Tsinan Railway and then at Weihsien, wiping out more than 84,000 enemy troops. Thus, except for a few strong-points, such as Tsinan, Tsingtao, Linyi and Yenchow, which were held by the Kuomintang, Shantung Province was liberated. In March the Northern Kiangsu Army fought a successful battle at Yilin.
8. For the ten major principles of operation, see "The Present Situation and Our Tasks", Section 3, pp. 160-63 of this volume.
9. The Northwest Field Army led by Peng Teh-huai, Ho Lung, Hsi Chung-hsun and other comrades employed a main force of 2 columns and 2 brigades, totalling more than 25,000 men, in the fighting in northern Shensi in the summer of 1947. By the spring of 1948 the main force had increased to 5 columns, totalling more than 75,000 men. After having been steeled by a year's fighting and by the new type of ideological education movement in the army in the winter of 1947, the political consciousness of the broad masses of officers and soldiers and the combat effectiveness of the military units rose to unprecedented heights. This created the necessary conditions for the Northwest Field Army to turn to fighting on exterior lines in March 1948. On April 12, following its major victory at Yichuan, the Northwest Field Army launched a campaign in Hsifu (the area west of Sian and between the Chingshui and Weishui Rivers) and eastern Kansu, pushed forward into the broad area between the Chingshui and Weishui Rivers, cut the Sian-Lanchow highway, and on April 22 recovered Yenan.
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung