Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


March 20, 1948

[This inner-Party circular was written by Comrade Mao Tse-tung for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Subsequently, the Central Committee moved from the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region to the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Liberated Area by way of the Shansi-Suiyuan Liberated Area and in May 1948 reached Hsipaipo Village, Pingshan County, in western Hopei Province.]

1. In recent months the Central Committee has concentrated on solving, in the new conditions, problems concerning specific policies and tactics for land reform, industry and commerce, the united front, Party consolidation and the work in the new Liberated Areas; it has also combated Right and "Left" deviations within the Party, mainly "Left" deviations. The history of our Party shows that Right deviations are likely to occur in periods when our Party has formed a united front with the Kuomintang and that "Left" deviations are likely to occur in periods when our Party has broken with the Kuomintang. At present the "Left" deviations consist chiefly in encroaching on the interests of the middle peasants and the national bourgeoisie; laying one-sided stress in the labour movement on the immediate interests of the workers; making no distinctions in the treatment of landlords and rich peasants; making no distinctions in the treatment of big, middle and small landlords, or of landlords who are local tyrants and those who are not; not leaving the landlords the necessary means of livelihood as required by the principle of equal distribution; overstepping certain demarcation lines of policy in the struggle to suppress counter-revolution; not wanting political parties which represent the national bourgeoisie; not wanting the enlightened gentry; neglecting the tactical importance of narrowing the scope of attack in the new Liberated Areas (that is, neglecting to neutralize the rich peasants and small landlords); and lacking the patience to work step by step. During the past two years or so, these "Left" deviations have occurred to a greater or lesser extent in all the Liberated Areas and in some cases have developed into serious adventurist tendencies. Fortunately, they are not very difficult to correct; in the main they have been corrected in the past few months, or are being corrected now. But leaders at all levels must make strenuous efforts before deviations of this kind can be thoroughly corrected. The Right deviations consist chiefly in overestimating the strength of the enemy, being afraid of large-scale U.S. aid to Chiang Kai-shek, being somewhat weary of the long war, having certain doubts about the strength of the world democratic forces, not daring to arouse the masses fully in order to abolish feudalism, and being indifferent to impurities in the Party's class composition and style of work. Such Right deviations, however, are not the main ones at present; they too are not difficult to correct. In recent months our Party has made achievements in the war, in land reform, in Party consolidation, in ideological education in the army, in building new Liberated Areas and in winning over the democratic parties; and it has emphatically corrected, or is correcting, deviations that occurred in these fields of work. This will enable the entire revolutionary movement in China to advance along the path of sound development. Only when all the policies and tactics of the Party are on the correct path will it be possible for the Chinese revolution to win victory. Policy and tactics are the life of the Party; leading comrades at all levels must give them full attention and must never on any account be negligent.

2. Certain democratic personages, who had believed that a so-called "third road"[1] was still possible and had placed themselves midway between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party because of certain illusions about the United States and Chiang Kai-shek and because of their scepticism as to whether our Party and the people had the strength to defeat all enemies at home and abroad, found themselves in a passive position in the face of the sudden Kuomintang offensive; eventually, in January 1948, they accepted our Party's slogans and declared themselves against Chiang Kai-shek and the United States and for unity with the Communist Party and the Soviet Union.[2] We should pursue a policy of uniting with these persons, while suitably criticizing their erroneous views. In the future, when the Central People's Government is formed, it will be necessary and beneficial to invite some of them to take part in the work of the government. It is characteristic of these persons that they have always been unwilling to have contact with the working people, are accustomed to life in the big cities and hesitate to come to the Liberated Areas. Even so, the social base they represent, the national bourgeoisie, has its importance and should not be ignored. Therefore it is necessary to win them over. Our estimate is that, after we achieve bigger victories and capture a number of cities like Shenyang, Peiping and Tientsin and after it becomes perfectly obvious that the Communist Party will win and that the Kuomintang will lose, these persons may be willing to come to the Liberated Areas to work with us if they are invited to take part in the Central People's Government.

3. We do not contemplate setting up the Central People's Government this year, because the time is not yet ripe. After the bogus National Assembly elects Chiang Kai-shek president[3] later in the year and he is even more thoroughly discredited, after we score bigger victories and expand our territories, preferably after the capture of one or two of the country's largest cities, and after northeastern China, northern China, Shantung, northern Kiangsu, Honan, Hupeh and Anhwei are all linked together in one contiguous area, it will be entirely necessary to establish the Central People's Government. The time will probably be in 1949. At present, we are merging the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei area, the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan area and the Pohai area in Shantung under the direction of a single Party committee (the Northern China Bureau), a single government and a single military command[4] (the inclusion of the Pohai area may be delayed for a while). These three areas comprise the broad expanse north of the Lunghai Railway, west of the Tientsin-Pukow Railway and the Pohai Gulf, east of the Tatung-Puchow Railway and south of the Peiping-Suiynan Railway. They are already linked together in one contiguous area with a total population of fifty million, and their merger will probably be completed soon. This will enable us to give strong support to the war on the southern front and transfer large numbers of cadres to the new Liberated Areas. The leading centre of the merged area will be at Shihchiachuang.[5] The Central Committee is also preparing to move to northern China, and its Working Committee will merge with it.

4. Our troops on the southern front have all had rest and consolidation from December to February; these troops comprise the 9 brigades of the Shantung Army, 7 brigades of the Northern Kiangsu Army, 21 brigades of the army in the area between the Yellow and Huai Rivers, 10 brigades of the army in the Honan-Hupoh-Shensi area, 19 brigades of the army in the area between the Yangtse, Huai and Han Rivers, 12 brigades of the army in northwestern China and 12 brigades of the army in southern Shansi and northern Honan. The only exception was the main force of the army under Liu Po-cheng and Teng Hsiao-ping in the area between the Yangtse, Huai and Han Rivers, which had had no rest and consolidation because Pai Chunghsi concentrated his troops to attack the Tapieh Mountains;[6] it was not until the end of February that this force was able to send some of its units north of the Huai River for rest and consolidation. That was our first period of rest and consolidation on a large scale in the past twenty months of fighting. During that period the methods we adopted were: pouring out grievances by the masses (the wrongs done to the labouring people by the old society and by the reactionaries), the three check-ups (on class origin, performance of duty and will to fight) and mass training (officers teaching soldiers, soldiers teaching officers and soldiers teaching each other). By these methods we developed high revolutionary enthusiasm among the commanders and fighters of the whole army; reformed or weeded out the landlords, rich peasants and bad elements found in some army units; heightened discipline; clearly explained various policies in the land reform and the policies concerning industry and commerce and the intellectuals; developed the democratic style of work in the army; and raised the level of our military technique and tactics. As a result, our army has greatly enhanced its combat effectiveness. Except for that part of the army under Liu Po-cheng and Teng Hsiao-ping, which is still having rest and consolidation, all our armies in succession have started new military operations since late February or early March and in two weeks have wiped out 9 enemy brigades. Of our troops on the northern front, comprising the 46 brigades of the army in the Northeast, 18 brigades of the army in the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei area and 2 brigades of the army in the Shansi-Suiyuan area, the greater part fought through the winter, while a part was having rest and consolidation. Taking advantage of the freezing of the Liaoho River, our army in the Northeast fought for three months, wiped out 8 brigades and won over 1 brigade, occupied Changwu, Faku, Hsinlitun, Liaoyang, Anshan, Yingkow and Szepingkai, and recaptured Kirin. This army has now begun its rest and consolidation. Afterwards, it is to attack either Changchun or the enemy along the Peiping-Lianning Railway. The army in the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei area has had more than a month of rest and consolidation and is moving towards the Peiping-Suiyuan Railway. The army in the Shansi-Suiyuan area is comparatively small, and its main task is to tie down Yen Hsi-shan's troops. To sum up, we now have two fronts, the northern and the southern, with 10 armies, large and small, comprising 50 columns of regular troops (each equivalent to a Kuomintang reorganized division), or 156 brigades (each equivalent to a Kuomintang reorganized brigade), each brigade (3 regiments) averaging about 8,000 men -- making a total of more than 1,322,000 men. In addition, there are more than 1,168,000 irregulars (of whom 800,000 are combat troops), including regional formations, regional troops, guerrilla detachments, rear-area military organizations and military academies. Our entire army thus totals more than 2,491,000 men. But before July 1946 we had only 28 columns of regular troops, or 118 brigades, each brigade (3 regiments) averaging less than 5,000 men -- a total of 612,000 with the addition of more than 665,000 irregulars, the grand total was 1,278,000. It can be seen that our army has grown. The number of brigades has not increased much, but the number of men in each brigade has increased very much. After twenty months of war, our combat effectiveness has also increased greatly.

5. From July 1946 to the summer of 1947, the regular army of the Kuomintang was composed of 93 divisions with 248 brigades; now it has designations for 104 divisions with 279 brigades. Its dispositions are as follows. On the northern front there are 29 divisions with 93 brigades, totalling about 550,000 men (13 divisions with 45 brigades under Wei Li-huang in Shenyang, 11 divisions with 33 brigades under Fu Tso-yi in Peiping, 5 divisions with 15 brigades under Yen Hsi-shan in Taiyuan). On the southern front there are 66 divisions with 158 brigades, totalling about 1,060,000 men (38 divisions with 86 brigades under Ku Chu-tung in Chengchow, 14 divisions with 33 brigades under Pai Chung-hsi in Kiukiang, and 14 divisions with 39 brigades under Hu Tsung-nan in Sian). On the second line there are 9 divisions with 28 brigades, totalling about 196,000 men (4 divisions with 8 brigades in the northwestern area, i.e., the region west of Lanchow; 4 divisions with 10 brigades in the southwestern area, i.e., Szechuan, Sikang, Yunnan and Kweichow Provinces; 8 brigades in the southeastern area, i.e., the provinces south of the Yangtse River; and 1 division with 2 brigades in Taiwan). The reason the number of unit designations of the Kuomintang regular army has increased is that after large numbers of its troops had been wiped out by our army and after they had turned from the strategic offensive to the strategic defensive, the Kuomintang felt its shortage of troops acutely and therefore upgraded or reorganized many local armed units and puppet troops into its regular army. Thus, on the northern front, 3 divisions with 14 brigades were added to Wei Li-huang's command and 2 divisions with 6 brigades to Fu Tso-yi's command; on the southern front, 6 divisions with 9 brigades were added to Ku Chu-tung's command and 2 brigades to Hu Tsung-nan's. The total increase was 11 divisions, or 31 brigades. As a result, the Kuomintang army now has 104 divisions instead of 93, and 279 brigades instead of 248. But, in the first place, the 6 divisions with 29 brigades which we wiped out in recent months (up to March 20) now exist only in name; there has been no time to rebuild or replenish them, and probably some can never be rebuilt or replenished. So, in fact, the Kuomintang army now has only 98 divisions with 250 brigades, an increase of only 5 divisional designations and 2 actual brigades since last summer. In the second place, of the 250 brigades which actually exist, only 118 have not received crushing blows from our army. All the remaining 132 brigades have been wiped out by our army once, twice or even thrice and then been replenished; or they have received one, two or even three crushing blows from our army (in the case of a brigade, to wipe it out means to destroy it completely or destroy the greater part, while to deal it a crushing blow means to destroy one or more of its regiments but not its main strength); and their morale and combat effectiveness are very low. Of the 118 brigades which have not yet received crushing blows, some are composed of recruits being trained at the second line and some are local armed units and puppet troops which have been upgraded or reorganized; their combat effectiveness is very low. In the third place, the Kuomintang armed forces have declined in numbers also. Before July 1946 they had 2,000,000 regulars, 738,000 irregulars, 367,000 men in the special arms, 190,000 men in the navy and air force and 1,010,000 men in rear-service establishments and military academies -- a total of 4,305,000. In February 1948 they had 1,810,000 regulars, 560,000 irregulars, 280,000 men in the special arms, 190,000 men in the navy and air force and 810,000 men in rear-service establishments and military academies -- a total of 3,650,000. That means a decrease of 655,000 men. In the nineteen months from July 1946 to January 1948, our army wiped out altogether 1,977,000 Kuomintang troops (the statistics for February and the first half of March have not been compiled, but the number is roughly 180,000). In other words, the Kuomintang has lost not only the more than 1,000,000 men it recruited in the course of the war but also a large number of its original troops. Under these circumstances, the Kuomintang has adopted a policy opposite to ours, a policy not of bringing its brigades to full strength but of cutting down the number of men in each brigade and increasing the number of brigade designations. While in 1946 the average strength of a Kuomintang brigade was approximately 8,000 men, at present it is only about 6,500. From now on, the area taken by our army will daily expand, and the Kuomintang's sources of troops and food supplies will daily contract; we estimate that by next spring, after another full year's fighting, our army and the Kuomintang army will be roughly equal in numbers. Our policy is to go ahead steadily and strike sure blows, not to seek quick results; all we are trying to do is to wipe out, on the average, about 8 brigades of the Kuomintang regular army each month, or about 100 brigades a year. Actually, since last autumn this number has been exceeded, and from now on it can be still further exceeded. It should be possible to wipe out the entire Kuomintang army in about five years (counting from July 1946).[7]

6. At present, there are two sectors on the southern and northern fronts where the enemy still has a fairly large striking force and can wage offensive campaigns, temporarily placing our troops there in a difficult position. The first sector is in the Tapieh Mountains, where the enemy has approximately 14 brigades which can be used as a striking force. The second is north of the Huai River, where the enemy has about 12 such brigades. In these two sectors the Kuomintang troops still hold the initiative (they hold the initiative in the sector north of the Huai River because we have moved 9 of our crack brigades to the north of the Yellow River for rest and consolidation, in preparation for use on other sectors). The enemy troops in all other theatres of war are in a passive position and are taking a beating. The theatres of war where the situation is particularly favourable to us are the Northeast, Shantung, the Northwest, northern Kiangsu, the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei area, the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan area and the vast area west of the Chengchow-Hankow Railway, north of the Yangtse and south of the Yellow River.


1. See "The Present Situation and Our Tasks", Note 9, p. 176 of this volume.

2. In October 1947 the reactionary Kuomintang government ordered the dissolution of the Democratic League. Under pressure from the Kuomintang reactionaries, some wavering members of the Democratic League dissolved it and ceased activities.

Other democratic parties, also being persecuted by the Kuomintang reactionaries, were then unable to function openly in the Kuomintang areas. In January 1948 Shen Chun-ju and other leaders of the Democratic League at a meeting in Hongkong decided to re-establish the League's leading body and resume the League's activities. In the same month Li Chi-shen and other members of the democratic wing of the Kuomintang established the Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang in Hongkong. Both these bodies agreed with the position of the Communist Party of China about the current situation and issued declarations calling for unity with the Communist Party and other democratic parties, the overthrow of the Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship and opposition to U.S. armed intervention in China's internal affairs. The wavering members of the Democratic League also accepted these slogans at that time.

3. The Kuomintang reactionaries held a bogus "National Assembly" in Nanking from March 29 to May 1, 1948, at which Chiang Kai-shek and Li Tsung-jen were "elected" "president" and "vice-president".

4. In May 1948 the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Liberated Area and the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan Liberated Area were merged, and the Northern China Joint Administrative Council and the Northern China Military Area were established. In August of the same year the Northern China Joint Administrative Council was renamed the Northern China People's Government.

5. Shihchiachuang in western Hopei Province was the first major city in northern China liberated by the People's Liberation Army.

6. In December 1947 Pai Chung-hsi began attacking the Tapieh mountain area with 33 brigades.

7. At that time the estimate was that the entire Kuomintang army would be wiped out in about five years. The estimated time was later reduced to about three and a half years. See "The Momentous Change in China's Military Situation", pp. 287-88 of this volume.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung