Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


August 4, 1952

[Salient points of a speech delivered at the thirty-eighth meeting of the Standing Committee of the First National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.]

We have been simultaneously waging war, holding negotiations and working towards stability for a whole year.

The war situation in Korea became stable after July last year, but at the time we were not sure whether the financial and economic situation at home could be stabilized. We had said, "Prices are basically stable and revenues and expenditures are almost balanced," meaning that prices could not yet be stabilized and that revenues and expenditures were not yet balanced. Expenditures were in excess of revenues, and that was a problem. That is why the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party convened a meeting last September and called for increased production and strict economy. In October, I repeated this call at the Third Session of the First National Committee of the Political Consultative Conference. The subsequent campaign to increase production and practice economy brought to light rather serious cases of corruption, waste and bureaucracy. In December the movement against the "three evils" was launched, and this was followed by the movement against the "five evils". Both these movements have come to a successful conclusion, the situation is now perfectly clear and general stability has been achieved.

Last year, what we spent on the war to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea more or less equalled our expenditures for national construction; it was fifty-fifty. This year it will be different. It is estimated that the outlays for war will come to only half last year's figure. Our troops are fewer in number but they are better equipped. For more than two decades we fought without an air force and we were always on the receiving end of enemy bombing. Now we have an air force of our own, and anti-aircraft guns, artillery and tanks too. The war to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea is a big school for large-scale military exercises, and such exercises are better than a military academy. If the fighting continue, through next year, all our land forces will have had their spell of military training in Korea.

In this war we were confronted with three problems at the start: first, our ability to fight, second, our ability to hold out and, third, our ability to feed ourselves.

The problem of our ability to fight was solved within the first two or three months. The enemy had more artillery, but their morale was low; they were rich in metal but poor in morale.

The problem of our ability to hold out was also solved last year. Our answer was to dig tunnels. We constructed two tiers of defence works. When the enemy attacked, we got into the tunnels. Sometimes the enemy occupied the positions overhead, but what lay below remained in our hands. When they were in our positions, we counter-attacked, inflicting heavy casualties on them. We used this homespun method to collect foreign guns. The enemy was entirely at a loss as to how to cope with us.

It was quite some time before the problem of food supplies, that is, the problem of ensuring provisions, was solved. At first we did not know that tunnels could be dug to store grain in. Now we know. Each division has grain reserves for three months, its own storage area and a meeting hall to boot, and our men are making a go of life in the tunnels.

Today, our policy is clear and definite, our positions are secure, our provisions ensured, and every soldier knows that he must fight to the end.

Just how long will the fighting go on, and just when will the negotiations draw to a close? I say negotiations will continue, fighting will go on but there will be a truce.

Why is it that there will be a truce? A thirty years' war or a hundred years' war is highly improbable, because a long war is very much against the interests of the United States.

First, the war costs lives. They fought on to hold some ten thousand prisoners of war, only to lose over thirty thousand more lives. After all, they have far fewer men than we.

Second, the war costs money. They are spending far more than ten billion U.S. dollars a year. We spend very much less, and this year we are going to cut our expenditures to half last year's. The money that came from the settling of accounts in the movements against the "three evils" and the "five evils" can see us through another eighteen months of war. And all the money that comes from increased production and the practice of economy can be used for national construction.

Third, they are confronted with insuperable contradictions at home and abroad.

Fourth, there is the strategic problem too. The focus of U.S. strategy is in Europe. They did not anticipate that we would send volunteers to aid Korea when they dispatched forces to invade it.

With us, things are easier to manage. In internal affairs we are masters of our own house. But we are not the chief of staff of the United States. The United States has its own chief of staff. So on the question of whether the Korean war will continue, we and the Koreans have only half the say.

In a word, under the pressure of the general trend, the United States will find it against its interest to refuse to come to a truce.

All the talk about the imminence of a third world war is just to scare people. We must strive to gain a period of ten years for building our industry and laying solid foundations.

We must close our ranks and clearly distinguish between ourselves and the enemy. It is because of the unity of the whole nation and the co-operation of all those present and of all the democratic parties and people's organizations that we are strong today. It is of vital importance that we unite and distinguish between ourselves and the enemy. Dr. Sun Yat-sen was a man of integrity, but why did the Revolution of 1911 he led end in failure? The reasons were: first, failure to distribute land; second, failure to recognize the necessity of suppressing counter-revolutionaries; and, third, failure to wage sharp struggles against imperialism. Apart from distinguishing between ourselves and the enemy, there is the need to distinguish between right and wrong within our own ranks. Compared with the former, the latter is secondary. For instance, with most of the embezzlers, it is just a matter of right and wrong, for they are different from counter-revolutionaries and can be reformed.

It is necessary to carry out education among the democratic parties and in religious circles so that they will not be taken in by the imperialists and stand on the enemy's side. Take Buddhism for example. It has not much contact with imperialism and its ties are chiefly with feudalism. As the struggle against feudalism involves the land problem, it affects the monks, and those who come under attack are the abbots and elders of the monasteries. Once this small number is overthrown, ordinary monks like "Lu Chih-shen" [1] will be emancipated. Though no believer in Buddhism, I am not against forming an association of Buddhists to get them united and enable them to distinguish clearly between the people and the enemy. Will the united front be abolished some day? I for one am not for its abolition. We should unite with everyone provided he truly makes a clear distinction between the people and the enemy and serves the people.

Our country has a bright future and is full of hope. In the past we wondered if the economy could recover in three years. As a result of two and a half years of hard struggle, it already has, and what is more, planned construction is under way. Let us all unite, clearly distinguish between ourselves and the enemy and strive for the steady progress of our country.


1. A character in the classical Chinese novel Water Margin, who is an ordinary Buddhist monk before he joins the peasant army on Liangshan Mountain.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung