Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Talks At The Nanning Conference

January 11, 12, 1958

[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Zedong Thought, a Red Guard Publication, 1969]

1. Talk on 11 January, 1958

As for the report to the People’s Congress, I have not read it in two years (in order to maintain solidarity this has not been mentioned in the newspapers and I am not responsible). Chang Po-chun[1] said that the State Council provided only the finished product and did not allow others to participate in the planning. I am quite sympathetic; however, he is trying to set up a bourgeois political planning council while we constitute the proletariat’s political planning council. Some people have only finished products from the very start. They called meetings in haste and practically forced people to approve them. They provided only the finished products instead of the materials. It is necessary to discuss problems from a practical standpoint, exchange ideas of importance, and explain why things are being done this way rather than that way. The finance and economics departments do not keep the Political Bureau informed. Generally, the reports, too, do not lend themselves to discussions as they do not mention textual research, phraseology, and essence. The former is a question of rhetoric and the latter are questions of concepts and reasoning.

For the comrades in the party committees the main danger is to be “red but not expert,” mindless politicians divorced from reality. Not only are they not expert but they also gradually lose their redness We are working with “intangibles” and you are working with “tangibles.” The “tangibles” and “intangibles” must be integrated. Those dealing in “intangibles” must do some research on “tangibles” and those dealing in “tangibles” must use some politics. Hung-an county report on their experimental plots is a very important document. I have read it twice and ask all of you read it. The “four abundances,” the “three desirables” and the “three undesirables” mentioned in the Hung-an report are nationwide problems. That is, people want to lead without fully understanding “tangible” matters. Criticizing others as expert but not red will lack forcefulness if this problem is not resolved. Party committee leaders cover three areas: industry, agriculture and ideology. The provincial committees should also operate some experimental fields. Shouldn’t they? Otherwise, those mindless politicians will change color.

People working with “tangibles” who become high, middle or low level officials early, think of themselves as red. They became entangled and can not extricate themselves, and they will not even discuss essence, as, for example, opposing “bold advances.”[2] In 1956 it was “bold advances.” It was “boldly advance” in 1957, and in that same year it was oppose “bold advances.” But in 1958 it was again “bold advances.” Let us see which is better, to “boldly advance” or oppose “bold advances”? In 1956 Hopei province undertook construction of water-conservancy projects covering 17 million mou, in 1957, 20 million mou, and in 1958, 27 million mou. Seven or eight years after liberation, 1.2 billion yuan was spent on the control of the Huai River to build only 1.2 billion cubic meters of earthwork. This year, Anhwei province worked 1.6 billion cubic meters at a cost of only a few tens of millions of yuan.

Please do not mention this term opposition to “bold advances,” all right? This is a political problem. Any opposition would lead to disappointment, and 600 million disappointed people would be an overwhelming problem. Put out both hands for people to see how many fingers have sores. “The storehouses are empty,” “The market is tense,” using too many people spending too much money  —  should we oppose them? All these must be opposed. At that time it would have been best not to bring up the subject of opposition to “bold advances,” and merely say that one finger had a sore. Thus it would not have raised the storm which blew away three things: 1) the achievement of greater, faster, better and more economical results; 2) the forty article program; and 3) the promotion committees.[3] These are all political rather than functional problems. If one finger has a problem it can be cured with a little treatment. Did not “storehouses are empty” and “the market is tense” finally change half year later?

The problem of the ten fingers must be clarified since it is a problem that concerns 600 million people. After all, are achievements important or are mistakes important? Are we to preserve enthusiasm, encourage hard work and the spirit of surging ahead, or are we to dampen spirits and be discouraging? The Rightists grasped this point and launched full-scale opposition to “bold advances.” Ch’en Ming-shu[4] criticized me for “craving after greatness and success, listening to and believing only one side, having inconstant feelings and disliking antiquities.” Chang Hsi-jo (not yet classified as a rightist)[5] criticized me as “having a fondness for greatness and success, seeking quick success and instant benefits, belittling the past and superstitious about the future.” In the Past, per mou production in the north was some 100 catties and 200 to 300 catties in the South. With an accumulated experience of 20 years Generalissimo Chiang left us only 40,000 tons of steel. If we do not belittle the past and have faith in the future what hope do we have? As for listening to and believing one side, it is impossible not to do so. The question is which side you should listen to, the bourgeoisie or the proletariat? There are some comrades who are not one sided enough and need to lean more. We cannot listen only to Liang shu-ming[6] or Ch’en Ming-shu. As for inconstant feelings it it’s not necessarily good to be constant. One cannot always be fond of the bourgeois rightists. As for the dislike of antiquities, it is a question of either emulating the advanced, or being backward, and things of antiquity are always a little backward. We eradicated the four pests, wiping out flies, mosquitoes and sparrows. There has been no precedent, and it will not be done again. Generally, newcomers are better, and i! t is not “the present is inferior to the past.” One cannot help being fond of antiques, but one also cannot be too fond of them. When the memorial arches were dismantled in Peking and tunnels were driven through the city walls, Chang Hsi-jo wept. This is politics.

The New Year editorial advocated going all out and aiming high (Ch’en Po-ta interrupted to say that there should be more stockpiling).

On the question of reducing personnel, the commercial section and the cooperatives are not responding to political guidance. I have talked about this for several years but they will not reform. Any thing handed down to the local level [for implementation] is halved. Since my arrival in Peking the pedicabs have not been reduced by even one unit. There were too many of our “imperial edicts”, leaving no room for thoughts. I would be a little happier if you said you would give it some thought. Our status quo faction is too large. The study of value judgment must be done again. For example, “Chiang Kai-shek is counter-revolutionary.” Value judgments must be made anew on some concepts.

Chang Po-chun intends to set up a bourgeois planning council. Our planning council is the Political Bureau, which operates through an exchange of information. They don’t carry notebook and talk about guidelines. How about establishing an agreement? If you don’t agree I have a way to resist you, and that is to not read your reports. I have not read for two years and the local finance departments have also chosen this approach.

These few years of opposing departmentalism has produced a saying: seize the great powers and divide up minor powers; the party committees make decisions and each locality carries them out; carrying out decisions is a form of power and so does not deviate from the principle. Investigation of work is the responsibility of the party committees.

A number of people in political and legal organizations have noted that party and government are not separate. Do we want half for each? That will not do. There should be no division at first, although, later they can be divided. Otherwise, it will just be seizing minor powers, and how will such things as the forty article program be divided? Twenty for the Central Committee and twenty for agriculture? This cannot be done. The Central Committee worked up the forty articles and then divided them up for implementation. This is the way to divide. We cannot have the central committee operating under one constitution and some other organizations operating under another. When minor powers are divided up small, the major powers then cannot be monopolized. Was not everybody in favour of group leadership? Was not the unified command system abolished (The army of the Soviet Union implemented the system of unified command; Chu-ko-fu committed an error)

2. Talk on 13 January, 1958

For the past eight years I have struggled for such a work method. I have said it a thousand times, ten thousand times. This is an exaggeration, but when it is said once too often it becomes empty talk. Invariably, a man’s thinking is influenced gradually. It should be a “steady drizzle” instead of a “heavy downpour”, because the latter will cause washouts. The Political Bureau dose not have a sufficiently cohesive granular structure to absorb a heavy downpour; it will simply run off (they must have a book each on pedology and agriculture, otherwise they will not be able to remain as secretaries of provincial party committees. Inevitably, there will be a day when they will be dismissed from office. This is not a threat). Like the United Nations of Dulles[7], the Political Bureau has become a voting machine. You give it a perfect document and it has to be passed. Like the opera, you have to go on stage and perform since the show has been announced. The document itself does not go in to textual research and essence, and it also has foreign words. I do have a method, and that is passive resistance. I will not read it. For two years I have not read your documents and I do not expect to read them this year either.

Did comrade Chou En-lai mention what I said at the Hangchow conference?[8] In December of 1955, I wrote a foreword to the book Socialist Upsurge in China’s Countryside.[9] It made a tremendous impact on a nation-wide scale. Regardless of whether it was because of a personality cult or idolatry, it was published by area newspapers throughout the country and by major and minor periodicals, producing a great impact. I have thus become the chief culprit of “bold advances”. I have said that a condition of inadequacy in situational analysis exists in various departments. The army has been increased by 800,000 men, worker apprentices by one million, but why should there be an increase in the ranks of those opposing right conservatism? I don’t understand and I also don’t know.

The “bold advances” of the Peitaiho conference held in the summer of 1955 was for the purpose of increasing steel production to 15 million tons (second five-year plan). The opposition to “boldly advance” occurring at the Peitaiho conference held in the summer of 1956 influenced the National People’s Congress’s report adversely. It is always so, that people do not think alike. Imbalance is the law of universal progress. Menicus said: “All things are not alike, and all things complement each other.” People do not think alike and yet it is possible to reach accord. Progress is made in a zigzag spiral pattern. Of course everyone is for the party and for the country, and not for himself.

My method against departmentalism is passive resistance and also criticism in small meetings. The finance and economics departments do not go into textual research, phraseology, and essence. They must operate in a gentle fashion, giving out some information beforehand. With them it has always been a heavy downpour causing washouts. They have been always ungracious, inadequately prepared, and incomplete. This is blockade. This is a Stalinist method. Ten minutes before the conference opens, the document is produced for resolution, without any consideration being given to the state of mind of people. You are experts, and also red. The majority in the Political Bureau is red but not expert. My attack is directed chiefly at cadres at the ministerial level and above in the Central Government and it is not levelled at everyone. It is an attack on those who caused heavy downpours and who set up blockades. If small group conferences do not resolve this problem, then a plenary session of the Central Committee will be convened (an article settled this matter but it has not been seriously resolved. In the letter to the Kwangsi provincial party committee the question of newspapers was discussed.[10]) While I was in the Soviet Union I wrote a letter saying that it will not be beneficial to your work if you do not have the support of the Central Committee. By doing otherwise you will become isolated, like the “gentleman on the beams” (a burglar).

The Political Bureau is not the Planning Council. The heavy downpour has run off our bodies but [they] kept on saying it didn’t do a good job. This is, in reality, a blockade. There is also departmentalism in it, but not very serious. Now, each has his own feelings and, placing myself in your position, I imagine you must be thinking that the Central Committee is a model of perfection. You feel that even though it is not all perfect, it is still near perfection. Besides, it is like Marguerite, the heroine of the novel “La Dame Aux Camelias”, who felt it necessary to put on makeup when she saw her lover, although she was dying. In Fei-yen Wai-chan (Biography of Fei Yen) Chao Fei-yen became ill and refused to see Emperor Han Wu. After all, she was simply unwilling to meet people because of her poor appearance. What is wrong with seeing people in a dishevelled ungroomed condition? You write them down one at a time as they come to mind, setting forth opinions which are not yet well defined in your mind and ideas which are not yet crystal-clear, and discuss them with others. Don’t treat everything that has been issued as an “imperial edict”, and that once it has been discussed, it becomes inflexible. It was like that with the forty articles. In the beginning, 11 articles were drafted in Hangchow, then it was increased to 17 in Tientsin, and only upon arrival in Peking were they increased to 40. “A widow bringing up her son is beholden to the efforts of all the people”. This is a question of work method.

I perceive that we will have to create a unity of opposites. It just will not do without having a tit-for-tat confrontation. It will either be you persuading me or my persuading you. Or be a middle-of-the-roader. Some people are just that; they will not take a stand on major issues. Marxism is supposed (to teach us) not to camouflage one’s own view, is it not? If that is so, then I don’t understand. The banner should be displayed clearly. Probably it is desirable to be like Ch’u Chuany Wang (A prince in the State of Ch’u) who “for three years emitted no sound, but when he did, people remarked: for three years he did not fly, but when he did, he soared into the heavens.[11]

Another one is that obdurate Hu X X arrived. Speak of the devil and he is bound to appear. The revolutionary party of Jen-min Jih-pao [Peoples Daily] does not make revolution. The democratic parties and factions took the speech I made at the Supreme State Conference held on 29 February[12] and expanded on it, extracting what they needed. The Jen-min Jih-pao did not make a single move. It did write an editorial beginning with Engels. Ever since the beginning of February I have been telling them: since you are not carrying it out why don’t you resign? At the Second Plenary Session of the Central Committee held in November,[13] the January Conference of Provincial Party Committee Secretaries[14], and the Propaganda Conference held in March[15], as well as at the I-nien-t’ang Conference, contradiction among the people was mentioned. They were told not to worry, that it was resolvable. But it did not convince Comrade XXX. I said that it would be fine if I had one out of ten cadres supporting me. He would not say he was opposed to it but simply would not implement it. I would be well of if a thousand out of the ten thousand deputy secretaries of district party committees and above supported me. Who could have opened up the schools in Peking? In making his report at the Chung-chih Conference held on 22 May, Comrade X X X had a well-known saying: “An opportune moment that cannot be bought with one thousand ounces of gold” as well as “an inch of gold cannot buy an inch of time.” This brought about an opening up. During the blooming and contending, several party branches in Tsinghua University rebelled, and the rightists were happy. Otherwise, there would be no way to uncover these rebellious elements. There is a certain kind of i! ndolence in people which cannot be easily discarded. The arctic ice could not have thawed for Comrade X X X if it had not been for that conference. XXX is a good man; He is just incompetent. I described him as a professor running a newspaper, a student running a newspaper. I also said that he was like a corpse running a newspaper.

More on textual research, phraseology, and essence. Workers in the field of finance and economics have made great achievements. Of the ten fingers only one is bad. I have said this ten thousand times, but to no effect. I hope work methods will be reformed. I am the one with the least knowledge and I am not a member of a committee. I have talked with democratic people and told them that I was only an actor playing the part of an old domicile, while they were the stars. Anyway, I do have some seniority, and I should be informed. I am rather disappointed. Letting you come from far away places to the south was a suggestion made by the Premier.

I am the culprit. In December of 1955, I wrote an article opposing rightist tendencies[16]. On impulse I held a discussion with 34 ministers. Ten major relationships[17] were discussed, my head swelled, and I “boldly advanced.” After that I was afraid to come near a minister. At the Third Plenary Session of the Central Committee I said that three things were abolished last year (greater, faster, better, and more economical results, the forty articles, and the promotion committees)[18] and there was no opposition. I had a stroke of luck, I was restored [to favor]. I then had the courage to talk with the ministers again. There has been a set-back in these three years. The rightists attacked, throwing back some of our comrades to a distance only 50 meters away from the rightists. The rightist launched full-scale opposition against “bold advances,” asserting that the present is inferior to the past, and “bold advances are more injurious than conservatism.” Let us study it, study which is more injurious. The opposition to “bold advances” discouraged 600 million people. The anti-bold advance editorial of June 1956 opposed right conservatism and also hasty bold advances. It seemed to be impartial, but, actually, the emphasis was on opposition to bold advances. It was not one finger having a sore. On this editorial I noted “will not read.” Why should I read something that attacks me? It was so frightening, it has such power to sway. This writing seemed to be even-handed, but in reality, it was in opposition to “bold advances.” It has not formed the pattern well. The ten fingers form a pattern, and only one finger has a sore. This is a nine-to-one ratio. It is a bourgeois method, if this relationship of the ratio is not clarified, a method like that of Ch’en Chi-! tung, Huang Yen-pei[19] and Ch’en Ming-shu.

I must have the opportunity to speak. From January to November of 1956 it was opposition against “bold advances.” The Second Plenary Session of the Central Committee devised seven articles[20]. It was a compromise formula, and the solution was not thorough. The conference of provincial and municipal party committee secretaries admitted that part of the money was not properly spent. However, the discussion was not carried through thoroughly enough, thereby causing the trend of opposing “bold advances” to spread all over. Liao X X reflected to me that there seemed to be no regrets although the forty articles had been blown away. How many people regretted it? How many people breathed a sigh (of relief)? Three things were blown away, and there were three kinds of people: the first kind said: “China can be saved only by blowing away the forty articles;” the second kind is the middle-of-the-roader. It did not affect him either way. When a mosquito bites he took slap at it and let it go at that; and the third kind sighed. It is necessary to clearly define the demarcation line between the Kuomintang and the Communist party. The Kuomintang is for bold retrogression, and the Communist Party is for bold advance.

X X X was full of anxiety for party and country, and opposed “bold advances”. He became divorced from the majority of the ministers and secretaries of provincial party committees, and from the 600 million people. Please read the article by Sung Yu, “Ode to Teng Tu-tse’s Fondness of Women”. For two thousand years Teng Tu-tse was unable to recover from this article. Sung Yu’s method was to “attack a single point and ignore the rest”. Teng Tu-tse reported to King Hsiang of Ch’u that Sung Yu was beautiful, articulate, and fond of sex. Sung Yu repudiated point by point. Sung Yu counterattacked Teng Tu-tse as being fond of sex by relating that Teng Tu-tse married a pockmarked, hunched-back woman and had seven children from her. Was this not fondness of sex? The attack was just on fondness of sex. In judging cadres we should take into account morality, talent, and qualifications. We cannot ignore morality and talent and consider qualifications only. Mentioning only one finger and ignoring the other nine is the very same kind of method. I see that we must have gentle rain, not heavy downpours, for several years. We must have a gentle attitude and refrain from sudden attacks and catching people off-guard.

In May, the rightists attacked, heightening the level of consciousness of those comrades with rightist tendencies in their minds. This is an “achievement” of the rightists, a way to spur people on.

Government procurement for the 1954-1955 grain year was 92 billion catties, and it purchased another 10 billion catties. Talking about bold advances, there was some boldness here. It created a storm of “every one talking about centralized purchasing, every family discussing food rations.” Chang Nai-ch’i was the Minister for Food and he approved this plan. Was it an attempt to turn the farmers against us? There could be a conspiracy. Quite a lot of food was sold last year, and this reflected the fact that the farmers were discouraged. Are we not advocating the mass line? What mass line would there be once 600 million people become discouraged? In reviewing problems we must proceed from the standpoint of 600 million people and place in proper perspective the main trends, side issues, basic nature, and phenomena of matters coming to our attention.

The major powers grasped by the Central Committee consist only of revolution and agriculture. The rest in the hands of the State Council.

People are superstitious and indolent. For instance, there was an intervening 30 years in my swimming.

In the extermination of the four pests “everyone talks about public health, every household discusses hygiene.” There are 12 months in a year and inspections are to be carried out once every month. In this way hospitals will run schools, doctors will go to do farming, the number of sick people will drop sharply, every one will be mentally alert, and rates of attendance will increase greatly. These must be done in a concerted way, and the best will be to complete it in two years.

I have made an agreement with the five provinces in East China to hold four meetings this year  —  small scale meetings  —  in order to bring about a coordination of two elements. Once the two elements of the central and the local are coordinated things will be different. Small scale meetings will also be held in the various provinces.

Liao X X told me to observe the first five years of a ten-year [program], the first three of a five-year [program], and the first year of a three-year [program]. In one year I will hold four meetings for you and inspect 12 times. Double accounting systems, striving to over-fulfil quotas  —  this is an invention of the Soviet Union.

Please read once again Hung-an County’s report. One man setting a precedent pushed it forward. A deputy secretary of the county committee bought a hoe, and 80 percent of the people bought hoes. There is also the example of that commune in Ying County, Shantung province. [But] one example is enough.



[1.] Chang Po-chun, a Rightist member of the Democratic League, and director of the Newspaper Wen Hui Pao. Also refer to comrade Mao’s article “Wen Hui Pao’s Bourgeois Orientation Should be Criticized”, S.W., Vol. V, pp.451-456.

[2.] In the year 1956 the Rightists launched a campaign to oppose the so called ‘Rash advances’. This campaign dampened the enthusiasm of the masses.

[3.] In this connection refer to comrade Mao’s article “Be Activists in Promoting the Revolution”, S.W., Vol. V, pp 491-492.

“Greater, faster, better and more economical results”  —  Comrade Mao set forth the ideas underlying the general line for building socialism with greater, faster, better and more economic results in his speech delivered at an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the CC of the CPC, held on April 25, 1956. (See “On Ten Major Relationships” S.W., Vol. V, pp. 284-307. See also “Talk On Opposing Right Deviation and Conservatism”, S.W., Vol. VII, pp.355-358, (Kranti Publications).

The 40 articles of the Programme for Agricultural Development, refers to the revised draft of the National Programme for Agricultural Development (1956-67). The draft was adopted at the Third Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party convened from September 20 to October 9, 1957 and was published on October 25 after discussion at the Supreme State Conference.

This programme for building China’s socialist countryside defined the goals for the 500 million Chinese peasants to strive to attain in 12 years and worked out basic methods for their realization. It called for consolidation of the agricultural co-operative system and a substantial increase in the output of grain and other farm products; it called on the majority of the co-operatives to promptly catch up with or surpass the level in production and income reached by well-to-do middle peasants during the period of individual farming. It also stipulated that, wherever necessary and possible a big leap forward should be brought about within 12 years in agriculture and in all fields of rural work as well, including measures to be worked out for boosting agricultural production, popularization of advanced production experience, production in forestry, animal husbandry, side-line occupations and fishery, and in the work of science, culture, education, public health, family planning, communications, commerce and credits as well as the reforming of landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries and bad elements.

[4.] Chen Ming-shu (1889-1965), was a member of the standing committee of the CC of the Revolutionary Committee of the KMT, and was also a member of the Central People’s Governing Council.

[5.] Chang’ Hsi-jo (c.1889- ), a political scientist educated at Columbia University in New York and at the London School of Economics, where he studied under Harold Laski, was Minister of Education until February 1958, when he became chairman of the Commission for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. He made the criticisms to which Mao is referring on 15 May 1957, at a forum called by the United Front Department.

[6.] Liang Shu-ming (1894-1977), a traditionist philosopher. He served as a General Secretary of the China Democratic League, and as a specials nominated member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Please also see Comrade Mao’s article “Criticism of Liang Shu-ming’s Reactionary Ideas”. S.W., Vol. V, pp. 121-130.

[7.] A reference to the then American Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles.

[8.] For Comrade Mao’s talk at the Hangchow conference, see “Talk at the Hangchow Conference of the Shanghai Bureau”, S.W., Vol VII, pp. 396-405 (Kranti Publications).

[9.] S.W., Vol V, pp. 235-280.

[10.] Please see the next article in this volume.

[11.] A quotation from Shin-chi, the Historical Records,  —  meaning achieving great success in one attempt.

[12.] See “On The Correct Handling of Contradictions Among The People”, S.W., Vol. V, pp. 384-421.

[13.] See “Speech at the Second Plenary Session of the Eight Central Committee of the Communist Party of China”, S.W., Vol. V, pp 332-344.

[14.] See “Talks at a Conference of Secretaries of Provincial, Municipal and Autonomous Region Party Comminees”, S.W., Vol V, pp. 350-383.

[15.] See “Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work” S.W., Vol V, PP. 422-435.

[16.] See “Talk on Opposing Right Deviation and Conservatism”, S.W., Vol VII, pp. 355-358 (Kranti Publications).

[17.] See “On the Ten Major Relationships”, S.W., Vol V, pp. 284-307.

[18.] See “Be Activists in Promoting the Revolution”, S.W., Vol. V, pp.483-497, especially pp. 491-492.

[19.] Hung Yen-pei (1878-1965) was the Chairman of the Democratic National Construction Association in 1945. He was also a founding member of the China Democratic League. From 1949 to 1954 he served as a minister of Light Industry.

[20.] See note 13 above.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung