Mao Zedong

Letter to Chang Nai-chi and Others

Date: 10 August 1936
Source: China: The March Toward Unity, pp. 70-82
Published: Workers Library Publishers, 1937
Online Version: Mao Zedong Internet Archive
Transciption/HTML Markup/Proofreading: The Rust Belt School, June 2014
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book cover WE RECENTLY read in the press "A Number of Essential Conditions and Minimum Demands for United Resistance to Foreign Aggression" published by Messrs. Shen, Tao, Chang and Chow dated July 15 of this year, as well as the manifesto and program of the All-China National Salvation Union.

These documents have aroused great sympathy and met with general approval in our ranks and we consider them as representing the opinion and the demands of the bulk of the people who have no desire to become slaves. In the name of the Party, of the Soviet government and the Red Army, I wish to convey to you my sincerest respects and to apprise you and the whole country of the following:

We are in agreement with your manifesto, program and demands and earnestly desire to cooperate with you and all other parties and groups, either as organizations or individually, which desire to participate in this struggle, to fight jointly against Japan for the salvation of the country, as formulated in your program and demands.

We greatly value your criticism and the good will expressed by you in these documents. In this, our solemn reply, we shall briefly set out our policy and the measures we have taken during the recent past.

You state that what you expect of us is that the Chinese Communist Party shall by its practical measures verify that it advocates an alliance with all parties and groups in the struggle against Japan for the salvation of the country. That the Red Army must cease its attacks on the troops of the central government in order to facilitate peace negotiations; that in the districts occupied by the Red Army the attitude toward the rich peasants and merchants must be mollified. That in the big cities efforts must be made to avoid such conflicts between capital and labor as may weaken the anti- Japanese forces. That only then will the obstacles to the development of the united front be removed.

As a matter of fact this is the way we had to proceed and actually did proceed. In our actions we always honestly adhered to our proposals and our political line. When, immediately after the events of September 18, we were the first to offer our cooperation in the struggle against Japan to all groups throughout the country, there were some who said that our proposals were made only for the purpose of propaganda but that in reality we had no intention of acting in accordance with our proposals. However, the events of the last few years have shown that such criticism is nothing but slander. We cooperated with the Nineteenth Route Army and with the Fukien government. Recently when a group of leaders of the Southwest published a circular telegram advocating an anti-Japanese campaign, we declared our desire to join them in action. At the same time we published our proposals for anti-Japanese cooperation, addressing them to the military and political leaders as well as to all parties, groups and public organizations of the country, and declared that we, not only in word but in deed, sincerely desire unity for the purpose of fighting for the existence of our country.

For a period of more than a year we endured a fierce and protracted struggle for the realization of our goal—to march northward in order to fight Japan. Although at the present time we already are in Northern China, our aim "to concentrate our forces in Hopei so as to fight first and foremost directly against Japanese imperialism" has as yet not been accomplished. Last spring after we crossed the river into Shansi we would have realized our plan if we had not been prevented from doing so by the blockade instituted by the troops of the central government which were stationed, more than 100,000 strong, along the Tatung-Puchow Railway. If we had concentrated our forces and broken through the blockade, and we could have done so, of course, it would have required great sacrifices on both sides. To avoid futile losses in internal strife, we temporarily recrossed the river and returned to Shensi.

After our return to Shensi we continued to ignore the hostile actions directed against us and once more addressed the Nanking government, General Yan Hsi-shan in Taiyuan and General Sung Che-yuan in Hopei, expressing our desire to concentrate our forces in Hopei to fight Japan and demanding their consent to this. Although to this day we have not received a satisfactory reply from them, there is no reason why we should relinquish our anti-Japanese aims which we have advocated from the very beginning.

In view of the fact that the life of the whole nation is almost on the brink of total prostration, we have no interest whatever in continuing a civil war in which Chinese fight against Chinese. We shall never attack the troops of the central government or any other armed forces unless they attack us or hinder the Chinese troops from fighting Japan.

If the troops of the central government or any other, armed forces fight Japan and refrain from suppressing the mass patriotic movement, we are ready to help them sincerely with all the resources at our disposal. We are ready to cooperate with any military unit, any party and any group on condition that the anti-Japanese, anti-treason and patriotic movements be given liberty of action.

It is true that all the forces of China must be concentrated to secure a complete victory over Japanese imperialism, but it would be a mistake to think that these forces must first be concentrated before launching an anti-Japanese campaign. We must realize that part of our forces are already in a position to oppose Japan and that the enemy will never allow a concentration of our forces until we launch our campaign.

The enemy has already placed the central and local governments of China under strict surveillance and is devouring one province after another. In such a situation a general mobilization can only be carried out after the war of resistance has already commenced. Finally, the general mobilization and war of resistance must begin simultaneously. Possibly a general mobilization of the nation as a whole is no longer feasible under "peaceful" conditions.

You demand freedom for the various trends in the patriotic movement and yet it is quite clear that the enemy will have immediate recourse to arms to crush you and war will be inevitable. With the situation getting worse from day to day a united national defense and general mobilization will become more and more difficult unless we immediately start a war of resistance against Japan, and if the opportune moment is lost it may even become impossible. Already Manchuria and part of Northern China can no longer be included in a general mobilization.

As time goes on still more military units will be organized from among the traitors, a considerable part of China will be subject to the direct administration of the enemy and they will seize all the big cities and main arteries of communication; should this be allowed to happen our general mobilization will be confined to a small portion of China, to its agricultural regions.

Can the war of resistance against Japan still be put off even now on the pretext that China must first be unified and that preparations for the war are not yet completed?

We are not at all opposed to genuine preparations but we are opposed to any attempt to practice non-resistance on the plea of making preparations.

Resistance to Japan will present absolutely no obstacle to the preparatory work or to national mobilization. Every act of resistance is in itself a great mobilizing factor, which is best exemplified by the military actions that took place in Shanghai and at the Great Chinese Wall.

What under ordinary conditions we can attain by secret preparatory work under the observation of the enemy in the course of a number of years can be attained in the course of a few weeks after resistance has begun. Moreover, the forces acquired by secret preparation can never compensate for the losses incurred nor can they exceed those forces which are mustered and prepared by the enemy during the same period.

Some argue that our lone struggle against Japan is dashing with their general anti-Japanese tactics. We do not know what their "general anti-Japanese tactics" are. We can only demand that those who lag behind quicken their pace and march side by side with us, and that those military and political leaders as well as parties and groups who are not yet prepared to offer resistance to Japan should immediately join us in the struggle against the latter.

We have no grounds whatever for giving up our anti-Japanese policy, or for discontinuing our anti-Japanese activities, or for taking our cue from the programs and activities of these "critics."

We assume that resistance to Japan will mean a desperate struggle for a long period of time and that we shall not achieve a final victory without hundreds and even thousands of major and minor engagements. We are convinced of the protracted nature and the severe character of the struggle and consider that all the forces of the nation should be completely mobilized and centralized. But we cannot postpone the struggle against Japan until such time as this mobilization and centralization shall have been completed.

In view of the above we demand that resistance to Japan start immediately, that in the first place the Red Army be concentrated in Hopei so as to enable it to be the first to begin the direct struggle against Japan. We are against all attempts to procrastinate or to evade the struggle against Japan under any pretense whatever. We sincerely hope that you will support us in the realization of our demands.

For the purpose of concentrating the national forces of resistance to Japan, we have improved the Soviet laws and Soviet work in every respect. We have renamed our government and army from the Workers' and Peasants' Government and the Workers' and Peasants' Army to the People's Soviet Government and the People's Red Army. In addition to this our election law provides that all members of the lower middle class, office employees, members of the liberal professions, specialists and proprietors of small commercial and industrial establishments shall have the right to elect and be elected. We have granted civil liberties in the Soviet districts to all parties, public institutions and mass organizations. We have declared that we are willing to meet the representatives of all parties, groups and public institutions who agree to fight jointly with us against Japan and share together with the Soviet government the general responsibility.

We have already adopted a decision not to confiscate the land of the rich peasants, and, if they come to us to fight against Japan not to refuse to unite with them. We are not confiscating the property and the factories of the big and small merchants and capitalists. We protect their enterprises and help them to expand so that the material supply in the Soviet districts, so necessary for the anti-Japanese campaign, may be augmented in this way.

As for the active anti-Japanese officers and big landowners, we can state that their estates and property are not subject to confiscation. We invite all unemployed officers, soldiers, office workers and specialists to come to the Soviet districts where they will be supplied with work and an opportunity to develop their abilities. We have set up special rules for the treatment of officers and soldiers taken prisoner. We supply them with what they need on the way if they want to return home, or give them work if they want to stay with us to fight Japan.

All the numerous and diverse taxes have been abolished; the government now levies a uniform income tax which is not burdensome on the population.

This is our policy as established and carried out in the Soviet districts. We are not in the least hostile to those classes our people which take an anti-Japanese stand. In future if the Red Army enters any district under the control of troops in alliance with us against Japan, the Red Army agrees to observe the laws and rules established for the population of these districts by the allied troops, and will refrain from interfering in the local administrative affairs of the allied troops as long as the conditions of the agreement are kept by them.

As for the problem of mutual relations between capital and labor in the Soviet districts, we have set up minimum conditions for the improvement of the living standards of the workers. The workers and capitalists have made an agreement the terms of which are based on the actual situation in each enterprise, and are binding on both sides. This agreement does away with unnecessary strikes and sabotage. The former laws about workers' control and leadership in the various enterprises have been repealed. The workers are advised not to put up demands which may be in excess of what can be granted by the enterprise in question. In the non-Soviet districts it is our intention not to accentuate the anti-capitalist struggle though we are in favor of improving the standard of living of the workers. We are thoroughly convinced that the struggle for the return of the customs houses and against imperialist aggression is of advantage to capitalists and workers alike; and vice versa, as long as imperialism increases its offensive, neither workers nor capitalists can expect an improvement in their condition. The common interests of both capitalists and workers are grounded in the struggle against imperialist aggression.

The circumstance that the partisans of Hupeh, Hunan, Kiangsi, Fukien, Chekiang and other localities have up to Now failed to abide by the laws which we have lately adopted s due to the fact that our instructions could not be transmitted to them because of various obstacles. Besides, the repeated attempts to suppress the partisan movement in these districts, unfailingly accompanied by unspeakable atrocities, might possibly have resulted in the spirit of vengeance gaining the upper hand here and there. However, we are of the opinion that this is a wrong attitude. We are very anxious to have these mistakes corrected at once or simultaneously to effect a cessation of the "campaign of suppression" and the partisan movement, on condition that an anti-Japanese policy be adopted. It is to be regretted that we are still unable to secure the carrying out of the latter condition, as we do not have the last say in the matter.

We ask you to note the following: We hold that the Soviets and Red Army belong to the people. We infinitely respect and in practice give due regard to the criticism, the opinions and demands which reach us from the people, and are ready to submit to decisions democratically arrived at by the whole people concerning the various questions touching the people who have no desire to become slaves or be despoiled of their country.

Of course the members of our Party must join the various organizations of the National Salvation movement which exist in many parts of the country. We are ready to devote our entire strength to this movement and to these organizations so as to engage in a joint struggle together with all parties, groups and people who do not want to become slaves, who want to fight against the destruction of the Chinese nation. The members of our Party will obey implicitly the rules, programs and decisions adopted by the majorities of these organizations. In practical work we shall also submit without reserve to the majority even if at times we may disagree in principle with this majority. The members of our Party will not act in opposition to nor vie with other groups in these organizations, which may have gained the confidence of the masses and established themselves in a leading position. On the contrary, we are ready to support the consistent anti-Japanese leaders of any group so that they may develop their capacities among the masses without let or hindrance, and we are ready to work under their leadership. Victory over our formidable foe requires not only our own growth and success but also the success and growth of ill our united forces. Our slogan for the united front is:

"All parties and classes, unite to fight Japan and the traitors."

Consequently we consider it a mistake to launch slogans such as the exclusion of one class or another, or of one party or another from the united front. We consider that there are still many leaders, rank-and-file members and functionaries in the Kuomintang and the national government, who are capable of fighting against Japan and we are quite ready to unite with such persons.

Consequently opposition to the Kuomintang and the various governments does not harmonize with the present state of affairs. We are not in agreement with and are opposed to sectarianism, monopolization, selfish exploitation of patriotic elements, various manipulations or even such methods of work as are being practiced by some young people, such as forcibly compelling the masses to take part in the national salvation movement. Finally, what we are most interested in and consider most important is that all parties and groups should treat us without animosity, and bear in mind the objectives of the struggle against Japan for the salvation of the country. We shall hereafter consider of no importance any difference of opinion on other questions. But there are people who consider differences of opinion on other questions important, and this circumstance can explain many contradictions. We are quite ready to correct these mistakes if they were committed by members of our Party in the national salvation movement, but we want the leaders of the other parties and groups as well as the young people who are particularly zealous in their patriotism to encourage each other in this regard.

We are convinced that if in face of the necessity of resistance to Japan for the salvation of the nation all refrain from hostility to one another and practice mutual patience with regard to differences of opinion on minor questions, the movement for the united front of the whole nation will undoubtedly be crowned with success, and a great and splendid future will be in store for it.

We can win our fight not only against Japanese imperialism and the traitors, but after going through certain stages in the united front movement, can free the Chinese nation from the yoke of all imperialists and achieve a real democratic union of all China. It all depends on the strength of the united front. We are therefore of the opinion that the united front is by no means a transitory, temporary phenomenon. It is inevitable that in the various stages of the united front movement certain persons should vacillate, betray the cause or resort to flight, but such occurrences should never be taken as a split in the united front.

The reason why at the present time the united front possesses clearer premises and a stronger basis than in 1927 is that the present national crisis is a hundred times more profound than that of 1927. The united front of 1927 was set up mainly for purposes of struggle within the country (against the Northern militarists); today this front is being organized for the struggle against the foreign enemy. Those who in 1927 left the united front formed a semi-independent government in China, but today whoever withdraws from the People's Front or fails to unite with it can no longer set up a semi-independent government and can likewise no longer find any substantial support among the various groups of the Chinese population.

Moreover, the experience of 1927 cannot be applied to the same extent to the various classes. Compared with 1927 the situation throughout the whole world as well as in China has radically changed in favor of a united front of the Chinese nation. Thus we are not pessimists and certainly not when viewing the prospects of the united front of today. There is no reason to be pessimistic. Nor are we afraid of being taken undue advantage of in the course of the united front by other parties or groups, as we have a thoroughly considered and definite anti-Japanese program.

We are ready to cooperate sincerely to the very end with all parties, groups and organizations which have resolved to fight against the Japanese invaders and against the traitors in our ranks.

However, a very serious matter arises at the present time in view of the fact that certain persons continue to dream of realizing their plans to unite China by armed force exercised by individuals. It should be clearly realized that to unite China by armed force means interminable civil war for China. We know what a gloomy future may await these per- sons if we recall the failure of Yuan Shih-kai and other militarists when they set out to prosecute such a policy. And under the special conditions obtaining today the degree of danger threatening the Chinese nation from such a policy is greater in every respect than in the past. Unfortunately, there still are people who extol this policy in their capacity of spectators. There are people who draw a violent contrast between the "unification front" and the united People's Front and try to disrupt the latter. This is clearly one of the main reasons why the united front does not develop so smoothly.

You say that in the past the dispute centered mainly around the ways and means of waging the anti-Japanese struggle as well as the question of whether "pacification within the country" or "resistance to foreign aggression" should receive precedence. It seems to us, however, that all these disputes as well as the discussion about the ways and means to be adopted touch only the surface. They are essentially a problem which affects certain people who vacillate between the traitors and the national heroes and must make a choice between resistance and capitulation. We do not think that those who argue in favor of giving "pacification within the country" the precedence have no idea where this "pacification within the country" will lead them to. But what reason is this for insisting so stubbornly that "pacification within the country" comes before everything else?

We are not against unification, but are opposed to civil war and the traitors. We believe that there is but one course open to China of today, namely, that all parties and groups should unite on an equal basis in a joint struggle against Japan and that all should submit to a popular democratic regime. If they do not take this path but instead prefer to unify China and secure by force of arms the submission of all those who differ with them, the Chinese will never be united, and China will be rent apart and go to wrack and ruin. For this reason alone we are opposed to all such at- tempts.

We, on our part, are in favor of an alliance on an equal basis, in favor of uniting China through anti-Japanese resistance and democracy. At the present time this is the only way to a peaceful unification of China. We are ready to comply with all decisions of any congress that actually rep- resents the whole of the Chinese people, and to submit all important questions to its decision. We even agree to submit to a democratic decision of the people of the whole country the question of whether the Soviet system of society is to be adopted by the whole of China or not.

But we feel bound to declare that we consider the Constitution as well as the law on the organization and election of the People's Congress published by the Nanking government on May 5 of this year anti-democratic. We do not recognize the right of the People's Congress elected under these laws to represent the people of the whole country and to speak in its name. We must dissociate ourselves from the elections to this "People's Congress", nor are we and the people of our country obliged to submit to the decisions that may be adopted by this "People's Congress". We consider the existence of this "People's Congress" harmful. But we agree to participate in any representative popular body if it is formed in accordance with the principles of democracy.

In conclusion, we would like to have you and all other organizations of the National Salvation movement, wherever they be located, send its delegates to the Soviet government. We would like you to put us in touch with other parties and groups so that we could negotiate with them on cooperation. All representatives who desire to conduct negotiations with us are requested to come to the Soviet districts where their safety will be guaranteed. If our safety is guaranteed we in turn agree to send our representatives to other sections of the country to institute negotiations.

We have the honor to add our signature to the program the All-China National Salvation Union.

With national revolutionary greetings,
August 10, 1936

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