Mao Tse Tung
Quotations from Mao Tse Tung

13. Relations Between Officers and Men


Our army has always had two policies. First, we must be ruthless to our enemies; we must overpower and annihilate them. Second, we must be kind to our own, to the people, to our comrades and to our superiors and subordinates, and unite with them.

Speech at the reception given by the Central Committee of the Party for model study delegates from the Rear Army Detachments (September 18, 1944).

We hail from all corners of the country and have joined together for a common revolutionary objective.... Our cadres must show concern for every soldier, and all people in the revolutionary ranks must care for each other, must love and help each other.

"Serve the People" (September 8, 1944), Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 227-28.

A movement to support the cadres and cherish the soldiers should be launched in every army unit, calling on the cadres to cherish the soldiers and the soldiers to support the cadres. They should speak up about each other's shortcomings and mistakes and quickly correct them. In this way they will be able to achieve a very good internal unity.

"The Tasks for 1945" (December15, 1944)

Many people think that it is wrong methods that make for strained relations between officers and men and between the army and the people, but I always tell them that it is a question of basic attitude (or basic principle), of having respect for the soldiers and the people. It is from this attitude that the various policies, methods and forms ensue. If we depart from this attitude, then the policies, methods and forms will certainly be wrong, and the relations between officers and men and between the army and the people are bound to be unsatisfactory. Our three major principles for the army's political work are, first, unity between officers and men; second, unity between the army and the people; and third, the disintegration of the enemy forces. To apply these principles effectively, we must start with this basic attitude of respect for the soldiers and the people, and of respect for the human dignity of prisoners of war once they have laid down their arms. Those who take all this as a technical matter and not one of basic attitude are indeed wrong, and they should correct their view.

"On Protracted War" (May 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, pp. 186-87.

Communists must use the democratic method of persuasion and education when working among the laboring people and must on no account resort to commandism or coercion. The Chinese Communist Party faithfully adheres to this Marxist-Leninist principle.

On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People (February 27, 1957), 1st pocket ed., p. 15.*

Our comrades must understand that ideological remolding involves long-term, patient and painstaking work, and they must not attempt to change people's ideology, which has been shaped over decades of life, by giving a few lectures or by holding a few meetings. Persuasion, not compulsion, is the only way to convince them. Compulsion will never result in convincing them. To try to convince them by force simply won't work. This kind of method is permissible in dealing with the enemy, but absolutely impermissible in dealing with comrades or friends.

Speech at the Chinese Communist Party's National Conference on Propaganda Work (March 12, 1957), lst pocket ed., and p. 23.

We must make a distinction between the enemy and ourselves, and we must not adopt an antagonistic stand towards comrades and treat them as we would the enemy. In speaking up, one must have an ardent desire to protect the cause of the people and raise their political consciousness, and there must be no ridiculing or attacking in one's approach.

Ibid. p. 20.*


Chapter 14: Relations Between the Army and the People