Mao Tse-tung


From the
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
Foreign Languages Press
Peking 1967

First Edition 1965
Second Printing 1967

Vol. I, pp. 179-254.

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (June 1997)


Chapter I
How to Study War



The Laws of War are Developmental
The Aim of War Is to Eliminate War
Strategy Is the Study of the Laws of a War Situation as a
The Important Thing Is to Be Good at Learning


Chapter II
The Chinese Communist Party and China's Revolutionary War


Chapter III
Characteristics of China's Revolutionary War



The Importance of the Subject
What Are the Characteristics of China's Revolutionary War?
Our Strategy and Tactics Ensuing from These Characteristics


Chapter IV
"Encirclement and Suppresion" and Counter-Campaigns Against
It -- the Main Pattern of China's Civil War


Chapter V
The Strategic Defensive



Active and Passive Defense
Preparations for Combating "Encirclement and Suppression" Campaigns
Strategic Retreat
Strategic Counter-Offensive
Starting the Counter-Offensive
Concentration of Troops
Mobile Warfare
War of Quick Decision
War of Annihilation




From Marx
to Mao



Notes on
the Text

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      [1] The science of strategy, the science of campaigns and the science of tactics are all components of Chinese military science. The science of strategy deals with the laws that govern the war situation as a whole. The science of campaigns deals with the laws that govern campaigns and is applied in directing campaigns. The science of tactics deals with the laws that govern battles and is applied in directing battles.    [p.183]

      [2] Sun Wu Tzu, or Sun Wu, was a famous Chinese military scientist in the 5th century B.C., who wrote Sun Tzu, a treatise on war containing thirteen chapters. This quotation is from Chapter 3, "The Strategy of Attack".    [p.190]

      [3] When Comrade Mao Tse-tung wrote this article in 1936, it was exactly fifteen years since the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in July 1921.    [p.193]

      [4] Chen Tu-hsiu was originally a professor at Peking University and became famous as an editor of New Youth. He was one of the founders of the Communist Party of China. Owing to his reputation at the time of the May 4th Movement and owing to the Party's immaturity in its initial period, he became General Secretary of the Party. In the last period of the revolution of 1924-27, the Rightist thinking in the Party represented by Chen Tu-hsiu developed into a line of capitulationism. Comrade Mao Tse-tung has observed that the capitulationists at that time "voluntarily gave up the Party's leadership of the peasant masses, urban petty bourgeoisie and middle bourgeoisie, and in particular gave up the Party's leadership of the armed forces, thus causing the defeat of the revolution" ("The Present Situation and Our Tasks", Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Eng. ed., FLP, Peking, 1961, Vol. IV, p. 171). After the defeat of 1927 Chen Tu-hsiu and a handful of other capitulationists lost faith in the future of the revolution and became liquidationists. They took the reactionary Trotskyist stand and together with the Trotskyites formed a small anti-Party group. Consequently Chen Tu-hsiu was expelled from the Party in November 1929. He died in 1942.    [p.193]

      [5] The "Left" opportunism of Li Li-san, generally known as the "Li Li-san line", refers to the "Left" opportunist line which existed in the Party for about four months beginning from June 1930 and which was represented by Comrade Li Li-san, then the

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    most influential leader of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The Li Li-san line had the following characteristics: It violated the policy of the Party's Sixth National Congress; it denied that mass strength had to be built up for the revolution and denied that the development of the revolution was uneven; it regarded as "extremely erroneous . . . Iocalism and conservatism characteristic of peasant mentality" the ideas of Comrade Mao Tse-tung that for a long time we should devote our attention mainly to creating rural base areas, use the rural areas to encircle the cities and use these bases to advance a high tide of country-wide revolution; and it held that preparations should be made for immediate insurrections in all parts of the country. On the basis of this erroneous line, Comrade Li Li-san drew up an adventurist plan for organizing immediate armed insurrections in the key cities throughout the country. At the same time, he refused to recognize the uneven development of the world revolution, holding that the general outbreak of the Chinese revolution would inevitably lead to a general outbreak of world revolution, without which the Chinese revolution could not be successful; he also refused to recognize the protracted nature of China's bourgeois-democratic revolution, holding that the beginnings of victory in one or more provinces would mark the beginning of the transition to socialist revolution, and thus formulated a number of inappropriate "Left" adventurist policies. Comrade Mao Tse-tung opposed this erroneous line, and the broad masses of cadres and members in the Party also demanded its rectification. At the Third Plenary Session of the Party's Sixth Central Committee in September 1930 Comrade Li Li-san admitted the mistakes that had been pointed out and then relinquished his leading position in the Central Committee. Over a long period of time Comrade Li Li-san corrected his wrong views, and so he was re-elected to the Central Committee at the Seventh National Congress of the Party.    [p.193]

      [6] The Third Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee of the Party held in September 1930, and the subsequent central leading body adopted many positive measures to put an end to the Li Li-san line. But later a number of Party comrades who were inexperienced in practical revolutionary struggle, with Chen Shao-yu (Wang Ming) and Chin Pang-hsien (Po Ku) in the lead, came out against the Central Committee's measures. In the pamphlet, The Two Lines or The Struggle for the Further Bolshevization of the Communist Party of China, they most emphatically declared that the main danger then existing in the Party was not "Left" opportunism but "Right opportunism" and, to justify their own activities, they "criticized" the Li Li-san line as "Rightist". They put forward a new political programme which continued, revived or developed the Li Li-san line and other "Left" ideas and policies in a new guise, and set themselves against the correct line of Comrade Mao Tse-tung. It was mainly to criticize the military mistakes of this new "Left" opportunist line that Comrade Mao Tse-tung wrote the present article, "Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War". This line was dominant in the Parq from the Fourth Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee in January 1931 to the meeting of the Political Bureau convened by the Central Committee at Tsunyi, Kweichow Province, in January 1935, which ended the dominance of this erroneous line and established the new central leadership headed by Comrade Mao Tse-tung. The erroneous "Left" line dominated the Party for a particularly long time (four years) and brought extremely heavy losses, with disastrous consequences, to the Party and the revolution. A loss of 90 per cent was inflicted on the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese Red Army and its base areas, tens of millions of people in the revolutionary base areas were made to suffer the

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    cruel oppression of the Kuomintang, and the progress of the Chinese revolution was retarded. The overwhelming majority of the errant comrades have realized and corrected their mistakes through a long process of learning from experience and have done much good work for the Party and the people. Under Comrade Mao Tse-tung's leadership they are now united with the masses of other comrades in the Party on the basis of a common political understanding.    [p.193]

      [7] For the Right opportunism of Chang Kuo-tao, see "On Tactics Against Japanese Imperialism", Notes 21 and 22, pp. 175-76 of this volume.    [p.193]

      [8] The Officers' Training Corps at Lushan was an organization set up by Chiang Kai-shek in July 1933 on Lushan Mountain in Kiukiang, Kiangsi Province, for training anti-Communist military cadres. Officers of Chiang Kai-shek's armed forces were sent there in rotation to receive fascist military and political training from German, Italian and American instructors.    [p.195]

      [9] These new military principles largely constituted the Chiang Kai-shek gang's policy of "blockhouse warfare" in accordance with which it advanced gradually and entrenched itself at every step.    [p.195]

      [10] See V. I. Lenin, " 'Communism' ", in which Lenin, criticizing the Hungarian Communist Bela Kun, said that he "gives up the most essential thing in Marxism, the living soul of Marxism, the concrete analysis of concrete conditions" (Collected Works, Russ. ed., Moscow, l950, Vol. XXXI, p. 143).    [p.196]

      [11] The First Party Congress of the Hunan-Kiangsi Border Area was held on May 20,1928 at Maoping, Ningkang County.    [p.196]

      [12] For an explanation, see pp. 236-37 of this volume.    [p.199]

      [13] For roving rebels, see "On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party", Notes 4 and 5, pp. 115-16 of this volume.    [p.200]

      [14] "Bandit ways" refers to plundering and looting resulting from lack of discipline, organization and clear political direction.    [p.200]

      [15] The Long March of 25,000 li (12,500 kilometres) was made by the Red Army from Kiangsi Province to northern Shensi Province. For further reference, see "On Tactics Against Japanese Imperialism", Note 20, p. 175 of this volume.    [p.202]

      [17] The period after the December uprising of 1905 was defeated, in which the revolutionary tide in Russia gradually receded. See History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks ), Short Course, Chapter 3, Sections 5 and 6.    [p.204]

      [18] The peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk was concluded between Soviet Russia and Germany in March 1918. Confronted with obviously superior enemy forces, the revolutionary forces had to make a temporary retreat in order to prevent the German imperialists from launching an attack on the new-born Soviet Republic, which as yet had no army of its own. The conclusion of this treaty gained time for the Soviet Republic to consolidate the political power of the proletariat, reorganize its economy and build up the Red Army. It enabled the proletariat to maintain its leadership over the peasantry and build up sufficient strength to defeat the White Guards and the armed intervention of Britain, the United States, France, Japan, Poland and other countries in 1918-20.    [p.204]

      [18] On October 30, 1927 the peasants of the Haifeng-Lufeng area of Kwangtung Province launched their third insurrection under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. They occupied Haifeng and Lufeng and the surrounding area, organized a Red Army and established the democratic political power of the workers and

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    peasants. They were later defeated because they made the mistake of underestimating the enemy.    [p.206]

      [19] The Fourth Front Army and the Second Front Army of the Red Army joined forces in the autumn of 1936 and shifted northward from the northeastern part of Sikang. Chang Kuo-tao was then still persisting in his anti-Party stand and in his policy of retreat and liquidation. In October of the same year, when the Second and Fourth Front Armies arrived in Kansu, he ordered the advance units of the Fourth Front Army, numbering more than 20,000, to organize the Western Column for crossing the Yellow River and advancing westward to Chinghai. This Column was practically defeated after suffering blows in battles in December 1936 and was completely defeated in March 1937.    [p.207]

      [20] See letter from Karl Marx to L. Kugelmann on the Paris Commune.    [p.208]

      [21] Shui Hu Chuan (Heroes of the Marshes ) is a celebrated Chinese novel describing a peasant war. The novel is attributed to Shih Nai-an who lived around the end of the Yuan Dynasty and the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (14th century). Lin Chung and Chai Chin are both heroes in this novel. Hung is the drill master on Chai Chin's estate.    [p.211]

      [22] Lu and Chi were two feudal states in the Spring and Autumn Era (722-481 B.C.). Chi was a big state in the central part of the present Shantung Province, and Lu was a smaller one in the southern part. Duke Chuang reigned over Lu from 693 to 662 B.C.    [p.211]

      [23] Tsochiu Ming was the author of Tso Chuan, a classical chronicle of the Chou Dynasty. For the passage quoted, see the section in Tso Chuan entitled "The 10th Year of Duke Chuang" (684 B.C.).    [p.211]

      [24] The ancient town of Chengkao, in the northwest of the present Chengkao County, Honan Province, was of great military importance. It was the scene of battles fought in 203 B.C. between Liu Pang, King of Han, and Hsiang Yu, King of Chu. At first Hsiang Yu captured Hsingyang and Chengkao and Liu Pang's troops were almost routed. Liu Pang waited until the opportune moment when Hsiang Yu's troops were in midstream crossing the Szeshui River, and then crushed them and recaptured Chengkao.    [p.213]

      [25] The ancient town of Kunyang, in the north of the present Yehhsien County, Honan Province, was the place where Liu Hsiu, founder of the Eastern Han Dynasty, defeated the troops of Wang Mang, Emperor of the Hsin Dynasty, in A.D. 23. There was a huge numerical disparity between the two sides, Liu Hsiu's forces totalling 8,000 to 9,000 men as against Wang Mang's 400,000. But taking advantage of the negligence of Wang Mang's generals, Wang Hsun and Wang Yi, who underestimated the enemy, Liu Hsiu with only 3,000 picked troops put Wang Mang's main forces to rout. He followed up this victory by crushing the rest of the enemy troops.    [p.213]

      [26] Kuantu was in the northeast of the present Chungmou County, Honan Province, and the scene of the battle between the armies of Tsao Tsao and Yuan Shao in A.D. 200. Yuan Shao had an army of 100,000, while Tsao Tsao had only a meagre force and was short of supplies. Taking advantage of lack of vigilance on the part of Yuan Shao's troops, who belittled the enemy, Tsao Tsao dispatched his light-footed soldiers to spring a surprise attack on them and set their supplies on fire. Yuan Shao's army was thrown into confusion and its main force wiped out.    [p.213]

      [27] The state of Wu was ruled by Sun Chuan, and the state of Wei by Tsao Tsao. Chihpi is situated on the south bank of the Yangtse River, to the northeast of Chiayu Hupeh Province. In A.D. 208 Tsao Tsao led an army of over 500,000 men, which he

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    proclaimed to be 800,000 strong, to launch an sttack on Sun Chuan. The latter, in alliance with Tsao Tsao's antagonist Liu Pei, mustered a force of 30,000. Knowing that Tsao Tsao's army was plagued by epidemia and was unaccustomed to action afloat, the allied forces of Sun Chuan and Liu Pei set fire to Tsao Tsao's fleet and crushed his army.    [p.213]

      [28] Yiling, to the east of the present Ichang, Hupeh Province, was the place where Lu Hsun, a general of the state of Wu, defeated the army of Liu Pei, ruler of Shu, in A.D. 222. Liu Pei's troops scored successive victories at the beginning of the war and penetrated five or six hundred li into the territory of Wu as far as Yiling. Lu Hsun, who was defending Yiling, avoided battle for over seven months until Liu Pei "was at his wits' end and his troops were exhausted and demoralized". Then he crushed Liu Pei's troops by taking advantage of a favourable wind to set fire to their tents.    [p.213]

      [29] Hsieh Hsuan, a general of Eastern Tsin Dynasty, defeated Fu Chien, ruler of the state of Chin, in A.D. 383 at the Feishui River in Anhwei Province. Fu Chien had an infantry force of more than 600,000, a cavalry force of 270,000 and a guards corps of more than 30,000, while the land and river forces of Eastern Tsin numbered only 80,000. When the armies lined up on opposite banks of the Feishui River, Hsieh Hsuan, taking advantage of the overconfidence and conceit of the enemy troops, requested Fu Chien to move his troops back so as to leave room for the Eastern Tsin troops to cross the river and fight it out. Fu Chien complied, but when he ordered withdrawal, his troops got into a panic and could not be stopped. Seizing the opportunity, the Eastern Tsin troops crossed the river, launched an offensive and crushed the enemy.    [p.213]

      [30] Nanchang, capital of Kiangsi Province, was the scene of the famous uprising on August 1,1927 led by the Communist Party of China in order to combat the counter-revolution of Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei and to continue the revolution of 1924-27. More than thirty thousand troops took part in the uprising which was Ied by Comrades Chou En-lai, Chu Teh, Ho Lung and Yeh Ting. The insurrectionary army withdrew from Nanchang on August 5 as planned, but suffered a defeat when approaching Chaochow and Swatow in Kwangtung Province. Led by Comrades Chu Teh, Chen Yi and Lin Piao, part of the troops later fought their way to the Chingkang Mountains and joined forces with the 1st Division of the First Workers' and Peaants' Revolutionary Army under Comrade Mao Tse-tung.    [p.213]

      [31] See "Why Is It That Red Political Power Can Exist in China?", Note 8, p. 72 of this volume.    [p.213]

      [32] The famous Autumn Harvest Uprising under the leadership of Comrade Mao Tse-tung was Iaunched in September 1927 by the people's armed forces of Hsiushui, Pinghsiang, Pingkiang and Liuyang Counties on the Hunan-Kiangsi border, who formed the First Division of the First Workers' and Peasants' Revolutionary Army. Comrade Mao Tse-tung led this force to the Chingkang Mountains where a revolutionary base was established.    [p.213]

      [33] The A-B (initials for "Anti-Bolshevik") Group was a counter-revolutionary organization of undercover Kuomintang agents in the Red areas.    [p.219]

      [34] See V. I. Lenin, "Theses on the Question of the Immediate Conclusion of a Separate and Annexationist Peace", "Strange and Monstrous", "A Serious Lesson and a Serious Responsibility", "Report on War and Peace", Selected Works, in two volumes, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1952, Vol. II, Part 1, and also History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks ) Short Course. Chapter 7, Section 7.    [p.221]

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      [35] The regions referred to here are those inhabited by the Tibetans in Sikang and the Hui people in Kansu, Chinghai and Sinkiang Provinces.    [p.223]

      [36] The "eight-legged essay" was the prescribed form in the imperial competitive examinations in feudal China from the 15th to the 19th century. The main body of the essay was made up of the inceptive paragraph, the middle paragraph, the rear paragraph and the concluding paragraph, with each paragraph comprising two parts. Here Comrade Mao Tse-tung is using the development of the theme in this kind of essay as a metaphor to illustrate the development of the revolution through its various stages. However, Comrade Mao Tse-tung generally uses the term "eight-legged essay" to ridicule dogmatism.    [p.245]

      [37] In November 1933, under the influence of the people's anti-Japanese upsurge throughout China, the leaders of the Kuomintang's 19th Route Army, in alliance with the Kuomintang forces under Li Chi-shen, publicly renounced Chiang Kai-shek and established the "People's Revolutionary Government of the Republic of China" in Fukien, concluding an agreement with the Red Army to attack Chiang Kai-shek and resist Japan. This episode was referred to as the Fukien Incident. The 19th Route Army and Fukien People's Government, however, collapsed under the attacks of Chiang Kai-shek's troops.    [p.247]

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