Mao: Problems of War and Strategy

Mao at Yenan.

[Final part of our series on revolutionary military strategy in imperialist countries.  While it mainly deals with revolutionary war in China, it contains many important insights into revolutionary strategy in general and how it’s application changes for different countries in particular.]

November 6, 1938

I. CHINA’S CHARACTERISTICS AND REVOLUTIONARY WAR

The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries.

But while the principle remains the same, its application by the party of the proletariat finds expression in varying ways according to the varying conditions. Internally, capitalist countries practice bourgeois democracy (not feudalism) when they are not fascist or not at war; in their external relations, they are not oppressed by, but themselves oppress, other nations. Because of these characteristics, it is the task of the party of the proletariat in the capitalist countries to educate the workers and build up strength through a long period of legal struggle, and thus prepare for the final overthrow of capitalism. In these countries, the question is one of a long legal struggle, of utilizing parliament as a platform, of economic and political strikes, of organizing trade unions and educating the workers. There the form of organization is legal and the form of struggle bloodless (non-military). On the issue of war, the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries oppose the imperialist wars waged by their own countries; if such wars occur, the policy of these Parties is to bring about the defeat of the reactionary governments of their own countries. The one war they want to fight is the civil war for which they are preparing.[1] But this insurrection and war should not be launched until the bourgeoisie becomes really helpless, until the majority of the proletariat are determined to rise in arms and fight, and until the rural masses are giving willing help to the proletariat. And when the time comes to launch such an insurrection and war, the first step will be to seize the cities, and then advance into the countryside’ and not the other way about. All this has been done by Communist Parties in capitalist countries, and it has been proved correct by the October Revolution in Russia.

China is different however. The characteristics of China are that she is not independent and democratic but semi-colonial and semi-feudal, that internally she has no democracy but is under feudal oppression and that in her external relations she has no national independence but is oppressed by imperialism. It follows that we have no parliament to make use of and no legal right to organize the workers to strike. Basically, the task of the Communist Party here is not to go through a long period of legal struggle before launching insurrection and war, and not to seize the big cities first and then occupy the countryside, but the reverse.

When imperialism is not making armed attacks on our country, the Chinese Communist Party either wages civil war jointly with the bourgeoisie against the warlords (lackeys of imperialism), as in 1924-27 in the wars in Kwangtung Province [2] and the Northern Expedition, or unites with the peasants and the urban petty bourgeoisie to wage civil war against the landlord class and the comprador bourgeoisie (also lackeys of imperialism), as in the War of Agrarian Revolution of 1927-36. When imperialism launches armed attacks on China, the Party unites all classes and strata in the country opposing the foreign aggressors to wage a national war against the foreign enemy, as it is doing in the present War of Resistance Against Japan.

All this shows the difference between China and the capitalist countries. In China war is the main form of struggle and the army is the main form of organization. Other forms such as mass organization and mass struggle are also extremely important and indeed indispensable and in no circumstances to be overlooked, but their purpose is to serve the war. Before the outbreak of a war all organization and struggle are in preparation for the war, as in the period from the May 4th Movement of 1919 to the May 30th Movement of 1925. After war breaks out, all organization and struggle are coordinated with the war either directly or indirectly, as, for instance, in the period of the Northern Expedition when all organization and struggle in the rear areas of the revolutionary army were co-ordinated with the war directly, and those in the Northern warlord areas were co-ordinated with the war indirectly. Again in the period of the War of Agrarian Revolution all organization and struggle inside the Red areas were co-ordinated with the war directly, and outside the Red areas indirectly. Yet again in the present period, the War of Resistance, all organization and struggle in the rear areas of the anti-Japanese forces and in the areas occupied by the enemy are directly or indirectly co-ordinated with the war.

“In China the armed revolution is fighting the armed counterrevolution. That is one of the specific features and one of the advantages of the Chinese revolution.”[3] This thesis of Comrade Stalin’s is perfectly correct and is equally valid for the Northern Expedition, the War of Agrarian Revolution, and the present War of Resistance Against Japan. They are all revolutionary wars; all directed against counter-revolutionaries and all waged mainly by the revolutionary people, differing only in the sense that a civil war differs from a national war, and that a war conducted by the Communist Party differs from a war it conducts jointly with the Kuomintang. Of course, these differences are important. They indicate the breadth of the main forces in the war (an alliance of the workers and peasants, or of the workers, peasants and bourgeoisie) and whether our antagonist in the war is internal or external (whether the war is against domestic or foreign foes, and, if domestic, whether against the Northern warlords or against the Kuomintang); they also indicate that the content of China’s revolutionary war differs at different stages of its history. But all these wars are instances of armed revolution fighting armed counterrevolution, they are all revolutionary wars, and all exhibit the specific features and advantages of the Chinese revolution. The thesis that revolutionary war “is one of the specific features and one of the advantages of the Chinese revolution” fits China’s conditions perfectly. The main task of the party of the Chinese proletariat, a task confronting it almost from its very inception, has been to unite with as many allies as possible and, according to the circumstances, to organize armed struggles for national and social liberation against armed counterrevolution, whether internal or external. Without armed struggle the proletariat and the Communist Party would have no standing at all in China, and it would be impossible to accomplish any revolutionary task.

Our Party did not grasp this point fully during the first five or six years after it was founded, that is, from 1921 to its participation in the Northern Expedition in 1926. It did not then understand the supreme importance of armed struggle in China, or seriously prepare for war and organize armed forces, or apply itself to the study of military strategy and tactics. During the Northern Expedition it neglected to win over the army but laid one-sided stress on the mass movement, with the result that the whole mass movement collapsed the moment the Kuomintang turned reactionary. For a long time after 1927 many comrades continued to make it the Party’s central task to prepare for insurrections in the cities and to work in the White areas. It was only after our victory in repelling the enemy’s third “encirclement and suppression” campaign in 1931 that some comrades fundamentally changed their attitude on this question. But this was not true of the whole Party, and there were other comrades who did not think along the lines presented here.

Experience tells us that China’s problems cannot be settled without armed force. An understanding of this point will help us in successfully waging the War of Resistance Against Japan from now on. The fact that the whole nation is rising in armed resistance in the war against Japan should inculcate a better understanding of the importance of this question in the whole Party, and every Party member should be prepared to take up arms and go to the front at any moment. Moreover, our present session has clearly defined the direction for our efforts by deciding that the Party’s main fields of work are in the battle zones and in the enemy’s rear. This is also an excellent antidote against the tendency of some Party members to be willing only to work in Party organizations and in the mass movement but to be unwilling to study or participate in warfare, and against the failure of some schools to encourage students to go to the front, and other such phenomena. In most of China, Party organizational work and mass work are directly linked with armed struggle; there is not and cannot be, any Party work or mass work that is isolated and stands by itself. Even in rear areas remote from the battle zones (like Yunnan, Kweichow and Szechuan) and in enemy-occupied areas (like Peiping, Tientsin, Nanking and Shanghai), Party organizational work and mass work are co-ordinated with the war, and should and must exclusively serve the needs of the front. In a word, the whole Party must pay great attention to war, study military matters and prepare itself for fighting.

II. THE WAR HISTORY OF THE KUOMINTANG

It will be useful for us to look at the history of the Kuomintang and see what attention it pays to war.

From the start, when he organized a small revolutionary group, Sun Yat-sen staged armed insurrections against the Ching Dynasty.[4] The period of Tung Meng Hui (the Chinese Revolutionary League) was replete with armed insurrections,[5] right up to the armed overthrow of the Ching Dynasty by the Revolution of 1911. Then, during the period of the Chinese Revolutionary Party, he carried out a military campaign against Yuan Shih-kai.[6] Subsequent events such as the southern movement of the naval units,[7] the northern expedition from Kweilin [8] and the founding of the Whampoa Military Academy [9] were also among Sun Yat-sen’s military undertakings.

After Sun Yat-sen came Chiang Kai-shek, who brought the Kuomintang’s military power to its zenith. He values the army as his very life and has had the experience of three wars, namely, the Northern Expedition, the Civil War and the War of Resistance Against Japan. For the last ten years Chiang Kai-shek has been a counter-revolutionary. He has created a huge “Central Army” for counter-revolutionary purposes. He has held firmly to the vital point that whoever has an army has power and that war decides everything. In this respect we ought to learn from him. In this respect both Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek are our teachers.

Since the Revolution of 1911, all the warlords have clung to their armies for dear life, setting great store by the principle, “Whoever has an army has power.”

Tan Yen-kai,[10] a clever bureaucrat who had a chequered career in Hunan, was never a civil governor pure and simple but always insisted on being both the military governor and the civil governor. Even when he became President of the National Government first in Canton and then in Wuhan, he was concurrently the commander of the Second Army. There are many such warlords who understand this peculiarity of China’s.

There have also been parties in China, notably the Progressive Party,[11] which did not want to have an army; yet even this party recognized that it could not get government positions without some warlord backing. Among its successive patrons have been Yuan Shih-kai,[12] Tuan Chi-jui[13] and Chiang Kai-shek (to whom the Political Science Group,[14] formed out of a section of the Progressive Party, has attached itself).

A few small political parties with a short history, e.g., the Youth Party,[15] have no army, and so have not been able to get anywhere.

In other countries there is no need for each of the bourgeois parties to have an armed force under its direct command. But things are different in China, where, because of the feudal division of the country, those landlord or bourgeois groupings or parties which have guns have power, and those which have more guns have more power. Placed in such an environment, the party of the proletariat should see clearly to the heart of the matter.

Communists do not fight for personal military power (they must in no circumstances do that, and let no one ever again follow the example of Chang Kuo-tao), but they must fight for military power for the Party, for military power for the people. As a national war of resistance is going on, we must also fight for military power for the nation. Where there is naivety on the question of military power, nothing whatsoever can be achieved. It is very difficult for the labouring people, who have been deceived and intimidated by the reactionary ruling classes for thousands of years, to awaken to the importance of having guns in their own hands. Now that Japanese imperialist oppression and the nation-wide resistance to it have pushed our labouring people into the arena of war, Communists should prove themselves the most politically conscious leaders in this war. Every Communist must grasp the truth, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party. Yet, having guns, we can create Party organizations, as witness the powerful Party organizations which the Eighth Route Army has created in northern China. We can also create cadres, create schools, create culture, create mass movements. Everything in Yenan has been created by having guns. All things grow out of the barrel of a gun. According to the Marxist theory of the state, the army is the chief component of state power. Whoever wants to seize and retain state power must have a strong army. Some people ridicule us as advocates of the “omnipotence of war”. Yes, we are advocates of the omnipotence of revolutionary war; that is good, not bad, it is Marxist. The guns of the Russian Communist Party created socialism. We shall create a democratic republic. Experience in the class struggle in the era of imperialism teaches us that it is only by the power of the gun that the working class and the labouring masses can defeat the armed bourgeoisie and landlords; in this sense we may say that only with guns can the whole world be transformed. We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.

III. THE WAR HISTORY OF THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY

Our Party failed to grasp the importance of engaging itself directly in preparations for war and in the organization of armed forces for a period of three or four years, that is; from 1921 (when the Chinese Communist Party was founded) to 1924 (when the First National Congress of the Kuomintang was held), and it still lacked adequate understanding of this issue in the 1924-27 period and even later; nevertheless, after 1924, when it began to participate in the Whampoa Military Academy, it entered a new stage and began to see the importance of military affairs. Through helping the Kuomintang in the wars in Kwangtung Province and participating in the Northern Expedition, the Party gained leadership over some armed forces.[16] Then, having learned a bitter lesson from the failure of the revolution, the Party organized the Nanchang Uprising, [17] the Autumn Harvest Uprising [18] and the Canton Uprising, and entered on a new period, the founding of the Red Army. That was the crucial period in which our Party arrived at a thorough understanding of the importance of the army. Had there been no Red Army and no war fought by the Red Army in this period, that is, had the Communist Party adopted Chen Tu-hsiu’s liquidationism, the present War of Resistance would have been inconceivable or could not have been sustained for long.

At its emergency meeting held on August 7, 1927, the Central Committee of the Party combated Right opportunism in the political sphere, thus enabling the Party to take a big stride forward. At its fourth plenary session in January 1931, the Sixth Central Committee nominally combated “Left” opportunism in the political sphere, but in fact itself committed the error of “Left” opportunism anew. The two meetings differed in their content and historical role, but neither of them dealt seriously with the problems of war and strategy, a fact which showed that war had not yet been made the centre of gravity in the Party’s work. After the central leadership of the Party moved into the Red areas in 1933, this situation underwent a radical change, but mistakes in principle were again committed on the problem of war (and all other major problems), bringing serious losses to the revolutionary war. The Tsunyi Meeting of 1935, on the other hand, was mainly a fight against opportunism in the military sphere and gave top priority to the question of war, and this was a reflection of the war conditions of the time. Today we can say with confidence that in the struggles of the past seventeen years the Chinese Communist Party has forged not only a firm Marxist political line but also a firm Marxist military line. We have been able to apply Marxism in solving not only political but also military problems; we have trained not only a large core of cadres capable of running the Party and the state, but also a large core of cadres capable of running the army. These achievements are the flower of the revolution, watered by the blood of countless martyrs, a glory that belongs not only to the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people, but also to the Communist Parties and the peoples of the whole world. There are only three armies in the whole world which belong to the proletariat and the labouring people, the armies led by the Communist Parties of the Soviet Union, of China and of Spain, and as yet Communist Parties in other countries have had no military experience; hence our army and our military experience are all the more precious.

In order to carry the present War of Resistance Against Japan to victory, it is extremely important to expand and consolidate the Eighth Route Army, the New Fourth Army and all the guerrilla forces led by our Party. Acting on this principle, the Party should dispatch a sufficient number of its best members and cadres to the front. Everything must serve victory at the front, and the organizational task must be subordinated to the political task.

IV. CHANGES IN THE PARTY’S MILITARY STRATEGY IN THE CIVIL WAR AND THE NATIONAL WAR

The changes in our Party’s military strategy are worth studying. Let us deal separately with the two processes, the civil war and the national war.

The civil war can be roughly divided into two strategic periods. Guerrilla warfare was primary in the first period and regular warfare in the second. But this regular warfare was of the Chinese type, regular only in its concentration of forces for mobile warfare and in a certain degree of centralization and planning in command and organization; in other respects it retained a guerrilla character and, as regular warfare, was on a low level and not comparable with the regular warfare of foreign armies or, in some ways, even with that of the Kuomintang army. Thus, in a sense, this type of regular warfare was only guerrilla warfare raised to a higher level.

The War of Resistance Against Japan can also be roughly divided into two strategic periods, so far as our Party’s military tasks are concerned. In the first period (comprising the stages of the strategic defensive and strategic stalemate) it is guerrilla warfare which is primary, while in the second (the stage of the strategic counteroffensive) it is regular warfare which will be primary. However, the guerrilla warfare of the first period of the War of Resistance differs considerably in content from that of the first period of the civil war, because the dispersed guerrilla tasks are being carried out by the regular (i.e., regular to a certain degree) Eighth Route Army. Likewise, the regular warfare of the second period of the War of Resistance will be different from that of the second period of the civil war because we can assume that, given up-to-date equipment, a great change will take place both in the army and in its operations. Our army will then attain a high degree of centralization and organization, and its operations will lose much of their guerrilla character and attain a high degree of regularity; what is now on a low level will then be raised to a higher level, and the Chinese type of regular warfare will change into the general type. That will be our task in the stage of the strategic counter-offensive.

Thus we see that the two processes, the civil war and the War of Resistance Against Japan, and their four strategic periods, contain three changes in strategy. The first was the change from guerrilla warfare to regular warfare in the civil war. The second was the change from regular warfare in the civil war to guerrilla warfare in the War of Resistance. And the third will be the change from guerrilla warfare to regular warfare in the War of Resistance.

The first of the three changes encountered great difficulties. It involved a twofold task. On the one hand, we had to combat the Right tendency of localism and guerrilla-ism, which consisted in clinging to guerrilla habits and refusing to make the turn to regularization, a tendency which arose because our cadres underestimated the changes in the enemy’s situation and our own tasks. In the Central Red Area it was only after much painstaking education that this tendency was gradually corrected. On the other hand, we also had to combat the “Left” tendency of over-centralization and adventurism which put undue stress on regularization, a tendency which arose because some of the leading cadres overestimated the enemy, set the tasks too high and mechanically applied foreign experience regardless of the actual conditions. For three long years (before the Tsunyi Meeting) this tendency imposed enormous sacrifices on the Central Red Area, and it was corrected only after we had learned lessons for which we paid in blood. Its correction was the achievement of the Tsunyi Meeting.

The second change in strategy took place in the autumn of 1937 (after the Lukouchiao Incident), at the juncture of the two different wars. We faced a new enemy, Japanese imperialism, and had as our ally our former enemy, the Kuomintang (which was still hostile to us), and the theatre of war was the vast expanse of northern China (which was temporarily our army’s front but would soon be the enemy’s rear and would remain so for a long time). In this special situation, our change in strategy was an extremely serious one. In this special situation we had to transform the regular army of the past into a guerrilla army (in respect to its dispersed operations, and not to its sense of organization or to its discipline), and transform the mobile warfare of the past into guerrilla warfare, so that we could adapt ourselves to the kind of enemy facing us and to the tasks before us. But this change was, to all appearances, a step backward and therefore necessarily very difficult. Both underestimation and morbid fear of Japan, tendencies likely to occur at such a time, did actually occur among the Kuomintang. When the Kuomintang changed over from civil war to national war, it suffered many needless losses mainly because of its underestimation of the enemy, but also because of its morbid fear of Japan (as exemplified by Han Fu-chu and Liu Chih [19]). On the other hand, we have effected the change fairly smoothly and, instead of suffering losses, have won big victories. The reason is that the great majority of our cadres accepted the correct guidance of the Central Committee in good time and skilfully sized up the actual situation; even though there were serious arguments between the Central Committee and some of the army cadres. The extreme importance of this change for persevering in, developing and winning the War of Resistance as a whole, as well as for the future of the Communist Party of China, can be seen immediately if we think of the historic significance of anti-Japanese guerrilla warfare in determining the fate of the national liberation struggle in China. In its extraordinary breadth and protractedness, China’s anti-Japanese guerrilla war is without precedent, not only in the East but perhaps in the whole history of mankind.

The third change, from guerrilla to regular warfare against Japan, belongs to the future development of the war, which will presumably give rise to new circumstances and new difficulties. We need not discuss it now.

V. THE STRATEGIC ROLE OF GUERRILLA WARFARE AGAINST JAPAN

In the anti-Japanese war as a whole, regular warfare is primary and guerrilla warfare supplementary, for only regular warfare can decide the final outcome of the war. Of the three strategic stages (the defensive, the stalemate and the counter-offensive) in the entire process of the war in the country as a whole, the first and last are stages in which regular warfare is primary and guerrilla warfare supplementary. In the intermediate stage guerrilla warfare will become primary and regular warfare supplementary, because the enemy will be holding on to the areas he has occupied and we will be preparing for the counter-offensive but will not yet be ready to launch it. Though this stage will possibly be the longest, it is still only one of the three stages in the entire war. If we take the war as a whole, therefore, regular warfare is primary and guerrilla warfare supplementary. Unless we understand this, unless we recognize that regular warfare will decide the final outcome of the war, and unless we pay attention to building a regular army and to studying and directing regular warfare, we shall be unable to defeat Japan. This is one aspect of the matter.

All the same, guerrilla warfare has its important strategic place throughout the war. Without guerrilla warfare and without due attention to building guerrilla units and guerrilla armies and to studying and directing guerrilla warfare, we shall likewise be unable to defeat Japan. The reason is that, since the greater part of China will be converted into the enemy’s rear, in the absence of the most extensive and persistent guerrilla warfare the enemy will entrench himself securely without any fear of attacks from behind, will inflict heavy losses on our main forces fighting at the front and will launch increasingly fierce offensives; thus it will be difficult for us to bring about a stalemate, and the very continuation of the War of Resistance may be jeopardized. But even if things do not turn out that way, other unfavourable circumstances will ensue, such as the inadequate building up of strength for our counter-offensive, the absence of supporting actions during the counter-offensive, and the possibility that the enemy will be able to replace his losses. If these circumstances arise and are not overcome by the timely development of extensive and persistent guerrilla warfare, it will likewise be impossible to defeat Japan. Hence, though guerrilla warfare occupies a supplementary place in the war as a whole, it does have an extremely important place in strategy. In waging the War of Resistance Against Japan it is undoubtedly a grave error to neglect guerrilla warfare. This is the other aspect of the matter.

Given a big country, guerrilla warfare is possible; hence there was guerrilla warfare in the past too. But guerrilla warfare can be persevered in only when led by the Communist Party. That is why guerrilla warfare generally failed in the past and why it can be victorious only in modern times and only in big countries in which Communist Parties have emerged, as in the Soviet Union during its civil war and in China at present. Considering the present circumstances and the general situation with respect to the war, the division of labour between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party in the anti-Japanese war, in which the former carries on frontal regular warfare and the latter carries on guerrilla warfare behind the enemy lines, is both necessary and proper, and is a matter of mutual need, mutual co-ordination and mutual assistance.

It can thus be understood how important and necessary it was for our Party to change its military strategy from the regular warfare of the latter period of the civil war to the guerrilla warfare of the first period of the War of Resistance. The favourable effects of this change can be summed up in the following eighteen points:

(1) reduction of the areas occupied by the enemy forces;

(2) expansion of the base areas of our own forces;

(3) in the stage of the defensive, co-ordination with operations at the regular front, so as to pin down the enemy;

(4) in the stage of stalemate, maintenance of a firm hold on the base areas behind the enemy lines, so as to facilitate the training and reorganization of troops at the regular front;

(5) in the stage of the counter-offensive, co-ordination with the regular front in recovering lost territory;

(6) the quickest and most effective expansion of our forces;

(7) the widest expansion of the Communist Party, so that a Party branch may be organized in every village;

(8) the broadest development of the mass movements, so that all the people behind the enemy lines, except for those in his strongholds, may be organized;

(9) the most extensive establishment of organs of anti-Japanese democratic political power;

(10) the widest development of anti-Japanese cultural and educational work;

(11) the most extensive improvement of the people’s livelihood;

(12) the most effective disintegration of the enemy troops;

(13) the most extensive and enduring impact on popular feeling and stimulation of morale throughout the country;

(14) the most extensive impetus to progress in the friendly armies and parties;

(15) adaptation to the situation in which the enemy is strong and we are weak, so that we suffer fewer losses and win more victories;

(16) adaptation to the fact that China is large and Japan small, so as to make the enemy suffer more losses and win fewer victories;

(17) the quickest and most effective training of large numbers of cadres for leadership; and

(18) the most effective solution of the problem of provisions.

It is also beyond doubt that in the long course of struggle the guerrilla units and guerrilla warfare will not remain as they are but will develop to a higher stage and evolve gradually into regular units and regular warfare. Through guerrilla warfare, we shall build up our strength and turn ourselves into a decisive element in the crushing of Japanese imperialism.

VI. PAY GREAT ATTENTION TO THE STUDY OF MILITARY MATTERS

All the issues between two hostile armies depend on war for their solution, and China’s survival or extinction depends on her victory or defeat in the present war. Hence our study of military theory, of strategy and tactics and of army political work brooks not a moment’s delay. Though our study of tactics is still inadequate, our comrades who are engaged in military work have achieved a great deal in the last ten years and, on the basis of Chinese conditions, have brought forth much that is new; the shortcoming here is that there has been no general summing-up. But so far only a few people have taken up the study of the problems of strategy and the theory of war. First-rate results have been achieved in the study of our political work, which, in wealth of experience and in the number and quality of its innovations, ranks second only to that of the Soviet Union; here too the shortcoming is insufficient synthesis and systematization. The popularization of military knowledge is an urgent task for the Party and the whole country. We must now pay great attention to all these things, but most of all to the theory of war and strategy. I deem it imperative that we arouse interest in the study of military theory and direct the attention of the whole membership to the study of military matters.

NOTES

1. See V. I. Lenin, “The War and Russian Social-Democracy” (Collected Works, Eng. ed., Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964, Vol. XXI, pp. 27-34), “The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. Groups Abroad” (ibid., pp. 158-64), “The Defeat of One’s own Government in the Imperialist War” (ibid., pp. 275-80), “The Defeat of Russia and the Revolutionary Crisis” (ibid., pp. 378-82). These articles, written in 1914-15, deal Specifically with the imperialist war of that time. See also History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Short Course, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1951, pp. 258-67.

2. In 1924, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, in alliance with the Communist Party and the revolutionary workers and peasants, defeated the “Merchants’ Corps”, an armed force of the compradors and landlords which engaged in counter-revolutionary activities in Canton in collaboration with the British imperialists. The revolutionary army, which had been founded on the basis of co-operation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, set out from Canton early in 1925, fought the Eastern Campaign and, with the support of the peasants, defeated the troops of the warlord Chen Chiung-ming. It then returned to Canton and overthrew the Yunnan and Kwangsi warlords who had entrenched themselves there. That autumn it conducted the Second Eastern Campaign and finally wiped out Chen Chiung-ming’s forces. These campaigns, in which members of the Communist Party and the Communist Youth League fought heroically in the van, brought about the political unification of Kwangtung Province and paved the way for the Northern Expedition.

3. J. V. Stalin, “The Prospects of the Revolution in China”, Works, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1954, Vol. VIII, p. 379.

4. In 1894, Dr. Sun Yat-sen formed a small revolutionary organization in Honolulu called the Hsing Chung Hui (Society for China’s Regeneration). With the support of the secret societies among the people, he staged two armed insurrections in Kwangtung Province against the Ching government after its defeat in the Sino-Japanese war in 1895, one at Canton in 1895 and the other at Huichow in 1900.

5. Tang Meng Hui, or the Chinese Revolutionary League (a united front organization of the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie and a section of the landed gentry opposed to the Ching government), was formed in 1905 through the merging of the Hsing Chung Hui (see note above) and two other groups, the Hua Hsing Hui (Society for China’s Regeneration) and the Kuang Fu Hui (Society for Breaking the Foreign Yoke). It put forward a programme of bourgeois revolution advocating “the expulsion of the Tartars (Manchus), the recovery of China, the establishment of a republic and the equalization of landownership”. In the period of the Chinese Revolutionary League, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, allying himself with the secret societies and a part of the New Army of the Ching government, launched a number of armed insurrections against the Ching regime, notably those at Pinghsiang (Kiangsi Province), Liuyang and Liling (Hunan Province) in 1906, at Huangkang, Chaochow and Chinchow (Kwangtung Province), and at Chennankuan (Kwangsi Province) in 1907, at Hokou (Yunnan Province) in 1908 and at Canton in 1911. The last was followed in the same year by the Wuchang Uprising which resulted in the overthrow of the Ching Dynasty.

6. In 1912, the Chinese Revolutionary League was reorganized into the Kuomintang and made a compromise with the Northern warlord regime headed by Yuan Shih-kai. In 1913 Yuan’s troops marched southward to suppress the forces which had emerged in the provinces of Kiangsi, Anhwei and Kwangtung in the course of the 1911 revolution. Armed resistance was organized by Dr. Sun Yat-sen but it was soon crushed. In 1914, realizing the error of the Kuomintang’s policy of compromise, Dr. Sun formed the Chung Hua Ke Ming Tang (Chinese Revolutionary Party) in Tokyo, Japan, in order to distinguish his organization from the Kuomintang of the time. The new Party was actually an alliance of the political representatives of a section of the petty bourgeoisie and a section of the bourgeoisie against Yuan Shih-kai. Through this alliance, Dr. Sun Yat-sen staged a minor insurrection in Shanghai in 1914. In 1915 when Yuan Shih-kai proclaimed himself emperor, Tsai Ngo and others set out from Yunnan to take action against him, and Dr. Sun was also very active in advocating and promoting armed opposition to Yuan Shih-kai.

7. In 1917 Dr. Sun Yat-sen went from Shanghai to Canton at the head of a naval force which was under his influence. Using Kwangtung as a base and co-operating with the Southwestern warlords who were opposed to the Northern warlord Tuan Chi-jui, he set up a military government opposed to Tuan Chi-jui.

8. In 1921 Dr. Sun Yat-sen planned a northern expedition from Kweilin, Kwangsi Province. But his plan was frustrated by the mutiny of his subordinate, Chen Chiung ming, who was in league with the Northern warlords.

9. The Whampoa Military Academy, located at Whampoa near Canton, was established by Dr. Sun Yat-sen in 1924 after the reorganization of the Kuomintang with the help of the Chinese Communist Party and the Soviet Union. Before Chiang Kai-shek’s betrayal of the revolution in 1927, the academy was run jointly by the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. Comrades Chou En-lai, Yeh Chien-ying, Yun Tai-ying, Hsiao Chu-nu and others held responsible posts in the academy at one time or another. Many of the cadets were members of the Communist Party or the Communist Youth League, and they formed the revolutionary core of the academy.

10. Tan Yen-kai was a native of Hunan who had been a Henlin, a member of the highest official scholastic body under the Ching Dynasty. He was a careerist who first advocated a constitutional monarchy and then took part in the Revolution of 1911. His later adherence to the Kuomintang reflected the contradiction between the Hunan landlords and the Northern warlords.

11. The Progressive Party was organized by Liang Chi-chao and others under the aegis of Yuan Shih-kai during the first years of the Republic.

12. Yuan Shih-kai was the head of the Northern warlords in the last years of the Ching Dynasty. After the Ching Dynasty was overthrown by the Revolution of 1911, he usurped the presidency of the Republic and organized the first government of the Northern warlords, which represented the big landlord and big comprador classes. He did this by relying on counter-revolutionary armed force and on the support of the imperialists and by taking advantage of the conciliationist character of the bourgeoisie, which was then leading the revolution. In 1915 he wanted to make himself emperor and, to gain the support of the Japanese imperialists, accepted the Twenty-one Demands with which Japan aimed at obtaining exclusive control of all China. In December of the same year an uprising against his assumption of the throne took place in Yunnan Province and promptly won nation-wide response and support. Yuan Shih-kai died in Peking in June 1916.

13. Tuan Chi-jui was an old subordinate of Yuan Shih-kai and head of the Anhwei clique of Northern warlords. After Yuan’s death he more than once controlled the Peking government.

14. The extremely right-wing Political Science Group was formed in 1916 by a section of the Progressive Party and a section of the Kuomintang. It gambled now on the Southern, now on the Northern, warlords in order to grab government posts. During the Northern Expedition of 1926-27, its pro-Japanese members, such as Huang Fu, Chang Chun and Yang Yung-tai, began to collaborate with Chiang Kai-shek and, using their reactionary political experience, helped him build up a counter revolutionary regime.

15. The Youth Party, also called the Chinese Youth Party or the Etatiste Party, was formed by a handful of unscrupulous fascist politicians. They made counter-revolutionary careers for themselves by opposing the Communist Party and the Soviet Union and received subsidies from the various groups of reactionaries in power and from the imperialists.

16. Comrade Mao Tse-tung is here referring mainly to the independent regiment commanded by General Yeh Ting, a Communist, during the Northern Expedition. See “The Struggle in the Chingkang Mountains”, Note 14 Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Eng. ed., PLP, Peking, 1965, Vol. I, p. 104.

17. 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 counterrevolution 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 led by Comrades Chou En-lai, Chu Teh, Ho Lung and Yeh Ting. The insurrectionary army withdrew from Nanchang on August I as planned, but suffered a defeat when approaching Chaochow and Swatow in Kwangtung Province. Led by Comrades Chu Teh and Chen Yi, part of the troops later fought their way to the Chingkang Mountains and joined forces with the First Division of the First Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolutionary Army under Comrade Mao Tse-tung.

18. The famous Autumn Harvest Uprising under the leadership of Comrade Mao Tse-tung was launched 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.

19. Han Fu-chu was a Kuomintang warlord in Shantung Province. Liu Chih another warlord, who commanded Chiang Kai-shek’s personal troops in Honan Province, was responsible for the defence of the Paoting area in Hopei after the outbreak of the War of Resistance Against Japan. Both of them fled before the Japanese without firing a shot.


Transcription by the Maoist Documentation Project.
HTML revised 2004 by Marxists.org

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