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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


December 28, 1945

[This directive, drafted by Comrade Mao Tse-tung for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, was addressed to its Northeast Bureau. As soon as the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and the Soviet Red Army entered the Northeast, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese People's Liberation Army sent large numbers of cadres and troops to the Northeast to lead the people in wiping out the remnants of the Japanese invaders and the puppet "Manchukuo" regime, cleaning out traitors, eradicating bandits and establishing democratic local governments at various levels. But at the same time the Kuomintang reactionaries, bent on exclusive control over the entire Northeast, large numbers of troops there by land, sea and air with the aid of U.S. imperialism and seized key places like Shanhaikuan and Chinchow which had already been liberated by the People's Liberation Army. A stern struggle was already inevitable in the Northeast, and this struggle was obviously going to be of special significance for the situation in the whole country. In this directive Comrade Mao Tse-tung foresaw how arduous the struggle in the Northeast would be and pointed out in good time that the centre of gravity of the work there should be in the cities and vast rural areas comparatively remote from the centres of Kuomintang occupation; that is, we should "leave the high road alone and seize the land on both sides" in order to arouse the masses in earnest, build stable base areas, gradually accumulate strength and prepare for the future shift to the counter-offensive. This correct policy of the Central Committee and Comrade Mao Tse-tung was effectively carried out by the Northeast Bureau headed by Comrade Lin Piao; hence the great victory, the liberation of the entire Northeast three years later in November 1948.]

1. Our Party's present task in the Northeast is to built base areas, stable military and political base areas in eastern, northern and western Manchuria.[1] To build such base areas is no easy job; it requires hard and bitter struggle. Three or four years are needed to build such base areas. But a solid preliminary groundwork must be laid in the year 1946. Otherwise we may not be able to stand our ground.

2. It should now be made clear that these base areas are not to be built in the big cities or along the main communication lines that are or will be occupied by the Kuomintang; under present conditions this is not practicable. Nor are they to be built in regions close to big cities or main communication lines held by the Kuomintang. The reason is that the Kuomintang, having seized the big cities and the main communication lines, will not let us build stable base areas in regions very close to them. Our Party should do adequate work and set up our first line of military defence in these regions, which must never be lightly abandoned. But they will be guerrilla zones for both parties and not our stable base areas. Therefore, the regions in which to build stable bases are the cities and vast rural areas comparatively remote from the centres of Kuomintang occupation. Those regions should now be designated so that we can dispose our forces accordingly and lead the whole Party towards this goal.

3. After we have decided on the location of our stable base areas and disposed our forces and after our army's numerical strength has greatly increased, mass work will be the centre of gravity of our Party's work in the Northeast. All cadres must be made to understand that the Kuomintang will be stronger than our Party in the Northeast for some time and that unless our starting point is to arouse the masses to struggle, solve their problems and rely on them in every way and unless we mobilize all forces to work painstakingly among the masses and lay a solid preliminary foundation within a year, and particularly in the next few critical months, we shall become isolated in the Northeast, be unable to build stable base areas or defeat the attacks of the Kuomintang and indeed may encounter immense difficulties or even fail. Conversely, if we rely firmly on the masses, we shall overcome all difficulties and reach our goal step by step. Mass work consists in arousing the masses for struggles to settle accounts with traitors and in launching campaigns for rent reduction and wage increases and campaigns for production. In these struggles we should form various kinds of mass organizations, set up Party nuclei, build armed units of the masses and organs of people's political power, speedily raise mass economic struggles to the level of political struggles and lead the masses to take part in building the base areas. The directive on arousing mass struggles recently issued by the Jehol Provincial Party Committee [2] may be applied in the Northeast. Our Party must bring tangible material benefits to the people in the Northeast; only then will the masses support us and oppose the Kuomintang attacks. Otherwise, the masses will be unable to see clearly which of the two parties, the Kuomintang or the Communist Party, is good and which is bad, may be taken in for a time by deceitful Kuomintang propaganda and may even turn against our Party, and thus an extremely unfavourable situation would be created for us in the Northeast.

4. At present there is a subjective difficulty for our Party in the Northeast. Large numbers of our cadres and armed forces in the Northeast are newcomers, unfamiliar with the place and the people. Cadres are dissatisfied because we cannot occupy large cities and they are impatient with the arduous work of arousing the masses and building base areas. These circumstances are in contradiction with the present situation and the tasks of the Party. Again and again we must teach all cadres from other areas to pay attention to investigation and study, to acquaint themselves with the place and the people and to resolve to become one with the people of the Northeast; and we must train large numbers of activists and cadres from among the masses. We should explain to the cadres that although the big cities and the communication lines are in the of the hands of the Kuomintang, the situation in the Northeast is nevertheless favourable to us. So long as we spread among all cadres and soldiers the idea of arousing the masses and of building our base areas and, so long as we mobilize all forces and undertake the struggle to build these base areas, we shall be able to establish ourselves firmly in the Northeast and in Jehol and be sure of victory. We must tell the cadres that they should on no account underestimate the strength of the Kuomintang or become impatient with arduous work because they think the Kuomintang is going to attack eastern and northern Manchuria anyhow. Of course, in making these explanations we should not lead the cadres to believe that the Kuomintang is terribly strong and that its attacks cannot be smashed. It should be pointed out that the Kuomintang has no deep, organized foundation in the Northeast and that its attacks can be smashed; it is therefore possible for our Party to build base areas. But the Kuomintang troops are now attacking the Jehol-Liaoning border, and if no blows are dealt them, they will attack eastern and northern Manchuria before long. All our Party members must therefore resolve to undertake the most difficult tasks, swiftly arouse the masses, build our base areas and smash the Kuomintang attacks in western Manchuria and Jehol resolutely and in a planned way. In eastern and northern Manchuria we should quickly prepare the conditions for smashing the Kuomintang attacks. We must thoroughly clear away all ideas among our cadres of winning easy victories through good luck, without hard and bitter struggle, without sweat and blood.

5. Promptly delimit military areas and sub-areas in western, eastern and northern Manchuria and divide our forces into field armies and regional troops. Distribute a considerable part of the regular troops among the military sub-areas to arouse the masses, wipe out bandits, set up organs of political power, organize guerrillas, people's militia and self-defence forces so as to make our areas secure, co-ordinate with the field armies and smash the Kuomintang attacks. All troops must be assigned to specific areas and specific tasks; only in this way can they quickly unite with the people and build stable base areas.

6. This time over 100,000 of our troops have entered the Northeast and Jehol; the army there has recently expanded by more than 200,000, and the trend is to keep on expanding. Adding Party and government workers, we estimate that the total will exceed 400,000 within a year. A situation in which such a large number of personnel, divorced from production, depends solely on the people of the Northeast for supplies certainly cannot last long and is very dangerous. Therefore, all army units and government organs must take part in production when not fighting or doing their regular work, except for those field armies which are concentrated and charged with major military actions. The year 1946 must not pass without results; the entire Northeast must promptly make plans accordingly.

7. In the Northeast the direction in which the workers and intellectuals move is vitally important to building our base areas and winning future victories. Our Party should therefore give its full attention to work in the big cities and along the main communication lines and especially to winning over the workers and intellectuals. In view of the fact that in the early years of the War of Resistance our Party did not pay sufficient attention to winning over the workers and intellectuals to come to the base areas, the Party organizations in the Northeast should now do everything possible to draw workers and intellectuals into our army and into the various construction tasks in the base areas, besides paying attention to underground work in the Kuomintang areas.


1. The eastern Manchuria base area included Kirin, Hsi-an, Antu, Yenchi, Tunhua and other places east of the Shenyang-Changchun section of the Chinese Changchun Railway. The northern Manchuria base area included Harbin, Mutankiang, Pei-an and Kiamusze, among others. The western Manchuria base area included Tsitsihar, Tao-an, Kailu, Fuhsin, Chengchiatun, Fuyu and other places west of the Shenyang-Changchun section of the Chinese Changchun Railway. The Party also built a base area in southern Manchuria. It included Antung, Chuangho, Tunghua, Linchiang and Chingyuan and other places east of the Shenyang-Talien section of the Chinese Changchun Railway and Liaochung, southwest of Shenyang. The persistent struggle against the enemy in southern Manchuria played an important role in the building of base areas in the Northeast.

2. This refers to the "Directive on Arousing the Masses" issued by the Jehol Provincial Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in December 1945. It pointed out that the central task in arousing the masses then was to launch a mass campaign of accusation and retribution to settle accounts with traitors and secret agents, that through the campaign the enthusiasm of the masses should be heightened, their social, political and economic status should be raised, and that trade unions, peasant associations and other mass organizations should be organized and that preparations should be made to proceed, when this campaign was over, to a mass campaign for the reduction of rent and interest. In arousing the masses in the cities, we had to arouse the workers first so that they could play the vanguard and leading role in the campaign to settle accounts with traitors and secret agents. The directive also called for learning the entire work of city administration, for making economical use of manpower and for planning everything on a long-term basis.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung