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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


May 1951

[Instructions added by Comrade Mao Tsetung when he revised the draft resolution of the Third National Conference on Public Security.]

1. The movement to suppress counter-revolutionaries now going on throughout the country is a great, intense and complex struggle The line for this work that has proved effective everywhere is the Party's mass line. This means leadership by Party committees, mobilization of the entire Party membership, mobilization of the masses participation by the democratic parties and by personages from all circles, unified planning, unified action, strict examination of the lists of persons to be arrested or executed, attention to tactics in different phases of the struggle, widespread propaganda and education (holding various kinds of conferences, cadre meetings, forums and mass rallies at all of which victims can bring their accusations and evidence of crimes can be displayed, and making propaganda through films lantern-slides, stage performances, newspapers, pamphlets and leaflets in order to make the movement known to every household and individual), a break with the practice of working behind closed doors and being secretive, and determined opposition to the deviation of rashness. Wherever this line is completely adhered to, the work is completely correct. Wherever this line is not adhered to, the work it wrong. Wherever this line is adhered to generally but not completely, the work is generally but not completely correct. We believe this line for the work is a guarantee for deepening the struggle to suppress counter-revolutionaries and for achieving full success. In the days ahead it is essential to adhere completely to this line in suppressing counter-revolutionaries. What is most important here is strictly to examine the lists of persons to be arrested or executed and to do a good job of widespread propaganda and education. Do both well and mistakes will be avoided.

2. The number of counter-revolutionaries to be killed must be kept within certain proportions. The principle to follow here is that those who owe blood debts or are guilty of other extremely serious crimes and have to be executed to assuage the people's anger and those who have caused extremely serious harm to the national interest must be unhesitatingly sentenced to death and executed without delay. As for those whose crimes deserve capital punishment but who owe no blood debts and are not bitterly hated by the people or who have done serious but not extremely serious harm to the national interest, the policy to follow is to hand down the death sentence, grant a two-year reprieve and subject them to forced labour to see how they behave. In addition, it must be explicitly stipulated that in cases where it is marginal whether to make an arrest, under no circumstances should there be an arrest and that to act otherwise would be a mistake, and that in cases where it is marginal whether to execute, under no circumstances should there be an execution and that to act otherwise would be a mistake.

3. To prevent "Left" deviations in the heat of the movement to suppress counter-revolutionaries, it has been decided that as of June 1, in all localities across the country, including those places where very few executions have so far been carried out, the power to sanction arrests shall without exception revert to the prefectural authorities and the power to sanction executions shall without exception revert to the provincial authorities, who shall send representatives to deal with such cases in places remote from the provincial capital. No locality is to ask for modification of this decision.

4. As of now it is necessary to start a planned screening of counter-revolutionaries hidden in the "middle layer" and the "inner layer". In accordance with the directive of the Central Committee it has been decided that a preliminary screening in the form of rectification will be conducted this summer and autumn among all the personnel who have been retained since liberation and among the intellectuals recently drawn into our work. The aim is to size up the situation and deal with a number of conspicuous cases. The procedure to follow is to study documents on the suppression of counter-revolutionaries, call on those among the above-mentioned personnel and intellectuals (not all of them) whose records are questionable to adopt a sincere and honest attitude, give a clear account of their history and make a clean breast of what they have hitherto kept to themselves. This campaign to "clear oneself" must be put in charge of the leading member of the organization concerned; the voluntary principle must be applied and coercion must not be used. For each organization the duration should be short, not drawn out. The tactics to adopt are to win over the many and isolate the few, in preparation for a further screening in the winter. This screening must first be conducted in the leading organs, the public security organs and other sensitive departments, and then the experience gained should be popularized. During such screening in government departments, schools and factories, it is necessary to have non-Party people sit on the committees in charge of this work so as to avoid having Party members act in isolation.

5. In the current great struggle to suppress counter-revolutionaries public security committees must be organized among the masses everywhere. Such committees should be elected by the people in every township in the countryside and in every department and organization, school, factory and neighbourhood in the cities. The number of committee members may be as small as three and as large as eleven and must include reliable non-Party patriots so as to make the committee a united front type of organization for safeguarding public security. Under the leadership of the government and public security organs at the basic level, such committees have the responsibility of assisting the people's government in eliminating counter-revolutionaries, guarding against traitors and spies and safeguarding our national and public security. Their establishment must proceed in a well-guided way in those rural areas where the agrarian reform has been completed or in cities where the work of suppressing counter-revolutionaries is well under way, so as to prevent bad elements from seizing the opportunity to worm their way in.

Transcription by the Maoist Documentation Project.
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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung