Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
September and October 1948
[These telegrams addressed to Lin Piao, Lo Jung-huan and other comrades were drawn up by Comrade Mao Tse-tung for the Revolutionary Military Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The concept of operations he set forth here for the Liaohsi-Shenyang campaign was fully carried out later. The results of the campaign were as follows:
(1) The destruction of 470,000 enemy troops, plus the victories in other theatres during that period, made the qualitatively superior People's Liberation Army superior to the Kuomintang army in numbers as well.
(2) The entire territory of northeastern China was liberated, and the conditions were created for the liberation of Peiping, Tientsin and all northern China.
(3) Our army gained experience in fighting large-scale campaigns of annihilation.
(4) As a result of the liberation of northeastern China, a strategically secure rear area with a fair industrial base was won for the War of Liberation, and the Party and the people obtained favourable conditions for gradually turning to economic rehabilitation.
The Liaohsi-Shenyang campaign was the first of the three greatest campaigns of decisive significance in the Chinese People's War of Liberation. The other two were the Huai-Hai and the Peiping-Tientsin campaigns. In these three great campaigns, which lasted four months and nineteen days, 144 divisions (brigades) of the enemy's regular troops and 29 divisions of its irregular troops, or more than 1,540,000 men in all, were wiped out. During this period the People's Liberation Army also launched offensives on other fronts, destroying large numbers of the enemy. In the first two years of the war, the People's Liberation Army had wiped out an average of about 8 enemy brigades per month. Now the number of enemy troops destroyed by the People's Liberation Army no longer averaged 8 brigades per month but 38 brigades. These three major campaigns virtually annihilated the crack troops on which the Kuomintang relied for waging the counter-revolutionary civil war and greatly speeded victory in the War of Liberation all over the country. For the Huai-Hai and Peiping-Tientsin campaigns, see "The Concept of Operations for the Huai-Hai Campaign", pp. 279-82 and "The Concept of Operations for the Peiping-Tientsin Campaign", pp. 289-93, of this volume. ]
We are prepared to bring about the fundamental overthrow of the Kuomintang in about five years, counting from July 1946. This is possible. Our objective can be attained provided we destroy about 100 brigades of Kuomintang regular troops every year, or some 500 brigades over the five years. In the past two years our army has annihilated a total of 191 brigades of enemy regulars, an average of 95 brigades a year, or nearly 8 brigades a month. In the next three years it is required that our army should wipe out 300 or more brigades of enemy regulars. Between July this year and June next year we expect to destroy some 115 brigades of enemy regulars. This total is apportioned among our various field armies and armies. The Eastern China Field Army is required to wipe out about 40 brigades (including the 7 already wiped out in July) and capture Tsinan and a number of large, medium and small cities in northern Kiangsu, eastern Honan and northern Anhwei. The Central Plains Field Army is required to wipe out about 14 brigades (including the 1 1/2 brigades wiped out in July) and capture a number of cities in the provinces of Hupeh, Honan and Anhwei. The Northwest Field Army is required to wipe out about 12 brigades (including the 1 brigades wiped out in August). The army in northern China commanded by Hsu Hsiang-chien and Chou Shih-ti is required to wipe out about 14 brigades under Yen Hsi-shan (including the 8 brigades annihilated in July) and capture Taiyuan. You are required, in co-ordination with the 2 armies commanded by Lo Jui-ching and Yang Cheng-wu, to wipe out about 35 brigades of the 2 army groups under Wei Li-huang and Fu Tso-yi (including 1 brigade wiped out by Yang Cheng-wu in July) and capture all the cities along the Peiping-Liaoning, Peiping-Suiyuan, Peiping-Chengteh and Peiping-Paoting Railways, except Peiping, Tientsin and Shenyang. The decisive factors for the achievement of this objective are the proper disposition and command of troops in campaigns and a proper balance between fighting and rest. If in the two months of September and October, or a little longer, you can wipe out the enemy along the line from Chinchow to Tangshan and take Chinchow, Shanhaikuan and Tangshan, you will have achieved the task of wiping out some 18 enemy brigades. In order to wipe them out, you must now prepare to employ your main force on this line, leaving the enemy forces at Changchun and Shenyang alone. When you are attacking Chinchow, be prepared also to wipe out the enemy forces that may come to its rescue from Changchun and Shenyang. Because the enemy forces In and near Chinchow, Shanhaikuan and Tangshan are isolated from each other, success in attacking and wiping them out is pretty certain, and there is also a fair hope of success in capturing Chinchow and in attacking enemy reinforcements. If, however, you were to dispose your main force at Hsinmin and its northern environs in preparation for attacking the enemy forces which might come out from Changchun and Shenyang, then the enemy might not dare come out at all because you would be too great a menace. On the one hand, the enemy at Changchun and Shenyang might not come out. And, on the other hand, because the forces you dispatch towards Chinchow, Shanhaikuan and Tangshan would be too small, the enemy in and near these three cities (comprising 18 brigades) would probably fall back on Chinchow and Tangshan, and you would find it rather difficult and yet necessary to attack them, wasting time and energy and thus perhaps landing yourselves in a passive position. For these reasons, it will be better to leave the enemy at Changchun and Shenyang alone and focus your attention on the enemy at Chinchow, Shanhaikuan and Tangshan. Another point: you must prepare to fight three big campaigns in the ten months from September to next June and to spend about two months on each campaign, making a total of about six months and leaving four months for rest. During the Chinchow-Shanhaiknan-Tangshan campaign (the first big campaign), if the enemy at Changchun and Shenyang sallies forth in full strength to rescue Chinchow (because your main force will be disposed not at Hsinmin but around Chinchow, Wei Li-huang will be emboldened to come to the rescue), then, without leaving the Chinchow-Shanhaikuan-Tangshan line, you can follow up immediately with large-scale annihilating attacks on the enemy reinforcements and strive to wipe out all Wei Li-huang's troops on the spot. This would be the ideal situation. Hence, you should pay attention to the following:
(1) Be firmly determined to attack and capture Chinchow, Shanhaikuan and Tangshan and to take control of the entire line.
(2) Be firmly determined to fight a battle of annihilation on a scale larger than you have ever fought before, that is, dare to fight all Wei Li-huang's army when it comes to the rescue.
(3) In keeping with these two resolves, reconsider your plan of operations, make arrangements to meet the military requirements of your whole force (food, ammunition, recruits, and so on) and to handle captives.
Please consider the above and telegraph your reply.
1. From the day you start attacking Chinchow, there will be a period when the tactical situation will be very tense. We hope that you will inform us by radio every two or three days of the enemy's situation (the strength of the resistance by his forces defending Chinchow, the progress of his reinforcements from Hulutao and Chinhsi and from Shenyang and the probable course of action of his troops in Changchun) and of our own situation (the progress of our attack on the city and the casualties sustained in attacking the city and holding off enemy reinforcements).
2. It is highly possible that, as you have said, the tactical situation during this period will develop most favourably, that is, that you will be able to wipe out not only the enemy's forces defending Chinchow but also a part of his reinforcements from Hulutao and Chinhsi and some or most of his forces fleeing from Changchun. If the enemy's reinforcements from Shenyang advance to the area north of the Taling River just after you have taken Chinchow and when you are thus able to shift your forces to encircle them, then it will be possible to wipe out these reinforcements as well. The key to all this lies in striving to capture Chinchow in about a week.
3. Decide on the disposition of your troops for checking the enemy reinforcements according to your progress in attacking Chinchow and their progress in advancing both from the east and from the west. In case the enemy reinforcements from Shenyang advance rather slowly (as may happen if, during your attack on Chinchow, the enemy besieged in Changchun breaks out but is caught and crushed by our 12th Column and other forces, in which case the enemy reinforcements from Shenyang may be so bewildered as to advance rather slowly or halt or turn back to rescue the Changchun forces) while the enemy reinforcements from Hulutao and Chinhsi advance rather quickly, you should be ready to throw in your general reserves to help the 4th and 11th Columns wipe out part of the latter reinforcements and, first of all, to check their advance. If the enemy reinforcements from Hulutao and Chinhsi are being tied down and checked by our 4th and 11th Columns and other forces and therefore advance rather slowly or halt, if the enemy forces in Changchun do not break out, if the enemy reinforcements from Shenyang advance rather quickly, and if most of the Chinchow enemy forces have been wiped out and the capture of the city is imminent, then you should let the enemy forces from Shenyang advance deep into the area north of the Taling River, so that you can make a timely shift of your forces to encircle them and wipe them out at your convenience.
4. You must centre your attention on the operations in Chinchow and strive to capture this city as quickly as possible. Even if none of the other objectives is attained and Chinchow alone is captured, you will have won the initiative, which in itself will be a great victory. It is hoped that you will give due attention to all the above points. Especially during the first few days of the battle for Chinchow, the enemy reinforcements from both the east and the west will not make any major moves, and you should concentrate all your energies on the operations on the Chinchow front.
1. The Liaohsi-Shenyang campaign was a gigantic campaign fought by the Northeast People's Liberation Army in the western part of Liaoning Province and in the Shenyang-Changchun area between September 12 and November 2, 1948. On the eve of the campaign, the total strength of the Kuomintang forces in northeastern China consisted of 4 armies, made up of 14 corps, or 44 divisions. These forces had shortened their lines and dug themselves in at three sectors isolated from each other, Changchun, Shenyang and Chinchow. With the aim of completely wiping out the enemy troops in the Northeast and quickly liberating the whole of the Northeast, the People's Liberation Army in this region, supported by the broad masses of the local people, began the Liaobsi-Shenyang campaign in September 1948 with a main force of 12 columns, 1 artillery column and regional armed forces, altogether totalling 53 divisions or over 700,000 men. Chinchow, on the Peiping-Liaoning Railway, was the strategic link between northeastern and northern China. The enemy forces garrisoning the Chinchow sector consisted of 8 divisions, with more than 100,000 men under Fan Han-chieh, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Kuomintang's Northeast "Bandit Suppression" Headquarters. The capture of Chinchow was the key to the success of the Liaohsi-Shenyang campaign. Acting on the directives of Comrade Mao Tse-tung, the Northeast People's Liberation Army used 1 column and 7 independent divisions to continue the siege operations against Changchun; 6 columns, 1 artillery column and 1 tank battalion to surround and attack Chinchow and 2 columns, placed in the Tashan-Kaochiao sector southwest of Chinchow, along with 3 columns in the Heishan-Tahushan-Changwu sector to intercept any reinforcements the enemy might send from Chinhsi and Hulutao and from Shenyang to relieve Chinchow. The fighting in the Chinchow area started on September 12. Just as our army was mopping up the enemy in the outskirts of Chinchow after taking Ihsien, Chiang Kai-shek hurriedly flew to the Northeast to take personal charge of the operations and urgently summoned 5 enemy divisions from the Northern China "Bandit Suppression" Headquarters on the Peiping Liaoning Railway and 2 divisions from Shantung Province to join the 4 divisions in Chinhsi; all these 11 divisions began a furious attack on our positions at Tashan on October 10 but could not break through. Meanwhile, the Kuomintang 9th Army under Liao Yao-hsiang, with 11 divisions and 3 cavalry brigades, which had sallied out from Shenyang to rescue Chinchow, was intercepted by our army northeast of Heishan and Tahushan. Our army began the assault on Chinchow on October 14 and, after thirty-one hours of fierce fighting, completely wiped out the defending enemy forces, capturing Fan Han-chieh, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Northeast "Bandit Suppression" Headquarters, Lu Chun-chuan, Commander of the 6th Army, and more than 100,000 men under their command. The liberation of Chinchow impelled part of the enemy forces at Changchun to revolt against the Kuomintang and the rest to surrender. The complete collapse of the Kuomintang troops in the Northeast then became a foregone conclusion. But Chiang Kai-shek, still dreaming of recapturing Chinchow and of reopening the line of communications between northeastern and northern China, gave strict orders to the army under Liao Yao-hsiang to continue its advance towards Chinchow. After taking Chinchow, the People's Liberation Army immediately swung back to the northeast and closed in on Liao's army from the north and south of Heishan and Tahushan. On October 26 the People's Liberation Army succeeded in surrounding the enemy in the Heishan-Tahushan-Hsinmin sector and, after stiff fighting lasting two days and one night, completely wiped them out, capturing army commander Liao Yao-hsiang, corps commanders Li Tao, Pai Feng-wu and Cheng Ting-chi, and more than 100,000 men. Our army vigorously followed up this victory and liberated Shenyang and Yingkow on November 2, wiping out over 149,000 enemy troops. The whole of the Northeast was thus liberated. A total of more than 470,000 enemy troops were wiped out in the campaign.
2. See "A Circular on the Situation", Note 7, p. 226 of this volume.
3. On November 1, 1948, the Revolutionary Military Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China classified all troops in the big strategic areas into field, regional and guerrilla forces in accordance with decisions made at the September meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee. The field forces were organized into field armies. A field army was composed of armies, an army of corps (originally called columns), a corps of divisions, and a division of regiments. In accordance with their locations, the field armies were designated the Northwest Field Army, Central Plains Field Army, Eastern China Field Army, Northeast field Army and Northern China Field Army of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The number of armies, corps and divisions in each field army differed according to the concrete conditions in each big strategic area. Later, the Northwest Field Army was renamed the First Field Army, comprising 2 armies; the Central Plains Field Army was renamed the Second Field Army, comprising 3 armies; the Eastern China Field Army was renamed the Third Field Army, comprising 4 armies; and the Northeast Field Army was renamed the Fourth Field Army, comprising 4 armies. The 3 armies making up the Northern China Field Army were placed under the direct command of the General Headquarters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung