Tsou and Halpern – Mao's Revolutionary Strategy and Beijing's
Success of Mao-era foreign policy lies in its simultaneous struggle with both
Explanation of this lies in Mao's revolutionary strategy in Chinese internal
political-military struggle and his belief in the applicability of this strategy to
the international area.
“His revolutionary experience proved to his own satisfaction that his
integrated and comprehensive strategy would enable him presently to score
political gains from a position of military inferiority, and ultimately enable
him to achieve highly ambitious objectives with initially meager means in a
I. Revolutionary Strategy and International Behaviour
Mao's doctrine of protracted warfare was “by no means profound,” but “they
were perfectly adapted to the objective conditions confronting him and were
in the best tradition of Realpolitik and the age-old military-political wisdom of
These doctrines have encountered little to no resistance in being applied to
the international realm.
The experience of China during the century of humiliation “militates against
wholehearted acceptance of the system of national states and the rules
governing nations in that system.”
1) All-out war between US and Soviet Union was improbable in the near
2) Struggle between socialist and imperialist camps would take place in
the areas separating the US and Soviet Union
3) Atomic bomb is a 'paper tiger' wars would be decided by people
4) All reactionaries are also 'paper tigers'
Supported by call to colonial and semicolonial countries to rise up and take
the Chinese path, given by Liu Shaoqi.
This strategy was evinced in Korea, when Chinese “forces successfully
carried out Mao's strategy of retreating deep into one's base area, waiting for
the enemy to commit mistakes and fighting a battle of quick decision as a
prelude to a general counter-offensive.” War with India: decisive victory followed by unilateral ceasefire exhibit's
Mao's strategy of limited victory and restraint.
Support for underdeveloped areas mirrors war-strategy of encircling cities
from the countryside.
Beijing's “Policy is actively to cultivate close relationships with countries in
Asia, Africa, and Latin America, but not the Western countries.”
II. The Balance of Forces in China
High initial contrast between Mao's ambitious goal and initially meager
[What a stupidly short section...]
III.An Integrated Strategy to Achieve Ambitious Goals with
“Mao's genius consisted in combining an ability to face reality squarely and a
determination to change that reality.”
He devised set of doctrines to enable him to survive attack of vastly superior
forces, then expand own power, finally transforming the balance of social
forces in his favour.
− surround the cities from the countryside
− fight protracted war
− use guerrilla warfare and mobile warfare
− retreat and disperse to avoid defeat; concentrate to win battles of
− subordinated goal of defending/gaining territory to the goal of
annihilating enemy's effective strength and preserving his own forces
− emphasized importance of men over weapons
− do not underestimate the enemy in specific circumstances; do not
overestimate the enemy overall
IV.Indispensability of Military Power
Due to Nationalist suppression, CCP learned quickly that survival is
contingent on command of military power.
“In China war is the main form of struggle and the army is the main form of
organization.” Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun!
V. The Primacy of Politics
“To seize power by armed force required a military power superior to the
Kuomintang. But the Kuomintang's greatest strength was precisely its
Thus, it was necessary to exploit the Kuomintang's political, economic, and
“Necessity and political expediency reinforced the imperatives of a
revolutionary ideology in stressing the paramount importance of the political
Without a political purpose, a political foundation of military power, guerrilla
warfare must fail.
This also means that military power must be subordinate to political policy.
VI. From the Countryside to the Cities in a Protracted
“The location of his base area, his selection of targets, and the form of
military operations enabled him to use his inferior armed forces to his
maximum advantage by exploiting the political weakness of the
In this, Mao was reacting against other strategists who advocated for tactics
adapted from the Soviet experience. This became “a basic source of his
dispute with the Soviet Union today.”
The vast rural areas were home to the peasants, and where the
Kuomintang's control was weak. By building bases there, “the Communists
exploited a fatal weakness of the Kuomintang and gradually developed their
own military strength to defeat the Nationalists.”
Protracted struggle meant an oscillation of Nationalist offensives that take
the form of 'encirclement and annihilation,' and Communist counter-
campaign. This pattern would end when Communist achieved military
superiority, because Nationalists lacked political prerequisites to wage
counter-campaigns of their own.
Protracted struggle was also adapted against the Japanese, with three
stages: strategic retreat