Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Several Opinions on Broader and In-depth Political Work to Win-over Rebels [Semi-classified]

Translated by Jianglin Li
Edited by Matthew Akester

*All notes and square brackets added by translator*

Forwarding "Several Opinions on Broader and In-depth Political Work to Win-over Rebels" by the Party Committee of the Hainan Command for Suppressing Rebellion

Chairman Mao’s instructions:

Comrades Ke Cheng, Tan Zheng:[1] The document by the Hainan Headquarters[2] Party Committee is a Marxist document with profound guiding significance. Please forward it to party committees in Tibet, Chengdu, and Kunming in the name of the Central Military Commission, and transmit it to the party committees of the units engaged in suppressing rebellion under their command, and local party committees to be studied and implemented according to local conditions.

Mao Zedong

June 2, 1959


Tibet, Chengdu, Kunming Military Commands, Huang Headquarters[3] and Lanzhou Military Command Party Committees:

The document “Several opinions on broader and in-depth political work to win over rebels” by the Hainan Headquarters for Suppressing Rebellion Party Committee, with the Qinghai Military Command’s and Chairman Mao’s instructions, is hereby forwarded to you. Please immediately forward it to the party committees of respective units, and local party committees (provincial, prefectural and county) for careful study and implementation based on the local situation.

Military Commission
June 4, 1959


Forwarding “Several opinions on broader and In-depth political work to win over rebels” by Hainan Headquarters Party Committee

Command headquarters, the First Cavalry Division, Qinghai Military Command, Gannan Military Sub-command (cc [Gannan] Prefecture Party Committee) and report to the [PLA] General  Political Department:

[This document] has revealed many important issues in the current struggle against the rebellion, especially regarding the arrangements for the struggle, the differentiated implementation of policies for handling [rebels], and the work on the masses. It is worthy of attention and study. It is hereby forwarded to you for your reference.

Political Department, Lanzhou Military Command

May 28, 1959


Qinghai Provincial Party Committee’s comment and reply to Hainan Headquarters Party Committee regarding “Several suggestions on broader and In-depth political work to win over rebels”

The report by the Hainan Headquarters Party Committee on May 22 is very important. It has reflected many of the major problems in the current struggle against rebellion. The opinions raised are correct. Party committees at all levels are expected to conscientiously implement them. At present, the main focus of our work in the suppressing-rebellion area must be striving to win over the masses (including the work of winning over rebels) to completely eliminate the rebellion and stabilize social order as soon as possible, properly arrange production and other work, and combine suppressing rebellion with production and other tasks for mutual improvement. The practices of the Xinghai County Party Committee are obviously wrong and should be changed immediately.

According to recent reports from various localities, while strengthening military operations to clean up rebel bandits, great efforts have been made in political work to win over [rebels] and have achieved great results. However, in some regions, some units had poor understanding of the importance of political work, and prefer military clean-up operations over political winning-over activities. Such situations must be quickly turned around. On the basis of mobilizing the masses, all the areas where suppressing rebellion is underway should take the struggle against the enemy and political winning-over work one step further. Thoroughly put the spirit of the Zhengzhou Conference[4] into practice and implement various resolutions of the 11th plenary meeting of the provincial party committee: in areas where people’s communes have been established, problems with the production teams’ ownership system and livestock trade-in for commune membership[5] must be promptly solved. Making proper arrangements for people’s life and productivity is the key to arouse and win-over the masses and to conduct in-depth and broader political work to win over [the rebels]. Those [“elements”] surrendered or captured on the battlefield should be treated with leniency, regardless of the magnitude of their crimes. [The policy of] no killing, no imprisoning, no sentencing, no struggle, and the awarding of those [surrendered rebels] who had rendered meritorious service should be applied to all surrendered or won-over rebels. Humiliating and torturing captives is strictly forbidden. All coerced and deceived masses, women and children, should be sent back home as soon as they have been  interrogated, and make good arrangements for their life and productive work. Rebel leaders and diehards should be put under collective surveillance, do not arrest or sentence [them], handle in accordance with each individual’s behavior after a period of collective re-education training. Meanwhile, grasp every opportunity and take advantage of all the conditions available to spread our suppressing rebellion policies broadly and deeply among rebels. It is only by handling those who surrendered voluntarily with leniency, and those still recalcitrant with severe punishment, that the political win-over work can be strengthened, and the complete victory of the struggle against rebellion can be achieved as soon as possible.


CCP Qinghai Provincial Committee
May 26, 1959





Several Opinions on Broader and In-depth
Political Work to Win-over Rebels
CCP Committee of Hainan Headquarters
May 24, 1959


Due to close integration of military strikes and mobilizing the masses, remarkable results have been achieved in political win-over work on enemies in Hainan and Huangnan prefectures.  From April 4 to May 22, a total of 429 enemies (excluding 118 women and children liberated) were incapacitated, of whom 217 surrendered, accounting for 50% of the total number. This fact once again proves the correctness of the suppressing rebellion policy that integrates military strikes, political winning-over and mobilizing the masses.  In order to thoroughly implement this policy, pushing the political winning-over work to a new stage, larger scale and more in-depth, adapting it to the current situation in the struggle against the enemies to achieve greater victories, in addition to training our troops to carry out political offensives with the masses, on the way to battle, we also learned and studied the progress of local political win-over work with prefectural and county party committee leaders, and discussed ideas of how to improve the work. Our general feeling is that the political winning-over work has been widely carried out and has achieved great results, but the development is extremely uneven. Many comrades (local and military) failed to gain full understanding that essentially political winning-over means to win over the masses. Therefore, they were timid and hesitant in setting up guidelines for this work, and new situations and problems brought about by in-depth struggle have not been universally emphasized and resolved. In certain areas, the practice is still far behind the need of the struggle, so the political offensive in these areas has not yet been widely and intensively launched. In order to further improve this work, we propose the following suggestions:


(1) Issues concerning the relationship and arrangement between the two major tasks of counterinsurgency and production:

At present, many local party committees and leadership organs have not yet properly prioritized the tasks of counter-insurgency and production, and tend to ease down on counter-insurgency on a different level. Specifically, they take production as the central task, rarely getting involved in suppressing rebellion or just getting involved in a superficial manner, rarely making serious assessment of the situation, lacking strong leadership in policy implementation, and sidelining the serious task [of counter-insurgency] to technical departments (mainly the public security bureaus). Take Xinghai County[6] as an example. Rebel bandits were scattered in areas covering 70% of the county (a total of more than 2,600, being the county with the most rebels in Hainan) with aggressive and arrogant attitude. Until now, rebel bandits are still robbing and plundering everywhere. Maoduo Township[7] alone lost 130,000 cattle and sheep and more than a thousand horses to the rebels. Bad people colluding with bandits are hiding in most of the county’s production teams.  The bandits were notified as soon as the militia cavalry company stationed in Wenquan Township[8] was dispatched, and took the opportunity to plunder. When the company rushed there, the bandits had already fled. As a result, the cavalry missed the rebels six times. The masses are confused, and fail to differentiate between the enemy and ourselves. From January to May 15th this year, 441 people in the county left home to become bandits, even in the Daheba[9] production team, located 25 km from the county seat, more than 50 people ran away [to join the rebels].
On March 16th, when moving to another pasture, the masses of Oumagou in Wenquan Township intentionally drove yaks in front and left 660 dri behind to be driven away by the bandits. Under such a situation, the county party committee still has not taken suppressing rebellion as a priority. In mid-March, when the rebels were running rampant, the county’s leading comrades went to Wenquan Township only to inspect productivity, and made no mention of the political offensive. On the 15th of May, Nanmutang[10] had more than 2,000 sheep taken away by bandits, and even the herders ran away with the rebels. When Section Chief Li of the Hainan Military Sub-Command proposed to the township leaders to strengthen the struggle against the enemy, the answer was: “nothing can be done, production is our central task.” Some township party secretaries in this county are even unwilling to engage in political struggles, claiming that [they are] “too busy with production, no time for this”. When running out of excuses, they would say “We will try”.  Due to lack of leadership, the county has not won over a single rebel since February. On the contrary, from last winter when troops pulled out till now, more than one thousand people have fled to be bandits. Some of the masses even lived together with the bandits and failed to report them to the authorities.

We believe that as the rebellion gradually subsides, emphasis in local work should be shifted more to production, in order to develop the economy and improve peoples’ material and cultural life. This is a necessary condition to consolidate unity of the people. However, in the situation where the struggle against the enemy is still very difficult, It is not appropriate to shift the center of work to production too early, and to conceptually separate production from suppressing rebellion. Based on the current situation in Hainan (and Huangnan), we suggest that in areas where suppressing rebellion still is a major task, suppressing rebellion should be the center of work arrangement (as in Henan,[11] Xinghai etc.), and production-related work should be arranged under this premise. Areas in which rebellion has basically settled but still have a few rebel remnants left should pay equal attention to production and suppressing rebellion, taking care of suppressing rebellion on the one hand and production on the other, striving to completely eliminate the remaining rebels as soon as possible (such as Tongde,[12] Zeku,[13] etc.) so as to stabilize social order and create the necessary social conditions to develop production on a larger scale. In areas where rebellion has been completely put down, it is necessary to carry out suppressing rebellion propaganda and class education, and provide logistic support to the front-line troops at the same time as doing production-related work. Within a county, focus can also be determined in accordance with specific situations. However, whether it is based on suppressing rebellion or on production, it is necessary to unify the two, so they can enhance each other. In areas where rebellion is still active, our slogan should be to first defend production, and secondly to develop production. Without defending production, there is no way to develop production. Therefore, the rebel bandits’ robbery of cattle (130,000 alone in Maoduo Township) and the loss of production will not be restored for many years to come. Even in areas where production is the mainstay, we should also make good use of suppressing rebellion to educate and mobilize the masses. Therefore, [leaders of] counties and townships should conduct a comprehensive analysis and study of the current local situation to formulate clear guidelines and set the focus of work so as to truly grasp the main issues before manpower can be organized to strengthen the current struggle, and push other work forward.

IIOn policy issues related to surrendered and captured rebels 

Since April, a favorable situation for political winning-over has emerged, but the results demonstrated great variance from place to place. The basic reason for this variance is whether the party’s suppressing-rebellion policy has been correctly implemented. Taking Tongde and Xinghai counties as an example, Tongde had a deviation in following the policy last year, which brought adverse consequences for winning-over work. For instance, in Shizang and Laga areas,[14]  the favorable situation of military strikes in winter was used to win back 79 rebels. However, 51, or 61%, of the surrendered rebels were quickly arrested. Since then, not a single rebel returned. Later on, it was only after the policy of no killing, no imprisonment, no sentencing, no struggle, and awarding those who offer meritorious service, was strictly applied to all the rebels who surrendered voluntarily, that [winning-over] work was able to resume again. From January to May 10 this year, the county called back 321 rebels, and the number of surrendering rebels is increasing month by month: 31 in March, 76 in April, and 91 in the first 10 days of May. Among the surrendering rebels, ringleaders and key rebels are also increasing month by month:  9 in March (4 ringleaders, 5 key rebels), 44 in April (10 ringleaders, 34 key rebels), 13 in early May (6 ringleaders, 7 key rebels). Now the county party committee has proposed that even without troops stationed in the county to clear [the rebels], they are confident of using the political offensive to win over all the remaining bandits.

Let us take a look at the situation in Xinghai. From last year when the troops withdrew till February this year, 235 rebels were called back in this county.  However, due to the failure to properly implement the policy, random arrests and executions have brought serious consequences for the work. For example, in Wenquan Township, 10 of the surrendering elements were arrested and sentenced, among those 4 can be traced and proved to be wrongly arrested, and 5 wrongly killed. For example, Lashize [Rakshi Tse?], chief of the Zhiheilang [Tseknang?] tribe, was called back by county party secretary Daluo [Dhalo] with a written message. He brought more than 50 rebels back with him when he surrendered, but he was soon arrested and dealt with. After the head of Kuashike [Kharkor?] tribe was called back, he was killed on the way while being escorted to Daheba [Tahopa]. At present, due to insufficient disclosure, it is still impossible to find out how many wrongful arrests and killings there have been in the county. [In some cases], even the killers have been found, but the persons responsible [for issuing the order] cannot be identified. Although the matter took place 6 months earlier, the killings were witnessed by some people, and a number of corpses have been dug up by the masses. This created an extremely bad impact. Rebel bandits claimed that “the communist party ate their words” and refused to surrender. Before the end of April, the county sent 27 people to try to win over the rebels, but only 1 person returned. Four joined the rebels, and 1 was killed, nine were taken off to the mountains and detained in shackles. The whereabouts of 12 people was unknown. In addition, the county did not take suppressing rebellion as the first priority, and the leadership in the struggle against the enemy is weak. As a result, since February, not a single rebel was won back. On the contrary, up to a thousand of the masses have fled to the mountains to become bandits.

In view of the above two situations, we believe that unifying the cadres' understanding of the political offensive so as to unswervingly implement the party's policies is the determining condition for fighting a good political battle. Right now, the bandit ringleaders, key rebels and ordinary rebels all have various concerns. Those who have blood debts and committed many robberies are afraid of being executed. Herd owners believe that the communist party treats the poor well and will not be lenient to the rich and well-to-do herd owners who have run away to be bandits. Living buddhas[15] and akha [monks] think that the communist party cannot stand scripture chanters and they have no doubt that they will be handled as strictly as possible. Former cadres, party and youth league members worry that the party and people will not forgive them. Ordinary rebels are afraid that we will kill them once they surrender. Generally speaking, rebel ringleaders and key rebels afraid of being executed, or imprisoned and sentenced after surrender were relieved of these fears, but were still afraid of being struggled, as it is face-to-face with the masses.

At the moment, the masses in the areas where our work goes smoothly demonstrate strong hatred for the bandits. They call the surrendered [rebels] “bandits”, and call their wives “tu mao” (bandit wife), even the sheep and horses brought back by surrendered rebels are named “tu lu” (bandit sheep) and “tu shi da” (bandit horse). After Duobo [?] the bandit ringleader from Tongde [county] surrendered,  the masses who had been robbed of cattle and clothing, and beaten, and whose loved ones were coerced by him to be bandits and lost their lives, wanted to beat him, announcing that "if the government does not do anything about him, we will handle him ourselves." Duobo was under such pressure that he stayed at home less than two days before going out to call back other bandits, even though the government gave him ten days to rest.  Based on the above-mentioned situation, for the purpose of dividing the enemy, it is our belief that:

(1)   Surrendered rebel bandits and battlefield captives should be strictly distinguished, and treated accordingly.  For all surrendered rebel bandits, no matter who they are, the provincial party committee’s policy of no killing, no imprisonment, no sentencing, no struggle must be resolutely implemented. However, after surrender, bandit ringleaders and key rebels should bow to the masses to plead guilty and demonstrate their determination not to rebel again and to turn over a new leaf through gradually participating in productive labor and compliance with law. When the masses want to struggle [the rebels], they must be persuaded [not to do this] while acknowledging their demand for justice. If surrendered elements rebel again, however, they will be strictly dealt with. For the  battlefield captives, coerced and deceived general masses should be quickly released after education. Other than that, ringleaders and key rebels should be strictly dealt with.

(2) Considering that with the victory of the struggle against rebellion, prisoners of war and surrendering elements in the pastoral areas will surely increase, that widespread violations of policy regarding captives and surrenders took place in Hainan last year with lasting impact, also considering that the social foundation of the enemy still exists in large numbers (according to a survey in Tongde county, there are 2,500 rebel family members, 1,637 monks returned to lay life, and 1,819 released prisoners and captured rebels, adding up to 5,956 or 36% of the total population of the county), slight mistakes in implementing policies will cause considerable impact. Therefore, policies should be handled with prudence. Policies and the enemy situation should be carefully studied, not handled in a careless way. At present, some counties have proposed to take advantage of the opportunity of having troops in the county for military operations to make some arrests as a way to pursue the suppression of counter-revolution struggle in depth, but we believe that in order to facilitate the work of winning over enemies,  other than some current counter-revolutionary conspiracy rebellion cases,  it is best not to make arrests in general. In the cases of arrests that have to be made, it is better to control the number and make the arrests public, and organize the masses for public discussion of the cases, so as to distinguish between right and wrong, educate the people and reduce social impact. Doing this is not to cover up class struggle, but to attack the enemy with a more ingenious and strategic approach.

(3) We believe that it is necessary to do a case clean-up as soon as possible. Rebels called back or captured last year should not have been arrested or sentenced but this was done mistakenly. A batch of them should be quickly corrected and released, their lives should be properly resettled in order to reclaim them, as a way to restore and expand the influence of our policies.

(4)  Policy violation in Xinghai County last year was relatively serious. It has yet to be fully exposed. It is not appropriate to hastily discipline cadres involved directly or indirectly, to avoid cover-up under heavy pressure. That will not be to our advantage in distinguishing right and wrong and educating cadres. Case inspections should be aimed at correcting mistakes and educating cadres, and it is better to discipline and dispose of the few cadres who committed serious mistakes with horrendous results.

III.  On the question of mobilizing the masses and struggling against enemies. The essence of extensive political winning-over work is to win over the masses. Therefore, we must keep internal unity, raise [class] awareness, consolidate the confidence for victory, and organize the masses to fight against the enemy. The following are urgent issues at the present time:

(1)  Take care of people’s lives.  At present, food shortage in the pastoral areas is quite serious. On top of that, poor management and the robbery, rumors and instigations of rebel bandits have created confusion in the minds of the masses. For example, due to insufficient food, the masses of  Wenquan township, Xinghai County, had to eat the carcasses of sheep that died last winter, resulting in many cases of sickness and death.  Maode (female) from Shuanglong Gorge ran into six rebels while chopping firewood. They asked her: [will we be] killed if [we] surrender? Her answer: “There’s nothing to eat after returning, even if you are not killed you would die of hunger anyway.” Since last November, 319 people, or 24.7% of the total population of the township, died of sickness. The masses believed that they died of starvation (there are actually more causes), and were resentful toward us. From last December to May 10th of this year, 165 people have run away to join the bandits. The food issue is very common and has affected the fight against the enemy. It is reported that the provincial party committee originally stipulated the standard of rations in pastoral areas to be half a catty per person per day, but in some areas, in order to save food, the ration was reduced to 5 liang,[16] coupled with poor management and failure to actively seek substitute foods, resulting in food shortage. To improve the masses’ current living condition, we suggest that in the areas where social order has been restored, ration should be kept at half a catty [per person per day] and should not be reduced. Food substitutes should be actively sought as a supplement. In borderland areas where struggle against enemies [was on-going], consider increasing rations based on the actual situation. Areas heavily looted by enemies should be given relief. Party committees at all levels should make the lives of the masses the priority. More effort should be put into prevention and control of infectious diseases, so as to quickly stop human and animal deaths.

(2)  Strengthen ideological and political work with the masses. In some areas, education has basically stopped since last winter, and all effort has been put into production work. As a result, the masses in many places do not understand the nature, situation, and policies of the struggle to suppress the rebellion. They are still uncertain whether we or the enemy will win the victory, and therefore they are liable to believe the rebels’ rumors. We suggest that the prefecture party committee make an inspection of this issue, and adopt active measures to educate the masses. Every place the troops go, they should also do propaganda work (currently, main focus should be on the ownership issues, and the victories in suppressing rebellion in Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet).

(3)  Improve grassroots cadres’ work-style. According to our investigation with some rebels, one of the reasons they become bandits is due to some grassroot cadres’ forceful orders and violations of law and discipline. It is recommended that the cadres’ workstyle be readdressed during the process of reorganizing communes and implementing the [policy of] decentralizing the commune system.

(4)      Allow the masses to conduct legitimate religious activities in public, and respect Tibetan people’s customs. Last year, when struggle against religious privilege and atheist debate with the masses were held, many people had unclear views regarding the party’s religious policy and dared not conduct religious activities in public. However, hidden religious activities are easily used by the enemy. Considering that religious beliefs have profound social and class roots and cannot be eliminated by simple means, as long as religion is not used to engage in counter-revolutionary activities, it should be allowed in public. Moreover, akhas who have returned to lay life but want to continue to chant scriptures should be permitted to do so, and Tibetan people’s customs should be respected. At present, Tibetan women in some areas have changed the two-braid hair style back to multiple braids[17] and wore ornaments, and they should be allowed to do as they wish. This is taking a risk to unite the greatest possible number of people to fight against the enemy, in order to reach the goal  of quickly eliminating the enemy and building a new life going forward.


Most of the above are reports on the situation.  Due to incomplete assessment, it is inevitable that the opinions will be one-sided. Please make comments and give instruction if appropriate.


Document 2
Document 3
Document 4
Document 5
Document 6

[1] Huang Kecheng 1902-1986was Deputy Minister of National Defense at the time.  He was purged a few months later for criticizing the Great Leap Forward during the Lushan Conference (July-August 1959). Tan Zheng (1902-1983) was Director of People's Liberation Army General Political Department at the time.

[2] “Hainan Headquarters” is the short form of Hainan Headquarters for Suppressing Rebellion, a military command organ established on August 2, 1958, responsible for suppressing Tibetan rebellion in Hainan (Tsolho) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province. The leadership group was formed by commanders from the PLA 55th and 134th infantry Divisions and Hainan Military Sub-Command.

[3] Huang Headquarters was the command headquarters named after its commander Huang Xingting, Deputy Commander of Chengdu Military Command, formed at the order of the CCP Central Committee on March 11, 1959. It was responsible for suppressing Tibetan rebellion in the Chamdo region.


[4] It is likely that this refers to the Second Zhengzhou Conference held from February 27 to March 5, 1959. Mao Zedong made a speech on February 27, criticizing “left-leaning” mistakes during the People’s Commune Movement.

[5]  When herders joined the commune, their livestock was given an estimated price to be paid back in installments over a fixed number of years.

[6] Tib.) Tsigortang.

[7] Cannot be identified in today’s administrative division, could be a temporary setup in late 1950s.

[8] (Tib.) Namtang.

[9] (Tib.) Tahopa. Today’s Tahopa Township.

[10] Likely the Chinese transliteration of Namtang, the Tibetan name of Wenquan Township.

[11] Henan Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous County. (Tib.) Yulgenyin Sogrig Rangkyong Dzong.

[12] (Tib.) Gepa Sumdo.

[13]  (Tib.) Tsekok.

[14] Shizang (Tib.  Tsanggar ) is the area around Tsanggar monastery in Tongde County. Laga is the area around Ragya monastery in Maqin (Tib. Machen) County, Guoluo (Tib, Golog) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. 

[15] The Chinese refer to reincarnated lamas as  huofo,  literally “living Buddha”.

[16] From 1932 to 1959, one catty or Jin was 16 liang. One liang was 31.25 grams.

[17] Two-braid style is Chinese women’s hair style. Tibetan women in Qinghai pastoral region traditionally wear multiple braids.

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