Yu Chi Chan (Guerrilla Warfare) – Mao Tse-tung on guerrilla warfare


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(Guerrilla Warf are)





JULY, 1941, the undeclared war between China and Japan will enter its fifth year. One of the

most significant features of the struggle has been the or­ ganization of the Chinese people for unlimited guerrilla warfare. The development of this warfare has followed the pa ttern laid out by Mao Tse-tung and his collaborators in the pamphlet Yu Chi Chan ( Guerrilla Warfare ), which was published in 1937 and has been widely distributed in “Free China” at IO cents a copy.

Mao Tse-tung, a member of the Chinese Communist Party and formerly political commissar of the Four th Red Army, is no novice in the art of war. Actual battle experi­ ence with both regular and guerrilla troops has qualified him as an expert.

TI1e influence of the ancient military philosopher Sun Tzu on Mao’s military thought will be apparen t to those who have read The Book of War. Sun Tzu wrote tha t speed, surprise, and deception were the primary essentials of the attack and his succinct advice, “Sheng Tung, Chi H si” (“Uproar [in the] East, Strike [in the] West”), is no less valid toda y than it was when he wrote it 2,400 years ago. The tactics of Sun Tzu are in large measure the tac­ tics of China’s guerrillas today.


M ao Tse-‘tung on Guerrilla Warfare

Mao says that unlimited guerrilla warfare, with vast time and space factors, established a new military process. This seems a true statement since there are no other his­ torical examples of guerrilla hostilities as thoroughly or­ ganized from the military, political, and economic point of view as those in China. We in the Marine Corps have as yet encountered nothing but relatively primitive and strictly limited guerrilla war. Thus, wha t Mao has written

of this new type of guerrilla war may be of interest to us.

I have tried to present the author’s ideas accurately, but as the Chinese language is not a particularly suitable me­ dium for the expression of technical thought, the transla­ tion of some of the modern idioms not yet to be found in available dictionaries is probably arguable. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of retranslated quota tions. I have taken the liberty to delete from the translation matter that was purely repetitious.

Quantico, Virginia



Captain, USMC




HE PRECEDING NOTE was written twenty-one yea rs ago, bu t I see no need to amplify it.

Yu Chi Chan (1937) is frequen tly confused wi th one of Mao’s later (1938) essa ys entitled K’ang J ih Yu Chi Chan Cheng Ti Chan Lueh Wen T’i ( S trategic Problems in the Anti-Japanese Guerrilla War), which was issued in an Engl ish version in 1952 by the People’s Publishing House, Peking. There are some simila ri ties in these two works.

I had hoped to loca te a copy of Yu Chi Chan in the Chi­ nese to check my transla tion but have been unable to do so. Some improvemen t is always possible in any rendering from the Chinese. I have not been able to iden tif y with standard English titles all the works cited by Mao.

Mao wrote Yu Chi Chan during China’s struggle against Japan; consequen tly there are, naturally, numerous refer­ ences to the strategy to be used against the Japanese. These in no way invalida te Mao’s fundamen tal thesis. For in­ stance, when Mao writes, ”The moment tha t this war of resistance dissocia tes itself f rom the masses of the people is the precise moment tha t it dissocia tes itself from hope of ultimate victory over the Japanese,” he might have added, “and from hope of ultima te victory over the forces


M ao Tse-tung on Guerrilla Warfare

of Chiang Kai-shek.” However, he did not do so, because at that time both sides were attempting to preserve the illusion of a “united front.” “Our basic policy,” he said, “is the creation of a national united anti-Japanese front.” This was, of course, not the basic policy of the Chinese Communist Party then, or at any other time. Its basic policy was to seize state power; the type of revolutionary guerrilla war described by Mao was the basic weapon in the pro­ tracted and ultimately successful process of doing so.


Brigadier General, USMC (Ret.)

M ount Vernon, M aine

July, 1961


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