Reflections from a worker at Daqing: Socialist construction is like a chessboard, and the individual is like a chess piece People’s Daily, January 9, 1966

I am a professional soldier. After experiencing war for several years, I worked as a shoe repairer, watchman, potter, and now feed horses.

 Several people have asked me “Huang, you are a capable solider, how can you now busy yourself with feeding horses?” On the spot I responded to them saying: “feeding horses is also part of making revolution. If capable soldiers don’t feed horses, who will go feed them? As long as it benefits revolution, then whatever one does is ok.” Chairman Mao has taught us, regardless of the scale of an individual’s abilities, as long as he or she use their whole hard and conviction for the spirit of serving the people, then this is a person which has benefit for the people

(Huang describes attentiveness to detail in his present working, including visiting vet station because of his lack of understanding of horses, and supplementing the horses’ diet with his own porridge (zhou) when they are sick.)

What I do is ordinary work, and normally it wouldn’t seem worthwhile, but I have a bit of understanding: as long as one’s own work can be combined with revolution, than it will not be trivial, whatever there is to do one will want to do, and one will want to do it well and improve it. 

From Daqing Oilfield’s shoe repairman Huang Youshu

At Play at the Time

Editorials elsewhere in the paper advocate taking the model of Daqing’s spirit to new contexts. In cases, before the Cultural Revolution (and afterwards) the promotion of worker roles as “in service of socialist construction” often powered a conservative politics, endorsing the idea of “obedient workers staying in their places” and hence the reproduction of capitalist relations. The question hinges on worker Huang’s depiction of work under socialism as a chess board, in which contributions need to be strategic given the continuation of class struggle under socialism. This is in contradiction to the revisionist view put forward in the Soviet Union that class struggle ceases under socialism, implying that all work hence serves socialist construction, i.e. there is no chess board. 

On Daqing, see also:

Wang Jinxi, known as the “iron man” from Daqing was also shown in several photographs below from the day’s People’s Daily, in an article entitled “Where does one begin to study from Daqing?: A red line of class struggle extends throughout the process of Daqing’s growth.”

Also today in China:


Also today elsewhere:

  • The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) became the first African-American civil rights organization to publicly oppose the Vietnam War, stating: “We are in sympathy with, and support, the men in this country who are unwilling to respond to a military draft which would compel them to contribute their lives to United States aggression in Vietnam in the name of the ‘freedom’ we find so false in this country,” the SNCC statement read in part. “We take note of the fact that 16 percent of the draftees from this country are Negroes called on to stifle the liberation of Vietnam, to preserve a ‘democracy’ which does not exist for them at home. We ask, where is the draft for the freedom fight in the United States?” [25]

Learning from Dazhai, But are Politics in Command?: January 8, 1966

Study the Spirit of Dazhai, walk the Dazhai Road: Build the New Socialist Countryside

The number one article in January 8th 1966’s People’s Daily boasted of the improvement to production made by peasants in Wenjiang district, a rural district outside of Chengdu, in Sichuan province. This article furthered the contemporaneously dominant theme “of learning from Dazhai.” The reporter argues that political will can triumph over the material conditions of production. It does not matter if natural conditions of production are good or bad, it does not matter if land is high or low wielding, if Mao Zedong thought is used to improve revolutionary resolve production gains are possible. The peasants of Wenjiang do not rely on greater state investment, or depend upon fertilizer from the state. Instead they rely upon natural fertilizers, and self initiative. It also boasts that Wenjiang made the greatest contribution to srocialist construction of any county in Sichuan.

At play at the time:

The language of this article is similar to the language of the Great Leap Forward, including an encouragement for rural counties and districts to one up one another in terms of production and contributions to the state. However, this article notably does not make use of the term “Put Politics in Command.” The People’s Daily continued to promote model work units, and the idea of learning from Dazhai in agriculture and learning from Daqing in industry. The paper promoted a larger focus of using politics to improve production, and strays away from the critique of culture and societal and party organization that is seen in some other articles editorials and speeches that were increasing in number around this same time, including Mao’s ongoing campaign against Wu Han and the Historical Opera “Hai Rui dismissed from Office.”

Work-Study Schools: Peking Review, January 7, 1966

At Play at the Time:

Work study schools had started during the eve of the Cultural Revolution, and received a new boost in 1964, shortly after collectivist experiments in Daqing (called Taqing in the text below) and Dazhai were established, challenging technocratic norms and stressed self-reliance. During the last months of the Cultural Revolution, the schools were featured in the movie Breaking With Old Ideas, which advanced the ideas in this article with the addition of grater emphasis on a two-line struggle over the relationship of such schools to political struggles. Key to the premise is that education and knowledge has a class context, as well as the importance of combining knowledge with production.

A Significant Development in China’s Educational Revolution

by Liang Nien


[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #2, Jan. 7, 1966, pp. 9-12.]from:


The introduction of the work-study educational system in China is fully in keeping with the wishes of the broad masses of the people and with the needs for the development of industrial and agricultural production. It will exercise a far-reaching influence on the training of a new generation of revolutionaries who are both “red and expert” and can work with both hand and brain. It is a fundamental measure for the consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and for the prevention of the restoration of capitalism.


THE establishment of a new system of work-study education which combines classroom study with work in the factories and on the farms is a development of far-reaching importance in China’s cultural revolution.

Though experiments are still being made in order to best solve the common and specific problems of its many different kinds of schools, the new system has already brought universal education nearer and is showing its value in bringing up a new generation of revolutionaries who are accustomed to both mental and physical labour and who are both “red and expert,” i.e., who are both politically conscious and professionally competent.


Suited to Objective Needs

Work-study schools were first tried out in 1958 in accordance with the principle that education should serve proletarian politics and be combined with productive labour. In 1964, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party directed that, side by side with the existing full-time schools, part-work and part-study education should be gradually introduced throughout the country. Since then, there has been a vigorous development in this system of schooling, both in the urban and rural areas. In the cities, work-study specialized middle schools and work-study schools equivalent to junior middle schooling have been established; in the countryside, there are work-study primary schools, work-study agricultural middle schools, and work-study technical middle schools. The new system is also being tried out in higher education. It can be expected that on the basis of the experience now being gained, it will make still greater advances in the future.

Socialist China is a vast country with a huge population, and in the past economic and cultural development was so uneven that today levels still differ greatly from one place to another. Under these circumstances, it is just not realistic to expect to make education universal in China through full-time schooling only. This poses the task of setting up schools to suit all conditions in order to meet the needs of the broad masses, and of the workers and peasants in particular. This is where the work-study educational system comes in.


Schools of Many Kinds

In the countryside today, besides full-time primary schools, there are work-study primary schools of many kinds. These schools operate on flexible lines, so that youngsters who have work to do in the family or field can attend classes. There are half-day schools, and schools with special morning, noon or evening classes. If these are not practical, classes without fixed hours are held, and school begins when the students come. Mobile schools make their rounds to bring lessons to children who live in scattered mountain villages and on the grasslands.

In a word, the schools are set up for the convenience and benefit of pupils, especially those from working families. Great care is taken to keep all expenses down to a minimum and to ensure that what is taught is of practical use.

As a result, enrolment of children from former poor and lower-middle peasant families has risen sharply. There are now 17 million children studying in work-study primary schools, 80 per cent above the 1964 enrolment in these schools. The rapid development of the new schools is also stimulating reforms in the full-time rural schools. Many of the latter have changed from the usual two terms each of five months a year to three shorter terms and now close during the busy periods of harvesting and sowing. Some have set up additional classes for pupils who cannot attend full time. All this has helped to bring about an increase of 14 per cent in total primary school enrolment compared with 1964. This is a big step forward in making primary education universal.


Students of the work-study Agro-Technical School run by
Peking’s Evergreen People’s Commune attending a course
on the cultivation of hothouse vegetables


The spread of secondary education has been likewise improved. In the cities primary education is already universal and the majority of primary school graduates can go on to full-time junior middle school. For those who cannot, work-study schools and classes in a variety of forms, as well as other forms of schooling such as the Television School in Taiyuan, Shansi Province, and the Home for Youngsters in Mutankiang, Heilungkiang Province, are being set up by factories and mines, government organizations and enterprises, and neighbourhood organizations. In the villages, work-study agricultural middle schools are being developed. State farms specializing in agriculture, forestry or animal husbandry have set up a number of technical middle schools based on the new system, and in big cities like Shanghai, Peking and Tientsin, enterprises and organizations are running similar schools of their own. Enrolment in these work-study middle schools in 1965 was 87 per cent more than in 1964.

The new system has also been extended to higher education. Work-study institutes, technological universities and teachers’ training colleges have been set up by a number of big state farms and factories. Many full-time higher educational institutions are actively experimenting with the new system. More than half of the agricultural institutes of higher learning have introduced the work-study system and 70 per cent of the agro-technical middle schools are also trying it out. Under an overall plan, conditions are being created for the existing full-time specialized middle schools to be transformed into work-study schools step by step.


Kazakh youngsters from a people’s commune on their
way to a work-study primary school on the grasslands
of Sinkiang’s Altai County


From the above, it is clear that the new system is not only contributing greatly to the universalization of primary education in China. It has also opened up ways for the gradual universalization of secondary and even higher education in the future. This is in marked contrast to the position in capitalist countries. In order to safeguard the interests of the bourgeoisie and to maintain the differences between mental and manual labour, the bourgeois educational system can only universalize primary or general secondary education at the most. It definitely cannot, nor is it willing to universalize higher and specialized secondary education. The socialist countries, in order to render immediate service to the socialist revolution and socialist construction and to diminish gradually the differences between mental and manual labour, besides universalizing primary and general secondary education step by step, must go further and universalize higher and specialized secondary education also.


Developing a Technical Force

The gradual modernization and development of industrial and agricultural production has created a pressing need for a huge technical force both in the cities and the countryside. This is where the new schools fulfil an increasingly important function. Work-study schools set up by factories can produce in a relatively short period large numbers of workers of a new type—workers who are good with their hands and have specialized skills and an adequate level of general education. The Tientsin Electronic Instruments Plant solved its shortage of skilled workers and cadres by setting up a technical middle school on a work-study basis. The plant now has 405 graduates from this school in its workshops and other departments and they form the nucleus of its technical and administrative force.

Since 1958, Tientsin has set up a number of work-study technical middle schools on a trial basis. In the last two years this city has made considerable advances in work-study education. Today there are altogether 119 work-study schools and classes, mostly middle schools and some institutions of higher learning, with a total enrolment of over 24,000 students. Investigations made by the city among some 2,000 of its graduates from work-study technical middle schools showed that the majority of them are now factory workers. Some have become technicians or administrative cadres. Collectively these people are an important technical force in Tientsin’s factories.

In the countryside, the situation is the same. Many graduates from work-study agricultural middle schools have become leaders,of production teams, book-keepers, storemen, tractor drivers, irrigation and drainage equipment operators, technicians, health workers, electricians, veterinarians and livestock breeders. Excellent results have also been obtained from the special short courses run by these schools to meet the need for agro-technicians, veterinarians, accountants and other technical personnel. An equally important role is played by the work-study technical middle schools in supplying skilled personnel needed by state farms specializing in agriculture, forestry or livestock breeding, fishing enterprises, hydroelectric and farm machinery stations and other production units.

The graduates are well equipped for the jobs that lie ahead of them as they have already done practical work. While studying, they are an effective productive force, too. Students of some agricultural middle schools, for example, have turned low-yielding land into high-yielding land by scientific farming. Some have raised improved strains of seeds. Some have assisted production teams in disease and pest control and prevention, and in this way they have helped to ensure high yields over large areas of farmland.

In cities some work-study schools divide their day equally into two, others study and work on alternate days or weeks. After a very short time their students have shown that they are at home in the workshops, able both to operate machines and to solve technical problems. They are already worker-technicians in the making.


Stress on Industry and Thrift

These new schools implement in an improved way the established policy of building up the country through industry and thrift. Through work, the students not only gain knowledge but also create wealth to cover part or the whole of their expenses and those of the school. This of course lightens greatly the burden on the state and parents and makes it much easier to set up large numbers of schools in all parts of the country.

Most of the work-study schools in the countryside in fact grew out of practically nothing. They were set up on the principle of making the fullest use of what is available on the spot and keeping expenses and equipment down to the barest minimum. Old buildings are repaired and new ones put up by the teachers and students who use local materials. Equipment and furniture, too, are usually made in the same way.

The Taching Oilfield provides an outstanding example of industry and thrift in education. In the spirit of hard work and self-reliance, men and women of Taching who succeeded in building a huge oilfield in three years, have in the last six years set up 130 schools and classes in diverse forms. These include full-time schools and different kinds of work-study schools and short-term courses. In Taching today, primary education is already universal; junior middle school education is practically universal. A basic educational network covering primary, secondary and higher education has been set up throughout the oilfield. In establishing these schools, the Taching people met with all sorts of difficulties. They were in want of almost everything at the start—buildings, equipment, teachers, and teaching experience. … They solved their accommodation problem by making use of dining-rooms, store-rooms, and stables, and by putting up simple, crude buildings themselves. They piled up sun-dried bricks to make tables, and made wooden benches out of waste material from the construction sites. They sought their teachers from among cadres, workers and housewives, bearing in mind an old Chinese saying “the capable ones are the teachers.” They gained experience through “learning to do by doing” and “making improvements as you go along.” It is with such a revolutionary spirit and such revolutionary measures that the Taching people, guided by Mao Tse-tung’s thinking, have managed to turn the many unfavourable conditions for their life and work to good account—making every difficulty contribute to the education and steeling of the younger generation.


Working People of a New Type

Most important of all, the students in these schools are closely linked to production, to reality and to the working people. They are at the same time students and farmers or students and workers. Their theoretical studies and experiments tie in closely with production. What they study in books is tested and assimilated through practice. This stimulates and holds the students’ interest and helps them to learn and master what is taught. The teachers, too, are out in the fields or factories when they are not teaching and this links their classroom work more closely with life. Facts prove that there is no lowering of standards. As schools of this type can better implement the policy of putting education at the service of proletarian politics and linking it with productive labour, they are better capable of bringing up working people of a new type, people with an all-round development, moral, intellectual and physical.

Although it is not long since these schools first came into being, they have proved their worth and their graduates are warmly welcomed by rural people’s communes and industrial enterprises alike. There is a consensus of opinion that youth thus educated are in general conscientious in work, progressive in outlook, and technically competent. Because of this they have played a praiseworthy role in the three great revolutionary movements—the class struggle, the struggle for production, and scientific experiment. Since 1958, more than 4,000 people have graduated from work-study schools of higher learning, some 10,000 from work-study agro-technical middle schools. These young people, who have received training in both theory and practice, are capable of doing both mental and manual labour. They make themselves very useful wherever they may be, are quite at home with the masses, and are not pretentious or snobbish. They are socialist-minded, cultured working people of a new type.

The most recent development in the work-study schools is the emphasis placed on graduates going back to their home communes. Some agricultural institutes, agro-technical middle schools, and specialized middle schools training public health workers last summer recruited new students directly from rural communes with the understanding that they would return home after graduation. Urban work-study schools have also undertaken to train personnel for the rural areas from among young people in the cities.

The introduction of the work-study educational system is fully in keeping with the wishes of the broad masses of the people and with the needs for the development of industrial and agricultural production. It embodies on the educational front the general line of getting greater, faster, better and more economical results in building socialism. In the long-term view, this will create the conditions for the gradual diminution of the differences between mental and manual labour; and it is one of the basic measures for the training of a new generation of proletarian revolutionaries and for guarding against any restoration of capitalism in our country.

The work-study system of schooling at the present time is still in the initial stages and we lack experience with it. There will inevitably be difficulties on our way ahead. But introduction of the system is definitely not a measure of expediency. It will remain and advance in step with the forward movement of our socialist revolution. Travelling along this road, we shall gradually build up a complete educational system of our own, which brings up people who can work with both hand and brain.

January 6th 1966: Zhou Enlai on Secrecy.

January 6th 1966, Zhou Enlai gives an address on maintaining State Secrets, and appoints Peng Zhen as the head of a nationwide meeting on maintaining state secrets.

“In defense work, the party has always been particular about party committee leadership, the mass line, opposing top-down leadership, and mystification; The entire party must take care of public security work, the entire people must take care of public security, develop democracy, and smash minority leadership. The mechanism needs to safeguard secrets and be particular about doctrines. There needs to a system. But maintaining secrecy cannot be a process of mystification…” Zhou then goes on to lay down a list of strict rules for the party bureaucracy to maintain state secrets.

At the end of the address Zhou Enlai appointed Peng Zhen to chair a nationwide meeting on safeguarding state secrets.

See: 《周恩來年譜》1949—1976下卷,第1頁、第1頁。

The text of this address was originally found at the 50nianqian blog, which is doing a Chinese Language day-by-day recap of 50 years ago in Chinese history

At play at the time:

This address points to the often contradictory role Zhou Enlai held as the second most powerful person in the PRC and CCP. Zhou often held up and supported Mao Zedong’s initiatives, and worked to oppose  soviet style revisionism, but also advocated maintaining an ordered society often opposed to struggle. In one breath Zhou both condemns top down leadership and lays down strict rules for the party bureaucracy to maintain state secrets. he then appointed Peng Zheng, a rival to Mao and one of the more top-down thinking party leader’s (see Peng Zhen Digs in Heels, Promotes Top-Down Model as “Maoist Thought,” December 23, 1965) Zhou’s own words bely the contradiction in his instructions “maintaining secrecy cannot be a process of mystification.”

January 5 1966: Learning from Daqing


Ma’An Shan Steel Company in southern Anhui is said to have suffered from poor management practices which focussed on blaming various parties for production problems. Politics were said not to have been put in command, and Mao Zedong Thought was not put into command.

Starting in 1963 however the plant began to learn from the example of Daqing, the region in China where oil was discovered, and which lead to collectivized experiments in economic development and community planning. Ma’an Shan cadres and workers are reported to have used Daqing as a model, and have transformed relations and work procedures in the plant.
In Ma’an Steel in particular, Mao’s essays of on Practice, and on Contradiction, in addition to Serve the People, In Memory of Norman Bethune, the Old Fool Who Moved the Mountain, and Combat Liberalism  were studied, and the theory of class struggle were applied to understand problems. These essays are said to constitute the most valuable food for workers and cadres. Rooms were set up in every factory and mine for the study of political works. Large increases in the quality and appearance of the area have been realized since. Problems have been attacked with the concept of one dividing into two.
Another essay in the paper by a Ma’an furnace worker is titled “Dare to Be a Fool in Front of a Master”
He explains many workers are afraid to take the lead in experimenting with new methods, thinking that if even engineers and technicians are afraid to act, how could they possible move forward? He states that to dare to make revolution is to dare to be a fool. With a revolutionary spirit and scientific approach, anything can be accomplished, he says.
At Play at the Time
The images and articles in this issue speak the importance of precedents in defining the emerging political movement. In later years, struggles occurred over the relative importance of models such as Dazhai and Daqing in the aftermath of new political achievements during the Cultural Revolution. To some they represented a more piecemeal attempt at revolutionary advance, while for  others they continued to represent a foundational core for the movement. The three images above are representative of the three prototypes of the revolution (workers, peasants, and soldiers) which often appeared in Cultural Revolution posters.

January 4 1966: For the People

January 4th issue of the People’s Daily featured an editorial titled “For the People,” which emphasized self-reliance and voluntarism. The title of this editorial, and several lines in the editorial reference the CCP’s slogan and Mao’s famous 1944 essay “Serve the People.” An excerpt from the editorial captures the spirit of the editorial:

“We are Marxist-Leninists, we have always though that the masses should rely on themselves and liberate themselves, and have opposed any idea that we should do everything ourselves out of charity for the people. The revolution and construction both must rely on the masses, with self-reliance, everyone must pitch in. We stress that you must emphasize politics, strengthen ideological educational work, exactly in order to raise the masses’ consciousness, to make the masses recognize their own interest, to fight for their own leadership voluntarily and consciously under the leadership of the party.”

Study the Spirit of Dazhai. Walk the Dazhai Road. Build the new Socialist Countryside.

At play at the time:

This editorial can be read as an implicit criticism of people within the party who were not working “for the people.” It can be inferred from the editorials language that its intended audience was cadres, and not the entire general readership of the People’s Daily. By holding up the principles of working for the people, and relying upon the masses, the editorials writers were criticizing certain party members for doing exactly the opposite. The editorial’s writers felt that party members were not working “for the people” but instead in their own self interests, or in the interests of the party but without the consideration of the people. The author also implicitly criticizes commandism within the party, forcing the masses to act, instead of leading them to act in their own self-interest.


Trying to Escape the Gordian Knot: Statement on US attack on Cambodia: January 3rd, 1965

At Play at the Time

Policy towards US attacks on Vietnam reveal a struggle between revolutionary forces in China which advocated a militant guerrilla response to US encroachment, and Soviet policy, which saw the incursion in more traditional military realpolitik, and the Chinese military establishment, many of whom lean towards Soviet type thinking. Distinguishing Chinese policy from Soviet policy was complicated at this time by joint Chinese-Soviet action, including the shipment of Soviet arms through China (see second article below, an interview with Vice-Premier Chen Yi reprinted from the previous week published in the same Peking Review article).  Adjacent countries in southeast Asia, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand in particular, were key areas to attempt to promote foreign policy more aligned to Chinese revolutionary visions. Cambodian Prince Sihanouk was courted extensively by Chinese leaders, Zhou Enlai in particular, to advocate an anti-imperiliast stance, despite his often conflicted position in the political struggles of the time. At this time, both he and Pol Pot were in China. See:

see also:



From the Peking Review,

On Contradiction and on Practice in the Daqing oil fields: January 2nd 1966

The January 2nd issue of the People’s Daily ran two articles on the Daqing oil fields in North Eastern China. The articles both reference Mao’s foundational Yan’an period articles “On Contradiction” (1937) and “On Practice” (1937). Linked to these articles, the day’s semi-daily Mao Zedong quote was an excerpt from “On Practice”: “The knowledge which grasps the laws of the world, must be redirected to the practice of changing the world, must be applied anew in the practice of production, in the practice of revolutionary class struggle and revolutionary national struggle and in the practice of scientific experiment.”

The articles elucidate how the workers and cadres of Daqing had “learned and lived” Mao Zedong thought. After studying the two texts they had looked at the situation of Daqing. The workers decided that the two most important contradictions that they faced were American imperialism and revisionism, necessitating that they boost production and reorganize the work unit to defend China from imperialist advances and combat revisionism.

In order to adopt democratic methods and follow the mass line, The Daqing work unit implemented a tripartite management system made up of cadres, technicians, and workers. Following Mao’s principle of experimentation on the small scale before widespread implementation, they constructed an experimental unit. After hundreds of experiments they were able to obtain success, and implement new methods across the entire work unit


“Study the revolutionary spirit of Daqing, hold high the great red banner of Mao Zedong Thought, to struggle for the realization of the third Five Year Plan!,” April 1966. (

At play at the time

The emphasis that January 2nd’s people’s Daily Places on “On Contradiction” and “On Practice” is significant. Today’s articles attempt to elucidate the how workers had “learned and lived” Mao Zedong thought.

Daqing was the first major oil field opened up in China in the 1960’s. In 1964 Daqing was elevated to the status of model work unit. Daqing was held up alongside the agricultural model Dazhai as examples of the success of Mao Zedong in execution. Mao was quoted as saying “Learn from Daqing in industry. Learn from Dazhai in agriculture.” This article signals to other work units to adopt these same methods of organization and study.

The tripartite model of management organization used in Daqing model was less top down and offered more worker control of the work unit than the prevailing labor organization model, which had been inherited from the pre-1949 society. This was sure to ruffle feathers among cadres and technicians.

Business as Normal For the New Year, Calm Before the Storm

At Stake at the Time:

The New Year’s editorial talks about the third sequence of five-year plans, conveying that things are progressing “according to plan” and without interruption. The Cultural Revolution is relegated to the sphere of study and culture, maintaining the insistence of Peng Zhen and others in  Beijing that critiques of Beijing intellectuals be considered an “academic” rather than “political” matter. This is in diametric contrast to the editorial in Hongqi printed the day before. During this time, the People’s Daily remained under the control of Peng Zhen and his network.

At Stake at the Present:

After the twists and the turns of the Cultural Revolution, to this day there are segments of the masses in China who insist that the Cultural Revolution was always supposed to be about “culture,” i.e.  non-violent, and without a reflection in political struggle. However this can be seen  in contrast to the Marxist understanding that revolutions are never peaceful matters, and also the understanding derived over the course of the Chinese Revolution and synthesized by Mao that class contradictions  often come to a head at the ideological level of society, which at certain points in history can become central to defining the political stakes and positions of a movement.

Welcoming 1966 — The First Year of China’s Third Five-Year Plan

— New Year’s Day Message — 

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #1, Jan. 1, 1966, pp. 5-9.]



NINETEEN SIXTY-SIX, the first year of China’s great Third Five-Year Plan, has arrived. Full of boundless joy, the Chinese people of all nationalities are determined to make still greater achievements in the socialist revolution and socialist construction in the new year, to make the new Five-Year Plan a success from the very start.


The Third-Five Year Plan

The Third Five-Year Plan is a magnificent plan of the Chinese people to develop their national economy. During the period of the Third Five-Year Plan, we must hold aloft the great red banner of Mao Tse-tung’s thinking, continue to carry out, in a deep-going way, the three great revolutionary movements of class struggle, the struggle for production, and scientific experiment. We will carry out the socialist education movement in the countryside and cities on a still wider scale. We will strive to increase agricultural production year by year, and implement still more effectively the National Programme for Agricultural Development. While bringing into full play the latent capacities of present industrial enterprises and transport and communications services on the basis of constant technical innovations and a constant rise in labour productivity, great efforts will be made to build a number of new enterprises, strengthen national defence, strengthen basic industries, communications and transport, and further improve the distribution of industry in the country; corresponding efforts will be made to expand light industry and improve the people’s livelihood step by step on the basis of the development of production—to do all this in order to build up an independent, fairly comprehensive industrial system and national economy. We will make strenuous efforts in order to catch up with and surpass advanced world levels in science and technology and build China into a strong socialist country with modern agriculture, modern industry, modern national defence and modern science and technology within twenty to thirty years.


Most Favourable Conditions

Since liberation, there have never been such favourable conditions for the national economy as now, when China’s Third Five-Year Plan is being launched.

Since liberation, China has gone through a period of two Five-Year Plans, after the period of the rehabilitation of the national economy. The First Five-Year Plan was overfulfilled by 1957. The Second Five-Year Plan, which was launched in 1958, was basically fulfilled in 1960, two years ahead of schedule. In the five years from then to the present, we made an overall readjustment of the national economy in the first three years and, in the following two years, we organized a new upsurge in the national economy, creating in every respect sound and adequate foundations for implementing the Third Five-Year Plan. From 1959 to 1961, China was hit by three successive years of natural calamities and there were some shortcomings and mistakes in our work; moreover, the Khrushchov revisionist clique perfidiously and suddenly attacked China by tearing up several hundred agreements and contracts, cutting off the supply of important items of equipment and technical data and withdrawing all Soviet experts working in China, thus adding to our economic difficulties. But all these serious difficulties did not overwhelm us. Through the efforts of the whole Party and the whole people, these big difficulties were turned into very good things.

In the past several years, under the brilliant leadership of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and Comrade Mao Tse-tung, we have made progress in learning how to apply Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-tung’s thinking in understanding things, analysing situations and grasping and solving problems. We found in good time ways of overcoming difficulties and ways of bringing about a great leap forward in a certain historical period. We have learnt methods of implementing the mass line more effectively. By relying on and bringing into play the strength of the masses, not only did we overcome our difficulties but we have brought about an all-round upsurge in the national economy. The Khrushchov revisionist clique’s betrayal strengthened our determination to exert greater efforts to implement the policy of self-reliance and to break down the notion of relying on others and having blind faith in them. This has greatly increased the material forces for building the country by our own efforts, and enabled us to find the correct road and a whole set of concrete measures for carrying out the socialist revolution and socialist construction in conformity with objective laws and the specific conditions of China. We have seriously summed up the experience and lessons of our work and learnt how to more comprehensively implement the general line of going all out, aiming high and achieving greater, faster, better and more economical results in building socialism. Facts have fully confirmed that our experience has become richer and our strength greater.


Socialist Education Movement

Class Struggle. It should be particularly pointed out that based on Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s teaching that classes and class struggle should always be borne in mind, we have taken class struggle in the past few years as the key to all our work, unfolded the socialist education movement in the countryside and the cities, and re-educated Communist Party members, cadres and the masses with the spirit of uninterrupted and thoroughgoing revolution, of carrying the socialist revolution through to the end. We have consolidated and expanded the position of socialism in the political, economic, ideological and organizational spheres and dealt a heavy blow to the noxious influences of capitalism. This greatly invigorated the outlook of the people throughout the country and their revolutionary enthusiasm is rising higher and higher. The struggle against Khrushchov revisionism has greatly raised the Marxist-Leninist ideological level and proletarian internationalism of the cadres and the masses. This is of far-reaching historic significance in preventing the restoration of capitalism and in promoting the advance of socialism in China and of world revolution.

Cultural Revolution. The cultural revolution has been developed in depth; a series of great debates and reforms have been carried out in philosophy, history, literature, art and education, spreading Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-tung’s thinking, repudiating revisionism, upholding proletarian thinking and uprooting the ideas of the bourgeoisie and the landlord class. Many of those working in the social science field have gained a deeper understanding of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-tung’s thinking. Many writers and artists have more clearly recognized their direction of serving proletarian politics, serving the workers, peasants and soldiers and serving the economic base of socialism. While continuing to reform the full-time schools, educational workers started to put the system of part-farming, part-study and part-work, part-study into practice experimentally. The intellectuals have gone to rural areas, factories and army units to integrate themselves with the workers, peasants and soldiers; this has helped them to remould their thinking and greatly heighten their socialist consciousness.

Mass Movement to Study Mao Tse-tung’s Thinking. The study of Mao Tse-tung’s thinking by people all over the country has developed on an unprecedented mass scale. A vast number of people and cadres have creatively studied and used Mao Tse-tung’s works and their socialist consciousness has been raised to an all-time high. Reading Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s books, following his teachings and working in accordance with his guidance have become conscious acts of the masses of people. Mao Tse-tung’s teaching has become a powerful ideological weapon which is being used by tens of millions of people with increasing consciousness, and a great motivating force for progress in all fields of work. Learning from the People’s Liberation Army, from the Tachai Production Brigade and from the Taching Oilfield has become a nationwide campaign. The revolutionary spirit of self-reliance and hard struggle is taking root, blossoming and bearing fruit in different trades and occupations. Learning from Lei Feng and Wang Chieh and from all advanced people has grown into a movement of self-education for the broad masses. The revolutionary style of doing everything in the interest of others, disregarding one’s own interests, fearlessness in the face of trials or death and wholehearted devotion to the revolution have become new lofty moral trends in our society. All this encourages the masses of people to make greater contributions to the socialist revolution and construction, since the spirit it engenders is transformed into a material force.


Most Powerful Material and Technical Basis Ever

The material and technical basis of our country has never been so powerful as now, when we are embarking on the great Third Five-Year Plan.

In the past few years, under the guidance and inspiration of the general line for building socialism, we have had great success in carrying out the general policy of developing the national economy with agriculture as the foundation and industry as the leading factor.

Agricultural Production. Agricultural production has made tremendous advances and remarkable results have been achieved in steadily increasing output. The system of rural people’s communes has been further consolidated and its superiority has been brought into fuller play.

The work of building water conservancy projects and improving farmland has been very fruitful. In agriculture, the Tachai Production Brigade has come forward as a brilliant pace-setter. Rural areas all over the country made great efforts to learn from Tachai. Many outstanding farming units have emerged in the style of Tachai. In 1965, there were good harvests for the fourth year running. Grain, cotton, sugar-bearing crops and tobacco output rose considerably.

Industrial Production. There was new progress in industrial production, with a new leap forward in the increased number of varieties and improved quality. Many weak links in industry were greatly strengthened. Many gaps were filled in. The petroleum industry in particular made an important breakthrough and has made China virtually self-sufficient. Communications and transport also made great advances. The Taching Oilfield rose up as an illustrious pace-setter on the industrial, communications and transport front. Various places in the country are making great efforts to learn from Taching. As a result, many outstanding industrial enterprises have emerged in the style of the Taching Oilfield. Industrial production last year registered considerable increases, with higher labour productivity and lower costs. Many construction projects made fairly rapid progress; the quality of construction work improved, and investments yielded rather substantial results.

The supply of commodities on the market increased steadily, in line with the development of industrial and agricultural production. In 1965, there was a big increase in the supply of pork, edible oil, sugar and cotton cloth; commodity prices remained stable and the market was brisk.

A Country That Owes No Foreign Debt. In the past few years state revenue and expenditures were balanced and the foreign trade plan was well fulfilled. All foreign debts were repaid and China has become a country that owes no debt to any country. The capital and interest on government bonds have been repaid on time, and in two or three years China will be a country without any domestic debt.

In the past few years, great achievements have been made in culture, education, public health and physical culture work; research in science and technology in particular advanced by leaps and bounds. All departments in the national economy made significant gains in the use of new designs, new techniques, new technological processes, new materials and new equipment. The successful explosion of two atomic bombs showed in a concentrated way that China has made a big leap forward in its efforts to catch up with and surpass the world’s advanced scientific and technical levels.

China’s National Defence Strength Has Become Unprecedentedly Great. It is especially noteworthy that in the past few years the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, public security forces and the militia, troops who are the sons and brothers of our people, have creatively studied and used Mao Tse-tung’s thinking, given prominence to politics, persisted in carrying out the “four firsts”1 and “three-eight” working style.2 They have made great strides in their advance to revolutionization and modernization and have won important victories in the defence of our territorial air and waters and our border areas and in strengthening public security. China’s national defence strength has become unprecedentedly great.

All this has provided a solid ideological base and a powerful material basis for our country to carry out the Third Five-Year Plan. Our people have never been so high in spirit and so strong in morale as at present. Our country has never before been so prosperous.


1966—A Good Beginning

Nineteen sixty-six is the first year of the Third Five-Year Plan. We must fight the battle of the first year well so as to make a good start in bringing about the smooth realization of this grand plan.

Central Task for 1966. In the coming year, we shall continue the socialist education movement thoroughly and effectively, carrying it out by stages and by groups. We shall continue to implement in an all-round way the Party’s General Line of going all out, aiming high and achieving greater, faster, better and more economical results in building socialism. We shall launch a solid nationwide movement to increase production and practise economy. We shall put great effort into the development of agriculture. All Communist Party committees at provincial, regional, county and people’s commune levels should place agriculture first. They should increase grain and cotton production, develop a diversified economy and work energetically to resist and take precautions against natural calamities. We shall carry forward the movement for technical innovations and the technological revolution so as to give full play to the existing potentialities in the fields of industry and communications and transport; at the same time we shall have to speed the construction of new projects by way of “waging a war of annihilation with concentrated forces” in order to enable them to go into early operation. We shall redouble our effort to increase the production of raw materials and other materials, fuels, electricity and major machinery and electrical equipment. We shall give agriculture vigorous support by turning out more products suited to the needs of the countryside. We shall organize the circulation of commodities rationally and raise the standard of the trading services so as to better serve production and the people. We shall take further steps in directing our work towards the rural areas in the fields of culture, education and health in order to push forward the cultural revolution. We must also work hard to strengthen national defence, the People’s Liberation Army and the militia.

The Viewpoint of One Dividing Into Two. We should always bear in mind Mao Tse-tung’s teaching that we should apply the viewpoint of one dividing into two in dealing with our work. The more successful our work and the greater our achievements, the more attention we must devote to the difficulties that will arise along the road of advance as well as to the shortcomings and mistakes that exist in our work. For example, our agriculture is still not strong enough to withstand the natural calamities which always affect some parts of the country every year. There are still quite a number of weak links in our industry, communications and capital construction. And quite a number of our departments still have a considerable gap to bridge before they reach advanced world scientific and technical levels.

Comrade Mao Tse-tung taught us: “Even if we have achieved extremely great successes, there is no reason whatever to be conceited or complacent. Modesty helps a person to make progress whereas conceit makes him lag behind. This is a truth we must always bear in mind.” All areas, departments and units must, in accordance with the teachings of the Party’s Central Committee and Comrade Mao Tse-tung, constantly sum up their experience, improve their work, make discoveries and inventions, and keep on creating and advancing.

Politics in Command. Politics is the supreme commander, the very soul of our work. It is necessary to put ideological and political work above all other work. The key in striving to accomplish and overfulfil the tasks for 1966 is to strengthen the Party’s leadership, give prominence to politics, put Mao Tse-tung’s thinking in command, and accelerate the revolutionization of man’s ideology. Practice has proved that the more prominence we give to politics and the higher we hold the red banner of Mao Tse-tung’s thinking, the more fully does the superiority of the socialist system show itself and the more assured is the victory of the cause of revolution and construction. In order to achieve still greater successes, we must follow the road of engaging energetically in revolution so as to promote production and construction.

In the new year, we must do still better in leading and organizing the cadres and the masses in studying Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s works, and in particular do our best to apply his thinking to practice. In all fields of work, we should carry out the mass line still better and bring the initiative of all people into fuller play. We should persist in effectively combining revolutionary spirit with scientific approach, work with great vigour and advance in steady steps, and do things in a careful and thoroughgoing manner. We should be proficient at summing up and popularizing the experience of the people and units that have become pace-setters. We should be good at discovering, supporting and fostering the new things that continually appear. We must go further in learning from the People’s Liberation Army, the Tachai Production Brigade and the Taching Oilfield by developing the mass movement to “compare with, learn from, catch up with and surpass the advanced and help the less advanced.” We should carry forward and develop the fine tradition of self-reliance, working assiduously and with vigour to make China strong, and building the country by thrift and diligence. In this way, we shall certainly be able to accomplish and overfulfil the great tasks for 1966.


Never Forget the International Class Struggle

Be Prepared for Early and Large-Scale War by U.S. Imperialism. While we carry out socialist revolution and socialist construction, we must never for a moment forget the international class struggle. U.S. imperialism regards as the biggest obstacle to carrying out its policies of aggression and war the increasingly powerful China which holds aloft the banner of Marxism-Leninism, the banner of Mao Tse-tung’s thinking and the banner of proletarian internationalism, and which resolutely supports the revolutionary struggles of all countries. U.S. imperialism constantly carries out all kinds of wild provocations against China and wants to have another trial of strength with it. Many facts show that the focus of the counter-revolutionary global strategy of the United States is being shifted from Europe to Asia. U.S. imperialism is extending its war of aggression against Vietnam and plotting to impose war upon the Chinese people. We must maintain sharp vigilance and arrange all our work on the basis of coping with the eventuality that U.S. imperialism will launch an early and large-scale war. If the U.S. aggressors should dare to invade our country, we shall wipe them out resolutely, thoroughly, wholly and completely.

Resolute Support for Revolutionary Struggles of the Peoples of the World. U.S. Imperialism is the common enemy of the people of the whole world. The people of all countries support each other in the struggle against U.S. imperialism. We must never confine our view to China only, but should see the world as a whole. We are engaging in production and construction not only for the Chinese revolution and in the service of the Chinese people but also for the world revolution and in the service of the people of the whole world. Comrade Mao Tse-tung told us: “The people who have triumphed in their revolution should help the struggle of those who are still struggling for liberation. This is our internationalist duty.” In order to fulfil this great duty, we must spare no effort in resolutely supporting the Vietnamese people, who are in the forefront of the anti-U.S. struggle, and the people of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the rest of the world in their struggles to overthrow U.S. imperialism and its lackeys.

Combat Khrushchov Revisionism to the End. The Khrushchov revisionists are following a line, diametrically opposed to ours. They betray Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism, regard U.S. imperialism as their closest friend, dream of world domination through U.S.-Soviet collaboration, and work in every conceivable way to sell out the revolutionary interests of the people of all countries. We must carry through the struggle against Khrushchov revisionism to the very end. More than 90 per cent of the people of the world want revolution. We stand firmly on their side, and we shall never be isolated. The ones who are isolated are the handful of imperialists, revisionists and reactionaries who are hostile to the masses, and these are bound to become more and more isolated as time goes on. For 16 years the U.S. imperialists have been pursuing their policy of isolating China, and for a number of years the Khrushchov revisionists have done the same. But the result in both cases is that they have lifted a rock only to crush their own feet. China’s prestige is rising higher and higher and its revolutionary influence is growing greater and greater. We have friends all over the world.

International United Front. We shall unite still more firmly with the people of the countries in the socialist camp, with the people in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with the people of all countries in the world, including the American people, and with all peace-loving countries and all forces opposed to U.S. imperialism, to form a broad international united front and struggle to the very end for the defeat of U.S. imperialism and its lackeys.

In the new year let us hold still higher the great red banner of Mao Tse-tung’s thinking, have the country in our hearts and a world view in our minds, and forge ahead to win new, great victories.



1   The “four firsts” are: First place must be given to man in handling the relationship between man and weapons; to political work in handling the relationship between political and other work; to ideological work in relation to the other aspects of political work; and to living ideas in ideological work.

2   The “three-eight” working style (which in Chinese is written in three phrases and eight additional characters) means firm and correct political orientation; a plain, hard-working style; flexibility in strategy and tactics; and unity, alertness, earnestness and liveliness.

December 31 1965: The Political is the Commander, the Political is the Soul


December 31 1965.  New Year Editorial from Hongqi (Red Flag Magazine, the CCP’s main theoretical outlet). Also reprinted in the People’s Daily.

At play at the time:

This editorial, probably written by Mao’s close ally Chen Boda, strongly advocates putting politics in command, and helps to elucidate this core concept of Mao Zedong thought. It is a not so thinly veiled criticism of the Liu Shaoqi Deng Xiaoping wing of the party who favored a more market oriented approach for the Chinese economy. Hongqi’s editorials will gradually supplant those in the People’s Daily as the primary source for political summations of the Cultural Revolution.

The Political is the Commander, the Political is the Soul

People’s Daily 1965.12.31 Page 1

Red Flag magazine 1966 New Year’s Editorial

1966, A new year begins. In the past year the Chinese people continued to raise high the great red flag of Mao Zedong Thought, giving prominence to politics on every battlefront, as such it was a year of splendid achievements

Comrade Mao Zedong repeatedly instructed us; politics is the commander, the soul in everything “Not to have a correct political orientation is like not having a soul”“Political work is the life-blood of all economic work.”

To give prominence to politics, to put politics in command, is the emphasis of Mao Zedong thought, pragmatically study and use Mao Zedong Thought at the front of all work, and strengthen political work. In every kind of work, if you do this, then you can persist in the correct direction, you can prevail over every difficulty, and achieve remarkable accomplishments. Every time you do not do this or do it badly, then you certainly will not improve, or even follow an evil path. This is a truth repeatedly proven in our practice.

The relation between the  political and  economics, technical work and other services, and what position political work is put in, will impact the success or failure of our revolutionary and constructive policy and line questions.

Proletarian politics, reflects the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. Our work is an integral part of the proletarian revolutionary cause. All work is subordinate to proletarian politics, all work is subordinate to the proletarian political line, and all work is at the service of proletarian politics. If it is not proletarian politics, then it is bourgeois politics. Economic, Military, Cultural, etc., politics that are not subordinate in truth do not exist. In reality, there are no economic politics, military politics, cultural politics, and so on, that are not subordinate. Lenin said: “without a correct political approach to the matter the given class will be unable to stay on top, and, consequently, will be incapable of solving its production problem either.”Thus we must continue to put politics in command, this fundamental principle of Marxism Leninism.

Comparing Political work and Economic work, Political work must come first. Comrade Mao Zedong has always stressed that politics is the concentrated expression of economics. Politics should lead economics, rather than economics leading politics. The so-called viewpoints of “good economy is good politics” and “good production is good politics” are wrong.

Comparing Political work and Military affairs, Political work must come first. The Military is only one tool for completing political tasks. Politics should lead military affairs, rather than military affairs leading politics.

Early in 1929 at the famous Gutian meeting, Comrade Mao Zedong resolved the problem of the relationship between military affairs and politics: Politics leads the military; it is not the other way around. The so-called viewpoint of “good military is good politics” is wrong.

Comparing political work and scientific work, political work must come first. Politics must lead science, rather than science leading politics. The so-called viewpoint of “good science is good politics” is wrong.

You can only arrange the relationship of politics with economics, military affairs, science and technology, and the relationship of political work with business, in this way.

Of course there are contradictions between political work and business. But to resolve this contradiction, we cannot weaken political work, or use the method of squeezing out political work. We can only give prominence to politics, strengthen political work, and place political work in front of professional work, in order to carry out business. By following this course politics can lead business, and allow business to advance.

Comrade Mao Zedong said politics “is the struggle of class against class.”

In our country, who will win the battle of socialism versus capitalism still will have to experience a long historical period. In the world, Marxist Leninists and the revolutionary people are in a serious battle with American imperialists, reactionaries and modern revisions from every country. This is the class struggle on a global scale.

In this situation, raising politics to prominence requires us to always be alert for class enemies internally and externally. On every battlefront we must grasp the class struggle, grasp the battle of the two roads of socialism and capitalism, and implement and carry out the party’s class line. Only by doing this can we advance and consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat, so that our cause can healthily advance along the socialist road, and remain invincible, and more effectively support the revolutionary struggle of the people of the world. If we forget the class struggle, forget the two-line struggle, our work will lose direction, revisionism will arise, capitalism will get the upper hand, and our cause will change appearance.

Comrade Mao Zedong said, “Politics mean class politics, the politics of the masses.” Departing from the mass struggle is not politics.

Now, our fundamental task is to make the socialist revolution to the end, and continuously push forward socialist construction. To accomplish this task, we must mobilize the masses, and rely on the masses. To accomplish this, the most fundamental thing is to arm the people’s minds with Mao Zedong Thought to increase public awareness and mobilize the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses, to make their talents come out, and fully develop the peoples’ role.

Learning and using Mao Zedong thought, revolutionizes people’s thinking, it is the guarantee of good work. The masses of workers and peasants said it well: “Mao Zedong thought arms the people’s minds, makes the people’s hearts red, eyes bright, guts strong (brave), bones hard.” “If you have Mao Zedong thought in your brain, then you will not be scared away by difficulties, or bent aside by snags.” Mao Zedong thought is the greatest weapon and the greatest political power. The people who use the weapons of Mao Zedong thought have the greatest fighting strength.

Under the teachings of Mao Zedong thought have arisen the heoric people of Daqing, and the heroic people of Dazhai, on every battlefront many Lei Fengs have arisen, and communist soldiers such as Wang Jieshi. With self-reliance they struggle arduously and work energetically for the prosperity of the country. They do not fear hardship, they do not fear death. They work wholeheartedly for the revolution; they give everything for the revolution.

No matter what task, no matter what job, they all cherish the motherland, and view the world broadly.

They care about national affairs, party affairs, class affairs, and the affairs of the people, and international affairs. They care the most about politics. They understand the political goal and meaning of their work, and can self-consciously follow general political tasks. They can bring every specific task together with political undertakings, and bring every bit of commonplace work together with communist ideals. The Chinese people’s spirited appearance is the result of Mao Zedong thought being deeply rooted in their hearts.

The material becomes spiritual, and the spiritual can also become material. People’s spirited appearance towards any work has a resolved meaning.

You only need to grasp Mao Zedong thought, and give prominence to politics, and then production will go well, technology will go well, and enterprises will go well. If you do not put politics in the lead then production, technology, and enterprise will not go well. In fact it is like this. Once Mao Zedong thought has been grasped by the great masses of the people then it transforms into a great material force.

Modern revisionists oppose putting politics in command. They advocate “material incentives,” “profit incentives,” “award incentives,” and the development of bourgeois individualist egoism. Lenin once pointed out: Work to make money… this is the ethic of the capitalist world.”(6) Modern Revisionists precisely pursue this sort of ethic of the capitalist world.

A soul of proletarian politics that puts politics in command, or a soul of material incentives that puts individual fame and profit in command, represent two fundamentally opposed world views. Are they two fundamentally opposed political lines? We put forward the political, put politics in front, this is persisting upon the proletarian worldview, opposing the capitalist world view in supporting the Marxist Leninist political line, opposing the revisionist political line.

China’s third five year plan has begun. In the age of the new battle, as long as we continue to put politics in front in all forms of work, and continue to put the living and learning of Mao Zedong thought in the first place  the people will continually revolutionize their thought, and undoubtedly will achieve new and  greater achievements.

① Mao Zedong”On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.” 1957.
② Mao Zedong”Editor’s Notes From Socialist Upsurge In China’s Countryside.” 1948.
Once Again On The Trade Unions,
④⑤ “Talks At The Yenan Forum On Literature And Art.” 1942.
⑥ Lenin” Report on the joint meeting of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.”1918.