Deng Xiaoping (邓小平), a member of the Communist Party of China since his youth, has rendered outstanding service to the Chinese people, throughout the revolution, during the development of the People's Republic and especially in recent years when, after the disastrous "cultural revolution", he succeeded in setting the country on the road to socialist modernization. He has proved to be far-sighted and persevering, a man of quick understanding and decisive action. The contribution he has made to the revolution, his courage as an innovator have earned his the trust of the Chinese people.
In his long career as a revolutionary, Deng has enjoyed many victories and has also been through severe tests. On more than one occasion he was subjected to unjust attack simply because he refused to abandon correct views. this, however, only increase the respect in which he was held, and ultimately he became the nation's chief policy-maker. The collective leadership which he headed had ushered China into a new historical period.
At the turn of the century the Chinese nation was groaning in misery. Under the leadership of Dr. Sun Yat-sen a resolution was brewing, and the country was on the eve of radical changes, It was in this turbulent time that Deng Xiaoping was born.
Deng's birthplace was Paifang Village in Xiexing Township, Guang'an County, in the province of Sichuan. His childhood home was a traditional compound with one-storied housed surrounding a courtyard on three sides. It was in these tree-shaded, tile-roofed buildings that his forefathers had lived for three generations and that Deng Xixian -- the future Deng Xiaoping -- was born on August 22,1904.
his father, Deng Wenming, had studied at the Chengdu School of Law and Political Science during the last Xiaoping's mother, Dan by her family name, died early, leaving behind the eldest son Deng Xiaoping, his three younger brothers, an elder sister and two younger sisters.
At five the boy entered and old-fashioned private pre-school, at seven a modern primary school and in due course a middle school in his native county. It happened that in 1919, on the proposal of Wu Yuzhang, a member of the Chongqing to prepare young people to go to France on a work-study program. After passing the entrance examinations, the boy was enrolled in the school.
In his teens Deng Xiaoping already had some simple patriotic ideas. After the may 4th Movement of 1919, he joined his schoolmate in a boycott of Japanese goods. But his understanding did not go beyond the slogan "save the country by industrialization", an idea popular among students at the time. His ardent hope was to go to France to learn industrial skills through work and study for the benefit of the country.
In the summer of 1920, Deng Xiaoping graduated from the Chongqing Preparatory School, filled with fervent hopes, he and 80 schoolmates boarded a ship for France (traveling steerage) and in October arrived in Marseilles. Deng, the youngest of all the Chinese students, had just turned 16.
Things did not turn our as he had hoped. He found that he had to spend most of his time working, and at the most unskilled jobs. Two months after his arrival he began to do odd jobs at the Le Creusot Iron and Steel Plant in central France. Later he worked as a fitter in the Renault factory in the Paris suburb of Billancourt, as a fireman on locomotive and as a kitchen helper in restaurants. He barely earned enough to survive. He attended middle schools briefly in Bayeux and Chatillon.
It was shortly after the end of World War I, and the European countries had not yet recovered from the devastation. In France job-hunting was especially difficult because of the depressed economy. Even those Chinese students who were fortune enough to find jobs in big factories were paid only half the wages of the ordinary French workers. Worse still, at this time Deng Xiaoping's family could no longer afford to send him money, so he had to scrape along on his own. His high hopes of studying abroad were crushed by the grim reality.
But new ideas were taking strong hold of the young man. Thanks to the October Revolution in Russia, the workers' movement in France was gaining momentum, and Marxism and other schools of socialist thought were winning more and more adherents. A number of ideologically advanced Chinese students were starting to accept Marxism and take the revolutionary road. Under the influence of his seniors, Zhao Shiyan, Zhou Enlai and others, Deng began to study Marxism and do political propaganda work. In1992 he joined the Communist Party of Chinese Youth in Europe (later the name was changed to the Chinese Socialist Youth League in Europe). In the second half of 1924 he joined the Chinese Communist Party and became one of the leading members of the General Branch of the Youth League in Europe. When he worked in Lyons the following year, the Party organization appointed him special representative to the Lyons Area Party Branch, where he directed the Party and League work as well as the Chinese workers' movement.
During the five years he spent in France, from age 16 to 21, Deng Xiaoping was transformed from a patriotic youth into a Marxist. It was the beginning of his revolutionary career. The Chinese Socialist Youth League in Europe published a mimeographed magazine, the Red Light, designed to help the Chinese comrades in France, Belgium and Germany to study theory. Deng not only co-edited and wrote articles for the journal but also cut stencils and did the mimeographing.
At about this time groups of Chinese Communist Party and Youth League members in Europe were going to the Soviet Union to study. In early 1926 Deng Xiaoping left France for Moscow. At first he entered the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, but shortly afterwards he transferred to the Sun Yat-sen University. Named after the pioneer if the Chinese revolution, this university was intended to train personnel for the revolution. In China, meanwhile, a united front had been formed between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. Inspired by Dr. Sun's policy of alliance with Russia, co-operation with the Communist Party and assistance to peasants and workers, large numbers of Chinese young people with lofty ideals were arriving at the university to study. Today, Deng Xiaoping still remembers the two youngest students in his class -- Feng Funeng, the eldest daughter of Feng Yuxiang, and Jiang Jingguo (Chiang Chingkuo), the eldest son of Chiang Kai-shek.
Deng spent a year at the Sun Yat-sen University, reading books and studying the basic theories of Marxism-Leninism. At this time Feng Yuexiang, commander of the National Army in northwest China, arrived in the Soviet Union. He was preparing to join in the national revolution in China, so he asked the Communist International to send a number of its Chinese comrades to work in his army. Deng was one of the score of people selected. Traversing the deserts of Mongolia, he arrived in his homeland in the spring of 1927.
After six ears abroad, Deng Xiaoping was no longer the naive young man he had been before he left China. He was now a staunch revolutionary with a basic understanding of Marxism-Leninism and some experience of practical struggle.
The Early Years After the Return
Deng returned on the eve of the breakdown of co-operation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, and the political situation was unstable. It was under these circumstances that in March 1927 he accepted the Party's assignment to go to Xi'an and work at the Sun Yat-sen Military and political Academy. This was the first place where he carried out revolutionary activities in China. The Academy was officially under the general headquarters of Feng Yuxiang's National United Army; actually, however, it had been established by Liu Bojian and several other Communists. Deng Xiaoping served as Chief of the Political Section and political instructor and Secretary of the Communist Party organization in the Academy. The Academy trained a number of political aware junior officers as well as Party and political cadres. It sent some of its graduated to the Political cadres. It sent some of its graduated to the Political Security Corps of the Shaanxi Command of the National United Army, thus gradually building a Communist-led corps of revolutionaries within the army and laying the foundation for the communist-led uprising that took place in Weinan and Huaxian in Shaanxi in April and May 1928. Some future generals of the Northern Shaanxi Red Army were also graduated of the Academy.
In April 1927 an abrupt change occurred in China's political situation. In June Feng Yexiang ordered all the Communists in his army to assemble in Kaifeng in neighboring Henan Province to receive "training". Actually, this was only a pretext to get rid of them. Acting on Party instructions. Deng Xiaoping left Xi'an for Hankou in Hubei Province, where the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party was located.
In Hankou he worked as a secretary for the central Committee. In the meantime, the political situation continued to deteriorate. Before long the Kuomintang government in Wuhan was openly attacking the Communist party. A grim reign of White terror descended on the country, forcing the Communist Party underground. It was at this time that Deng Xixian changed his name to Deng Xiaoping. On August 7 the Central Committee held an emergency meeting as a non-voting delegate. After the Central Committee secretly moved to Shanghai, the 23-year-old Deng was appointed chief secretary of the Central Committee, in charge of the general headquarters' documents, confidential work, communications and financial affairs. In June 1928, when the Party held its Sixth Congress in Moscow, he stayed behind to help Li Weihan and Ren Bishi, who had been left in charge of day-to-day affairs at headquarters.
Building the Seventh and Eighth Armies of the Red Army
After Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Jingwei staged successive counter-revolutionary soups, the once-dynamic Great Revolution ended in failure. To save the revolution, the Communist Party launched a series of armed uprisings against the reactionary Kuomintang regime. In the summer of 1929 Li Mingrui and Yu Zuobo, who had just taken control of military and political power in Guangxi to direct the work of the local Party organizations and prepare for an armed uprising. This was the first time that Deng was independently undertaking the important responsibility of leading a region.
In Nanning Deng Xiaoping made contact with Yu Zuobo and Li Minrui under the alias of Deng Bin and began building revolutionary forces. In October Yu and Li's campaign against Chiang was defeated. Deng and Zhang Yunyi pulled the three Communist-controlled detachments out Nanning and led them to the Zuojiang and Youjiang areas. By the end of the month Deng was appointed Secretary of the Guangxi Front-line Committee of the Chinese Community Party. In December, together with Zhang Yunyi and Wei Baqun, he launched the Bose Uprising, founding the Youjiang Soviet Government and the Seventh Army of the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army and Secretary of its Front-line Committee. In February of the following year, along with Li Mingrui and Yu Zuoyu, he launched the Longzhou Uprising , creating the Zuojiang Soviet Government and the Eighth Army and serving as its Political Commissar. In the same month Deng returned secretly to Shanghai to report to the Central Committee. The Committee officially appointed Li Mingrui General Commander of both the Seventh and Eighth Armies and Deng Xiaoping their Political Commissar. In the Youjiang area they mobilized the masses to expropriate local tyrants, distribute land, carry out agrarian revolution and establish revolutionary governments at various levels. As a result, the local Red Army forces were expended to cover some 29 countries with a population totaling more than one million. thus the Youjiang area became one of the largest revolutionary bases.
At this time, however, the leaders of the Central Committee made some "Left" errors. In October 1930 a representative of the Committee came to Guangxi to push the Li Lisan line, asserting that a nationwide revolutionary high tide had set in. He accordingly ordered the Seventh Army (with which the Eighth Army had already been merged, after suffering military setbacks) to leave the base area immediately and to fight its way to Liuzhou, Guiling and Guangzhou. Deng Xiaoping doubted the possibility of taking these cities and expressed his disagreement. Nevertheless, most of his comrades maintained that they should obey the representative's instructions, and Deng was therefore obliged to act accordingly. Eventually, owing to repeated defeats and heavy losses, the Army had to give up the plan of attacking the big cities.
After the representative of the Central Committee left, the Army, now reduced to less than ,000 men, was reorganized. The Front-line Committee decided to move the troops to Jiangxi Province to join the Red Army forces in the Central Revolutionary Base Area there. After the Seventh Army took the seat of Chongyi County in Jiangxi in February 1931, the Front-line Committee sent Deng to Shanghai to report to the Central Committee. In Shanghai he wrote a report in which he described in detail how things stood in the Seventh Army and analyzed the lessons they had learned from their uprisings.
Before and After the Long March
In the summer of 1931, with the approval of the Central Committee, Deng Xiaoping went to the Central revolutionary Base Area in southern Jiangxi and western Fujian, Fierce fighting was still going on there, as the Red Army was trying on smash Chiang Kai-shek's third "encirclement and suppression" campaign.
Before long Deng assumed the post of Party Committee Secretary of Ruijin County, which was adjacent to the Central Revolutionary Base Area. The first thing he did was to rehabilitate the cadres and ordinary people who had previously been wronged and called a Soviet congress to discuss the work of the county, thus arousing the people's enthusiasm and vastly improving the situation. In the winter of 1932 he was appointed Secretary of the Party Committee of Huichang, a key county, and began directing the work in the three countries of Huichang, Xunwu and Anyuan. Six months later he was transferred to the Jiangxi Provincial Party Committee as Director of its Propaganda Department.
Just at this point, the provisional central leadership, which had been following the line of "Left" adventuresome, moved its headquarters from Shanghai to the Central Revolutionary Base Area. Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zetan, Xie Weijun and Gu Bo, following the correct line represented by Ma Zedong, had all along been acting in accordance with the actual circumstances. They opposed the theory of "making cities the centre of the Chinese revolution" and advocated building strength in the vast rural areas, where the enemy's forces were relatively weak. They rejected military adventuresome in favor of luring the enemy in deep. They were against expanding the Red Army's main forces at the expense of local armed forces and urged that both be expanded simultaneously. They opposed the "Left" land-distribution policy which would have left former middle and rich peasants destitute. In view of these disagreements, the provisional central leadership waged a struggle against them. Deng was removed from the post of Director of the Propaganda Department of the Jiangxi Provincial Party Committee and given the most serious warning. Soon he was sent to the Nancun District Party Committee in outlying Le'an County to work as an ordinary inspector.
However, Wang Jiaxiang, Director of the General Political Department of the Red Army, and Luo Ronghuan, Director of the Organization Division, knew Deng Xiaoping well. They sent him to the General Political Department to serve as its secretary-general. Soon afterwards he was assigned to work in the Propaganda Division of the Department, where he was made editor-in-chief of the official organ Red Star. This journal, which offered both news and articles on a variety of subjects, never ceased publication throughout the war years. It was hailed as the "Red Army's instructor on Party work"
In October 1934, because of the failure of the fifth campaign against "encirclement and suppression", the Central Red Army was forced to begin the Long March. Deng Xiaoping took the post of chief secretary of the Central Committee for the second tine and attended the Zunyi Meeting, and event that marked a turning point in the history of the Party. After the First and the Fourth Front Armies of the Red Army joined forces, he became Chief of the Propaganda Division of the First Army Group's Political department. After arriving in northern Shaanxi, he took part in the Red Army's Eastern Expedition to neighbouring Shanxi Province. After the conclusion of the expedition he became Deputy and then Director of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.
During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression
In 1937 the Japanese imperialists launched a full-scale war of aggression against China. In the interest of the whole nation, the Chinese Communist Party worked hard to bring about a second period of co-operation with the Kuomintang, thus achieving nationwide unity in resistance. In accordance with the agreement between the two sides, the Chinese Workers' and Peasant' Red Army was reorganized as the Eighth Route Army of the national Revolutionary Army and marched to the front. Deng Xiaoping was appointed Deputy Director of the Political Department of the eighth Route Army and, shortly afterwards, Political Commissar of its 129th Division, of which Liu Bocheng was commander.
The 129th Division drove deep into the rear of the Japanese-occupied areas, established itself in the Tailing Mountains and spread out towards the plains. Bordering on the three provinces of Shanxi, Hebei and Henan, this mountain range, known in ancient times as " the ridge of the earth", had long been a strategic region contested by rival armies in north China. High and perilous, it was easy to defend but difficult to attack. After consolidating their positions in the Tailing Mountains, Deng Xiaoping and Liu Bocheng divided their troops into small detachments to mobilize the masses, organize anti-Japanese armed forces and set up local democratic governments. Having established an anti-Japanese base in the Shanxi-Hebei-Henan border area, they led their troops east across the Beiping-Hankou Railway into the southern Hebei plains, where they established the Southern Hebei Anti-Japanese Base Area. At the same time they set up the Taiyue and Hebei-Shangdong-Henan base areas.
When the war entered a stalemate, changes took place within the anti-Japanese camp. Some diehard reactionaries in the Kuomintang began to create friction behind enemy lines, attacking Eighth Route Army encampments and killing officers and men. The Eighth Route Army was this placed in the dangerous position of being caught between two fires. In December 1939 the Kuomintang diehards launched the first anti-Communist onslaught: the troops under Zhu Huaibing, commander of the Kuomintang's 97th Army, mounted large-scale offensive against the Taihang Mountain region where the General headquarters of the Eighth Route Army and the 129th division were located. In March 1940, driven beyond the limits of forbearance, Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping ordered their troops to rise in counter-attack, and in four days of fighting and with co-ordinated efforts of the troops from the Shanxi-Qahar-Hebei Military Command, they wiped out Zhu Huaibing's whole army and a number of miscellaneous troops. or a total of 10,000 men. The defeat of this Kuomintang onslaught enabled the Eighth Route Army to concentrate on fighting the Japanese aggressors and building up its base areas in the enemy's rear. Beginning in August 1940, liu and Deng, with 38 regiments under their command (not including local forces), participated in the" Hundred- Regiment Campaign". Fighting 529 operations, big and small, they dealt heavy blows to the Japanese and puppet troops and greatly strengthened the whole nation's confidence in victory.
In 1941 the war of resistance behind enemy lines in north China entered the most difficult stage, when the Japanese troops concentrated their attacks on the rear. They launched a campaign to "tighten public security" there, adopted a "burn all, kill all, loot all" policy and built a network of blockhouses to encircle the army and people of the base areas. For several years on end the enemy's incessant "mopping-up" operations, together with natural calamities, placed the base areas in an extremely difficult position. In September 1942, in addition to his post of Political Commissar of the 129th Division, Deng was appointed Secretary of the Taihang sub-Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. In October 1943, when Peng dehuai, Acting Secretary of the Northern Bureau of the Central Committee, and Liu Bocheng returned to Yan'an to tale part in the Party's rectification movements, Deng replaced Peng as Acting Secretary. In that capacity he was in charge of the work of the General Headquarters of the Eighth Route Army and bore responsibility for leading the struggle of the army and people in the base areas behind enemy lines. Employing the tactic of advancing when the enemy advanced, he launched guerrilla operations against the enemy-occupied areas and especially against communication lines. Under his command the army smashed a series of ruthless "mopping-up" operations by the Japanese and puppet troops. He led the army and the people of the whole region in successful efforts to build up Party organizations, armed units and local governments, to conduct a Party rectification movement, to secure fewer and better troops and simpler administration, to reduce rents and interest rates and to launch a large-scale production campaign.
With intimate knowledge of the actual conditions, Deng Xiaoping wrote many articles and speeches full of original ideas, demonstrating his ability as a strategist to grasp the overall situation and tackle complex problems. He put forward a series of specific policies and tactics for struggle against the enemy and enunciated the far-sighted principle of accumulating strength by all possible means to prepare for a strategic counter-offensive and for reconstruction after the war. A a meeting held by the Party School of the Northern Bureau of the Central Committee to mobilize party members for the rectification movement, he delivered a speech in which he gave a high evaluation to the Party's leader Mao Zedong, systematically explained Mao Zedong Thought -- Marxism-Leninism as applied to conditions in China-and declared that the Party should take it as a guide.
During the anti-Japanese war Deng returned to Yan'an briefly on three occasions: in September 1938 to attend the Enlarged Sixth Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee; in July 1939 to attend the enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and to marry Zhuo Lin (a revolutionary comrade working there) in August; and in June 1945 to attend the First Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee, to which he had just been elected.
For 13 long years of war Deng Xiaoping and Liu Bocheng worked in close co-operation, and the two became fast friends. Later, Deng Xiaoping said: "People used to say that Liu and Deng were inseparable, and we did feel inseparable in our hearts. It was always a great pleasure for me to work and fight alongside Bocheng."
After the surrender of Japan in August 1945, the Kuomintang reactionaries, in defiance of the strong desire of the entire nation for peace and reconstruction, launched a large-scale civil war with the intention of eliminating the Communist Party and the revolutionary forces under its leadership. Under the command of Mao Zedong, the army and the people in the liberated areas rose in resistance. This was the War of Liberation, a war of decisive importance in the history of China's democratic revolution.
Before launching all-out civil war, Chiang Kai-shek engaged in peace negotiations with the Communist Party, While at the same time stepping up war preparations and provoking incessant local fighting. At that time Deng Xiaoping was Secretary of the Shanxi-Hebei-Shandong-Henan Bureau of the Central Committee and concurrently Political Commissar of the Shanxi-Hebei-shandong-Henan Military Command, of which Liu Bocheng was commander. Located in the central plains and crossed by the Beiping-Hankou, Tianjin-Pukou and Datong-Puzhou railways, the Shanxi-Hebei-Shandong-Henan Liberated Area was of great strategic importance, as it blocked the Kuomintang troops' advance towards the liberated areas of north and northeast China. Accordingly, this area became the Kuomintang's first target.
In September 1945 Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping directed the famous Battle of Shangdang, in the changzhi area in southeastern Shanxi. In this battle their troops defeated all the 13 divisions of Yan Xishan's army, numbering more than 35,000, which had intruded into the Shanxi-Hebei-Shandong-Henan Liberated Area. Having thus consolidated their rear, they immediately marched east to intercept the Kuomintang troops that were advancing north along the Beiping-Hankou railway. At the Battle of Handan they routed two enemy armies and won over another, putting out of action a total of more than 40,000 Kuomintang army's attack on the liberated areas, greatly strengthened the position of the Communist Party in the negotiations in Chongqing and played an important part in hastening a cease-fire agreement.
In June 1946 the Kuomintang tore up the cease-fire agreement and launched all-out civil war. The main force of the Shanxi-Hebei-Shandong-Henan Field Army commanded by Liu and Deng engaged in mobile warfare on both sides of the Longhai Railway. Advancing and withdrawing over great distances, they fought nine big engagements in quick succession, at Longhai, Dingtao, Juye and other places, annihilating large numbers of Kuomintang effective.
The situation was still grave when the War of Liberation entered its second year. The Kuomintang army, though greatly weakened, was still nearly twice as large as the People's Liberation Army and vastly superior in arms and equipment. In an attempt to take the war deep into the liberated areas, it was making heavy attacks on key points in Shandong and northern Shaanxi. In light of the new overall situation, the Communist Party led by Mao Zedong decided to pass immediately from strategic defense to strategic offense, without waiting to have smashed the enemy attack and gained superiority over the Kuomintang. Focusing its attack on the Central Plains, where the enemy was weak, and shifting to exterior-line operations, the PAL would thrust directly to the enemy's rear, hoping to bring about a strategic change in the war situation.
According to the Central Committee's plan, it was the main force of the Shanxi-Hebei-Shandong-Henan Field Army under the command of Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping that was to carry out this crucial mission. At the end of June 1947, in a surprise move, Liu and Deng, with an army of 120,000, crossed the dangerous Huanghe (Yellow River) and entered southwestern Shandong. In 28 days of continuous fighting they routed 56,000 enemy troops, thus clearing the way for their march south. They decided that instead of leaving contingents behind to secure each city they took, they would press forward by forced marches. In 20-odd days, despite blocking and pursuit by hundreds of thousands of enemy troops, they crossed the Longhai railway and covered a distance of 500 kilometers, traversing the marshy 15-kilometer floodplain of the Huanghe, wading the Shahe, Ruhe and Huaihe rivers and finally reaching the Dabie Mountains on the borders of Hubei, Henan and Anhui provinces.
From their position in the Dabie Mountains north of the Changjiang (Yangtze River), the enemy under Liu and Deng posed a direct threat to the vast Kuomintang areas south of the river, including Nanjing in the east and Wuhan in the west. The Kuomintang was obliged to assemble its main forces to defend the area and encircled the Dabie Mountain region with 30 bridges numbering 200,000 men. The troops under Liu and Deng were exhausted from continuous marching and fighting and were unfamiliar with the terrain. Furthermore, since they had only just arrived in the new area, they had no time to set up local governments and mobilize the people, so they were short of food, clothing and ammunition. Liu Bocheng took command of part of the force and broke through the encirclement to build new base areas along the western reaches of the Huaihe River, while Deng Xiaoping and Li Xiannian, Deputy Commander of the Central Plains Military Command, were left to command a crack force whose task was to continue stubborn resistance in the mountains. Calling on the soldiers to be selfless, Deng said that there were two loads to be selfless, Deng said that there were two loads to be carried, and one was heavier than the other. If they in the Dabie Mountains carried the heavier load, other armies another regions would be able to destroy large numbers of enemy troops and carry out intensive work among the masses, which would be greatly to the general advantage. They should therefore hold on firmly, no matter how weak they became and what hardships they had to endure. Sharing the hardest conditions with their men, Deng and Li maneuvered in the mountain gullies day and night, often on empty stomachs. They divided their forces into smaller units, some to deal with the enemy's local "peace preservation corps" and others to engage in grassroots political work. If a large enemy force was approaching, they would concentrate part of their troops to attack it. Meantime, they mobilized the people to struggle against despotic feudal landlords and organized local armed forces and militia, thus establishing a solid base in the Dabie Mountains.
In the end, the repeated "suppression" operations conducted by massive Kuomintang forces were defeated. Deployed in a triangle in the middle of the Changjiang, Huaihe, Huanghe and Hanshui rivers three armies-the one led by Liu and Deng and two field armies newly arrived in the south, one led by Chen Yi and Su Yu, the other by Chen Geng and Xie Fuzhi-pinned down some 90 of the more than 160 brigades of enemy troops stationed on the southern front. They pushed the battle line south from the Huanghe to the north bank of the Changjiang and made the Central Plains, which had served as the rear of the Kuomintang troops in their offensives on the liberated areas, the base from which the PLA would advance to nationwide victory. This was a success of great strategic importance. In May 1984 the Central Committee appointed Deng Xiaoping First Secretary of its Central Plains Bureau and Political Commissar of the Central Plains Military Command.
With the launching of the successive Liaoxi-Shenyang, Huai-Hai and Beiping-Tianjin campaigns, the War of Liberation finally entered decisive stage.
In November 1948 the Huai-Hai Campaigns began. It was to last 65 days.
The battlefield of the Huai-Hai Campaign, centered on Xuzhou, covered a wide area, from the shores of the Yellow Sea in the east to the borders of Henan and Anhui provinces in the west, and from the areas along the Longhai Railway in the north to the Huaihe River in the south. For the Communist-led forces, this enemy-occupied area constituted a barrier to the Changjiang and to Nanjing, the capital of the Kuomintang government. After the fall of Jinan, the Kuomintang government drew back its forces and assembled in the Xuzhou area all the best troops on the southern front that were operating under its direct control-five armies and the troops from three pacification zones, totaling 800,000 men.
On the PLA side, seven columns of the Central Plains Field Army (later named the Second Field Army), 16 columns of the East China Field Army (later named the Third Field Army) and some local armed forces, or a total of 600,000 men, participated in this decisive campaign. They were supported by 5.4 million volunteer laborers, who-using carts, wheelbarrows, shoulder-poles, boats, and any other means at hand -transported 200,000 tons of grain and 7,000 tons of ammunition and other military materiel. At this point, it was truly a people's war. Deng Xiaoping was appointed Secretary of the General Front-line Committee, which was to command both the Central Plains Field Army and the East China Field Army and to take charge of everything at the front. The other members of the Committee were Liu Bocheng, Chen Yi, Su Yu and Tan Zhenlin. Deng and his fellow commanders made prudent dispositions in accordance with the strategy outlined by the Central Committee and with the policy decisions of Mao Zedong. Once operational plans were decided upon, Deng was to help organize their execution and to share command at the front.
In the Huai-Hai Campaign the Kuomintang had more troops than the PLA and enjoyed an even greater superiority in arms and equipment. For this reason, the PLA adopted the basic tactic of repeatedly isolating segments of the enemy's main force and annihilating them one by one by concentrating a superior force. At the outset of the campaign the two armies led by He Jifeng and Zhang Kexia, deputy commanders of the Third Pacification Zone of the Kuomintang army, who were actually underground Communist Party members, who were actually underground Communist Party members, suddenly revolted on the battlefront. The main force of the East China Field Army poured through this opening in the enemy defenses to block the retreat of the army commanded by Huang Botao, which was moving towards Xuzhou from east of the Grand Canal, and tightly encircle it the Nianzhuang area,. After this, the General Front-line Committee, again on its own proposal with the approval of the Military Commission, moved the Central Plains Field Army to the rear of the enemy and took by surprise Suxian County along the Tianjin-Pukou Railway, a place of strategic significance. By so doing they severed communications between Xuzhou and its rear, isolating the large number of Kuomintang troops massed around the city and cutting off their retreat. After wiping out Huang Botao's army, the General Front-line Committee made another suggestion: next they should eliminate Huang Wei's army of reinforcements, which had come a long way from southern Henan, was cut off from support and was suffering from fatigue and shortage of food. The Military Commission promptly agreed to this plan and gave Liu, Chen and Deng authority of make decisions in emergency situations without seeking approval from the Commission. Accordingly, supported by a part of the East China Field Army, the main force of the Central Plains Field Army besieged Huang Wei's crack units in the Shuangduiji area between the Huihe and Guohe rivers, and in some 20 days of fierce fighting annihilated them. Then the East China Field Army pressed on to defeat the three armies led by Qiu Qingquan, Li Mi and Sun Yuanliang, which had managed to break out of the siege of Xuzhou and to flee west. Thus the Huai-Hai Campaign ended in complete victory.
Through 65 days of fighting the PLA had finally triumphed, wiping out 555,000 enemy troops. (Speaking about the campaign later, Mao Zedong once said facetiously to commanders of the campaign, "The Huai-Hai Campaign was well fought-it was like a pot of half-cooked rice, but bit by bit you managed to choke it down.") By this time the Kuomintang's crack troops on the southern front had been wiped out, the road to Nanjing was open and the collapse of the reactionary regime was imminent.
In April 1949 the General Front-line Committee, still with Deng serving as its Secretary and commanding the Second and Third Field Armies, directed the crossing of the Changjiang. Breaking through the line of defense painstakingly constructed by the Kuomintang over 500 kilometres from Jiujiang (Jiangxi Province) in the west to Jiangyin (Jiangsu Province) in the east, the mighty force,
one million strong, fought its way across the Changjiang and went on to liberate Nanjing and Shanghai and the vast areas of Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces. The liberation of Nanjing signaled the collapse of the Kuomintang government. On the eve of this vast operation, Deng Xiaoping had received another appointment: he had been made First Secretary of the East China Bureau and placed in charge of taking over the east China region, the power base of the Kuomintang.
When the People's Republic of China was proclaimed on October 1, 1949, Deng attended the grand inauguration ceremony in Beijing. Soon afterwards he joined his comrades-in-arms and set out to liberate the Great Southwest of China.