Speech at a Ceremony Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Victory of the Long March
October 21, 2016
Today, we are gathered here to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Long March by the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army.
The Long March took place at a dark time in Chinese history, a time when China had been reduced to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal country, when crisis lurked in all corners, and when the Japanese aggressors brutally invaded our lands. The reactionary Kuomintang (KMT), ignoring the peril of the nation, launched a series of large-scale “encirclement and eradication” campaigns in an attempt to wipe out the revolutionary bases of the Communist Party of China (CPC). This was a critical moment for the CPC and the Red Army, for China’s revolution, and for the Chinese nation.
In the face of this life-or-death challenge, the first, second, and fourth front armies of the Red Army, accompanied by the 25th Red Army, carried out the great Long March, which lasted from October 1934 to October 1936. Under the leadership of the CPC, the Red Army displayed extraordinary wisdom and immense bravery. Surmounting all manner of adversities and enduring great sacrifices, it marched to a victory that stunned the world and went down in history. The victory of the Long March marked the total failure of the KMT’s attempts to annihilate the CPC and the Red Army. It marked the successful strategic retreat of the CPC and Red Army to northern China, where they carried national hope for resistance against Japanese aggression. It marked a great turning point for the CPC and China’s revolution, putting them on the path to victory. And it marked the beginning of a new advance by the CPC to liberate the Chinese people and achieve national independence.
This was an earth-shaking revolutionary feat. It was a magnificent epic written by the CPC and Red Army, and a great milestone on the Chinese nation’s historic path to rejuvenation.
On behalf of the CPC Central Committee, the State Council, and the Central Military Commission, as well as the entire Party, military, and people of all ethnic groups in China, I hereby pay my highest respects to Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Zhu De, and all the other veteran revolutionaries who led the Red Army to this great historical accomplishment; to the soldiers of the Red Army who fought bitterly during the Long March and who continued fighting in various parts of the country; to the people of all ethnic groups who aided the Red Army on its Long March, especially those in revolutionary bases; and to all those veterans of the Red Army who are still with us today.
Now, let us stand and observe a moment of silence for all the martyrs of the revolution who laid down their lives during the Long March and in revolutionary struggles across the country.
Looking back at that bitter yet glorious period 80 years ago, we can appreciate even more profoundly that the Long March was an enormously significant event in the history of our Party, our country, and our military, one that has had a far-reaching influence on the history of the Chinese nation.
– A great journey, the Long March was built on ideals and beliefs.
Lofty ideals and strong beliefs will forever be the political soul of Chinese Communists. From the day it was founded, the CPC established communism as its greatest ideal, and it has never ceased in its efforts to lead the Chinese people towards this great ideal. The CPC and Red Army experienced many setbacks, but they always fought on. They endured all manner of adversities, but these tests only made them stronger. This was because their great ideal and revolutionary beliefs always remained strong, and always burned brightly in their hearts.
During the Long March, the heroic Red Army fought bitterly at the Xiangjiang River, made four crossings at the Chishui River, ingeniously crossed the Jinsha River, and fought their way across the Dadu River. It seized the Luding Bridge, fought ferociously at Dushu Town, captured Baozuo, and trekked through the Wumeng Mountains. Covering 12,500 kilometers of land across more than 10 provinces, the Red Army repelled more than 1 million enemy troops bent on pursuing it and blocking its path; conquered snow-capped mountain ranges and the thin air of high altitudes; and crossed desolate marshlands and grasslands with no signs of human life. As the Red Army’s main force carried out the Long March, the Red Army and guerilla units that stayed behind in base areas endured the most grueling of conditions to wage a guerilla fight with the support of local people. In the northwest, Red Army forces founded the Shaanxi-Gansu Revolutionary Base. Joining forces with the 25th Army, which had previously arrived in northern Shaanxi, they thwarted a large-scale “encirclement and eradication” attempt by the enemy, thus creating conditions for the CPC Central Committee to establish the base of China’s revolution in the northwest of the country. Meanwhile, the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army, CPC organizations that continued to operate in KMT-controlled areas, and various other forces under the leadership of the CPC also carried out their own bitter struggles, making an unforgettable contribution to the success of the Long March.
The Long March was a triumph for the ideals and the beliefs of Chinese Communists. As the poem reads, “Their bones hardened by the wind and rain that penetrated their clothes; their will tempered by the wild greens that eased their hunger. Officers and soldiers endured the bitterness together, their revolutionary ideals rising above all else.” On that perilous trek through wind and rain, it was the lofty ideals and strong beliefs of the Red Army that spurred and guided them forward. For every 300 meters travelled by the First Front Red Army on its 12,500-kilometer trek, an average of one soldier laid down his life. The Long March was like a red ribbon, dyed red by the blood of countless Red Army soldiers. Hardships could maim them, death could take their life, but no force on this earth could shake Chinese Communists’ ideals and beliefs.
The Long March owed its success to the heroism and revolutionary spirit of the Red Army, who overcame all enemies and conquered all difficulties instead to succumbing to them. The Long March proclaimed to all China, and the whole world, that the CPC and Red Army under its leadership were armed with Marxism and committed to the ideal of communism. The bitter, tortuous, and perilous experiences of the Long March tested the ideals and beliefs of Chinese Communists, proving to the world that these convictions could not be shattered.
– A great journey, the Long March was a test of truth.
Truth can only be tested and confirmed through practice. During the Long March, the Red Army was pursued and obstructed relentlessly by a brutal enemy, endured extremely harsh natural conditions, and even faced intense ideological conflict with erroneous thinking within the CPC. But rather than weakening the CPC and Red Army, the Long March actually made them stronger. This was because the CPC had found the right path for the Chinese revolution, and the right theory to navigate this path.
During the Long March, the CPC Central Committee convened the Zunyi Meeting, a critical turning point in the history of the CPC. This meeting established Mao Zedong as the leader of the Red Army and the CPC Central Committee. It also began the establishment of the correct Marxist line, represented by Mao Zedong, in the CPC Central Committee, and began the formation of CPC’s first generation of collective leadership, with Mao Zedong at the core. These events were instrumental in leading the CPC and China’s revolution out of danger and towards new promise.
The victory of the Long March made the CPC realize that only by integrating the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism with the realities of China’s revolution, and resolving the major issues of China’s revolution autonomously, could it guide the revolution towards victory. This was a truth that the CPC learnt at the cost of blood, through the test of its many struggles.
The victory of the Long March brought about the unprecedented unity of the entire CPC and Red Army on the basis of seeking and upholding truth. Without this great ideological and political unity, China’s revolution could not have succeeded. Tempered by the Long March, the CPC matured in its way of thinking, becoming the central pillar of the Chinese people’s resistance against Japanese aggression, and the central force in the ultimate victory of China’s revolution.
– A great journey, the Long March saw the awakening of the people.
The Red Army was victorious because it had the support of the people. With no precedent in recorded history, the Long March issued a manifesto, spread a message, and planted a seed. As the opposing forces of good and evil clashed, and a choice had to be made between light and dark, the CPC rooted itself deep among the people, connecting with them, conveying its message to them, arming them, uniting them, and relying on them. Using its own exemplary actions, the CPC won the genuine support of the people, who became an endless fountain of strength for the victory of the Long March.
During the Long March, the CPC called on the entire nation to unite in resistance against Japanese aggression. Spurring the formation of the united national front, the Long March, like a clarion call, awakened the Chinese nation from its slumber, channeling formidable strength into a united stand against the invading Japanese aggressors. The people realized that the CPC was a party that stood for the people; that the Red Army was the people’s army and the real resistance against Japanese aggression; and that the path pointed out by the CPC was the path that would lead the Chinese people to liberation.
The victory of the Long March spread CPC’s message. It planted the seeds of the revolution, expanded the influence of the CPC and the Red Army, and solidified CPC’s close ties with the people, allowing the CPC to strike its roots deeply among them.
The victory of the Long March fully demonstrated the power of CPC’s nature and mission. It showed that the CPC had to take root and grow among the people, and that it had to rely closely on the people in order to overcome difficulties and claim victory.
– A great journey, the Long March ushered in a new era.
The victory of the Long March marked the triumph of a direction and a path. The Long March was not only a process of overcoming an enemy, clinching a victory, and achieving a strategic goal, but was also a process of developing new theories and exploring a revolutionary path on the basis of actual conditions. Before the Long March, owing to the mistaken leadership of “Leftist” dogmatists within the CPC, the failure of the Central Revolutionary Base to repel the KMT’s fifth “encirclement and eradication” campaign, and the setbacks suffered in other revolutionary bases, China’s revolution had come to a crossroads, and a path forward had to be chosen. Faced with treacherous waters and fierce storms, our Party demonstrated great pioneering spirit and creativity, fearlessly reinvigorating itself as it withstood all manner of tests. Through blood and fire, it paved a revolutionary path that would lead it to rebirth and victory.
During the Long March, through its tireless searching, the CPC was able to link its own fight for survival with the fight to save the nation, and link the overall direction of the Long March with the establishment of a forward position against Japanese aggression. In doing so, it shifted from a revolutionary fight within China to a national war of resistance against Japanese aggression, thus laying down a solid foundation for the Chinese people’s victory in the war of resistance and in turn the victory of the New Democratic Revolution.
The victory of the Long March not only preserved the revolutionary forces, but also gave the CPC a new foothold from which to grow the strength of the revolution, and a new departure point from which to advance it to victory. From the final destination of the Long March, the CPC led the Chinese people in opening a magnificent new chapter in China’s revolution.
The victory of the Long March allowed the CPC to establish and rapidly develop a number of revolutionary bases, the most central of which was the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Revolutionary Base. Thanks to these bases, the spark of the revolution spread across the entire country like wildfire, pushing the revolution to a new climax.