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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 09, 1950

LETTER FROM ZHOU ENLAI TO MAO ZEDONG

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Zhou Enlai asks for Mao Zedong's instructions on whether to attack Seoul in January or postpone the attack until March, and gives details on the benefits of postponing the attack.
    "Letter from Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong" December 09, 1950, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Zhonggong zhongyang wenxian yanjiushi (CPC Central Historical Documents Research Office) and Zhongyang dang'anguan (Central Archives), eds., Jianguo yilai Zhou Enlai wengao (Zhou Enlai’s Manuscripts since the Founding of the PRC), vol. 3 (Beijing: Zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 2008), 615-617. Translated by Jingxia Yang and Douglas Stiffler. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114241
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Chairman [Mao Zedong]:

Please consider the combination of strategic intentions and battle plans.  Concerning the second situation, must [we] postpone the attack on Seoul until early March? If [we] decide to postpone, 70,000 new soldiers could be sent to the army in two groups in early January and late January.  Artillery and tanks will be in time to be used.  Most important, however, is air force and railway transportation.  When the time comes, the Air Force can dispatch four jet-fighter divisions, two air-attack divisions, and three bomber divisions, for a total of 270 planes. Railroads and bridges can be repaired and open to the 38th Parallel after the materials (for repairing them) arrive.  The work with the most decisive significance is the building of the airports at Pyongyang etc. and moving the Soviet air force that is in charge of defense to [areas down to the] north of Pyongyang.  If the decision is still to attack Seoul in January, then only the first group of 30,000 to 35,000 people can be assembled, and only two air divisions of 60 planes can be dispatched.  There is not enough time to dispatch tanks although part of the artillery can be dispatched.  Rush repairs can be done down to Pyongyang at the most.  But whether there are enough materials for Cheongcheon Bridge, [we] still do not know; [we] are investigating.

What is your opinion on this?  Please instruct [so that we may] prepare.

Zhou Enlai

Night of December 9

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