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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May, 1973

EAST GERMAN REPORT ON THE SIXTH INTERKIT MEETING IN MOSCOW, MAY 1973

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    Report on the sixth meeting of Interkit, held in Moscow in May 1973. Summarizes the group's analysis of the current domestic situation in China and its foreign policy, as well as making predictions about potential developments in China in the near future.
    "East German Report on the Sixth Interkit Meeting in Moscow, May 1973 ," May, 1973, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Foundation Archives of Parties and Mass Organisations of the GDR in the Federal Archives (SAPMO-BA) DY 30, IV B 2/20/583. Translated for CWIHP by Bernd Schaefer. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113301
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R e p o r t
About the 6th Internal Meeting of Delegations from Departments for International Relations of Central Committees of CPSU, BCP, MPRP, SED, PUWP, CPC and HSWP.

Following an invitation by the CPSU Central Committee between 16 and 18 May 1973 the sixth internal China meeting of delegations from the International Departments of Central Committees of above-mentioned fraternal parties was held in Moscow. 

The SED participated with a delegation chaired by Comrade Gerd Knig, Deputy Head of the SED CC International Relations Department.

The meeting had the following agenda:

1. Exchange of opinions and information on China at the Beginning of the 1970s 

2. Exchange of opinions about coordinating work in the fields of foreign policy, economic relations, and propaganda, as well as the reconciliation of scientific research on the Chinese question.

Participants of the meeting drafted and unanimously adopted a protocol transcript and the joint theses China at the Beginning of the 1970s (Appendices #1 and #2 [not included]). In addition, 21 different materials on the current situation in China and the Chinese leaders' domestic and foreign policy were exchanged (Appendix #3 [not included]). The meeting confirmed jointly held positions by the 7 fraternal parties concerning essential elements of the Chinese question, and the parties' pursuit of close coordination of their policies toward the People's Republic of China.

Participants of the meeting reinforced the positions of their parties that the internal China meetings, while running over a course of six years, have made decisive contributions toward a comprehensive Marxist-Leninist assessment of Maoism's theory and practice.

The 6th internal China meeting focused on the following questions:

- the ongoing deformation of the superstructure and its impact on the base; the rightist turn in the Chinese leaders' domestic and foreign policy;

- the special role of the subjective factor;

- the struggle about the question who whom; 

- prognostic deliberations on China's development in the coming years;

- the drafting of a long-term and complex program by the community of socialist states to countervail Maoist policy and ideology as an inseparable part of our fraternal parties' entire coordinated activity. This way collusion by the socialist fraternal countries on the Chinese question will be elevated to a qualitatively new level.

The Central Committee of the CPSU attributed great importance to this meeting. As always, the Soviet comrades made the major contributions during the course of the meeting. Drafts for the protocol transcript and the joint material were prepared by the Soviet comrades well in advance and personally edited by Comrades Suslov, Ponomarev, and [Konstantin] Katushev.

Comrades Ponomarev, Katushev and Rakhmanin, and other leading comrades from the CPSU CC, had several talks with the heads of delegations where they informed the latter about current issues of the Beijing leaders' policy and on the international situation.

The delegation from the SED CC actively contributed to the meeting, made multiple statements, and provided to the other delegations some additional material.

It was agreed to hold the next internal China meeting in 1974 in Budapest.

I.

In their assessment of the situation in China, and the current domestic and foreign policy of Beijing's leaders, participants of the meeting arrived at the following conclusions:

1. The situation in China is dominated by elements that push the country further in an antisocialist direction. The policy of the Chinese leaders is characterized by a serious rightist turn.

2. In China all the main elements of the Mao Group's military-bureaucratic dictatorship stay in place. The army continues to remain its main pillar of support. Changes currently occurring in the PR China (like the construction of a Maoist party and Maoist mass organizations, the reference of forms and methods of economic steering borrowed from socialism, the reemergence of former leading functionaries) aim at solidification of the Maoist regime that is hostile to the people.

The entire development of society is characterized by coercive militarization.

3. Even after the purge of Lin Biao and many of his supporters, conflicts in the center and in the provinces are continuing. A fierce power struggle is raging between the two most important groupings in the leadership, the supporters of the group around Mao Zedong's wife and the supporters of the group around Zhou Enlai.

4. The long-term negative impact of the Maoist course on the country's development pertains to all areas of China's domestic and foreign policy. The deformation of the socialist economic base and of the superstructure going on for 15 years is continuing. Specifics of deformation do not consist in a liquidation of state and collective property but in the latter's subordination under Maoism's anti-socialist objectives. This deformation is connected to a change in the social function of the Chinese state. As a consequence of these impacts, production relations are losing step by step their socialist content. The moment is coming near where the quantitative, and in part qualitative, changes can lead to a basic turnaround of the country's entire development.

5. The fact that China is considered a socialist country does not change anything in principle for the assessment of the Mao Group's policy. Maoism is an unforgiving enemy and antipode of socialism.

6. The existence of state and collective property objectively entails a potential opportunity for a development of Chinese society within the framework of socialism. However, the precondition for such developments consists in a fundamental change of China's political course.

7. Beijing's foreign policy wants to safeguard international conditions for an accelerated turn of China into a superpower and its establishment as the center of global policy. Its foreign policy is currently characterized by the following three elements:

a) active global countervailing against socialism's peace offensive and the course of the communist world movement;

b) rightist turn and increasing alliances with imperialist states based on anti-Soviet foundations;

c) further pursuit of the claim to be leading the Third World (China as a developing country );

Dangerousness and adventurism of the Chinese leaders' current policy is resulting from all of this. It further substantiates the correctness of the statement that the Chinese leaders have de facto opened a second front against socialism. In this context, the Soviet comrades informed about ongoing provocations at the Chinese-Soviet border, the increasing attempts to infiltrate agents into the USSR and the Mongolian People's Republic, and the expansion of China's entire intelligence activities abroad under inclusion of their diplomatic representations. In conjunction with the upcoming visit by Comrade L. I. Brezhnev to the United States the Beijing leadership has already announced a new large anti-Soviet campaign.

8. The active countervailing by the socialist fraternal countries and the Marxist-Leninist parties, their successes in the construction of socialism and communism, and the successful implementation of the coordinated course in foreign policy significantly narrow Maoist policy options and neutralize many of its negative impacts. With our active foreign policy we counter their efforts to ally themselves with the imperialist states and to establish hegemony in the Third World. 

II.

In their assessment regarding potential developments in China in the near future, participants of the meeting assumed that China's course in the 1970s will pass through a tense situation and be determined by many permanent and temporary, objective and subjective, factors of both domestic and foreign policy character. In this context, some of the following prognostic thoughts were expressed:

1. Maoism has a certain base among the ideologically backwards segments of the population, but at the same time discontent with Maoist policy is growing. The lack of a constructive program to develop society, and the unresolved socio-economic core issues confronting the Beijing leadership, are objectively causing the social base of resistance against Maoism to expand. New clashes and upheavals cannot be excluded.

2. In general, the PR China's domestic and foreign policy will further be determined by the attempt of the current leadership to realize its great-power chauvinist plans.

3. Despite active efforts to expand its military-industrial potential, even in 10 to 15 years from now the economic-military strengths of China will still be substantially below those of the USSR and its allied socialist states at the current stage. The superiority of the USSR and the socialist community of states will continue to have a dampening effect on the Chinese leaders.

4. Much will depend on the complicated twists of factional infighting in the Chinese leadership. The current leadership contains no Marxist-Leninist forces. For probably a long time a nationalist leadership will persist. The current leadership has many strong differentiations. As long as Mao and Zhou dominate policy there will no basic change of the present course. When Mao leaves the political stage, the power struggle will automatically intensify. If Zhou maintains the upper hand, pragmatic policy elements will increase, however, with the chauvinist course staying intact. Yet Zhou's position is not as strong as that of Mao Zedong. If both Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai leave the political stage, tense conflicts will erupt in the leadership. Their outcome will be decided by those on whose side the army will end up. In this case a civil war and an increase of separatism is possible.

5. Maoism is going through a deep crisis but it would be illusionary to believe in an automatic collapse of the Maoist regime. Maoism will continue to remain a serious threat, in particular to the Soviet Union whose border with the PR China is the longest land border in the world. Yet there must not be any passive wait and see in the struggle for a socialist perspective of China: Today this struggle demands the unmasking of Maoism and the effective thwarting of its policy.

6. In a time far from today, a possibility may be realized that opposition forces will gain the upper hand in China, or people will come to power who will conduct a socialist policy. This would create an entirely new situation; yet currently this is still not predictable in any concrete terms.

III.

All delegates underlined the requirement to realize consequently a direct cooperation in the field of foreign policy based on the protocol transcript. Participants of the meeting considered the expansion of the joint front to fight Maoism as an important task. This requires an activation of our work with the fraternal parties of non-socialist countries. Propagandistic and scientific work, and coordination of efforts by our seven parties, must be raised to a higher level. Soviet comrades informed, for instance, that in the first four months of 1973 alone the central newspapers and journals of the USSR published about 90 contributions about the struggle against Maoism. In the period between early 1972 and the end of April 1973, more than 50 books and pamphlets were published on the subject. The news agency APN performs extensive information activity abroad and works closely with respective institutions of the fraternal countries.

The CC of the CPSU decided to publish an edition of [Petr Parfenovich] Vladimirov's book China's Special Area [1] (memoirs of a Comintern activist who stayed with the CC of the CCP in Yan'an between 1942 and 1945 and gave extensive assessments of the Chinese leadership). This book was handed to all delegations as a pre-print. In this context, the Soviet comrades again insisted on the importance to publish as soon as possible the memoirs of Comrade Otto Braun about his work in China.[2] Right after its release in the GDR it will also made public in the USSR. PUWP and CPC delegations were also interested in a reprint of Comrade Braun's book as soon as possible.

In order to make cooperation among China scholars of our seven countries more efficient in the future, and following a proposal by the CC of the CPSU, it was agreed to establish a joint scientific Coordination Council.

IV.

Conclusions

1. The protocol transcript and the joint theses China at the Beginning of the 1970s were adopted. Both materials are to be used as a base for all activities concerning the Chinese question in the fields of foreign policy, propaganda, and scientific research.

2. A letter by Comrade Erich Honecker, First Secretary of the CC of the SED, to the General Secretary of the CC of the CPSU, Comrade L. I. Brezhnev, will inform about the GDR evaluations of the 6th internal China meeting and our conclusions. It will also express thanks to the Soviet comrades for the organization of the meeting by the CC of the CPSU.

[& ]

[Abridged; only East German specific activity plans to follow]


[1] Published in English as The Vladimirov Diaries: Yenan, China, 1942-1945 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975).[back]


[2] Otto Braun (1900-1974), a German communist, served in China between 1932 and 1939 as a Soviet-delegated military adviser to the Chinese communists. He was the only foreigner participating in the Chinese Red Army's long march in 1934/35. Published in English as A Comintern Agent in China, 1932-1939 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1982).

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