Search in
ADD SEARCH FILTER CANCEL SEARCH FILTER

Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 21, 1965

POLITBURO TALK BY ZHOU ENLAI ON RECEIVING A GROUP OF CENTRAL MILITARY COMMISSION OPERATIONAL MEETING COMRADES

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

CITATION SHARE DOWNLOAD
  • Citation

    get citation

    Speaking at the Politburo, Zhou Enlai explains how nuclear weapons capabilities have won China newfound admiration in the non-aligned world and instilled fear in the other nuclear powers, particularly the United States and Soviet Union.
    "Politburo Talk by Zhou Enlai on Receiving a Group of Central Military Commission Operational Meeting Comrades," May 21, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Dang de wenxian (Party Historical Documents), no. 3 (1994): 27-28. Translated by Neil Silver. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114363
  • share document

    http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114363

VIEW DOCUMENT IN

English HTML

The present international situation is one of development, especially with regard to the national democratic revolutionary movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Take a look at Asia, take a look at Africa, take a look at Latin America, things are bubbling everywhere, and they all directly stem from American imperialism. It has stirred things up everywhere, with the masses rising in rebellion and its friends deserting it. The best proof is our atomic bomb test this time. This year we have decided that since our second atomic bomb explosion will be by air-drop, the time fixed [for the explosion] will be in May or June, too early is not good, so the time chosen will be during the two months of May and June. If we choose May, won’t there be even more opposed to us than last year? Exactly the opposite. We have chosen a time during the Asian-African Unity Conference, and this will be a test. The Chairman [Mao] has decided to explode [a device] since whatever we do there will be the criticism. Of course, in setting which day, we have given the power to the Special Commission and, concretely, to the front-line to decide, with consultations in the rear-area between Comrade Luo Ruiqing and me. This time, viewed politically, we are running into a meeting of the Asian-African Unity Conference in Ghana. There is an historical precedent. When the First Non-Aligned Conference convened in 1961 in Yugoslavia, Khrushchev, seeking to play his hand, and motivated purely by a desire to intimidate and scare, wanted to test a large one [nuclear weapon], with the result that he stirred up universal opposition. Sending a delegation to the United States, the Soviet Union begged forgiveness and halted testing. Last year, even before we exploded [a bomb], India proposed a motion, urging that China not carry out the nuclear test, but, with only two votes. It failed to pass by only two votes, and we then exploded [a bomb]. Last year we chose to explode [a bomb] after the Second Non-Aligned Conference. This time we have chosen [to do so] before the Second Asian-African Unity Conference, and even considered [doing so] during the Asian-African Unity Conference; the situation now may have changed. We have met many people in Asia and Africa who outwardly express regret, stating that it would be best to halt testing, but behind our backs congratulate us. This illustrates nationalist ambivalence. Owing to their opposition to imperialism, they support us. Our possession of the atomic bomb inspires them and also strengthens [their] power. On the other hand, under imperialist pressure and under Soviet cajoling and coercion, there is still a measure [of support for] the treaty to prohibit nuclear testing, and this is why they express regret. Wherever we go in these places, we run into this situation. But we never foresaw that so many people would cheer us on this time. This year only the response in the United States has been limited, since they want to downplay our role. Outwardly, they don’t say much, but in their heart of hearts they are worried. This time the people of the world, including the Japanese, whose response has been the greatest, acclaim and congratulate us, and are happy.

I even performed this kind of test. We were right in the middle of carrying out our nuclear explosive test when two Japanese art troupes were in China. Japan endured two atomic bombs. They sacrificed and they oppose atomic bomb testing. But these people were all middle-of-the-roaders, some middle-of-the-road leaning left, and some middle-of-the-road leaning right. I spoke twice to them, saying that if we possess the atomic bombs this is the same as the Japanese possessing the atomic bomb, and we both oppose the atomic bomb. You had two atomic bombs fall on your heads, and you made a contribution to the whole world, since everybody in the whole world opposes atomic warfare. If there had not been the sacrifices [caused by] those two atomic bombs, how could the world’s attention have been focused? If there had been no harm wrought by poison gas, how could there have been opposition to poison gas warfare? There is always a price to be paid. As Chairman Mao has said, once a price was paid, no one will dare use the bomb. Now there is the atomic bomb, and later there will be the hydrogen bomb, and there will also be long-range missiles. The United States may use strategic atomic weapons in Vietnam, and later use them on China. We Chinese have this type of lofty aspiration. No matter how many people we may sacrifice in a nuclear war, we will in the end attain world peace. Just as Chairman Mao has said, we will gain progress, peace and victory in an anti-imperialist war. If they attack us, that means we will face the inevitable destruction of nuclear war, since, if atomic bombs are exploded over our heads, naturally we will suffer some losses, but that will stir up all the people of the world, even including Americans among them. If the Soviet Union sits back without getting involved, it will [constitute] watching in safety while others fight, then reaping the rewards when both sides are exhausted. The Americans and the Japanese need to realize that if atomic bombs fall on their heads, their losses will be greater than ours. Japan has a population of 100,000,000 concentrated on those not so large islands, and with so much industrial infrastructure. Now Japan is in an opposite position from us. It is not constructing subways, but [rather] constructing an over-ground railway from Tokyo to Osaka. We can’t do that. If we do that, and there is a nuclear war, we don’t know how great the losses will be. Therefore, we have to prepare to pay some price and, in that way, gain world sympathy to support for us. Most of these people from Japanese artistic circles still fear war, but when I say this, they have confidence if they stand with China. Moreover, some of them speak frankly, saying that we hear you are still not satisfied after your test, and, on hearing this, on the contrary we feel that [we] should cheer you on and stand together with you. We can work on this. From this point of view, our international prestige has now been raised.

Now the Soviet Union is purposely underestimating us, [but] actually it also fears [us]. [Soviet Premier Alexei] Kosygin told [Indian Prime Minister [Lal Bahadur] Shastri that the second Chinese atomic bomb was a small toy, [but] in fact he is also fearful. Now the United States is afraid. Britain is also concerned. France also thinks it’s falling behind, and knows that it cannot replicate our production method. Despite the fact that they’ve been at it for so many years, they have only exploded a couple devices; they cannot air-drop; and their Uranium-235 plant will only be in production in 1969. Since this is the situation, if the United States decides on a massive strike [on Chinese nuclear facilities], and the Soviet Union joins in, this will necessarily entail a number of steps, and will not be that easy. We must prepare for this. The more prepared we are, the more they will back off. This is [the law of] dialectics.

CHINESE (TRANSCRIPTION) HTML

周恩来在中央常委接见军委作战会议全体同志时的讲话

1965521

目前的国际形势特别是亚、非、拉民族民主的革命运动,是一个发展的形势。你在亚洲看一看,在非洲看一看,在拉丁美洲看一看,现在到处出事,而且都是直接出自美帝国主义,都是它惹起来的,搞得众叛亲离。我们这次的原子弹试验就是最好的证明。我们今年决定要炸第二颗原子弹,因为是空投,确定的时间在四五月,太早也不行,就是在四五两个月选时间。我们选在五月,这个时候反对我们的是不是会比去年还多呢?正相反。我们把时间选在亚非团结大会期间,这是一个考验。主席下的决心是反正被骂一顿吧,炸就是了。当然,选哪一天,给了专门委员会权力,具体要前方决定,后方就是我跟罗瑞卿同志商量。这个时候,从政治上看,碰到亚非团结会议在加纳开会。有个历史经验,就是一九六一年第一次不结盟会议在南斯拉夫开,那个时候,赫鲁晓夫要显一手,纯粹是从威胁出发,从吓人出发,要试验一颗大的,结果惹得大家反对,派了代表团分赴美国、苏联请愿,停止试验。我们去年还没有爆炸,印度就出来提议,劝中国不要进行核试验,只有两票,没有通过,我们就炸了。去年我们炸是选在第二次不结盟国家会后,这次我们选在第二次亚非会议以前,亚非团结会议期间,不是没有考虑这个问题,可能这次情况有变化。因为我们在亚非碰到很多人,表面说遗憾,说最好停止试验,背后对我们还是祝贺。这也说明民族主义的两面性。因为他们有反帝的那一面,他们就支持我们。我们有了原子弹对他们不仅是带来振奋,又是力量的加强。另一方面,他们在帝国主义压力之下,在苏联的诱胁下,还有一个部分禁止核试验条约,所以又说遗憾。我们走过的这些地方都碰到这样的情况。但是,我们也没有料到这次欢呼的人这么多。今年只有美国反映少,因为它要降低我们的作用,表面不吭气,但是它内心实际上是担心的。这次全世界人民,包括日本人民反映最多,欢呼,庆贺,高兴。

我还做过这样一种测验,日本有两个艺术团体在中国时,我们正在进行核爆炸试验。日本挨过两颗原子弹,它牺牲过,它是反对原子弹试验的,而这些人都是中间分子,有的中间偏左,有的中间偏右。我同他们谈了两次话,我说,我们有了原子弹,就等于日本人民有了原子弹,我们共同反对原子弹。你们头上挨了两颗原子弹,你们对全世界有贡献,因此在世界上大家都反对原子战争。如果没有那两颗原子弹的牺牲,怎么可能引起世界注意呢?没有受过毒气的害,怎么会反对毒气战争呢?总是有代价的。毛主席也说,有了代价,以后就不敢用了。现在是原子弹,以后还会有氢弹,还会有远程导弹,美国也许在越南用战术原子武器,以后用到中国头上。我们中国人要有这样一个雄心,不论将来在核战争中牺牲多少人,我们总是要赢得世界和平。正像毛主席说的,我们将赢得进步,赢得和平,赢得反帝战争的胜利。如果它打我们的话,那就是核战争最后消灭的时间来临了。因为在我们头上炸原子弹,当然要有一部分损失,但是那就惹翻了世界人民,连美国人民也包括在内。那时如果苏联不管的话,那就是它坐山观虎斗的第一步。那个时候,美国人民要考虑,日本人民也要考虑,原子弹从他们头上来,他们的损失比我们大。日本有一万万人口,集中在那么大的几个岛上,有那么多的工业建设。现在日本和我们相反,它不是搞地下铁道,它是搞地上铁道,从东京修到大阪。我们不能那样。那样搞,打起核战争来不晓得损失多大。所以,我们要准备付点代价,那样也会赢得世界的同情,来支持我们。日本艺术界的这些人,大部分总是怕战争的,但是我这样一说,他们就认为跟中国站在一起有了信心。而且有的说了老实话,他说,我听说你们试验以后也不满意,经你这样一说,我反而觉得应该欢呼,我们站在一起了。人是可以做工作的。从这一点看来,我们现在在国际上的威望提高了。

现在苏联对我们也是故意低估,实际上它也怕。柯西金跟夏斯特里说,中国的第二颗原子弹是个小玩具。实际上他是怕。现在美国怕,英国也担心,法国也觉得自己落后了,它晓得我们现在的制造法它做不到。你不要看它搞了那么多年了,它只炸了几次装置,空投它现在还不行,它的铀235工厂还要到一九六九年才能生产。正是因为这样,美国决定大打,苏联参加,这得经过多少步骤,不那么简单。我们应该做这个准备。我们越是有了准备,它就越要退。这是辩证的。