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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 04, 1965

EXCERPTS FROM THE REPORT OF THE SOVIET EMBASSY IN PYONGYANG, 'SOME NEW ASPECTS OF KOREAN-CHINESE RELATIONS IN THE FIRST HALF OF 1965'

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    Excerpts from the report of the Soviet Embassy in Pyongyang, “Some New Aspects of Korean-Chinese Relations in the First Half of 1965," containing an explanation of the events that led the DPRK to begin moving away from a China oriented foreign policy.
    "Excerpts from the Report of the Soviet Embassy in Pyongyang, 'Some New Aspects of Korean-Chinese Relations in the First Half of 1965'," June 04, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AVPRF, fond 0102, opis 21, papka 106, delo 20, listy 14-27. Obtained and translated for NKIDP by Sergey Radchenko. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110503
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Some new aspects in Sino-Korean relations at the end of 1964 and at the beginning of 1965, which might generally be characterized as an attempt by the Korean government to abandon the unilateral orientation toward China.

This process began after the October CPSU CC plenum, the visit to Moscow by a Korean delegation headed by Cde. Kim Il to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the October Revolution, and especially after the February 1965 visit to the DPRK by a Soviet delegation headed by A. N. Kosygin.

As is well known, in the middle of 1964 active propagandizing of the views of the Chinese government in the DPRK was being conducted at a fever pitch. In spite of all attempts by the KWP leadership to portray their propaganda as a manifestation of an 'independent line' with respect to the “principles” of the international Communist movement and as a desire to strengthen the unity of the socialist camp, it was in fact based on the so-called "general line" of the CPC and the anti-Marxist views of the Chinese leadership. All attacks were directed against the CPSU, and its domestic and foreign policy.

The Chinese propaganda materials were widely circulated among the Korean population. The Korean press published all the main polemical editorial articles of the newspaper "ZhMZhB" [Renmin Ribao] and the magazine "Hongqi"*.

* In 1964 the corresponding Chinese articles were published in the Korean magazine "[Kukche SenhwalGukje Saenghwal]" Nº Nº 1, 3, 8, 15, and 16, "Two Opposing Lines in the Policy of Peaceful Coexistence", "The Leaders of the CPSU are the Greatest Dissidents of Our Time", "Proletarian Revolution and Revisionism of Khrushchev", and others…[15]

The idea that Sino-Korean friendship has become stronger as a result of the joint struggle against 'contemporary revisionists' and that an 'ideological unity' of revolutionary peoples* lay at the basis of the friendship first began to be stressed in propaganda.

* (See the lead article of Nodong Rodong Sinmun of 25 October 1964, "Strengthened With the Blood of an Indestructible Combat Friendship")

However, by the end of 1964 the Korean leadership had evidently begun to picture all the negative consequences for the DPRK of its orientation only toward China more distinctly.

As a result of the broad contacts which occurred in 1964 between the KWP and the CPC the role which had been given it by the Chinese leaders in their plans to split the international Communist movement and create a pro-Chinese bloc of Parties centered in Peking became more obvious to the Korean leadership. Like the Chinese leaders, the Korean leadership recognizes the dissident groups as independent Marxist-Leninist Parties". The leaderships of these groups coming from Peking to Pyongyang are received at the very highest level. But nonetheless the Korean leadership is beginning to understand that in spite of the enormous efforts of the Chinese leaders and their great financial aid, the dissident groups are increasingly exposing themselves. Evidently the Korean leadership is increasingly convinced that "close contacts" with these groups gives the KWP no added authority in the international Communist movement.

The manifest great Han nationalism and political adventurism of the Chinese leaders could also not fail to put the Korean leadership on its guard, and the prospect of ending up alone with the Chinese only causes the Koreans to worry [16].

The Korean leadership has also considered the fact that the enormous propaganda campaign of the Chinese leaders to forge a bloc inside the Communist movement has not yielded the expected results. Moreover, the crude attacks which the Chinese leaders have continued against the CPSU after the October CPSU CC plenum placed the CPC leadership in even greater isolation. For example, in a conversation with the Soviet Ambassador in May 1965 Kim Il Sung admitted that only the Japanese and Indonesian CP's follow the Chinese leadership, supporting open polemics*.

* (see our Nº 70 of 7 May 1965)

The unilateral orientation toward China has entailed a worsening of the political and economic ties between the DPRK and the USSR and the European socialist countries, and this in turn has become one of the reasons for the serious economic difficulties of the DPRK.

Among the reasons which have forced the Korean leadership to make certain corrections in its policy in general and in Sino-Korean relations in particular a very important role has been played by the worsening of the situation in Vietnam in connection with the expanding American aggression, the possibility of the outbreak of serious conflicts at the 38th parallel of the Korean peninsulaPeninsula, and also the consequences of such a development of events for the DPRK.

…continuing to advocate a further strengthening of Sino-Korean friendship, the Korean leadership somewhat restricted opportunities for the dissemination of the views of the Chinese leadership in the DPRK.

The idea of the independence of KWP policy began to again be stressed with special force.

At the same time right now the idea of independence is already sounding in statements of the Korean leadership like an attempt at indirectly admitting some of its mistakes in policy. In this connection [17] the explanation made by Kim Il Sung in a conversation with the Soviet Ambassador on 3 May of this year is of certain interest. Lamenting the difficulties which the DPRK faces in pursuing an independent policy, Kim Il Sung said that this policy had to be pursued in conditions of open polemics between the CPSU and CPC, taking into account that the DPRK borders two socialist countries, the USSR and China, and the capitalist country of Japan.

The Korean leadership has taken a different position than the Chinese leaders with respect to the March consultative conference of fraternal parties. Like the Chinese, the KWP leadership did not agree to participate in the work of the conference, but unlike the Chinese it did not start to attack the results of the work of this conference.

Recently the KWP leaders have started to even make critical remarks at the Chinese leadership, which is continuing to pursue an unrestrained anti-Soviet campaign.

In the conversation with the Soviet Ambassador on 3 May Kim Il Sung said, "We do not share the point of view of some people who are continuing open polemics at the present time*.

* (See our Nº 70 of 7 May 1965).

The calls to strengthen the unity and solidarity of the international Communist movement and the socialist camp already sound somewhat new in statements of the Korean leadership figures. If previously this unity was understood by the Korean leadership only as unconditional acceptance of the Chinese "general line" then at the present time in connection with the removal of the slogan of struggle against "Soviet revisionism" in Korean propaganda unity is based on the struggle against American imperialism and aid to the national liberation movement.

…[18]

In the past the Korean leadership unconditionally supported China's steps to form a bloc on a racial basis and tried with Chinese help to expand its ties with the liberated African countries.

The policy of "concentrated attention" on Afro-Asian countries yielded definite results. In 1964 the DPRK established diplomatic relations with seven Asian and African countries…

However, at the present time the Korean leadership no longer always supports the Chinese in issues of Afro-Asian solidarity. It advocates the unity of action of all anti-imperialist countries, including the USSR, and all the socialist countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Regarding issues relating to events in Vietnam and aid to the DRV in the fight against American imperialism, the Korean leadership now assesses the divisive actions of the Chinese leadership more critically.

The Korean leadership cannot fail to understand that a further aggravation of the situation in Vietnam, which the Chinese leaders are aiming at, might entail complications at the line of demarcation between the DPRK and South Korea…[19].

Judging from the statements of KWP leaders, the Chinese leadership has not been able to discredit the Soviet Union's aid to the fighting people of Vietnam. "Some people are trying to underestimate the aid to Vietnam", said Kim Il Sung in a conversation with the Soviet Ambassador. "We do not believe such propaganda"*.

* (See our Nº 70 of 7 May 1965)

The Korean leadership gave instructions to its delegation at the extraordinary meeting of the [World] Peace Council in Stockholm discussing measures to aid Vietnam to not support the Chinese draft resolution.

Discussing this episode, Kim Il Sung told the Soviet Ambassador, "The Chinese wanted to force their draft resolution on us, but we did not agree"*.

* Op. cit.

It is also characteristic that during the work of the IV Solidarity Conference of the Peoples of Asia and Africa in May of this year that when describing the speeches of the Chinese delegate the Korean press omitted all his slanderous fabrications about “some people are not helping fighting Vietnam, trading with the American imperialists, and trying to pursue [a policy] of peaceful coexistence"…[20]

The nature of the account in the DPRK press* of the report of the Chinese delegate at an economic seminar in Algiers on 6 April of this year is a certain type of indicator of the appearance of new nuances in Sino-Korean relations. * (Nodong Rodong ShinmunSinmun, 26 February 1965).

The Korean press omitted his attacks and tirades about “contemporary revisionists”.

… [in this connection] the following words of Kim Il Sung from a lecture which he read at the Academy of Social Sciences in Jakarta stand out, “Vigorously fighting against contemporary revisionism, we pursue this struggle in accordance with our reality on the basis of our own opinions and convictions” (17 April 1965, Nodong Rodong ShinmunSinmun)

…[22]

Continuing after the Chinese to oppose “the great power tendency[“] to curb the independent all-round development of other countries under the pretext of “economic cooperation and international division of labor”, seeing in economic cooperation a desire of the “revisionists” to subordinate the economies of the socialist countries to themselves (NS of 17 April 1965), the Korean leadership in fact took steps to expand cooperation, using criticism in this case as an indicator of the “independence” of opinions, as levers of political pressure in favor of obtaining more favorable conditions for economic aid.

…[24]

Questions of Sino-Korean military cooperation, the amount of which was kept secret by both sides especially strictly, had perhaps decisive importance for the rapprochement between the DPRK and China and on other issues.

As the events which followed the return of a DPRK military delegation from a visit to Moscow in December 1962 headed by Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Kim [Hwan HebGwang-hyeop (Kwang Hyop)] showed, the Chinese leadership used this and began to expand military cooperation with the DPRK.

One could judge the dimensions of this cooperation from the numerous Chinese military delegations which came to the DPRK in the succeeding two years, the joint Sino-Korean maneuvers, the training of Korean servicemen in Chinese military schools, and the deliveries of Chinese weapons.

All this provided an opportunity for the KWP leadership to thoroughly familiarize itself with the state of the PRC defense industry (during the visit to China by a DPRK VNS [Supreme People’s Assembly] delegation headed by Choe Yong-geon [Choe Yong Gon] in the summer of 1961 he was shown a large number of military plants).

At the same time the Korean leadership continued to jealously track Soviet military aid to Cuba, Indonesia, the DRV, and other countries. Visits by DPRK military delegations to these counties in 1964 evidently showed the advantages of Soviet aid over Chinese [aid], but the worsening of the situation in Southeast Asia, the persistent attempts by the US to promote the normalization of relations between Japan and South Korea, their efforts to form a new aggressive bloc in the [Far] East, and the size of American military aid to the South Korean army - all this could not have failed to force the Korean leadership, which was continuing the expansion of cooperation with China, to search for reasons to resume the receipt of military aid from the USSR.

…[26]

New factors which appeared recently in Sino-Korean relations have on the whole a favorable character. They are creating objective conditions for the improvement of Soviet-Korean relations through governmental channels. The intensity of this process is evidently directly dependent on the volume of all kinds of aid to the DPRK on part of Soviet Union

[27]

At the same time the Korean leadership obviously will henceforth continue to demonstrate its special friendship with China and will avoid anything that might influence the nature and amount of aid which it receives from the PRC.

FIRST SECRETARY
OF THE SOVIET EMBASSY TO THE DPRK (A. Borunkov)

ATTACHE OF THE SOVIET EMBASSY TO THE DPRK (V. Gorovoy)