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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 09, 1957

FROM THE DIARY OF P. A. ABRASIMOV, MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION WITH THE GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE CCP, DENG XIAOPING, 3 JULY 1957

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    Deng Xiaoping talks about the struggle with "rightist" elements in the People's Republic of China.
    "From the Diary of P. A. Abrasimov, Memorandum of Conversation with the General Secretary of the CCP, Deng Xiaoping, 3 July 1957 ," July 09, 1957, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AVPRF (Arkhiv vneshnei politiki rossiiskoi federatsii) [Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation], f. 0100, op. 50, p. 424, d. 8;. obtained by Paul Wingrove; translated by Ben Aldrich-Moodie. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111261
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From the Diary of P.A. ABRASIMOV


SECRET

9 July 1957

Memorandum of Conversation
With the General Secretary of the CCP,
com. DENG XIAOPING

3 July 1957

On 3 July 1957, I visited Deng Xiaoping and on the instructions of the CC CPSU gave him the full texts of the decision of the CC CPSU's July Plenum on the anti-party group of Malenkov, Kaganovich and Molotov and the CC CPSU's closed letter to all party members and candidates.

In the conversation which ensued, Deng Xiaoping talked about the struggle with rightist elements in the People's Republic of China. He said that it was calculated that this struggle would go on for a long time; the Chinese Communist Party had the strength to crush the rightists in two or three days, but there was no need for that. The rightists will be given a further chance to finish stating their case, since by doing so they are giving the people and the CCP a good lesson.

By showing their true face, they are actually helping to educate the broad masses and intermediate elements. Without encouragement from the CCP, they would not dare to open fire and begin to act on such a broad scale. The rightists, noted Deng Xiaoping, resemble a snake which has slithered out of the earth, scented danger, and wants to slither back in, but has been strongly seized by the tail.

The positive side of the struggle with the rightists which has unfolded is that it has given cadres the opportunity to garner experience and to be tempered. Some party workers were afraid to provide the rightist elements the full freedom to state their opinion. Experience, however, has shown that where the rightists had the chance to express themselves fully, the struggle with them has proceeded more successfully; in those cases, the object of the struggle has been exposed, and a target for a counterstroke has been revealed; in those cases, the masses were convinced of the obvious hostility of the rightists to socialism and the party organizations have had the support of the overwhelming majority of the people in their conduct of the struggle.

In some establishments and organizations, the rightist elements were not given the chance to speak out and thereby reveal their true face. There were even cases where "rightists" from other places were invited to give speeches. In such establishments, the struggle was aimless and did not attain its goal.

The shortcoming of the given movement was the fact that at the necessary time, not all party organizations had clarified sufficiently for themselves the goals and tasks laid out by the CC CCP for this struggle. The CC CCP avoided micromanagement and detailed elaboration on these issues and wanted the party organizations themselves to work out the Central Committee's tactic in the course of the struggle, to understand deeply the necessity of conducting this tactical line and its advantages.

Deng Xiaoping added that great courage and calm were needed to endure the stream of abuse which the rightists unleashed on the CCP both orally and in the press.


Furthermore, Deng Xiaoping observed that the campaign of struggle with the rightists was proceeding unevenly. In some places, they went over to the counterattack too early and the enemy hid himself. However, to be late in this struggle would have been unforgivable. It was necessary to deliver the blow before the opening of the session of the All-Chinese Convention of the People's Representatives. Of course, it would have been possible to listen to the rightists for another ten days, but as a whole the conditions for a counter-attack had already come together. The leaders of the rightists had already shown themselves, and their views were widely known to the masses. "The big fish was already in the net," Deng Xiaoping observed.

I noted that com. Zhou Enlai's speech to the session of the All-Chinese Convention of the People's Representatives was not only a report on the government's work, but was also the first strong blow delivered by the party against the rightists. Having agreed, Deng Xiaoping added that the popular masses received com. Zhou's speech in precisely that way. The rightists also clearly acknowledged this side of the report by the Premier of the State Council.

I inquired as to how the rightist elements were behaving after the collapse of all of their attacks.

Deng Xiaoping answered that they now want to hide themselves, but they will not be able to. Squabbles and divisions have begun among the rightists. In Shanghai, prominent representatives of the rightists denounced ringleaders with the most reactionary tendencies. Some of the rightists have already capitulated, but others are continuing to resist.

The CCP is not only not crushing this resistance, but is even, in a certain sense, supporting it. The rightists are unmasking themselves completely and on that basis, it will be possible to teach the masses a good lesson. Zhang Naige and others are not recognizing their mistakes, and are continuing to resist. The CCP considers that even if they continue to hold out stubbornly for a year, the party will also conduct painstaking explanatory work with them for the entire year.

The same policy will be carried out in the country's institutions of higher learning. Rightist elements among the students will be left in the institutions of higher learning, and some of them after graduation may be left in their respective institutions of higher learning as instructors. They will even be given the opportunity, for instance, to speak their views once every three months. That will help us to conduct educational work [with] object [lessons] among the students. The same applies to the instructors of the institutions of higher learning.

To my question of approximately what percent the rightist elements comprise among the students, Deng Xiaoping answered that on average among the students, the rightists comprised only one percent, and that there were many more waiverers and individuals deceived by the rightist demagogues, but that at present they were once again reverting to the correct path.

In some institutions of higher learning, the percentage of rightists was higher, as, for instance, at Beijing University [there were] about 3%, while in some institutions of higher learning there were up to 10%.


At the conclusion of the conversation, Deng Xiaoping noted that this year prospects for the harvest were good, but that at the end of July and the beginning of August flooding often occurs.

In China every year, an average of 20 million people suffer from natural disasters. In the first five-year period, there were strong floods three times, and each time about 40 million people suffered, and last year, 70 million people suffered from natural disasters.

Having thanked com. Deng Xiaoping for the conversation, in my turn I told him about the progress of the preparation for the Sixth Worldwide Festival of Youth and Students in the USSR.


The head of the chancellery of the Secretariat of the CC CCP, com. Yang Shangkun, was present at the conversation.

Charge d'affaires of the USSR in the PRC
(P. Abrasimov)


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