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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 23, 1954

FROM THE JOURNAL OF AMBASSADOR PAVEL YUDIN: RECORD OF CONVERSATION WITH MAO ZEDONG, 4 JANUARY 1954

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    A memorandum of conversation between Mao Zedong and Pavel Yudin. Yudin informs Mao about the Soviet "uncovering" of Lavrentii Beria's espionage. Mao thanks for the information and notes that it will be highly useful for China. He hints that the political atmosphere in the CCP had been "unhealthy" as some people have tried to use others' mistakes to undermine their reputation. In this connection, Mao refers to Zhang Guotao as a Guomindang spy, and also speculates that Wang Ming may have been recruited by the Guomindang as early as 1930.
    "From the Journal of Ambassador Pavel Yudin: Record of Conversation with Mao Zedong, 4 January 1954," February 23, 1954, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Arkhiv vneshnei politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii (AVP RF), fond [f.] 0100, opis [op.] 47, papka 379, delo [d.] 7, ll. 41-43. Translated by Paul Wingrove. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111359
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From the Journal of P. F. Yudin, 23 February 1954, Top secret

Note of Conversation with the Chairman of the Centra l People's Government of the

Chinese People's Republic Mao Zedong, 4 January 1954

Today in Hangzhou, where Mao Zedong is taking his vacation, in my presence and accompanied by the interpreters V. V. Vaskov (an Embassy official) and Shi Zhe  (Mao Zedong’s personal interpreter), the final verdict on the Beria affair was read to Mao.

Mao Zedong listened with particular attention and asked some questions on the following sections of the judgment: the treacherous activity of Beria in the period of the civil war, his treacherous activity up to and during the Great Patriotic War, his treacherous activity after the death of I. V. Stalin. Mao Zedong also showed great interest in questions concerning Beria's links to foreign spies and imperialist agents.

Mao Zedong expressed great indignation on account of the fact that Beria had damaged and demolished the work of Soviet agents in capitalist countries.

After the verdict had been read, Mao Zedong pointedly noted that the unmasking of Beria had great significance not only for the Soviet Union but also for international communism. The Central Committee [CC] of the CCP, said Mao Zedong, expressed its deep gratitude to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for the exposure of Beria. Mao Zedong described the exposure of Beria as having great significance for the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] and for other fraternal communist parties. Touching on the situation in the CCP, Mao Zedong noted that some unhealthy phenomena had recently emerged. These were not widespread, but since they affected even members of the CC it was impossible not to take account of them.

There have been cases, said Mao Zedong, where certain individuals have tried to set some members of the Politburo against others; there have been attempts to discern a pattern in the occasional failures or errors of some members of the Politburo, and thus to discredit these comrades. We are presently studying this question, said Mao Zedong, keeping in mind the fact that the unity and cohesion of the ranks of the party is a key condition for solving the tasks it confronts. On the matter of the unity and integrity of the party, the CC was working at present on a special document, which would not be made public. This document would be completed within the next two or three weeks. Mao said that following the completion of the document he would give instructions for me to be acquainted with its contents.

Mao Zedong further said that the CCP CC had already prepared a document on the general line of the party in the transitional period. Mao promised to acquaint me with this document also.

During the discussion Mao expressed the wish to familiarize some members of the CC, as well as members of the Politburo with the judgment on the Beria affair. Mao promised to give the appropriate instructions on this matter to Liu Shaoqi.

Referring to the section of the judgment which concerned Beria's treacherous activity during the civil war, Mao Zedong drew attention to the fact that it was now established from archival materials, brought to light in Beijing after the liberation of the city from the Guomindang [GMD], that Zhang Guotao (a well-known renegade from the CCP), was recruited by the Chinese secret police as far back as 1920. Mao also drew attention to the fact that Wang Ming was arrested by Jiang Jieshi’s [Chiang Kai-shek's] secret police in Shanghai 1930. In spite of the fact that he (Wang) was already known as a prominent CCP activist, somehow he managed to get out of prison while less well known CCP activists were executed by the GMD.

Embassy official V.V. Vaskov and Mao's personal interpreter, Shi Zhe, were present during the conversation, which lasted about 4 hours.

Soviet Ambassador in the PRC, P.F. Yudin

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