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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 17, 1955

FROM THE JOURNAL OF AMBASSADOR PAVEL YUDIN: RECORD OF CONVERSATION WITH MAO ZEDONG ON 8 JANUARY 1955

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    A conversation with Soviet Ambassador to China Pavel Yudin and Mao Zedong concerning then-current Sino Soviet relations. Topics included commitment of Party cadres to the Marxist-Leninist ideal, a meeting in Jakarta between prime ministers of India, Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), and Indonesia, and how to counterbalance the United States in Asia and Africa.
    "From the Journal of Ambassador Pavel Yudin: Record of Conversation with Mao Zedong on 8 January 1955," January 17, 1955, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AVP RF, f. 0100, op. 48, papka 393, d. 9, ll. 24-30. Obtained by Paul Wingrove and translated for CWIHP by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111366
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From the journal of

P. F. Yudin

Secret

Copy Nº 2

17 January 1955

Record of a conversation

with Cde. MAO ZEDONG

8 January 1955

Today I visited Cde. Mao Zedong and passed him the CPSU CC package sent by diplomatic post. Having received the package, Cde. Mao Zedong immediately opened it and through the interpreter, Cde. Shi Zhe, briefly familiarized himself with the contents of the package. (The package contained information about the procedure for holding days devoted to the memory of V. I. Lenin). He asked that his gratitude for the information sent be passed to the CPSU CC.

After this a conversation was held. Cde. Mao Zedong said that for them the issue of Marxist-Leninist education of cadre and the non-Party intelligentsia is very pressing. He said that in China there are about five million people classed as intellectuals: one million Party cadre; one and a half million instructors of primary and secondary schools, institutes, and universities; one and a half million various technical intellectuals; and one million people of other categories of intellectual work - writers, artistic figures, architects, journalists, and others. Most intellectuals are weakly connected with Marxism. Their heads contain a mass of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois preconceptions. They are still under the influence of an ideology inherited from the Americans. Hu Shi, the main figure who propagandized American ideology in China at one time, was a direct continuer of the subjective idealist, American philosopher Dewey, who [Dewey], by the way, lived in China from 1920 to 1922 and lectured in large cities of the country.

At the present time broad masses of the intelligentsia are still under the influence of literary critic and important bourgeois scholar Yu Pingbo, a follower of Hu Shi in China. Even Party cadre are under the influence of Yu Pingbo. For example, the editorial board of the Party journal for literature and art was completely on the side of Yu Pingbo, part of the staff of the CPC CC are on his side, and a considerable number of writers and Communist teachers are on his side.

The CPC CC, which has discussed the state of affairs on the ideological front in detail has found such a phenomenon to be abnormal when representatives of bourgeois ideology and idealists openly carry on their propaganda and many Party cadre follow them. The CPC CC has developed a plan to fight bourgeois ideology and consolidate Marxist ideology throughout all the primary fields of science, art, and literature. Cde. Mao Zedong said, we are counting on actively and systematically exposing bourgeois ideology and propagandizing Communist ideology in the press and in oral propaganda day after day for a year. He said, we think that we will be able to inflict a serious defeat on bourgeois ideology in all its forms, and expose the idealism in various sciences, including natural science. New, young cadre of the Marxist-Leninists are being trained and advanced in this fight. If we do not root out bourgeois ideology and idealism in history among the intelligentsia and we do not pursue very great work to consolidate the principles of Marxist-Leninist science among the very broadest cadre, then we will not cope with the tasks of building socialism and will not be able to lead the entire people to overcome the enormous difficulties facing us. Socialism can be built only when the ideological and scientific principles of Communism have been established in the Party and the broad popular masses.

Cde. Mao Zedong noted, we are seeking for the bourgeoisie and its ideology to be discredited more seriously, if not finally, not only in the consciousness of Party members but also in the consciousness of intellectuals who are not Party members and the popular masses. We have achieved much in the fight against the bourgeoisie in the economic and political fields. Somewhere we have even gone further than necessary at this moment. Cde. Mao Zedong said that he had recently been in a number of cities: in Shanghai, in Changsha, and in others, and had talked much with workers. Private traders have been seriously compromised in the eyes of the workers, for example. The workers do not trust them and say that business owners swindle them. At the same time the workers trust state stores and the cooperative system. In some provinces state and cooperative retail trade is up to 70% and business owners, only 30%. This is an obvious leap forward. We are thinking somewhat of keeping the growth of state retail trade; otherwise, it will turn out that we will press the business owners without having fully coped with serving the population, and in addition such a sharp curtailment of private commerce will lead to unemployment.

The issue of the economic education of Party cadre was touched on in the conversation. Cde. Mao Zedong said that at the present time he is studying what has been written in their press and what is being written now about political economy and economic issues in general. He said, it is very important to us for our Party cadre and managers to be economically literate so that they can conscientiously manage and direct the economy. We will discuss issues about the economic education of Party cadre specially at a meeting of the CPC CC. We will soon finish the translation of a textbook on political economy and will publish three million copies of it to start. Cde. Mao Zedong said, what I have managed to read of it says that the textbook is good and it will bring us great benefit.

Cde. Mao Zedong then touched on the issue of the conference in Jakarta of the prime ministers of India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, and Indonesia. He said that at the beginning there were great differences at this conference. The representatives of India and Burma favored inviting China to the conference of the countries of Asia and Africa but the representatives of Pakistan and Ceylon objected to the invitation sharply. Indonesia initially did not express an opinion for or against an invitation to China. Cde. Mao Zedong said that U Nu took a very good position at the conference of the five. He stated that if the PRC was not invited to the conference of the countries of Asia and Africa then Burma, too, would not be able to take part in this conference. A break was held in the conference of the prime ministers during which the Indonesian representative pursued active work with the representatives of Pakistan and Ceylon and came to agreement with them about inviting the PRC to the conference of the countries of Asia and Africa.

I noted that during U Nu's stay in Peking the Chinese comrades did much work with him, which led to a significant change in the position of the government of Burma in the direction of a rapprochement with the PRC. Cde. Mao Zedong replied that "Yes, we dispelled many of his doubts and preconceptions with respect to the PRC and the USSR".

Cde. Mao Zedong then said that they, the Chinese friends, attach very great importance to the conference of the countries of Asia and Africa. The Americans are afraid of this conference. It could lead to their further isolation, especially in the countries of Asia. They (the Americans) will try to wreck the conference of the countries of Asia and Africa in every possible way. Pakistan and Ceylon will probably help them in this.

Cde. Mao Zedong said that the Chinese friends have decided to take such a position with the conference of the countries of Asia and Africa so as not to present themselves as leaders of the conference, but to only be its participants. We are offering the role of leaders of the conference to Nehru and U Nu. This will be better from the point of view of weakening the US position in their struggle to wreck this conference. Cde. Mao Zedong noted that the US position in Asia has seriously weakened. At the present time the US is threatening the PRC with a blockade of the Chinese coast, threatening war, etc. However, it was easier for the Americans to blockade our coast or to start a war against us when the war was going on in Korea. At the present time it is considerably more difficult to do this because Japan is beginning to take a more or less independent position and does not want a blockade of China since it wants to trade with China, and wants to tear away from the American yoke. If one adds to this that India, Burma, and Indonesia are taking independent positions and do not want American hegemony in their countries then it becomes obvious that not only the position of the US but also the position of Britain in the Far East has been seriously undermined and weakened.

Cde. Mao Zedong spoke of Hammarskjold very sharply, saying that he is an American stooge. He (Hammarskjold) evidently had come without any agreement with us about anything and then began to speak against the PRC in order to further aggravate the situation in the Far East. Mao Zedong said that Hammarskjold has been behaving badly so far, provocatively. Possibly he will subsequently change his policy. In this event the result will be only that some opportunity will subsequently be created, but not now, to return to the issue of restoring the PRC's legal rights in the UN.

Mao Zedong said in this respect that, to tell the truth, the PRC is not very interested in recognition of the PRC by America and consequently in joining the UN. These issues are interconnected. He said, we understand that there are certain pluses if the PRC joins the UN and is recognized by the US but, in my view, there are no fewer pluses in the US not recognizing us right now. This provides us an opportunity to more freely educate the people in an anti-American spirit and more freely make preparations to eliminating the exploiting classes in our country. If the US does not recognize us for another 8-10 years then we will meanwhile be creating the foundations of socialism. The USSR is in a more difficult situation than the PRC is at the present time. American only recognized the USSR 16 years after the October Revolution; nevertheless the Soviet Union did not perish from the fact that America did not recognize it but managed to build the foundations of a socialist society during this time.

The issue of the recent CPSU CC and CPC CC letter in which it said that the US, Britain, and France had adopted a policy of preparing for a nuclear war and in this connection are developing propaganda of a nuclear war was touched upon in the conversation. Cde. Mao Zedong began to explore the position of the US, Britain, and France in detail from the point of view of their readiness at the present time for war against the socialist camp. He said that the situation of the imperialists in the Far East was not strong. In addition, they cannot wage war in the Far East without Japan but Japan is not prepared for a war and moreover at the present time does not want to fight China and the Soviet Union. In the West the imperialists also cannot begin a war against our camp without Germany, but Germany is also not prepared for a war. In addition, the imperialists' situation in such countries as France and Italy is very unstable and shaky. At the same time our socialist camp represents enormous strength, and of course the imperialists know this and it seriously fears us. The Communist Party in the countries of capitalism also play a very serious role and are undermining the imperialists' strength every day. International Communism has become an enormous force, for it is no accident that no meeting of bourgeois parliaments and international conferences of representatives of bourgeois countries occurs that they do not curse or slander Communists. Not a single bourgeois newspaper lets a day pass without cursing Communists. Cde. Mao Zedong said, all this reflects that Communism and the socialist camp are really powerful, and the international imperialists seriously fear us. This is why, said Cde. Mao Zedong, I think that the Americans and the other imperialists are raising a fuss about a nuclear war in order to hide their weakness. They are thinking of frightening the popular masses of their countries and the peoples of the countries of socialism with a clamor about a nuclear war. But this clamor of theirs with a threat of nuclear war should be turned against them with the efforts of the Communist Parties. The working class and all workers in general do not want a war, but the threat of a nuclear war increasingly sets them against the imperialists, against the instigators of a war.

At the end of the conversation Cde. Mao Zedong said that Cde. Guo Moruo will go from the PRC to the expanded meeting of the World Peace Council.

The conversation lasted more than two hours.

Cdes. Shi Zhe and T. F. Skvortsov were present during the conversation.

USSR Ambassador in the PRC

/P. Yudin/

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