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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 29, 1968

DISCUSSION BETWEEN ZHOU ENLAI, KANG SHENG AND PHAM VAN DONG

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    Discussion on the international communist movement and the possible causes that could bring about collapse.
    "Discussion between Zhou Enlai, Kang Sheng and Pham Van Dong," April 29, 1968, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, CWIHP Working Paper 22, "77 Conversations." https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112176
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ZHOU ENLAI, KANG SHENG, AND PHAM VAN DONG

Beijing, 29 April 1968[1]

Zhou Enlai: For a long time, the United States has been half-encircling China.  Now the Soviet Union is also encircling China.  The circle is getting complete, except [the part of] Vietnam.

Pham Van Dong: We are all the more determined to defeat the US imperialists in all of Vietnamese territory.

Zhou Enlai: That is why we support you.

Pham Van Dong: That we are victorious will have a positive impact in Asia.  Our victory will bring about unforeseeable outcomes.

Zhou Enlai: You should think that way.

Pham Van Dong: The Soviet comrades listened to us with great enthusiasm.  They wanted to know the situation as well as our experiences.  Comrade Nguyen Don[2] then informed Comrade [Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei] Gromyko [about] some issues of national defense.  The Soviet comrades wholeheartedly support us and they also expressed support for our complete victory.  They, however, did say that there would be more sacrifices since large-scale battles would occur.  We answered that hardship would be inevitable.  In the coming period, we would be more prepared for both large-scale battles and hardship.  We would definitely be victorious.

Kang Sheng: The Great Cultural Revolution originated from the idea that classes and class struggle still exist in the socialist system.  This idea is both theoretical and empirical.  Experiences have shown that even in the Soviet Union—the homeland of Lenin—the Bolshevik party adopted revisionism.  Our experiences over the past 20 years in building a  proletarian dictatorship, and especially the recent incidents in Eastern Europe where bourgeois liberalism and capitalism were restored,[3] also pose the question of how to conduct a revolution in the context of the proletarian dictatorship and under socialist conditions.  To solve the problem, Chairman Mao himself initiated the Great Cultural Revolution in China.

Chairman Mao put forth a three-year plan, starting from June 1966.  The task of the first year was mobilization of the people, [that of] the second year was to gain significant victories and [that of] the last year is to conclude the Revolution.  As for a great revolution like this, three years is not a long period of time.  Moreover, according to Chairman Mao, the Great Revolution does not consist of only one or two smaller revolutions.

Now I talk of the preparatory phase from December 1965 to June 1966.  [This consisted of p]reparations for readiness in opinion and thought.  During this period, we exposed Peng Zhen, Luo Ruiqing, Lu Dingyi, Yang Shangkun.[4]  Also in this period, we released two important documents: the decision in February 1966 by Comrade Lin Biao empowering Comrade Jiang Qing to convene the Conference on the Armed Forces Cultural Activities and the 16 May Statement of the extended Politburo meeting.  The latter is a document of great historic significance, laying theoretical foundations for the Revolution to begin.  President Ho had a copy of the statement before it was announced.

Let me talk about the reactionary crimes committed by Peng Zhen, Luo Ruiqing, Lu Dingyi, Yang Shangkun.  Once, when Peng Zhen was arrested, he confessed to Jiang Jieshi.  He was not only a traitor, but also continued to have relations with Jiang’s secret agents.  His father-in-law was also a big traitor.  Peng’s confession led to the arrest of many members of the CCP.  He took advantage of the clandestine situation to cover his crimes.

Luo Ruiqing is a pseudo CCP member, as he later confessed that he had never been admitted to the party.  He also confessed that he was in Wuhan, studying in an Army College, but he had not participated in the Nanchang uprising.  In 1929, he was in Shanghai, self-styled as a CCP member.  His past records were revealed during the Cultural Revolution.  We also know that when he was working in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, he made use of the counterintelligence work to steal secret state documents and send them to the enemy.  I just take two cases: he reported to the enemy on both the visit by Chairman Mao to the Soviet Union in 1949-1950 and one of the visits by Comrade Pham Van Dong to China.

Lu Dingyi participated in the revolution with a negative attitude and motives of racketeering.  In 1930, he returned to China, restoring connections with his old friends in the Guomindang.  During the CCP-GMD cooperation against the Japanese in 1937, he was working in the CCP office in Nanning and was defending the interests of his family which had feudal and capitalist roots.  The Red Guards searched his house and found the documents on these deeds.  Therefore, he cannot help but confess that he has been a GMD agent since 1930.

Yang Shangkun has sent many documents to the revisionists in the Soviet Union.

During the preparatory phase, apart from exposing these persons, we also got the people psychologically ready and laid the theoretical base for the Great Cultural Revolution to start.

Zhou Enlai: In the Politburo Conference in May 1966, Comrade Lin Biao delivered an excellent report, analyzing the characteristics of the Mao Zedong era and focusing on the following point: all the struggles are aimed at seizing power and consolidating power.  This report not only exposed these four persons but also implied criticism of Liu Shaoqi who has never publicized the thoughts of Mao Zedong.  I have had Comrade Lin Biao’s report sent to Vietnamese comrades.

Kang Sheng: On 16 May 1966, Chairman Mao stressed: revisionists, reactionaries, and traitors are hiding among us and enjoying our friends’ trust.  At that time, many cadres did not understand what Chairman Mao really meant, thinking that the allusion was to Luo and Peng.  But in fact, Peng Zhen had been exposed.  No one dared to think of who were traitors among us.

Zhou Enlai: Yet, Comrade Mao had thought of this.

Kang Sheng: In his report, Comrade Lin Biao had a famous statement: “The whole country will rise up to confront anyone who opposes Chairman Mao and the policy of proletarian dictatorship.”

In the period between June 1966 and January 1967, Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were exposed as being capitalistic and reactionary.  

On the first of June 1966, Chairman Mao decided on the publication of the big-character newspaper of Beijing University nationwide, igniting the torch of the Great Cultural Revolution.  He later sent a letter of support to the Red Guards, thus helping the Red Guards movement develop across the country.  After August 13, Chairman Mao received representatives of the Red Guards 8 times.  Then the 11th Plenum criticized the reactionary policy of Liu and Deng and adopted a 16-point manifesto on the Great Cultural Revolution and released a statement of the Plenum.  Chairman Mao wrote an article entitled “Storming the Headquarters.”

In November 1966, another conference was convened by the Central Committee to continue criticism of Liu and Deng and enlarge the anti-Khrushchev drive in China.  By then, the revolutionary policy of Chairman Mao had succeeded and the long-hidden faces of counterrevolution of Liu and Deng were exposed.  The Red Guards examined French and GMD documents and found out that in 1925 Liu surrendered to the enemy.  In 1927, Liu ordered Wuhan workers to surrender their weapons to the GMD government.  According to Japanese documents, Liu surrendered to the Japanese in 1929 in Manchuria and as bank papers showed, since 1936, Liu has received GMD money.

There is also another point we want to make: Liu’s wife—Wang Guangmei—is an agent of American Intelligence.  I still recall criticizing Luo Ruiqing, saying that the enemy, because of our lack of vigilance, could send tanks into our beds—tank is jargon for wife.  The reason I said that was the marriage of Luo with a Japanese agent who upon her exposure had to flee.  At that time Luo’s tank was small.  Now in Liu’s bed, there was a big and sophisticated Chinese tank sent by the US.

For his part, Deng was clearly a defector during the Civil War.  He also opposed the thoughts of Mao Zedong in a consistent way.  He tried to block Chairman Mao and send members of his family as well as bad agents to the Party.  We have uncovered the Chinese Khrushchevs who have been hiding among us.  

The Party School and its branches at the provincial and district levels have for the last 18 years represented a stubborn fort opposing the thoughts of Mao Zedong.  Liu controlled the Party school from 1948 until the Cultural Revolution, using the School to exchange intelligence documents with the Soviets.  

Zhou Enlai: In the period from September 1967 until now, Chairman Mao said that an all-round victory has been gained.  With whom did we struggle in this period?  The remaining reactionaries in our ranks.  But in general, the revolutionary policy of Chairman Mao has gained great victories and reactionary policies have collapsed.  Revolutionary Committees have been established in all except 8 provinces.  Reality has proved the success of Chairman Mao’s policy.  The traitors, defectors within the party, have been exposed, the level of education of the people and cadres has been raised, and the party membership has been purified and is now relatively pure.

At the 7th Party Congress, Liu Shaoqi read a report on the State of the Party in which there was a part devoted to the thoughts of Mao Zedong.  In fact, someone wrote this part for him and he used this part to deceive the CCP members and the Central Committee in order to win the party’s trust.  After the Congress, Liu never mentioned the thoughts of Mao Zedong again, and he did not use the thoughts of Mao Zedong to criticize the book “On the Betterment Of Party Members.”  To the contrary, he used the book to oppose the thoughts of Mao Zedong.

Comrade Lin Biao has written many works in support of Mao Zedong Thought.  But as a modest person, he did not publicize them.  Comrade Lin Biao has undergone the tests of the protracted struggle.  40 years have passed since his first meeting with Chairman Mao.  He has proven himself a comrade in arms of Chairman Mao.

Kang Sheng: After national liberation, Liu Shaoqi went to Tianjin and delivered a speech saying that the Chinese technological foundation was weak, not even equal to that under the Tsarist system.  He even said that capitalist exploitation was not wrong but rewarding.

Theoretically, Liu is a descendant of  Bernstein, Kautsky, Bukharin and Khrushchev.  In China, we have the same people, namely Qu Qiubai, Chen Duxiu, Li Lisan, Wang Ming, Zhang Guotao, and Liu Shaoqi.  Their theory is very harmful for the international Communist movement.

[1] The Vietnamese Party and Government delegation went to Beijing after a visit to the Soviet Union.

[2] Nguyen (Van) Don (1918- ) was a southerner (born in Quang Ngai). He served as commander and political officer in Interzone V (south-central Vietnam) until 1967, and subsequently played a key role in Hanoi as Vice Minister of Defense and Deputy Chief of Staff. He seems to have lost his influence in 1976.

[3] Possibly an allusion to reformist movements in Czechoslovakia (the “Prague Spring”) and perhaps Poland, where authorities had recently begun a crackdown on dissidents.

[4] Before being purged late in 1965, Yang Shangkun was an alternate member of the CCP Central Secretariat and director of the Central Administrative Office of the CCP CC.