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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 20, 1969

ZHOU ENLAI, KANG SHENG, PHAM VAN DONG, HOANG VAN THAI AND PHAM HUNG ADDRESS THE COSVN DELEGATION

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    Zhou Enlai acknowledges that Nixon has recognized Cambodia and sees the problems connected. Zhou Enlai warns the Vietnamese about being deceived by Soviet revisionists during negotiations with the US. Kang Sheng criticizes the number of Vietnamese being sent abroad to study.
    "Zhou Enlai, Kang Sheng, Pham Van Dong, Hoang Van Thai and Pham Hung address the COSVN delegation," April 20, 1969, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, CWIHP Working Paper 22, "77 Conversations." https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112183
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ZHOU ENLAI, KANG SHENG AND PHAM VAN DONG, HOANG VAN THAI, PHAM HUNG AND OTHERS IN THE COSVN DELEGATION

Beijing, 20 and 21 April 1969

April 20

Zhou Enlai: New developments have been seen in Indochina.  We have to acknowledge that Nixon is more intelligent than Johnson.  He established diplomatic relations with Cambodia and recognized Cambodia’s borders with the neighboring countries.  As far as the situation in Cambodia is concerned, we are not as optimistic as you are.  Even though [Sihanouk] carries out a policy of double-dealing, he is tilting to the right.  The US also knows that China is supplying materiel to forces in South Vietnam via Cambodia and that the NLF armed forces are using part of Cambodian territory for their operations.[1]

As we are comrades in arms, I would like to talk straightforwardly.  You often say to us: “We are determined to fight and we make decisions by ourselves.”  Of course, any party and country has the right to make decisions with regard to its own fate.  And it is good to have such a determination and belief.  But as brothers we have to talk with each other in an open manner, so I say that it is impossible to think that you can deceive the US and the revisionist Soviets with your tactics.  We are somewhat concerned that you will be deceived by them instead.  We have to be vigilant because both the Soviets and the US are imperialist chieftains.

You may think that with your proposal on the establishment of a government of peace and the subsequent withdrawal of American troops you can trap them.  We think, however, that your proposal will make the people less vigilant and lose sight of the principles.  During negotiations, if you do not accept their [the Soviet] advice, they can cut their aid.  (Perhaps you know this better than we do.)  The Soviets may exert pressure, forcing you to negotiate when you do not want to or they may recognize and secretly contact a neutral government.  In case this happens, what kind of situation will the Vietnamese Party and people be in?  You have to think it over.  The Soviets talk about peace and socialism, but what they really want is to preserve their interests.

I still maintain what I told comrades Pham Van Dong and Muoi Cuc earlier on, that you should spend less foreign currency and [time of] officials on the negotiations in Paris.

April 21

Kang Sheng: Many North Vietnamese students and trainees have been sent abroad.  It seems that you have abundant human resources, so that you can send people abroad and at the same time do not have difficulty in supplying manpower for the armed forces as well as the production forces.  At present, there are about 6,000 Vietnamese students and trainees in China.  Will it be better if these people can be organized into 10 combat units and be sent to the battlefield?  The enemies in the South are suffering human losses, but their forces are also reinforced at a quick pace.  At the same time, China has some problems.  We would like you to consider this matter with a view to better and more reasonably using your human resources.

[1] The US had begun its secret bombing of eastern Cambodia on March 18.