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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 05, 1954

FROM THE JOURNAL OF V. V. VASKOV, 27 AUGUST 1954: TOP SECRET MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION WITH COMRADE MAO ZEDONG ON 5 JULY 1954

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    Soviet Charge d’Affaires in Beijing V.V. Vaskov and Comrade Mao Zedong discuss the Soviet plans to take advantage of the changing situation in France. Mao mentions that Zhou is meeting with Ho Chi Ming and Vo Nguyen Giap in Guanxi and won't be able to come to Geneva until July 12-13. The topic of conversation then shifts to the US and a recent meeting between US President Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Mao notes that there is a diverge between Eisenhower and Churchill regarding the desirability of a dialogue with the Communists. Mao says that the US has dispersed its forces far and wide, so they are trying to resurrect West Germany and Japan.
    "From the Journal of V. V. Vaskov, 27 August 1954: Top Secret Memorandum of Conversation with Comrade Mao Zedong on 5 July 1954," July 05, 1954, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AVP RF, f.0100, op. 47, papka 379, d. 7, 11. II. 69-70. Obtained and translated by Paul Wingrove. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112964
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From the Journal of V.V. Vaskov, 27 August 1954

Note of Conversation with Comrade Mao Zedong on 5 July 1954

Today at 7 p.m. I visited Comrade Mao Zedong and, on instructions from Moscow [Tsentr], informed him that the CPSU CC considers it necessary to take advantage of the favorable circumstances developing in France to find a resolution of the Indochina question. In this connection Comrade Molotov will arrive in Geneva on 7 July, intending to meet with Mendes-France before the start of the official sessions. I further informed him that in the opinion of the CPSU CC it would be good if Comrade Zhou Enlai could arrive in Geneva before 10 July. I further informed him that the foreign ministers of England and France would be informed, through the Soviet embassies in London and Paris, that V. M. Molotov would arrive in Geneva before 10 July, in order to rest for a few days before the start of the sessions.

Mao Zedong said that he considered us to be absolutely correct in seeking to take advantage of the improving situation in France to resolve the Indochina question. At the same time he told me that Zhou Enlai was at present in Liuzhou [Guangxi province] where he was holding discussions with [Vietnamese leaders] Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap. These discussions should be concluded on 5 July. Under favorable conditions Zhou Enlai would be able to arrive in Beijing no earlier than 6/7 July. He would be able to fly from Beijing to Moscow on 9/10 July and, thus, would in practice only be able to arrive in Geneva by 12/13 July.

Later, in the course of the conversation, Mao referred to the recently concluded [informal] discussions between [British Prime Minister Winston] Churchill and [US President Dwight D.] Eisenhower [in Washington]. Mao said that he had read with great interest an article devoted to these talks, translated from “Pravda” of 3 July. Mao noted that while the US government was slamming the door on talks with the USSR and other countries of the democratic camp, the British government was expressing itself in favor of these talks. Churchill, boasting of his services as an old fighter against communism, nonetheless declared to the Americans that he was in favor of talks with the communists and of peaceful co-existence with the communist countries. Obviously, remarked Mao ironically, the international situation is such that even reactionary figures like Churchill are beginning to acknowledge Marxist-Leninist principles in foreign policy.

As for the US, Mao continued, they have spread their forces across the globe, but in the event of significant international complications that does not bode well for them. That is why the US tries by all means of its aggressive policy to revive the armed strength of West Germany and Japan. However, relying on West Germany and Japan, in the light of opposition to American policy in those countries, as well as in other countries, especially France, is an uncertain position for the US.

During the conversation Mao gave me, for my information, Zhou Enlai's telegram sent from Liuzhou on 4 July (we have sent the translated telegram by telegraph to Moscow). The conversation took place in Mao Zedong's apartment and lasted 30 minutes. The CCP CC director of foreign affairs, Yang Shangkun, and the first secretary of the Soviet embassy, I. I. Safronov, were also present during the conversation.

V.V. Vaskov (Temporary Plenipotentiary)

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