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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 09, 1979

MONGOLIAN RECORD OF CONVERSATION WITH SOVIET OFFICIALS IN MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 1979

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    Discusses the cancellation of the alliance treaty between China and the Soviet Union, and the impact this will have on the Mongolian People’s Republic. They are urged not to hurry the cancellation of the treaty, however, because China has not yet explicitly asked for it. They also note that there are anti-Soviet propaganda items being spread in Korea, and the growing role the U.S. is playing in Chinese affairs.
    "Mongolian Record of Conversation with Soviet Officials in Moscow, February 1979," February 09, 1979, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Mongolian Foreign Ministry Archive, Ulaanbaatar, fond 2, dans 1, kh/n 440b. Obtained and translated for CWIHP by Sergey Radchenko. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113310
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Top secret

First Deputy Minister of the MPR MFA D. Yondon and his accompanying people were received, separately, by the First Deputy Minister of the Soviet MFA V.F. Mal'tsev and a member of the collegiums, head of the first Far Eastern Department M.S. Kapitsa.

D. Yondon met with M.S. Kapitsa on February 9, 1979 from 13 to 13 hours, and with the First Deputy Minister V.F. Mal'tsev on the same day from 16 to 17 hours.

[…]

1. During the meeting with M.S. Kapitsa:

D. Yondon asked for the Soviet comrades' opinion and clear explanations regarding steps to be taken in connection with the possible cancellation of the 1950 Sino-Soviet treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Aid, on the Chinese initiative, as well as regarding questions to be discussed at the deputy foreign ministers' meeting, which would take place in Ulaanbaatar in accordance with the 1979 plan of cooperation between the two Foreign Ministries.

[128]

M.S. Kapitsa – With regard to the deputy foreign ministers' meeting, you should yourself put this question to comrade Mal'tsev. Because he is himself connected with this question, it is best to take the answer from him.

It is appropriate to think about, and plan for the possible cancellation of the Sino-Soviet Friendship Treaty on the initiative of the Chinese side. We are also thinking about it (having said this, he let D. Yondon read confidentially the draft of the Soviet government's information [on this subject]).

But if you give a memorandum to China demanding explanation regarding questions mentioned in the memorandum accompanying the treaty [regarding MPR independence], first, they will probably not give any answer. This would be really bad. Secondly, if you write a memorandum touching on questions of your own independence, this would be good “food” for the Chinese leaders.

In the second article of the memorandum exchanged by the Soviet Union and China at the time of conclusion of the Friendship Treaty, the provision regarding respect for the independence and sovereignty of the MPR does not at all mean that the MPR's political independence was established by this memorandum of China and the USSR, but that [both sides pledged] to strengthen and develop Mongolia, which had been independent and sovereign since 1921.

After the Mongolian referendum held on December 20, 1945, the Executive Yuan (Parliament) of the Republic of China made a decision recognizing the independence of the MPR within the now existing borders. On the basis of this decision, the Guomindang government officially (de jure) recognized MPR in early 1946, and established normal diplomatic relations with your country. It is necessary to publish information that the cancellation of the Sino-Soviet treaty on the part of the Chinese leaders is sharply against the interest of the Soviet and the Chinese people; it will further worsen relations between the two countries; it is incompatible with the interests of world socialism, and it shows that the Chinese leaders are openly connected with the evil forces of world imperialism. But one may not touch the Mongolian subject.

If it comes to the cancellation of the treaty, the Chinese leaders will point to different “reasons”. Probably they will say that the nature of the USSR has changed, that aggression is occurring in every corner of the world; that Vietnam is interfering in Cambodia's internal affairs; therefore, PRC cannot be bound to the USSR by the treaty of friendship, alliance and mutual help.

But they have not officially raised the question of the treaty's cancellation. We should not hurry. We'll see what reasons the Chinese leaders put forward, we'll see how they'll cancel it, and then we'll make our step. Under Khrushchev, we hurried too much in canceling the Anglo-Soviet treaty, which served us no good, but became an obstacle. The preservation of the Soviet-Franco treaty throughout the Cold War is helping our relationship a great deal now. Therefore, we will wait and see what steps the Chinese leaders take regarding the cancellation of the Sino-Soviet friendship treaty. As for you, comrades, it would be correct on your part to maintain the treaty concluded with China. Your treaty is not about alliance after all.

Recently Deng Xiaoping went to the USA. The purpose of the trip was to bring China under the US nuclear umbrella, to clear up the question with the island of Taiwan, to stop the SALT-2 agreement, and to use the USA for their own policy. This aim was not accomplished. Sino-US relations directly depend on the extent of Soviet-American relations.

Deng Xiaoping made a big mistake. The US media and the public understood him correctly, depicting him as a “smiling barracuda” (they are saying a man-eating carnivorous fish is ‘laughing' [note-taker's explanation of ‘barracuda']). This shows that the American public correctly understands the danger of being pulled over to the side of the Chinese anti-Soviet policy.

Deng Xiaoping was looking for financial aid in the USA, but the USA will not give anything to China for free. There is no internal capital for carrying out the four modernizations planned by the Chinese leaders. They will get 60 percent of the capital internally and 40 percent externally. They cannot pay back the foreign capital. Just to account by oil extraction, China will reach the 1977 Soviet level by year 2000.

In the USA they think that Deng Xiaoping is more intelligent compared to the former Chinese leaders. But Deng does not have much time to carry out his ideas. It is difficult to say what the Chinese leaders think of Carter.

What is happening on the Vietnamese border worries the USSR a great deal. China has assembled 18 divisions on the Vietnamese border. But the Vietnamese army is a million strong, well armed, well-experienced and battle-worthy. If it comes to a fight with Vietnam, one needs to fight really well. Or they [the Chinese?] will be completely crushed. If a war happens, the world public opinion will support Vietnam. The Chinese are really scared of the USSR. China will probably make a single strike against Vietnam. Probably they will do it like they did it in 1962, when they make a strike against India, going in 20-30 kilometers. Then they will try to capture a large number of Vietnamese soldiers (a response to the capture of Chinese soldiers in Cambodia). But, he said joking, Vietnam may be able to break through by 10-15 kilometers into China.

[132]

If there is a need to strike against China to protect Vietnam, we'll let you know.

Our Far Eastern forces, and the Zabaikal military district are receiving special orders.

Questions of Soviet-Mongolian relations are fine.

[…]

America and China, pushing from two sides, have started a “dialogue” between the two parts of Korea. There is information that the Americans are telling South Korea to “widen relations with regard to getting closer to North Korea, to calm the passions, to establish postal service, exchange tourists, but not to negotiate the question of uniting two Koreas into one.”

North Korea has proposed to have relations within the sphere of the united front program proposed in 1972. South Korea refuses to accept this.

[133]

The Korean comrades put forward the question last autumn about urgent dispatch of a party and government delegation to the USSR. We postponed this until 1979. The Koreans were quiet until February, but now they are starting to talk again. We'll look into this a little bit.

There were anti-Soviet publications in the North Korean press, but now they are stopping. They do not support Vietnam and Kampuchea.

Two years ago Korea was the friend of both China and the Soviet Union. They are really afraid of China, but there is no reason to be afraid of us. But China was pushing the Koreans in our direction. If the need arises, one can strike back at the anti-Soviet publications which come out in Korea.

Koreans want to get 2 billion US dollars worth of weapons from us. We tell them that we can give them 100 million' worth. We don't need to hurry in our work with regard to North Korea. We lost out when Khrushchev hurried in relations with Albania. You, comrades, should also be on good terms with Korea.

We openly criticize some things that appear in the Yugoslav press. But we don't criticize the things that appear in the Korean press.

D. Yondon – At which stage is the Iranian situation now?

M.S. Kapitsa – The possibility of a military coup d'etat does not exceed 50 percent. If there is no coup d'etat, the Shah's rule will fall. Probably a rightist bourgeois democratic state will be established. Internally, a hardline Muslim regime will be established. It will be like Pakistan.

[134]

If in the process of a bourgeois democratic revolution a leftist force emerges, the question will be altogether different.

If it comes to the entry of an external military force, this will also be an invitation to us. We have a treaty with Iran, concluded in 1921.

Although we did not participate in the events in Iran, they are useful to us from all sides. But it will be a dangerous situation if it comes to an internal Civil War, as this cannot be controlled or directed.

D. Yondon – Is anything special happening in the Chinese internal situation?

M.S. Kapitsa – There has not been democracy in China. The struggle for power between Deng and Hua is like that between two goats on a narrow bridge. If force is used, there is danger that both will fall into the water. Deng has a lot of international experience, but he is a person who does not have much time to work with, he'll work at most for five years. Hua wants to wait until Deng's time is up. Both of them graduated from university many years ago, both are backward in terms of their knowledge, and especially incapable of directing the economy.

The Chinese have ideas to come closer to us. They have the idea to exchange athletes. They have a policy to widen trade. This is a policy directed at maintaining permanent tensions in relations with China, and using the Soviet Union. We will treat this carefully.

2. During the meeting with V.F. Mal'tsev […]

[135]

[…]

D. Yondon – The main question to consult with you about, comrades, is what steps to take if it comes to the Chinese leaders' cancellation of the 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty.

On the other hand, at the time the 1950 Sino-Soviet friendship was concluded, the Soviet Union and China exchanged memoranda regarding recognition of Mongolian independence. If the treaty is cancelled, there is the problem of what harm, from the legal perspective, may come out in this respect.

[136]

It is also interesting what caused this exchange of notes, and on what basis it happened. Comrade M.S. Kapitsa's book briefly mentions that at the time the Chinese leaders unofficially put forward the question to the Soviet Union of uniting Mongolia with China. […]

V. F. Mal'tsev – We talked about the questions you have put forward at the Ministry. We thought that there is no need to be nervous and uneasy in this respect. We think that one does not need to show China this sort of nervousness or uneasiness. […]