REPORT BY THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION ON CHINA'S POLICY TOWARD WESTERN EUROPE AND OPPOSITION AGAINST THE CSCE
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get citationThis document contains information prepared by the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) on China's European policy and Chinese opposition to the convocation of a Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). It states that China's overall goals are diametrically opposed to those of the European Socialist countries and their Communist parties, with Beijing identifying the Soviet Union as its primary enemy. In this light, the Soviet leadership maintains that actively confronting China in ideological and political terms remains one of the most important tasks of the Warsaw Pact countries."Report by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on China's Policy toward Western Europe and Opposition against the CSCE," July 09, 1973, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Obtained for CWIHP by Bernd Schaefer and translated for CWIHP by Karen Riechert. Included in the document reader for the international conference "China and the Warsaw Pact in the 1970-1980s" held by CWHIP and the Parallel History Project March 2004 in Beijing. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114802
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9.7. 1973 Confidential
[handwritten notes:] “Circulation Politburo, EH [Erich Honecker] 9.7.‘73“
As a result of many years of persistent efforts by the socialist countries and the entire European Communist movement, commitments which had been collectively phrased at the 1967 conference of the European Communist movement in Karlovy Vary, and issues related to European matters in the platform of uniform actions for the anti-imperialist struggle which had been passed at the International Consultation of 1969, were successfully realized. Processes have begun to unfold in Europe marking a turn towards detente, towards the creation of a system of security, and towards a mutually beneficial cooperation of European nations.
Even today the forces of reaction don’t give up their attempts to halt the positive changes on the continent although their defeat has become obvious. In our opinion, it must not be permitted for reactionary and revanchist forces and their minions to gain considerable influence on decisions shaping the future of Europe for decades.
Enemies of an improvement of the international situation in Europe recently were supported by the Chinese leadership, which has begun to actively interfere into European affairs. This became very clear in numerous talks of high-ranking Chinese officials with members of European governments. Those talks became widely publicized and were denied by the Chinese not once. It became also clear by their interviews given to bourgeois journalists, by statements of Chinese diplomats in third countries, and by comments of Beijing’s propaganda on events in Europe. All that clearly allowed to identify Beijing’s positions on basic questions of European policy. These positions aim at weakening the position of the socialist community in Europe, at dividing the Communist movement, and at collaborating with any anti-Soviet and anti-Communist political forces in Europe - even reactionary ones.
Of course you are familiar with the position of the Chinese leadership. We would like to provide a listing, as comprehensive as possible, of all statements made by Chinese officials and of the most revealing statements of Beijing’s propaganda on this issue. We believe that such information would prove to be useful for the propagandistic and political work.
The credo of Chinese European policy had been spelled in general terms already in 1970, when Beijing’s leaders began to clarify the real meaning of the theory of the struggle against “one-two superpowers”. Basically it amounted to focus on the confrontation with the Soviet Union as “Enemy Number One“. At that time, Zhou Enlai declared in an interview with the French correspondent F. Debré: “Chinese policy supports the creation of an united and independent Europe so that the power of these countries serves as a factor to tie up the Soviet Union in the West.” This overall goal was expressed then more specifically in statements by Beijing which are diametrically opposed to the positions of the Communist movement on basic questions of European politics.
Chinese leaders had started with slandering massively the treaties of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of Poland with the Federal Republic of Germany. The newspaper “Renmin Ribao“ declared, shortly after the ratification [of those treaties], that it would “not serve the cause of peace and security in Europe, but rather damage it“, and that the treaty of the Soviet Union with the Federal Republic of Germany would give the latter “the right to annex the GDR“. The Chinese leadership tried its utmost to make sure that the signed treaties would not come into effect and the development of positive relations between the GDR and the FRG would be halted. After hopes to thwart the ratification of the treaties had failed, there was no more mentioning in the Chinese press of defending the sovereignty and interests of the GDR. Now it is the time to speculate on the stirring up of revanchist feelings within the FRG. Zhou Enlai and other leading officials in Beijing threw their support behind [CDU politician] Gerhard Schröder and West German businessmen to support the conception of the “one German nation“. During negotiations with West German Foreign Minister W. Scheel in Beijing in October 1972, Zhou Enlai talked about the “anomaly“ of German division and recognized the “legitimacy of the West German interests in West Berlin“. After the meeting with Zhou Enlai, W. Scheel stated that Bonn and Beijing agree on these questions.
Beijing in particular strives to prevent the consolidation of the results of the Second World War and to deny recognition to the inviolability of borders. The idea that “the Second World War has left us with a number of problems warranting a solution“ (Interview Zhou Enlai’s with AFP [Agence France Press] correspondent G. Marain) has been been widely reported, also that “though 28 years have passed since the Second World War, there is still chaos and disorder in the world“ (statement by [Chinese Foreign Minister] Zhi Pengfei in London on 7 June 1973). Again the leadership in Beijing attempts to escalate the territorial question in Europe and to provoke territorial claims of European powers against each other and especially against the Soviet Union. The “accidental“ remark by Zhou Enlai in a talk with the CEO of the Krupp Company, B. Beitz, in May of this year is typical: “Königsberg is now called Kaliningrad. I only know a Königsberg.“
The Chinese leadership is defaming in every possible way the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, first by suggesting for quite a while its uselessness, and now by distorting its agenda.
In February 1972 Zhou Enlai stated in a conversation with a member of a French parliamentary delegation: “The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe strikes us as worrisome: Either the Russians will emerge victorious from this conference and become the guararantors of your [the French] independence, or there will be a detente between East and West and Soviet troops will show up at China’s Northern border.“ The head of the UN delegation of the PR of China explained: “The so-called European Security Conference can only serve as another cover for dividing up the spheres of influence between the two ‘superpowers’ by means of military blocs. Such a conference would better be called ‘Conference on Insecurity in Europe’.”
After the decision to convene the European Security Conference, the Chinese no longer openly oppose it, but “warn“ continuously of the “danger of participation of the superpowers“. They spread the notion that the conference would be solely advantageous to the Soviet Union since it would stabilize the results of the “plot by the two superpowers to divide up spheres of influence in Europe“ (that is how Beijing today defines the results of the Second World War). Beijing warns the conference not to accept the principles suggested by the Soviet Union and other European socialist states, because those principles would allegedly lead to the “enslavement“ of the smaller European states and to the “disarmament“ of Europe vis-a-vis the military power of the Soviet Union and her allies. Therefore, in March 1973, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the PR China contended in a talk with a journalist of the [Yugoslavian] news agency Tanyug: “Conditions set by the Soviet Union cannot create a true system of collective security in Europe.“
Zhou Enlai persistently demonstrated the unconditional support of Beijing to the “Common Market“ in meetings with the foreign ministers of France, Great Britain, the FRG and Italy, as well as in interviews with several bourgeois journalists. He emphasized the “importance of an economic and political union of Western Europe for the resistance against the hegemony by the superpowers“. According to his words, it is in particular the EEC which can “minimize tensions in Europe and further world peace“ (Interview with the editor-in-chief of “The Times“ in October 1972). In a conversation with [French Foreign Minister] M. Schumann, Mao Zedong welcomed the decision of the [British] Conservative Party on Great Britain’s entrance into the EEC, despite the fact that the [British] Communist Party, the Labour Party, and the public opinion of the country had been protesting against that. Likewise Beijing tried to persuade other European nations to join the EEC.
As had been correctly stated by several European Communist parties in their declarations (CP of Denmark, CP of Norway, German Communist Party), Beijing’s policy towards the “Common Market“ is another telling example of the Chinese leadership’s complete break with a class-related approach to questions of international politics and with the principles of proletarian solidarity. The Chinese leaders completely ignore that the EEC is characterized as an international organization of monopolistic capitalism directed against the working class. They overlook the inherent tendency of the EEC to restrict the sovereignty of member states by subordination of national institutions under so-called “supra-national economic and political corporations“.
Moreover: Today Chinese leaders openly opt for the transformation of the “Common Market“ into a military-political group. In a conversation with the Italian Foreign Minister G. Medici in January 1973, Zhou Enlai said that “the struggle for integration should not be limited to the economy but also encompass the area of politics and defense.“ Therefore the Chinese leadership supports those tendencies and activities of the “Common Market“ against which not only the Communists, but also many democratic parties, the trade unions and the wider public are opposed. The flirtation with the EEC goes along with massively slandering statements against Comecon.
Support for the “Common Market“ on the basis of indifference to class issues has recently been supplemented by declarations about the “preservation and stabilization of the aggressive North Atlantic Treaty Organization.“ Zhou Enlai remarked during a conversation with the Italian Foreign Minister, G. Medici, that atlanticism has “helped to preserve peace and create an international balance of power.“ Starting in early 1973, about two dozens of articles on NATO have been published in Chinese newspapers. The Chinese press reprints information on several consultations of leading NATO politicians and on maneuvers of NATO forces. It highlights with open sympathy those passages stating that “the West European countries need to find a common language vis-a-vis the Soviet Union and combine their forces, and that Western Europe’s goal must be the strengthening of its defense capabilities” (Xinhua, 4 January 1973). On 24 February 1973, “Renmin Ribao” published excerpts from a White Paper of the British Ministry of Defense which emphasized that “Great Britain will strengthen its defense“ and will have to maintain “its priority in this area together with the other countries of Western Europe within the framework of NATO, and outside of it“.
Earlier Chinese propaganda had contended that strengthening the political, economic and military system of Western Europe would offer the chance to successfully confront the two “superpowers“. Now there is talk about the need of a close military alliance of Western Europe with the United States. Thus the real goal of the Chinese leadership becomes apparent: It is not about Western Europe facing the two “superpowers“, but only about facing the Soviet Union. In July 1972, Zhou Enlai indicated to two American Senators, H. Boggs and D. Ford, that the Chinese leadership would welcome if American troops would remain in Europe, because this would not allow the Russians to move more troops to the Chinese border. “ [U.S. Senator] Mansfield behaves unrealistically when he demands the withdrawal of American troops from Europe“, Zhou Enlai said. In May 1973, Zhou Enlai explained during an interview with “Washington Post” correspondent M. Shields: “Moscow wants to provide a deceptive feeling of security to the West [...]. Those Americans asking for a reduction, or even a complete withdrawal, of American troops from Germany, are naive.“
The President of the Socialist International, [Austrian Socialist Party leader] Bruno Pittermann, testifies that during his visit to the PR of China the Chinese had positively approved of the presence of American troops in Europe. The well-known demand by the government of the PR of China to the United States and the Soviet Union to close down nuclear weapons’ facilities and to withdraw their troops from foreign territories has now been corrected in the sense that it is now exclusively addressed to the Soviet Union.
The Chinese leadership opposes the reduction of forces and armaments in Europe as they are currently under negotiation in Vienna. After returning from China, Luxemburg’s Foreign Minister, [G.] Thorn, stated at a press conference on 24 May 1973 : “It is Beijing’s understanding that, if Europe would reduce its troops, it would partly lose its defensive potential. Instead of détente new conflicts could arise, because détente would result in a weakening of Western Europe and shift the balance of power favorably towards the Soviet Union.“ Zhou Enlai appealed to the European countries during a conversation with the Norwegian Foreign Minister “not to allow their defense efforts to be weakened“. Finally Zhou Enlai commented in June this year on the so-called „New Atlantic Charta“, proposed by H. Kissinger, that he cannot see any reason “to reject this plan as long as it aims at uniting all those of identical opinions regarding the containment of the expansionist policy of the Soviet Union.“
In fact, the Chinese leadership claims the role of a force opposed to the recognition of the irreversibility of socialist achievements by Eastern European peoples, and opposed to the increase of power and influence on the side of the socialist community on the European continent. The content of the above quoted statements by Chinese leaders on fundamental questions of European politics clearly demonstrates how Beijing stubbornly follows a line diametrically opposed to the one agreed upon by the European socialist countries and Communist parties.
The plenary conference of the Central Committee of the French Communist Party stated in May of this year: “The main driving force behind the policy of the current leaders of the Communist Party of China on the international stage was, and remains, anti-Sovietism and the irrational quest to succeed in nationalistic major power politics. Thus they rise, for instance, to eager advocates of economic, political and military integration among the Western European capitalist powers, the ‘European torso’ of monopolies, although they know very well that this in today’s situation this is just an element of the overall strategy of imperialism, always, and permanently, directed against the Soviet Union.“
In its core elements, the Chinese leadership’s line comes close to, or even resembles, the position held by the reactionary and revanchist forces in Europe. For some time already, the latter have viewed Beijing’s policy as a reliable ally. West German revanchist leader Franz Josef Strauß wrote: “The Russian-Chinese conflict is not disadvantageous for Europe but rather an advantage, because for us Europeans the ‘red danger’ is the Soviet Union, not China [...]. Our interests and the interests of China partially, and temporarily, coalesce“ (F.J. Strauß: Challenge and Response. A Program for Europe, page 96). One of the opposition leaders in the Federal Republic of Germany, Gerhard Schröder, stated last summer upon returning from his trip to China: “The Chinese make no secret of their hopes that soon power will be taken over in Germany by the Christian Democrats. They calculate that a CDU/CSU government would mean even more progress with respect to the integration of Western Europe and its development towards a third world power and, in alliance with the latter, the People’s Republic of China would be capable to successfully match the superpowers.”
It is not accidental that Beijing’s leadership maintains close contacts with the conservative government of Great Britain which, among all European governments, displays the most stubborn attitude towards the questions of European detente. During the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister Ji Pengfei in London, the British bourgeois press stated that the Chinese Foreign Minister was determined to achieve that a new Atlantic alliance would be directed against the Soviet Union. China would ask Great Britain to use its influence on the other Western countries, so they do not concede too much to the Soviet Union at the European Security Conference and during the negotiations on mutual force reductions.
In order to build up its presence in the Mediterranean, the Chinese leadership has entered into diplomatic relations with Franco’s Spain and recently also rapidly improved its relations with the „black colonels“ in Greece. Thereby Beijing attempts to attribute not only an economic, but mainly a political character to Greek-Chinese relations. At a time when the semi-fascist military regime in Greece favors a policy of reprisal against democratic forces in the country, and when Greece became the main base of the 6th U.S. Fleet in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean, the Deputy Prime Minister of the State Council of the PR of China, Li Xiannian, makes the following statement: “Today the Greek people actively undertakes efforts to maintain the independence and sovereignty of its country, to defend peace and security in Europe and in the Mediterranean.”
Thus a sort of alliance evolves, or at least a parallelism of action, between the Chinese leadership and extremely right-wing political circles of Europe opposing the reduction of tensions on this continent and desire to preserve the spirit of the “Cold War“. Reactionary forces in Europe want to play the Chinese card in order to inflict the maximum damage on the socialist community.
The whole political game about China is certainly part of the overall strategy of anti-Communism in its current stage. The struggle for detente, for the creation of a reliable system of security in Europe, for the development of comprehensive cooperation of European powers therefore precludes active defense measures against the machinations of Beijing’s policy.
The Chinese leadership’s line in European matters completely contradicts the interests of the European peoples. It differs from the recent policy of the realistically thinking representatives of governments and the largest political parties and social movements. Therefore all the chances are there to neutralize the subversive activities of the Chinese leaders and to avert the disastrous consequences of the actual bloc-formation of Chinese leaders with the class-enemy on the international stage. The positive developments in Europe and in the whole world, which have evolved thanks to the persistent and consequent efforts by the socialist countries, the Communist and labor parties will, despite Beijing’s efforts, continue to prosper successfully. Reliable guarantors for this to happen are the ideological unity within our ranks on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and internationalism, the growing coordination of our efforts in the struggle for peace and security of the peoples, the implementation of the principles of peaceful coexistence by countries with different social orders, and the struggle against imperialism - towards the triumph of the causes of democracy, national freedom and socialism.
At the same time it must not be overlooked that the activities of the Chinese leadership are damaging to our common struggle, and that they compromise the aims of the Communist movement. They make it more difficult that the positive changes on the international level -not only in Europe, but all over the world- are becoming irreversible and will not be retracted. Therefore the active ideological and political confrontation with the anti-Leninist and anti-socialist activities of the Chinese leadership remains one of the most important tasks.
9.7. 1973 Confidential