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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 24, 1969

TELEGRAM NUMBER 2592/98, 'CHINA AND THE GERMAN PROBLEM'

This document was made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation, Leon Levy Foundation

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    French diplomat in Beijing Etienne Manac’h writes that "China is very concerned by the trend towards détente emerging in East-West relations."
    "Telegram Number 2592/98, 'China and the German Problem'," December 24, 1969, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France. Obtained by Enrico Fardella and translated by Garret Martin. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116458
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Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Beijing, 24 December 1969

Received at ……………….

Telegram number 2592/98

Forwarded via the Department to: Bonn 197/203, London 1383/89, Moscow 1445/51, Washington 1533/39

China and the German problem:

I am referring to my telegram number 2470/73.

Like in 1959 during Camp David or in 1963 after the Cuban Missile Crisis, China is very concerned by the trend towards détente emerging in East-West relations. Apparently, it fears that the steps taken to strengthen détente could go against its efforts in the last three years in order to ‘pursue class struggle during the building phase of socialism’. Indeed, consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat can only be justified, here or elsewhere, by the necessity of a continued social revolution inside the country and by a permanent conflict with the non-Communist world.

Moreover, the People’s Republic of China dreads the fact that a normalization of the situation in Europe could allow the Soviets to avoid a struggle on two fronts and to sanction the current division of Germany, as well as that of Korea, Vietnam and even China.

The current attempts at a rapprochement between Moscow and Bonn are thus leading Beijing to put on trial the USSR’s German policy with vociferous terms. The party’s press organ is denouncing the Soviet-German talks on the non-use of force as a ‘betrayal of the interests of the German people’ since the USSR required neither the recognition of the GDR as a precondition, nor a preliminary negotiation between Bonn and Pankow.

The ‘People’s Daily’ tries to show that the ‘revisionist Soviet clique’ tarnishes the cause of reunification and undermines the sovereignty of the German people by going above Ulbricht and by applying the ‘famous theory of limited sovereignty’ to the GDR. It condemns again Khrushchev’s climb down whom, after calling in 1958 for the transformation of West Berlin into a ‘free demilitarized city’ and the end of the occupation regime, had finally conceded to maintaining Allied troops in the former capital of the Reich.

The ‘People’s Daily’ blames his successors for going even further along the path of surrender by implicitly assenting to West Germany’s claims to West Berlin, with the authorization given in March to the Bundestag to convene there for the Presidential election as evidence.

In general, Beijing accuses Moscow of engaging in a ‘despicable bargain’ with the imperialists in order to sanction the division of Europe into spheres of influence, and to ‘definitely reduce the countries of Eastern Europe to slavery’.

But, according to Chinese propaganda, a promise to renounce the use of force is meaningless when made by the invaders of Czechoslovakia or by the stooges from NATO which have supposedly decided, in case of war, to ‘strike in priority the military targets located in Poland, Czechoslovakia and the GDR’.

As a consequence, Beijing calls on the people of these countries to revolt so to block the Soviet maneuver aiming to open the doors of Eastern Europe to the ‘revengeful warmongers’ of Bonn, and to prepare the annexation of West Berlin and the German Democratic Republic by West Germany.

This resurgence of attacks against Moscow goes hand in hand with a new seduction maneuver towards the Pankow regime. Indeed, we know that the Chinese Foreign Ministry just assured the GDR representative in Beijing (see my telegram number 2470) of the steadfast support of Communist China to oppose the ‘new Eastern policy’ of M. Willy Brandt, which is allegedly even more treacherous than that of his predecessor.

The Chinese are both trying to push M. Ulbricht to reclaim the initiative in the dialogue initiated between Bonn and the Eastern European countries, and to embarrass the USSR when M. Kuznetsov is studying with his government the conditions for a renewal of the negotiation with Beijing. They are thus placing Moscow in front of a difficult choice: either agree to resume talks when the partner is openly attacking its positions towards its most loyal satellite or, if the head of the Soviet negotiation delayed in returning to his post, accept to take the responsibility for having made the first steps towards breaking talks in the eyes of the world’s progressive opinion.

Signed Etienne Manac’h