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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 10, 1965

RECORD OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO THE SOVIET UNION PAN ZILI AND THE KOREAN AMBASSADOR TO THE SOVIET UNION AMBASSADOR KIM BYEONG-JIK

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    Chinese Ambassador to the Soviet Union and North Korean Ambassador to the Soviet Union discussed about the foreign policies of the new Soviet leadership under Khrushchev. They exchanged views on international communist movement, as well as the Soviet Union's perceptions on the roles of the United Nations in international affairs.
    "Record of Conversation between the Chinese Ambassador to the Soviet Union Pan Zili and the Korean Ambassador to the Soviet Union Ambassador Kim Byeong-jik," February 10, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 106-00827-02, 70-79. Obtained by Shen Zhihua and translated by Jeffrey Wang and Charles Kraus. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116550
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Time: 10 February 1965, 4:00 p.m.

Location: Chinese Embassy

Summary: The [North] Korean Ambassador explained the meeting he had with [Leonid] Brezhnev and [Alexei] Kosygin. Then [we] explained the situation of Kosygin’s visit to Vietnam through Beijing and his contacts with our leadership. Ambassador Pan [Zili] summarized the situation for him (this has already been reported back today).

Ambassador Kim Byeong-jik [Kim Pyong Jik] first said that the reason he rushed to meet with Ambassador Pan was because he wanted to exchange some views on recent issues within the international communist movement. He said that his impression was that the CPSU could still hold the 1 March Conference as scheduled, [but] on the other hand, it might not. Based on some of the facts below, it seems that there is a good possibility they will hold the conference. First, when [Alexander] Shelepin led a delegation to Mongolia, [Yumjaagiin] Tsedenbal publicly expressed that it is necessary to convene a meeting of the 1 March Drafting Committee. Although these were the remarks of Tsedenbal, I think they actually reflect the views of the Soviet Union, suggesting that the Soviets still insist on [holding] the conference. However, I have not been able to draw a final conclusion from this and [I] would like to know your views on whether there will be a conference. Second, the new Soviet leadership has continued on the revisionist path on the most important issues. For example, there has not been any change in [their] position towards India [and they] are still continuing to help India develop heavy industry. There was a photographic exhibition yesterday at the Lenin Library for [Jawaharlal] Nehru. Nehru is a reactionary, Lenin is a communist, [but] the Soviet Union connected the two. They are also continuing activities to split the Japanese Communist Party. From Khrushchev to today, there have been no changes [in policy towards the Japanese Communist Party]. On Yugoslavia, they still say it is a socialist country, it is a communist party—[they] whitewash Yugoslavia. I noticed that when [Andrei] Gromyko held a party for the departing Yugoslav Ambassador, the Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU also attended. [This was] very courteous. On Indonesia exiting from the United Nations, the Soviet Union did not say a word. [They were] completely silent.

(Ambassador Pan: Actually, they do not support [this], they disagree [with this]. Ambassador Mihaylov once expressed to the Indonesian government that the Soviet Union does not agree with Indonesia leaving the United Nations, because your side was very unhappy.)

All of this is to not offend the American imperialists. On the other hand, they still have illusions about the United Nations. From this we can see that the policy of the new Soviet leadership has not changed. Indeed, they have recently spoken a lot of anti-imperialist rhetoric. [They have] written many articles to support national liberation struggles, but the most important thing is to practice what you preach. So we must continue to watch and observe. Of course it would be good if their deeds match their words. But judging from the past, it is hard for us to believe them. We need to see what will happen in the future. Not long ago I paid separate visits to Brezhnev and Kosygin.

(Ambassador Pan: I have heard. Were these courtesy visits?)

Yes, and before those two, during a reception, [N.G.] Sudarikov told me that the Soviet Ambassador to [North] Korea, [Vasily] Moskovsky, met with Comrade Kim Il Sung. I told him that the Soviet Ambassador is much luckier than I am. I have been here for one year and have yet to meet your leaders. Not long afterwards, the Soviet side quickly arranged for me to meet with Kosygin and Brezhnev. During the call on them, I said that at present it is very important to ensure the unity of the countries in the socialist camp. Imperialism is exploiting the disunity among socialist countries to misbehave. American imperialism is fulfilling their plans step by step. They are widening [their] military actions in Vietnam; conducting further provocations in Laos; killing Congolese in the Congo; exerting pressure on Cuba; establishing multilateral nuclear forces; reviving militarism in West Germany; and stepping up provocative actions against us near the Korean Military Demarcation Line. The American imperialists and other imperialist countries are using the disunity [of the socialist camp] to realize their own plans. Under these circumstances, we believe that the unity of the socialist camp is the most important and fundamental [objective]. The unity of the socialist camp must have the following principle: actively oppose U.S. imperialism. Right now imperialism is starting wars all over the place, [and] we should expose the provocative actions of imperialism. Actively support the national liberation struggles of the world’s peoples and advocate that the oppressed peoples in Asia and Africa begin to struggle. Fraternal parties are equal and do not interfere in other inner-party affairs and do not impose one’s own line upon others. If these principles are not respected, then the unity of the socialist camp cannot be guaranteed. After I said these things, Brezhnev expressed complete agreement. He said all imperialisms are the same. We cannot believe that American imperialism is particularly insidious and other imperialisms are honest. He also said that the friendship between [North] Korea and the Soviet Union should be frank. [He said] that recently the friendly relationship between the two countries has deteriorated, so who is to take responsibility? Not us, but you [he said]. The CPSU has always followed a path of strengthening friendship with socialist countries. I said that the Soviet side should take responsibility for the deteriorating relationship between [North] Korea and the Soviet Union. Who sowed the unease which caused the worsening of relations between our two countries? The Soviet side. We are not opposed to the Soviet side taking the initiative and resolving this unease first. If the Soviet side is prepared to resolve this unease, then we are also prepared to resolve it. Regarding this, Brezhnev and Kosygin said that we should not talk about the past. We should open a new page instead. Besides this, Kosygin talked a lot about friendship. I originally wanted to treat you to a meal and inform you about this situation. Next, Ambassador Kim Byeong-jik hoped to understand the situation of Kosygin traveling through Beijing. He also told Ambassador Pan that yesterday the Soviet side asked [North] Korea if they could receive the delegation led by Kosygin. Today the [North] Korean side notified the Soviet side that they agree to receive the delegation. He is flying back to Pyongyang tomorrow (during the discussion, the [North] Korean embassy called Ambassador Kim Byeong-jik to notify him that he is flying back tonight).

Ambassador Pan said that the purpose of returning home this time is to attend the First Meeting of the Third National People’s Conference. Then Ambassador Pan discussed the meeting between Kosygin and Premier Zhou [Enlai]. Initially, Premier Zhou asked Kosygin to speak first, [but] then Kosygin asked Premier Zhou to speak first. Premier Zhou discussed our views regarding Southeast Asia, particularly the situation in Indochina. Premier Zhou said that the excellent situation of the anti-imperialist struggle in Southeast Asia and Indochina is detrimental to American imperialism as well as to British imperialism, [but] is very favorable to the revolutionary struggle of the people. Under the support and with the cooperation of American imperialism, British imperialism is implementing a policy of aggression, creating a “Malaysia.” Recently, British imperialism has increased troop deployments to the East mainly to try to intimidate and threaten the people of Indonesia. Of course this scared no one, and has only stirred up a larger wave of anti-imperialist struggle among the people of Indonesia and all of the people of Southeast Asia. Of course, the focus is still to oppose American imperialism, especially because the United States is reinforcing its war provocations against Vietnam. In Indochina, especially in South Vietnam, the situation is very unfavorable for the United States. The Vietnamese people are constantly achieving one victory after another, and the United States feels very embarrassed. Kosygin asked us about our attitude and policy towards Indochina and the struggle of the South Vietnamese people. Premier Zhou said that we have always firmly supported in various ways the just struggle of the Indochinese people and the Vietnamese people against the U.S. imperialists’ aggression. The United States would now like to get out of the very difficult situation in South Vietnam, [so] it may step up the invasion of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. We have already made necessary preparations for this. On the military side, we have made arrangements on the Sino-Vietnamese border. But we will not take the first step. If the U.S. expands military operations, we will not just sit and watch and not save [Vietnam]. Kosygin asked, do you want to pin the U.S. down and not let them go? Premier Zhou said that first we want the Americans to withdraw, [but] if they do not go and prolong [this war], it would not be bad for us. Their prolonged [involvement] in Indochina and Vietnam is causing difficulties for them in other parts of the world. Kosygin asked what our recommendation about establishing a revolutionary United States entailed. Premier Zhou said that at present the United Nations is under the control of the United States. It is a tool for the United States to implement its war and aggressive policies. The United Nations has done a lot of bad things. We ask that the United Nations recognizes its mistakes [and] thoroughly recognizes [itself]. Kosygin agreed with Premier Zhou’s analysis and views of the current situation. He also said that the Chinese side understands the situation as well as they do, maybe even better. He proposed that the socialist countries, including the Soviet Union, China, [North] Korea, and [North] Vietnam, issue a joint document on policy towards the United States. Our side did not comment on this. We then discussed the 1 March splittist conference. Kosygin said that the CPSU has a new proposal which has been discussed by the Central Committee of the CPSU. The Soviet Union proposed that the 1 March Conference be called a “multilateral consultation,” not a “drafting committee,” and that no files come out of the conference. Premier Zhou said that the conference would still be the same conference stipulated in the Central Committee of the CPSU’s letter of 30 July 1964. That the meeting was held on 15 December 1964 matters. This meeting was an illegal splittist meeting. We firmly opposed it and did not participate. This was a conference ordered by Khrushchev in the past, carrying on his baton. Whether it is called a drafting committee, no matter when it is held, no matter how many parties attend, and no matter what change in form, as long as it was held on 15 December 1964, as the 30 July 1964 letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU ordered, we firmly opposed it and did not participate. Regardless of changes in form, the essence was the same. Neither the CPSU, the CCP, nor any other party has a right to convene this type of conference. We do not understand why Khrushchev’s splittist conference has not been abandoned; [why] must this splittist conference still be held? Why can they not make a clean break, start all over again, and cancel the original meeting, and only have a meeting after full deliberations, mutual consultations, and obtainment of the full consent of the fraternal parties? Kosygin said that this meeting had no connection to the old one. It is a new proposal with new content. Zhou Enlai pointed out that this is not a new proposal at all and that there is no new content. It is entirely a thing of the past. It is related to the old [meeting]. On 24 November 1964, the Central Committee of the CPSU wrote to us, and on 12 December 1964, Pravda officially released the news that the drafting committee scheduled for 15 December had been moved until 1 March 1965. I might add that on 27 November of last year [1964], after Comrade Liu Xiao, a Central Committee Member, received the 24 November letter from the Central Committee of the CPSU, he immediately made our position clear on this letter and on the 1 March Conference to the Soviet Ambassador. Afterwards, our Party forwarded Comrade Liu Xiao’s report to the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party. Premier Zhou told Kosygin that the CPSU’s letter of 24 November 1964 and the 12 December Pravda story both make clear that the meeting opening on 1 March is the same which was ordered to be held on 30 July [1964]. Kosygin had to admit that they could not convince us and that [we] should discuss it again after [he] returned from Vietnam. [Yuri] Andropov once told Vice Premier Chen Yi that abandoning the 1 March Conference would be equivalent to surrendering to you [the Chinese]. It seems that this sentence reveals their true thoughts. In addition, Kosygin also raised a question during the conversation and said that the [conference] of 1 March is a multilateral negotiation, not a drafting committee. Premier Zhou responded to this by saying that this meeting is the same as the splittist conference you wanted to convene in the past, yet this is not the same as consultations. We are not opposed to consultation during your meeting of the Warsaw Pact countries. But as long as this meeting [the 1 March Conference] is related to the old one, we will oppose it. Kosygin put forward the recommendation that the two parties of the Soviet Union and China convene high-level talks, [to which] Premier Zhou responded that the conditions are not ripe for such talks because the Soviet side had created new obstacles [with] the unilateral decision to hold the 1 March splittist conference. [In order for] there to be bilateral talks, the Soviets would first have to reverse this decision and then put forward an outline for the talks. [What] I introduced to Comrade Ambassador was based on my personal memory, not words. Some of it may have been incorrectly remembered. [I] asked Ambassador Kim to maintain the confidentiality [of this information] and not to disclose it to others.

Ambassador Kim thanked Ambassador Pan for this introduction, believing that the contents of this discussion were very important. After returning from Pyongyang, [Ambassador Kim] will introduce the situation of the Korean-Soviet leaders’ meeting to Ambassador Pan. Ambassador Pan said that the new Soviet leaders must watch their actions, not just their words. This point was in agreement with the views of Ambassador Kim. China has a saying that people should be judged by their deeds, not just by their words. This is very important. Compared with Khrushchev, the new [Soviet] leadership sometimes talks about anti-imperialism and supporting national liberation movements. But how about their actions? Speaking is one thing, but it is in fact false support and false unity. To be truly anti-imperialist, [you] cannot just say a few anti-imperialist slogans. It depends upon action. We should remember the lessons of the past. The Soviet Union’s treatment of Cuba and the Congo (Leopoldville) explains a lot. Ambassador Kim said that their foreign policy has not changed. This is correct.