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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 11, 1965

CABLE FROM LI QIANG TO THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN TRADE AND THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

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    A report on Li Qiang’s discussion with Ri Ju-yeon on industrial production and bilateral trade issues between China and North Korea. They also discussed about the quality of North Korean productions and the exchange of North Korean personnel in a Chinese vinylon factory.
    "Cable from Li Qiang to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," December 11, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 106-01477-01, 5-8. Obtained by Shen Zhihua and translated by Jeffrey Wang and Charles Kraus. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116555
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[To] the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

[I] reached Pyongyang on 10 [December]. [I] met with Ri Ju-yeon [Ri Ju Yon] at 6:00 p.m. and, at 7:00 p.m., [the North Koreans] treated [me] to a banquet.

When [we] met, there was a brief exchange of views on some problems and the trade issue which had been discussed by Ri Ju-yeon and Premier [Zhou Enlai] in Beijing.

(1) Ri Ju-yeon first said that he had reported the contents of his discussions with Premier [Zhou Enlai] in Beijing in their entirety to the [North] Korean Political Committee. [He] said that Kim Il Sung, as the head of the [North] Korean Political Committee, felt very satisfied [with the discussions]. [Ri] inquired when Vice Premier Li Xianian would come to [North] Korea and that [North] Korea is presently awaiting [his visit]. [Ri] also said that Premier Kim had asked him several times about when Vice Premier Li Xiannian will come [to North Korea]. [Ri] agreed that, while I am in Pyongyang, we will quickly prepare the documents on these issues.

(2) Ri said that he had already reported to Premier Kim about the problems with the quality of some [North] Korean productions which Premier [Zhou] had raised in Beijing. [Ri] also told the relevant departments to try to resolve [the problems]. Ri also said that the Korea General Machinery Trade Corp. group visiting China includes technicians for transformers, tractors, electric motors, and automobiles. They will bring back with them China’s views and make the requested improvements. I replied that once improvements have been made and [the products] fit China’s requirements then we can import more [products from North Korea].

(3) Ri Ju-yeon specifically raised that it be considered for [North Korea] to dispatch personnel to China to visit a vinylon factory early next year. (I already told [Ri] that the Japanese have not yet left the factory [so] it would be better to wait two months. Ri expressed agreement [with this].) [Ri] also suggested to send personnel to Shanghai to observe gasification problems at fertilizer plants. In order to improve the quality of cars, [Ri] requested that China send twenty-eight automotive technical personnel to [North] Korea’s Deokcheon [Tokchon] Motor Plant [i.e., the Sungri Motor Plant] for six-months to one year beginning in January or February 1966. Not only does the plant need twenty additional sets of equipment which China is responsible to supply (alternatively, whatever additional equipment is needed can be raised following the arrival of China’s specialists in [North] Korea), [the plant] has the explicit condition that “the cars produced must be able to be exported to China.” [Ri] wanted me to make this clear to the Chinese specialists coming to [North] Korea. I replied that this issue can be raised in Beijing at any time and explained that the automobile quality issue is related to raw materials, part of which is alloy steel. Ri recounted that he and Premier [Zhou] had discussed exchanging excess [North] Korean 2.5-ton trucks for excess Chinese 4-ton trucks. I expressed that [this] can be done.

(4) Concerning trade negotiations. Ri said that a part of [the negotiations] had not been resolved and that this awaited my arrival to be resolved. I said that the signing [of the trade agreement] should come earlier and that after the signing, if required, [we] can continue to carry out [negotiations]. Ri expressed agreement [on this point]. Ri specifically talked about soybeans. When I asked him if [North] Korea produces soybeans, Ri said that during a bumper year [North Korea] can produce 300,000 to 400,000 tons [of soybeans] and during a lean year [North Korea] can produce 150,000 tons. This year [they] will only produce 170,000 tons. In order to stimulate the farmers’ enthusiasm to produce, the state will reduce its acquisitions this year. As a result, [North Korea] wants to exchange rice for soybeans with China. I proposed that if it is a good year, can [North Korea] import [soybeans]? Ri said that there are no imports during a good year because [North Korea] is self-sufficient. In the future, [North Korea] must be self-sufficient.

(5) I discussed [North] Korea’s export of goods to capitalist [countries] and [said] that if [North] Korea has a need, then China can reduce its demands [for goods]. Ri said that the products exported to capitalist [countries] are not exported to China.

(6) Concerning the 200 million/kWh of electricity, I took the initiative to mention contact between the relevant [North] Korean departments and China’s Foreign Economic and Trade Committee and [having] separate talks (Comrade Cheng Mingsheng is in Pyongyang right now). Ri did not make his position known.

(7) Concerning the matter of preparing an exhibition hall for [North] Korea at the Chinese Guangzhou Trade Fair, Ri said that Premier Kim Il Sung was very satisfied with this. [Ri] also expressed that [North] Korea will attend the exhibition next April and wants to continue to have displays later on.

Li Qiang

11 December 1965