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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 29, 1969

NOTE ON EXCHANGES OF OPINIONS BY THE AMBASSADORS AND ACTING AMBASSADORS OF HUNGARY, THE GDR, CZECHOSLOVAKIA, THE USSR, BULGARIA, POLAND, AND MONGOLIA ON THE SUBJECT OF 'THE PRC POSITION VIS-A-VIS THE SOCIALIST COUNTRIES' ON 21 NOVEMBER AND 3 DECEMBER

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

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    Ambassadors of Hungary, GDR, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, Bulgaria, Poland, and Mongolia discuss the development of socialism and Maoism in the PRC in relation to other countries in the socialist camp.
    "Note on Exchanges of Opinions by the Ambassadors and Acting Ambassadors of Hungary, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, Bulgaria, Poland, and Mongolia on the Subject of 'The PRC Position vis-a-vis the Socialist Countries' on 21 November and 3 December," December 29, 1969, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Political Archive of the [German] Foreign Office (PA AA), C 1362/74. Translated by Bernd Schaefer. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116571
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GDR Embassy to the PR China

Beijing, 29 December 1969

Note on Exchanges of Opinions by the Ambassadors and Acting Ambassadors of Hungary, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, Bulgaria, Poland, and Mongolia on the Subject of “The PRC Position vis-a-vis the Socialist Countries” on 21 November and 3 December 1969

The Hungarian Ambassador, Comrade Halasz, gave the introduction to the subject. He stated the roots of Mao's current line trace back for some decades already. For instance, after Hitler's Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Mao rejected the Soviet request to safeguard the USSR in the East through increased military activity against Japan. As a reason, Mao said his army was not prepared. In reality, however, he was of the opinion the Soviet Union had de facto lost the war against Hitler's Germany, and that [communist] China had to hold back its power for a new campaign [within China]. At the VII CCP Party Congress Mao was able to get his concepts approved.

After the foundation of the PRC, China did join the socialist camp. The CCP leadership exploited experiences and support of the socialist countries for its socialist build-up. Internationalist positions held by a part of the Chinese leadership were strengthened, Mao's concept was pushed to the background. The VIII Party Congress (1956) came to correct conclusions and proceeded in the spirit of cohesion of the socialist camp. Influenced by the fight against the cult of personality, Mao's position was weakened further. Then Mao began to plan and implement his “counterattack”. At the II Plenum of the VIII Party Congress Lin Biao moved instantly towards the Mao line and agreed with the “Great Leap”. The X Plenum (1962) still advocated friendly relations with the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries. However, it no longer demanded strengthening the unity of the socialist camp and just talked about its preservation instead. Through their proposals for the general line (1963), the Mao Group then spelled out its new political course. Lin Biao's report on the people's war (1965) was an explicit support of the Mao line. On 11 November 1965 an article appeared in “People's Daily”. It denied the existence of a socialist camp and mentioned antagonistic contradictions between the socialist countries, which were said to increasing and only to be resolved through struggle. During the “Cultural Revolution”, as well as at the XI and XII CCP Plenum, this line became even more pronounced and reached its current peak with Lin Biao's report at the “IX Party Congress” [1969]. In the eighth paragraph of his report, Lin Biao denied the existence of a socialist world system. He only called China and Albania socialist countries, presented a new definition of proletarian internationalism; and he listed the United States and the Soviet Union equally as China's enemies.

The Mao Group used the events in Czechoslovakia as a pretext to accuse the Soviet leadership of “social imperialism” and to call for the overthrow of the party and state leaderships of the Soviet Union and the other fraternal socialist countries. Through “equal struggle” against the Soviet Union and the U.S., China wants to become the third great power in the world. Today the Mao Group is viewing proletarian internationalism as loyalty to Maoism. It is dividing the socialist countries into four groups:

1. The Soviet Union. She is China's main enemy, since she represents the largest obstacle to the realization of the Mao Group's hegemonic efforts.

2. The socialist countries agreeing with the Soviet Union's policies (Bulgaria, Hungary, GDR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Mongolia).

3. China and Albania as “true” socialist countries representing the socialist camp.

4. Countries with specific conditions proposing in part different positions, respectively offer specific conditions for the development and application of Chinese policy:

- firstly, divided countries such as North Vietnam, North Korea, and the GDR located in the advanced front line of the struggle against imperialism, and which [China] has promised to support in their struggle against imperialism.

- secondly Cuba, with its certain particular efforts to lead the revolutionary struggle;

- thirdly Yugoslavia; it is not a socialist country, but Beijing wants to exploit its influence in the Third World.

- and fourth Romania because of its nationalistic concept.

Comrade Halasz named the following reasons for those categorizations: The main line of attack is directed against the Soviet Union since she first and foremost blocks the Mao Group's hegemonist intentions. The Mao Group aims at bringing a pro-Chinese leadership to power in the Soviet Union. As long as such is not possible, the Mao Group will go for maximum compromising of the USSR, provoke armed conflicts, slander the Soviet Union as a colonial power in order to sow mistrust among other socialist and Afro-Asian countries, et cetera. Despite the continuation of anti-Soviet policies, there is also the possibility of offering negotiations for tactical reasons, et cetera.

With regard to the fraternal socialist countries, the current Chinese leadership wants to isolate and split them from the Soviet Union. Here the Chinese leadership applies both hard and soft methods. Mostly hard methods are applied against Poland. An example for this is the creation of a Maoist “Polish Communist Party” operating from Tirana. It hopes to exploit Polish nationalism, historic contradictions between Russia and Poland, as well as current territorial issues.

In Czechoslovakia the Mao Group supports with its policy the extreme rightist forces. [The Mao Group] went further [in the criticism of the August 1968 intervention] than the worst reactionary circles. Apparently the Chinese leadership would have preferred a capitalist Czechoslovakia over a socialist [Czechoslovakia] allied with the Soviet Union. [Alexander] Dubcek was attacked because he did not openly come out against the Soviet Union.

The GDR is treated harshly as well as softly. It gets hard treatment since it is very loyal to the Soviet Union and a reliable member of the socialist community. However, the Chinese leadership cannot ignore the escalating struggle of the GDR against West German imperialism. It has to take into consideration that the GDR is the first German workers and peasant state. Therefore the Chinese leadership is attacking the GDR only indirectly through slander against the Soviet Union's policy.

Very harsh methods are used towards Bulgaria due to the close historical ties between Bulgaria and the Soviet Union. Comrade [Todor] Zhivkov is openly attacked. He is accused of allowing himself to be used by the Soviet Union against Albania, Romania, and Yugoslavia.

The Mongolian People's Republic elicits the wrath of the Mao Group since it is an Asian socialist country and openly goes against the Mao Group's policy from the position of proletarian internationalism. Therefore the Mao Group is directing open attacks against the Mongolian party and state leadership and applies economic sanctions. Although the border issues are officially resolved, a [Chinese] questioning of the border is still possible.

Towards Hungary the Mao Group is using hard as well as soft methods. When leading Hungarian comrades called the relationship with the Soviet Union a litmus test for the loyalty to Marxism-Leninism, the Chinese leadership attacked them harshly.

It is indicative for relations with those seven countries that China is currently represented in none of them by an ambassador; also that there exists no scientific and technological as well as cultural cooperation, and that there are only minor trade relations.

In the eyes of the Chinese leaders Albania and China are the only socialist countries. They are united in their anti-Sovietism and joint action against the socialist countries. Apparently there exists no perception within the Chinese population of Albania's actual size and relevance. However, [Albanian leader Enver] Hoxha is not copying Chinese policy in every regard. He views himself as extremely smart. In a major military conflict, Albania can receive support only from the countries of the Warsaw Pact. This situation might lead to contradictions between China and Albania.

As far as the GDR, North Korea, and North Vietnam are concerned, Chinese propaganda is always talking about the struggle of these peoples against imperialism. On the other hand the Chinese leadership is also exploiting problems created by the division of these countries. During the “Cultural Revolution” the Mao Group also voiced open criticism of leading personalities in the GDR, North Korea, and even North Vietnam. It is exploiting those countries' problems for the [Chinese] struggle against the Soviet Union (Vietnam War, West Berlin question). However, since China is maintaining good trade relations with West Germany, it can hardly criticize the GDR. Although [the Chinese leadership] is generally talking about support for the GDR, it does not raise, however, any word about the recognition of the GDR [by West Germany].

There exist some commonalities between Cuba and China in how they implemented their respective national revolutions. In Cuba the revolutionary army came first, and the party came later. The economy is militarized, democracy is fading into the background (no elections, no party congresses). The cult of personality is very strong. What the Liu [Shaoqi] group was in China, the micro faction was in Cuba. For a while, both countries held the same position on the issue of revolutionary wars. However, the Cuban leadership is aware that only the Soviet Union can provide serious assistance in the case of major military conflict. Cuba also participated in the [1969] Moscow Conference and had a positive attitude towards events in Czechoslovakia. The Chinese leadership is waiting for the right moment to become more active vis-a-vis Cuba. So far open attacks [against Cuba] only occurred concerning the issue of rice. The Mao Group is banking on opposition forces within the Cuban Communist Party, and on the overseas Chinese living on Cuba (60,000).

As far as Romania is concerned, the Mao Group is primarily exploiting Romanian nationalism. Romania is supposed to undermine from within the Warsaw Pact, the Council for Mutual Economic Cooperation, and the communist world movement. The swift delegation of a Chinese ambassador was telling. Romania was covered in this regard right after Albania. The Mao Group is using Romania exclusively for tactical considerations. This is why the Chinese did not comment on Nixon's visit to Romania, and why they did not mention Romania's exchange of ambassadors with Israel. Although they view Romania as a “revisionist country”, they do not talk this up at this point just in order to benefit from Romanian policy.

China strengthened its relationship with Yugoslavia during the late 1940s and early 1950s. High-ranking Yugoslav delegations visited China while the other socialist countries criticized Yugoslavia's policy. When Soviet-Yugoslav relations improved, Chinese-Yugoslav relations worsened. Right now we can observe similar tendencies. In August 1968, Yugoslavia and China completely agreed with each other about the events in Czechoslovakia. Currently the Mao Group is making efforts to improve its relations with Yugoslavia in order to use Yugoslavia for the increase of Chinese influence in the Third World.

During the following discussion, [GDR Ambassador] Comrade [Gustav] Hertzfeldt stated: when assessing the PRC attitude towards our countries, we have to realize that the Mao Group does not consider our countries as socialist, but as countries with different social orders (see “IX Party Congress” and government declaration from 7 October 1969). China is viewing North Vietnam, Cuba, and the DPRK as “anti-imperialist” but not as socialist countries. Obviously the Chinese leadership cannot say so directly in order not to alienate those countries. Only China and Albania they consider to be socialist. Referring to the events in Czechoslovakia, and Chinese treatment of Romania and Yugoslavia in the aftermath, Comrade Hertzfeldt proved how the Mao Group is addressing those issues arbitrarily, pragmatically, and unprincipled.

Apparently the Chinese leadership wants to create a nationalist anti-Soviet bloc consisting of Albania, Romania, and Yugoslavia. For those far-reaching ambitions in the Balkans, Bulgaria, which is closely allied with the fraternal countries, serves as an obstacle for geographical reasons. This why it is supposed to be “softened up” through respective pressure, in particular since geographical “encirclement” seems to offer according opportunities. Therefore Chinese policy towards Bulgaria cannot by explained by historical traditions only (Bulgarian friendship with the Soviet Union), but also by very practical reasons.

Corresponding to practical and tactical requirements, methods of Chinese policy towards our countries may apply wide varieties and changes. The Soviet Union constitutes the main enemy for the Mao Group because it represents the main pillar for socialism and our countries. She also is they key to our unity. Except for Romania, the Warsaw Pact countries are viewed equally. Based on many facts, Comrade Hertzfeldt outlined as the determining element for the Mao Group's policy towards the GDR the latter's firm friendship and fraternal alliance with the Soviet Union and the other fraternal countries, as well as its position within the socialist community of states, the Warsaw Pact, and the Comecon. Of course, there are attempts made to exploit our “special situation” as a “divided country” and what flows from that. They want to play off the GDR against the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries. Sometimes the Chinese side talks about “support in the struggle against West German militarism” and asserts the Soviet Union would betray the interests of the GDR (for instance, in the context of the [West German] Federal President's election in West Berlin, or the Soviet congratulation to [Willy] Brandt for his election as Federal Chancellor). Recently, the Chinese seemingly display “sympathy” for the GDR due to Poland's willingness to negotiate with Bonn. The Chinese leadership wants to play a role in global policy, and the so-called “German question” is part of the latter. For the Chinese, the GDR's problems are means towards that end. At the same time, a [Chinese] establishment of relations with West Germany cannot be excluded. For that the reason, Chinese reiterations of “support for the GDR” are even more needed as camouflage.

North Korea has become a main focus of Chinese foreign policy. Relations between both countries proceed accordingly. The common fear of Japan benefits respective efforts undertaken by the Chinese leadership. China is afraid of Japan as a rival for hegemony in Asia. In some articles in “People's Daily”, as well as in Zhou Enlai's speech at the Albanian reception, Japan was massively attacked – among else in order to impress the leadership of the DPRK. Furthermore, Chinese foreign policy is strongly focused on Vietnam. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam is most dependent on the mercy of the Chinese leaders.

Cuba has played a major role in the Chinese leaders' foreign policy. The Cuban Acting Ambassador told Comrade Hertzfeldt, the Chinese leaders used over a longer period the Caribbean crisis to pull Cuba to China's side. When Cuba saw through the Chinese motives, relations cooled down. Moreover, the Mao Group is upset over the improvement of Cuban relations with the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries. Especially furious is the Mao Group about Cuba's close relations with North Vietnam and North Korea, since China sees both countries as its exclusive sphere of influence. (During discussion some comrades voiced the opinion that -in contrast to statements made by the Cuban Acting Ambassador- Chinese-Cuban relations are possibly warming up again. For example, the Cuban comrades are said to be pleased with the development of trade relations.)

Differentiation in Chinese foreign policy is highly sophisticated and highly versatile. Whatever can be used against our unity and cohesion, the Chinese leaders will exploit. This is why the continuous highlighting and practical implementation of our unity is a permanent requirement here [in Beijing].

[Soviet Acting Ambassador] Comrade [Alexei] Yelisavetin underlined that this policy of differentiation is nothing new. However, there are some new elements after the “IX CCP Party Congress”. The Mao Group is worried to lose Albania as an ally, since Albania does not agree with Soviet-Chinese [border] negotiations and the downgrade of open slander of the Soviet Union. Therefore the Chinese leaders must do something now to keep Albania in the boat (for example, anti-Soviet attacks at the occasion of the Albanian national holiday).

There had been a period of frontal attacks against the fraternal socialist countries. Now the Mao Group is attempting to influence them by differentiation. For the Chinese leadership, Albania is not enough. They want to add Romania and Yugoslavia. Here the Chinese leaders benefit from some similar Romanian and Yugoslav positions based on anti-Soviet concepts.

Cuba, North Vietnam, and the DPRK are viewed by the Chinese leadership as “anti-imperialist and semi-revisionist” states. The recently established Japanese-American rapprochement serves as the foundation for Chinese-Korean rapprochement. The Chinese press does report nothing about socialist construction in those countries. While there are no reports at all about Cuba, the coverage of Korea and Vietnam is limited to foreign policy matters only.

After the events in Czechoslovakia, the Chinese leaders had to become convinced of the cohesion of the fraternal socialist countries. Now they no longer call for the overthrow of our party and state leaders.

As far as relations with the Soviet Union are concerned, the Chinese has openly declared those may only be continued on the basis of the principles of peaceful coexistence. There are no more relations whatsoever between CPSU and CCP. For two years, no trade protocol has been signed. In 1968 the trade volume amounted to 86 million Rubles, in 1969 it will reach 55 million Rubles. During the meeting between Comrade Kosygin and Zhou Enlai [in September 1969], the latter stated his general agreement to further develop trade relations. He promised to come up with Chinese proposals for the 1970 trade protocol within one and a half months. So far, however, those have not been received. On 10 November 1969 the Soviet Union submitted Soviet proposals suggesting a mutual exchange of goods with a volume of about 140 million Rubles. During the border negotiations [Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister] Qiao Guanhua stated the Chinese side will fulfill everything Zhou Enlai had promised. This year the Chinese side rejected the export of pork with the argument it would be used by the Soviet Union to feed the soldiers stationed at the border with China. Apparently, however, the bad situation in China's pig farms is the real reason.

Overall, relations are frozen except for railway traffic, the air route, and the low level of trade. The Chinese side has also emphasized that the ongoing border negotiations may not be used for dealing with other issues.

[Polish Ambassador] Comrade Wisniewski reported the Chinese leader have already tried since 1956 to exploit rightist forces in the Polish leadership. Since 1959, when those elements were excluded [from the Polish Communist Party], relations [between China and Poland] gradually deteriorated. As of now, the relationship is very bad. In 1968 the trade volume amounted to 45 million Rubles; now in 1969 it is only 33 million Rubles. The Polish embassy in Beijing has no communication with the [Polish] consulates in Shanghai and Guangdong. He [Wisniewski] has sometimes to wait for up to one week before he is received by the Deputy Division Chief in the PRC Foreign Ministry. An example for the harsh measures applied against Poland is the creation of a “Communist Party of Poland”. This “party” is supposed to rally dogmatic elements excluded from the Polish United Workers Party, as well as nationalistic and anti-Soviet elements. All foreign representations of the People's Republic of Poland receive slanderous pamphlets from this “party”. They are primarily directed against the leaderships of Poland, the Soviet Union, and the GDR. In Poland those pamphlets do not get traction with the population, since they are unpolished both in terms of content and style.

[Czechoslovak Ambassador] Comrade Kohousek stated the Mao Group has completely broken with Marxism-Leninism. One could talk of Social-fascism, because today the most reactionary and nationalistic elements are in power in China and conduct a policy of great power chauvinism.

The most important criterion for the development of China's relations with other countries is the latter's attitude towards the Mao Group's policy of great power chauvinism. As far as Czechoslovakia is concerned, Mao and his supporters had desired the change of Czechoslovakia into a capitalist country.

[Bulgarian Ambassador] Comrade Bossev said there is an extremely tough attitude on display from the Chinese side against Bulgaria. The close friendship with the Soviet Union, and the historic roots of this friendship, does not provide the Chinese leadership with any angles to undermine this friendly relationship. Bulgarian constitutes a big obstacle to the Chinese plans to form an anti-Soviet bloc in the Balkans.

The policy of differentiation towards our countries expresses itself through the slightest nuances. Therefore we need a uniform presentation of our countries in order not to offer the Mao Group even the slightest openings.

[signed]

Kunz

3rd Secretary

CC:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Far Eastern Division (2x)

Embassy Beijing