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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 03, 1968

ON CURRENT RELATIONS BETWEEN THE DPRK AND THE PRC

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    The GDR Embassy in North Korea says that relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have improved following the Blue House Raid and USS Pueblo incident.
    "On Current Relations between the DPRK and the PRC," March 03, 1968, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PolA AA, MfAA, G-A 344. Translated by Karen Riechert. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116655
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GDR Embassy to DPRK

Pyongyang, 3 March 1968

On Current Relations between the DPRK and the PRC

As already outlined in my recent posting, there are lot of elements indicating a potential improvement in relations between DPRK and PRC. However, there is still no reliable and comprehensive information. Thus all the fraternal embassies [USSR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland], ours included, are working on the basis of assumptions and a few facts only in order to reach certain conclusions. In addition to previously transmitted bits of information, the following indications do exist here on the status of Korean-Chinese relations:

  1. I heard from the Hungarian Acting Ambassador how the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party has received information from a European fraternal party. According to that, Zhou Enlai has allegedly written a letter to Kim Il Sung stating that positions of the Mao Red Guards are not identical with those of the PRC government in many respects. Furthermore, the letter is said to express Chinese willingness to send volunteers to Korea. So far there is no confirmation of these information’s accuracy from any other source.
  1. Recently the PRC has sent quite some specialists to the DPRK. According to various information, they are said to be experts for repairing equipment and objects once built by the PRC. Some hints also mention military specialists on site in various facilities.
  1. On January 29 a delegation of 19 members arrived from Beijing to conclude negotiations for a trade agreement between DPRK and PRC. Over the last week the delegation leader is said to have arrived as well. Negotiations are to be concluded soon.

Just the existence of such negotiations is of major importance. So did Ri Ju-yeon [Ri Ju Yon], KWP politburo member and Deputy Prime Minister, tell leading Soviet comrades in December 1967 how there are no prospects at all for a trade agreement between DPRK and PRC for the year of 1968.

  1. On foreign trade between DPRK and PRC the following data exist for 1966 and 1967 (They are coming mostly from the Romanian Embassy but have been partially double-checked. Thus there is a certain likelihood for accuracy.)

1966 1967 (in million Ruble)

DPRK Exports about 75 about 65

DPRK Imports about 76 about 65

DPRK Exports

Anthracite

Iron Ore

Different types of Steel

Some amounts of non-ferrous metals

Mechanical Engineering Products

DPRK Imports

(volume in percentages)

Fuel Products 54.7

+ Coke and Coking Coal

(about 2 million tons)

Chemical products  8.5

Vegetable Oil and others 16.2

Textile and light industry products 15.8

Fruit, Vegetables, Meat, etc.  4.8

Allegedly there had been technical-organizational, as well as political, problems with the Chinese exports in 1967. They resulted in some goods not fully delivered, such as vegetable oil, cotton, coke and coking coal. Irregular and delayed deliveries have also occurred but, it is said, they have been fulfilled still by 95 percent. There were also problems with Korean exports when the Chinese side complained about the bad quality of machine tools and transformers.

In the field of scientific-technological cooperation, the PRC allegedly handed over about 182 documentations to the Koreans in 1966/1967.

  1. A few weeks ago the prohibition to use the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Embassy [in Pyongyang] has been lifted although the large images of Mao are still on public display next to the entrance.

All these details are indications for an improvement of relations in the context of Pueblo seizure and Seoul incidents. We cannot evaluate, however, how far-reaching this improvement actually goes, and whether it is stable and durable. The fact that there is still no [PRC] ambassador here but an acting ambassador only, demonstrates there still exist unresolved questions in DPRK-PRC bilateral relations. There are some actions on the Korean side displaying the ongoing DPRK interest to normalize relations with the PRC ad leave this path open. The most important facts are:

  • Non-participation in the Budapest consultative meeting;
  • No publications arguing directly against the CCP line, Mao Zedong as a person, or other members of the leading group in the PRC;
  • Sending an ambassador to Beijing in summer of 1967 in spite of just being an acting PRC ambassador present here in Pyongyang.

Jarck

Acting Ambassador