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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 01, 1973

THESES ON THE PRESENT STATE OF RELATIONS BETWEEN DPRK AND PRC

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    A report on Chinese foreign policy toward North Korea and Beijing's efforts to push North Korea toward an anti-Soviet line.
    "Theses On the Present State of Relations between DPRK and PRC," February 01, 1973, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PolA AA, MfAA, C 295/78. Obtained for NKIDP by Bernd Schaefer and translated for NKIDP by Karen Riechert. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116677
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GDR Embassy to DPRK

Pyongyang, 1 February 1973

T h e s e s

On the Present State of Relations between DPRK and PRC

There is no doubt that Korea is ranking highly in the plans of the Chinese leadership.

  1. Since the visit to the DPRK by Zhou Enlai in April 1970, it becomes ever more clear that China increasingly attempts to ratchet up its influence and pressure on the DPRK. Certainly the visit by [PRC Foreign Minister] Ji Pengfei was part of this effort.

The Chinese leadership is exploiting both traditional ties as well as the nationalist policy of the KWP leadership. Historical, geographical and ideological commonalities are playing a role as well. Efforts by the Chinese leadership to solidify its positions in relations to the DPRK were not unsuccessful, as evident in the rapid development of bilateral and economic relations, cooperation in the military field, as well as in the development of party relations. These tendencies were furthered by the unofficial visits of Kim Il Sung, Pak Seong-cheol [Pak Song Chol], and Heo Dam [Ho Tam] to Beijing in 1972 and Zhou Enlai to Pyongyang.

The main goal of the Chinese leadership is, no doubt, to interrupt DRPK relations with the Soviet Union and the other Warsaw Pact countries and to draw the DPRK closer to its own policy.

  1. The KWP leadership is currently willing to make major concessions towards the policy of the Chinese leadership. In contrast to internal remarks by leading DPRK individuals that they treat relations with USSR and PRC on equal level, actual policy demonstrates a preference for the PRC.

Repeatedly the DPRK recently expressed its high regard for foreign and domestic policy of the Chinese leadership through speeches, articles, and telegrams. At the occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on 1 August 1972, and the 23rd Anniversary of the foundation of the PRC on 1 October 1972, the role of the PRC was characterized in speeches, telegrams and articles as a “strong socialist great power,” and as a “powerful majestic anti-imperialist force in Asia,” based “firmly on the principles of proletarian internationalism that actively supported the struggle of all Asian revolutionary peoples and the entire world against the aggression of American imperialism.” The “active peace-loving PRC foreign policy” is defined as a “major contribution to secure peace in Asia and the world and to strengthen the anti-imperialist revolutionary peoples of the world.”

The Koreans recognize the course of the Chinese leadership, as proclaimed during the [CCP’s] 9th Congress and 2nd Plenary, the “great proletarian cultural revolution,” and Mao as the “great leader of the Chinese people.” (It has to be mentioned that during the years between 1965 and 1969 the Korean leadership had repeatedly distanced itself from the policy of the Chinese leadership, in particular from the Cultural Revolution.)

  1. DPRK foreign policy concurs to a large extent with the foreign policy of the Chinese leadership. For instance, many delegations in particular from Afro-Asian countries visit the DPRK after a stay in the PRC and vice versa. Such is also a result of the congruence of certain interests and political and ideological positions, like “self-reliance on its own capacities,” “model of socialism,” similar economic methods, and the like. This became clear, for instance, during the
    • events in the South
    • conflict between Pakistan and India
    • Nixon visit to Beijing
    • establishment of diplomatic relations between PRC and Japan
    • reservations towards disarmament and a security system in Asia
    • refraining from comments concerning the European Security Conference, NATO and the EEC.

In accordance with the PRC, the DPRK also focuses e.g. its relations on the following countries in order to increase its influence:

Pakistan, Sudan, Zambia, Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Algeria, Iraq, Arab Yemeni Republic, People’s Republic of Yemen.

To the same extent as the relations between PRC and Yugoslavia improved, the DPRK improved its relations with Yugoslavia. The same tendency is to be observed in relations between the DPRK and Japan.

There are also indications that the DPRK wants to improve its relations with Albania. These tendencies indicate that [like China] the DPRK aims at increasing its positions in the Balkans.

  1. Based on the fact that anti-Sovietism is the main element of the Chinese leadership’s international policy, the PRC probably aims at pushing the DPRK toward an anti-Soviet line and win it over to support Chinese policy in full. Therefore the Chinese leadership is eager to avoid anything in its relations with the DPRK that could lead to problems (like on border issues, river navigation, etc.). The Baekdu Mountain as a “national symbol” of the DPRK is today met with silent approval (hint by Ji Pengfei in its speech on 24 December in Pyongyang regarding Yalu and Changbai Shan).
  1. Yet in spite of good relations between DPRK and PRC there are also reservations, logically emanating from Chinese nationalism and great power chauvinism. With its continuous insistence on “independence” and “self-reliance,” the DPRK doubtlessly sends a message to the PRC that it [the DPRK] is not willing to subordinate itself completely under Chinese interests. Apparently the Korean leadership wants to main a certain maneuvering space for its relations with the Soviet Union and our countries.
  1. In terms of trade, relations between DPRK and PRC also expanded in recent years. Compared to 1971, trade increased by 20 percent in 1972. According to our information, the 1972 trade protocol amounts to 180 million rubles (in comparison: 430 million rubles between DPRK and USSR). China exports to the DPRK, among other things, oil, coking coal, cotton, coke, tires, salt, manganese ore, and aluminum. Despite the normalization of trade relations between both countries, it is noteworthy that economic development of the DPRK depends to a large extent on support by the Soviet Union and the other countries of the Warsaw Pact (credits). This also applies to deliveries of modern military equipment.
  1. The propaganda and dissemination of Kim Il Sung Ideology (which stands in contrast to Marxism-Leninism), in particular in countries of the “Third World,” plays objectively to the interests of the Chinese leadership.
  1. The Chinese leadership, as well as the United States, is currently interested to lower tensions on the Korean peninsula in order to achieve maneuvering room for other areas like Europe or the Middle East. For that reason, the Chinese leadership voices certain interest for DPRK unification policy and exploits that Korean leaders elevate national interests over international interests.

Merten

Embassy Counselor

CC:

1 x Foreign Ministry

1 x Central Committee, Department IV

1 x Embassy