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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 14, 1975

NOTE FROM GDR EMBASSY IN PYONGYANG TO COMRADE LIEBERMANN

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    Everhartz summarizes remarks made by the Soviet Ambassador Gleb Aleksandrovich on Sino-DPRK relations and what the USSR ought to do to further their interests in North Korea.
    "Note from GDR Embassy in Pyongyang to Comrade Liebermann," January 14, 1975, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PolA AA, MfAA, C 295/78. Obtained and translated by Bernd Schaefer and translated by Karen Riechert. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116719
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GDR Embassy to DPRK

Pyongyang, 14 January 1975

To:

Ministry for Foreign Affairs

- Far East Department -

Comrade Helmut Liebermann

Berlin

Dear Comrade Liebermann!

Attached you receive for your information an internal lecture given by the Soviet Ambassador, Comrade [Gleb Aleksandrovich] Kriulin, in early April (April 7) to the ambassadors of the close fraternal circle (USSR, Bulgaria, GDR, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland).

I ask you to forward a copy to Comrade Wittik [GDR Ambassador in Beijing] for his information with the caveat of keeping this material confidential.

We continuously update this kind of material.

Comrade Mahlow [International Department of SED Central Committee] has been informed separately.

With socialist greetings

Everhartz

Ambassador

Enclosure

Confidential – Embassy 19/75 – 2nd copy, 10 pages.

Translation from Russian.

Beijing devotes particular attention to those states pursuing a “special” course in domestic and foreign policy. In this regard our host country is anything but an exception. The Chinese leaders in their anti-Soviet policy are tenaciously eager to untie the DPRK from the USSR and the fraternal countries of the socialist community. They very well understand how the strive for a so-called independence from whomever, as it exists in the DPRK, offers fertile ground for North Korea’s move towards China and the inclusion of the former into Beijing’s political hemisphere.

The Korean leaders on the other hand understand the importance for the DPRK to cooperate with China. They are aware of the resources China has to offer and can be tapped on in the interest of the DPRK. Thus they develop their relations with the PRC in such a way that they are able to gain maximum political and economic advantage.

The particular KWP course within the international communist movement, the closeness between DPRK and PRC concerning some ideological questions, and the concordance of foreign policy interests objectively contribute in our current period towards the expansion of cooperation between both countries. At the moment these relations show a tendency for development in the area of parties [KWP and CCP] and the political, economic and cultural life.

DPRK leaders are aware of China’s relevance to the fate of the DPRK and the entire Korean peninsula. They work toward an assessment of the world’s political situation. Hence they cannot afford to ignore Beijing’s foreign policy course and its practical actions on the international scene.

Since the Korean leaders view their own national interests as the guideline for their policy, which leads in part to positions opposite to the joint interests of countries in the socialist community, they objectively enter into an alliance with China. Thus they look to China for support of their various political and ideological concepts. Accordingly, Pyongyang reacts very sensitively to shifts in the PRC’s foreign policy course and considers them in its own practical actions on the international scene. Properly analyzed, this tendency becomes evident in KWP positions on such present key problems like the definition of the epoch’s character, war and peace, disarmament, “Third World,” the complex of Asian problems including the idea of collective security in Asia, and so on.

Although the leading Korean representatives do not distance themselves from aid and support by their traditional allies (USSR and other socialist countries), DPRK foreign policy activity in recent years testifies to the fact that, in light of emerging new global conditions, today Korean leaders are moving towards seeking new friends especially among non-aligned states and the countries of the “Third World.” In their opinion, these countries have to play a pivotal role for strengthening the DPRK’s international positions and creating favorable conditions for Korean unification. In this context the Korean leaders place their hopes in the adoption of Chinese positions in the “Third World.” They push their individual foreign policy measures via China and with active support from the Chinese side.

This tendency increased after the 10th CCP Party Congress [of 1973]. And respective realities objectively determined a certain increase in China’s influence on DPRK policy.

The main characteristic for Korean-Chinese relations in recent years consists of an activation of relations in every area, including such a specific one like ideology and propaganda. DPRK-PRC cooperation on questions of domestic and foreign propaganda had suffered from rather limited contacts until recently. However, it got more stable presently. In this field, bilateral relations are increasing and tending towards widening and deepening.

Close contacts have been established between the news agencies of KCNA and Xinhua, the broadcast committees of both countries, and the party newspapers “Rodong Sinmun” and “Renmin Ribao.” DPRK and PRC publishers cooperate with referring to the principle of reciprocity. The party printing houses publish and disseminate material in China and Korea about the party congresses of KWP and CCP, works of Kim Il Sung and Mao Zedong, individual books, and the illustrated magazines “Korea” and “China.” Leading officials from media organs as well as journalistic delegations travel regularly to the PRC and DPRK. Afterwards they extensively publish positive news about life in China and the DPRK.

All that testifies to significantly growing interests on both sides for a mutual propagandistic support of KWP and CCP domestic and foreign policy. It also shows that China and the DPRK have arrived at forms of cooperation in this area that are causing, despite still existing different opinions, full and complete satisfaction on both sides.

Conditions in the DPRK are such that political-ideological education of the population is based on the instructions and agenda of one singular individual. Efforts of the entire propaganda apparatus are aimed at bolstering Kim Il Sung’s authority, and subsequently at sustaining a respective moral atmosphere in the country. Therefore positions taken toward this individual and his ideas are of utmost importance. They represent the litmus test whether the attitude towards an entire country and its leadership is considered as friendly or rather as negative.

This is the KWP guideline for its level of cooperation in the field of propaganda and information with other countries, China included. For this purpose the Korean comrades are sometimes ready to spend considerable financial expenses towards third countries.

The new Chinese attitude towards the DPRK, as it became evident in the early 1970s, forced the Chinese leadership to take these peculiarities into consideration. China changed its methods of ideological influence on the DPRK, modified its accentuations in its propaganda towards the DPRK, and undertook a series of initiatives to arrive at forms of cooperation on domestic and foreign propaganda that were more acceptable to both sides.

Beijing refrained from criticism of DPRK “neutralism” on China’s conflict with the USSR and other fraternal countries, as well as of the DPRK leadership’s positions on “self-reliance” and “independence.” After Kim Il Sung had been previously ignored, China now moved toward affirmation and active propagation of DPRK policy and praised Kim Il Sung’s personality. Today Beijing unconditionally supports the entire DPRK political agenda. PRC mass media react to all events in the DPRK, on the Korean Peninsula, and to Kim Il Sung’s speeches.

Radio Beijing, the news agency Xinhua, and Chinese newspapers have increased their propagandistic support for KWP policy, its course for the unification of the country, and for the DPRK leadership’s positions on international problems.

All that is received warmly in the DPRK and results in analog gestures towards Beijing’s leaders, Mao as a person, and Chinese policy.

DPRK and Chinese leaders have now removed the hostility in Korean-Chinese relations that once restrained both sides from cooperating. It has created conditions for a political and ideological Korean-Chinese cooperation on a series of issues. At the same time,. the DPRK gained new opportunities to propagate KWP policy in China itself and, through Chinese channels, in other countries.

In light of all Chinese exploitation of DPRK currents as mentioned above, it is noteworthy that the Korean comrades agreed to a cooperation that resulted in increased penetration of the DPRK by Beijing. Apparently the Maoist ideological and political concepts do currently pose no relevant danger to the KWP’s own ideology, and they do not interfere with the implementation of national KWP goals in its propaganda efforts at home.

The different Chinese political concepts are now being supported in the DPRK. They are rated positively, and in many cases they are adopted by the Korean comrades.

Today the DPRK supports the “Cultural Revolution,” declares its solidarity with the conclusions of the 10th CCP Congress, and also with the various political campaigns on display in China. Evident in this context are the Korean comrades’ appraisals of the “Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius” campaign and the growing campaign for the so-called study of Marxism-Leninism and the solidifying of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Actually, the DPRK is evaluating positively the entire domestic policy of the Maoists.

Invoking the principle of reciprocity, the Korean comrades have published several Chinese materials with an anti-proletarian, anti-socialist, and anti-Soviet tendency. The Korean propaganda actually leaves unmentioned not one single relevant speech or declaration by Chinese leaders. They are always echoed accordingly in the DPRK press and thus influence the DPRK public in a way that pleases China.

So much for the facts. We think that such occurrences ought to put us on alert. They demand an appropriate reaction from our side to counter the increasing Chinese influence in the DPRK, and to consolidate the positions of the countries from the socialist community in the DPRK.

Approaching this task, we are thinking about the most efficient path to weaken China’s influence in the DPRK and to prevent deepening Chinese participation in the various areas of political, trade-economic, ideological and cultural life of the DPRK. This path consists more than ever of the pursuit of an active, long-term course to develop relations of friendship and cooperation between the USSR and DPRK, to comprehensively expand Soviet-Korean cooperation on all levels, and to actively develop relations and contacts between the socialist fraternal countries and the DPRK.

As far as the USSR is concerned: We will continue to do whatever possible to further and support all the positive processes on display in the DPRK, and to support the positive plans and programs of the Korean comrades in both domestic and foreign policy. We will also continue to look out for opportunities to improve and develop Soviet-Korean relations in several areas with the simultaneous focus to weaken political and other impacts by the Chinese leadership on the DPRK.

In order to move the DPRK closer to the general positions of countries from the socialist community, we will continue our efforts to enlighten the leading Korean representatives of all levels about the different problems of the present. We will continuously inform them about Beijing’s hostile actions against the socialist states and about the damaging consequences of these actions for the cause of worldwide socialism, the DPRK included. We will demonstrate to them that policy and actual actions of Chinese leaders are fundamentally different from their rhetoric about the anti-imperialist struggle.

In our efforts to increase support for DPRK positions in international settings, we will go far so that the Korean side will throw more support to foreign policy moves by the USSR and the entire socialist community. We will aim towards convincing the Korean comrades to speak out openly in favor of foreign policy actions by the socialist community against which China is arguing like, for example, questions of European security or Japanese territorial claims against the USSR.

We believe that about those problems, in order to achieve a closeness of our positions, we do not just need consultations and exchange of opinions with Korean representatives concerning interests of the Korean side, but also about a very broad range of international problems as well.

In this context, we consider it appropriate to focus on those problems where [Korean] opinions are divergent from those of the Chinese. And there are quite a lot in this regard. In general the Korean comrades will not accept the anti-Sovietism of the Chinese leaders. They will not agree to the Chinese qualification of the Soviet Union as a “social-imperialist” state but they will express their readiness to develop and strengthen Soviet-Korean friendship and cooperation.

Despite all their efforts, the Chinese did not succeed to untie the KWP from the international communist movement. The KWP supports and cultivates, even if from a “special” position, relations with the various departments of the communist world movement. And very important: Even if slowly, so does the KWP currently still maintaining relations with the CPSU and the parties of the other fraternal socialist countries. Even if in declarations only, the KWP still calls for the unity of socialist countries and the international communist movement.

On questions of ideological struggle the KWP defends, even if from a “special” position, the ideas of socialism and communism. It rejects anti-communism, the reactionary ideology of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, as well as ideological diversion against socialism and the international communist movement. It supports the peoples’ struggle for a freedom and independence not from global socialism, but in the interest of socialism in an alliance with the forces of socialism and communism.

Different from China, the DPRK agrees to support actions of European socialist countries to achieve and maintain security in that geographical area. The DPRK doest not condone the Chinese cooperation with the imperialist and reactionary forces on global policy issues in an anti-socialist and anti-Soviet fashion. The DPRK is critical towards NATO, SEATO and other aggressive blocs. It supports centrifugal tendencies in these blocs and criticizes their actions in different regions of the world. The DPRK and China have different opinions on such countries like Chile, India, Burma, Nepal, Bangladesh, Japan, the United States of America, and others. The DPRK speaks out against a U.S. military presence in Asia and in other areas. It condemns Japanese claims against Soviet territory, Japanese militarization, the American-Japanese “security agreement,” and the American military presence in Japan and South Korea.

In order to counter Chinese propaganda in the DPRK, we have crafted a plan for a series of measures to enhance out impact on the DPRK public.

Looking at the actual leverage for propagandistic work inside the DPRK, the council for foreign propaganda of our embassy has created a plan with various recommendations for all Soviet institutions and organizations in the DPRK. It subscribes to the commitment to activate anti-Maoist propaganda among DPRK representatives and in the Korean public. It consists of unmasking the anti-socialist elements in the policy of Beijing’s leaders, of propagating domestic and foreign measures of the CPSU Central Committee and the Soviet government, of demonstrating the qualitative improvements of our country on all levels where socialism has been built and the USSR efforts to strengthen the entire socialist community, and of developing comprehensive cooperation with the DPRK on bilateral and multilateral levels for mutual benefit of the DPRK and USSR and of the DPRK and other socialist states.

In our mind, such will increase our political and ideological impact on leadership and public in the DPRK and counter Chinese propaganda where it is required.

In order to implement the joint goals of the socialist community in the DPRK, all ambassadors from socialist countries are supposed to solve the problems necessary to counter Chinese propagandistic activity. This will weaken Chinese influence and sabotage Beijing’s propagandistic actions in the DPRK, and it will strengthen our political, ideological and other positions in this country.

We consider it desirable to organize here in Pyongyang on our level, as well as between officials from the Foreign Ministries of socialist countries, an exchange of opinions in order to coordinate our actions towards the DPRK on certain problems and in different areas. These exchanges should discuss problems of Korean-Chinese relations and their potential consequences for the development of relations between socialist countries and our parties with DPRK and KWP. They are also supposed to coordinate anti-Maoist propaganda in the DPRK with joint actions in order to influence accordingly leading DPRK representatives and the country’s population in the interest of the countries of the socialist community.