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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 14, 1949


This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Stalin responds to Mao's 11 January telegram rejecting the peace proposal from the Chinese Nationalist Goverment in Nanjing.
    "Cable, Filippov [Stalin] to Cde. Mao Zedong," January 14, 1949, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, APRF, f. 45, op. 1, d. 330, pp. 110-113, and RGASPI, f. 558, op. 11, d. 330, ll. 0110-0113. Contributed by Sergey Radchenko.
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To Comrade Mao Zedong.

We received your long telegram on the Nanjing peace proposal.

1. Certainly it would be better if the Nanjing government’s peace proposal did not exist at all, if this whole peace maneuver by the USA was nonexistent.  Clearly, this maneuver is disagreable, because it can bring some trouble to our common cause. But, unfortunately, this maneuver does exist, it is a fact and we cannot close our eyes on this fact, we have to accept it.

2. Undoubtedly, the peace proposal by Nanjing and the USA is a manifestation of a policy of deception.  First, because Nanjing does not really want peace with the Communist party, as the peace with the Communist party would mean the rejection by the Guomindang of its principal policy of liquidation of the Communist party and its troops, and that would lead to the political death of the Guomindang leaders and the total disintegration of the Guomindang army.  Second, because they know that the Communist party will not make peace with the Guomindang, as it cannot abandon its principal policy of liquidation of the Guomindang and its troops.

So what does Nanjing want after all? It wants not peace with the Communist party, but an armistice, a temporary termination of hostilities to use the armistice as a respite to restore order among Guomindang troops, to fortify the south bank of the Yangzi, to ship armaments from the USA, to reinforce and then to break the truce and deliver a blow on the People’s Liberation forces, blaming the Communist party for the breakdown of negotiations.  Their minimal wish is to prevent the total defeat of the Guomindang forces by the Communist party.

This is the basis of the current deception policy of Nanjing and the USA.

3. How can one respond to this maneuver by Nanjing and the USA?  Two replies are possible. First reply: to reject the Nanjing peace proposals openly and directly, thus declaring the necessity of the continuation of civil war. But what would that mean?  That means, first, that you had put your principal ace on the table and surrendered a very important weapon—the banner of peace—into the hands of the Guomindang.  It means, second, that you are helping your enemies in China and outside China to accuse the Communist party as the advocate of continuing the civil war, and to praise the Guomindang as the defender of peace.  It means, third, that you are giving the USA an opportunity to brainwash public opinion in Europe and America on the lines that no peace is possible with the Communist party, because it does not want peace, and that the only way to achieve peace in China is to organize an armed intervention by foreign powers like the intervention which had taken place in Russia for four years from 1918 to 1921.

We think that a direct and overt answer is good when you are dealing with honest people, but when you have to deal with political swindlers, like the Nanjing people, a direct and overt answer can become dangerous.

But a different answer is also possible. i.e.: a) to accept the desirability of a peace settlement in China; b) to conduct negotiations without foreign mediators, as China is a sovereign country and has no need for foreign mediators; c) to conduct negotiations between the Communist party and the Guomindang as a party, not with the Nanjing government, [which is] bearing the blame for starting the civil war and thus has lost the confidence of the people; d) as soon as the parties come to an agreement on the problems of peace and of the government of China, the hostilities would be terminated.

Can the Guomindang accept these conditions?  We think it cannot. But if the Guomindang will not accept these conditions, the people will realize, that the Guomindang and not the Communist party is to blame for the continuation of civil war.  The banner of peace in this case rests in the hands of the Communist party.  This issue is especially important now, when a lot of people in China are tired of the civil war and are ready to support the advocates of peace.

But let us assume the impossible and imagine that the Guomindang had accepted these terms.  What should the Communist Party’s plans of actions be like?

First, it would be necessary to refrain from terminating the hostilities and then to create the central coalition government organs in such a way that approximately three fifths of seats in the Consultative Council and two thirds of the posts in the government would be retained by the Communists, and the other seats and posts would be distributed between other democratic parties and the Guomindang.

Second, it is necessary that the posts of the prime minister, Commander in Chief, and, if possible, that of the president, be occupied by Communists.

Third, the Consultative Council should declare this coalition government the only government of China, and any other government, pretending to be the government of China, should be declared a rebel group, subject to be disbanded.

And, finally, the coalition government should order both your troops and the Guomindang troops to swear allegiance to the coalition government and that hostilities against the troops which had given the oath would be terminated immediately, while they would be continued against the troops which had refused to give the oath.

It seems unlikely that the Guomindang would agree to these measures, but if they would not, it would be also detrimental for them, because they would be totally isolated, and these measures would be carried out without them.

4. This is our understanding of the issue and our advice to you.  Maybe we were not able to present our advice clearly enough in our previous telegram.

We ask you to regard our advice as advice only, which does not impose any obligations on you and which you can accept or turn down.  You can be sure that your rejection of our advice will not influence our relations and we will remain your friends as we have ever been.

5. As for our answer to the Nanjing mediation proposal, it will be in the spirit of your proposals.

6. We still insist that you postpone temporarily your visit to Moscow, as your presence in China is essential now.  If you want we can immediately send an authoritative member of the Politbureau to Harbin or some other place to negotiate on issues of interest to you.

Filippov [Stalin]

14 January 1949


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