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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 04, 1980

CPSU CC DIRECTIVE TO SOVIET AMBASSADORS IN COMMUNIST COUNTRIES, INSTRUCTIONS 'ABOUT THE CHINA QUESTION'

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    Instructions to Soviet ambassadors on dealing with China's outreach to socialist countries in the eastern bloc, outlining a series of steps for Soviet ambassadors to follow which would foster skepticism about China’s intentions and thwart efforts by Chinese representatives to make wide-ranging contacts in these states. The directive notes China’s hostility to Vietnam, Cuba, Laos, and Mongolia and contrasts this with its development of extensive relations with Romania, Yugoslavia, and North Korea.
    "CPSU CC Directive to Soviet Ambassadors in Communist Countries, Instructions 'About the China Question'," March 04, 1980, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD, F. 89, Per. 34, Dok. 10. Translated by Elizabeth Wishnick https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117007
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Proletariat of all countries, unite!

COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION. CENTRAL COMMITTEE

TOP SECRET

No. St-200/4s

from March 4, 1980

Excerpt from the protocol No. 200   4s CC Secretariat

____________________________________________________________

Regarding the instructions to USSR ambassadors to socialist countries about the China question

Approve the text of the instructions to USSR ambassadors to socialist countries (proposed).

CC SECRETARY

*     *     *     *     *

Secret

Enclosure

k.p.4s,pr.No 200

BERLIN, WARSAW, BUDAPEST, PRAGUE, SOFIA, ULAN-BATOR, HAVANA, HANOI, VIENTIANE

SOVIET AMBASSADORS

Copy: BEIJING, PYONGYANG, PHNOM PENH, BUCHAREST, BELGRADE

SOVIET AMBASSADORS (for their information)

Recently Beijing’s policy towards socialist countries has become noticeably more active.  Under conditions, when imperialist circles in the USA have undertaken to aggravate the international situation, the Chinese leadership, drawing ever closer to imperialism, is increasing its efforts to undermine the position of the socialist community.  Beijing’s goals, as before, are to break the unity and cohesion of the fraternal countries, inspire mutual distrust among them, incite them to opposition to the Soviet Union, destroy the unity of action of socialist states in the international arena including on the China question and finally, to subordinate them to its own influence.

Within the parameters of a policy involving a differentiated approach [to socialist states], the Chinese leadership is trying to stratify the socialist countries into various groups.  With such states as Romania, Yugoslavia, and the DPRK, China is developing extensive relations,  supporting the nationalistic tendencies in their policies in every possible way with the aim of creating its own group on this basis, and using it to counter the socialist community.  In relations with other socialist countries the hostile character of China’s policy is strengthening even more, as the unceasing attacks and pressure on the SRV [Vietnam], Cuba, DPRL [Laos], and MPR [Mongolia], attest.  China uses a double-dealing tactic including pressure and promises in its approach to the PRB [Bulgaria], HPR [Hungary], GDR, PNR [Poland], and ChSSR [Czechoslovakia]: on the one hand China is continuing its gross interference in their internal affairs, while clearly ignoring their interests; on the other hand, it is giving assurances about its readiness to develop relations with them on a mutually advantageous basis.  Thanks to such a tactic, Beijing is counting on at least forcing these countries into positions of “neutrality” regarding China’s course, if not to achieve more.

Within the Chinese leadership demagogic and deceptive practices are widely used.  It is affirmed, as if China’s struggle against the USSR need not worry the other socialist countries, that the development of relations between them and China could even facilitate the improvement of Soviet-Chinese relations, that the expansion of ties between these states and China meets their national interests, and, in particular, could bring them major advantages in the trade-economic sphere.

Beijing has noticeably strengthened its efforts to penetrate into various spheres of life and activities in the countries of the socialist community.  Chinese representatives are trying to become more active in developing relations with official institutions and government agencies, social organizations, educational institutions, and the mass media; they are establishing contacts with various strata of the population, particularly with the intelligentsia and youth, and widely distributing invitations to various events at the PRC embassies.  Information is being collected about the domestic life of their post country, the decisions of party and state organs, the economic situation and the military potential, the military forces and weapons.  Under the guise of “study tours,” attempts are being made to send Chinese delegations to some socialist countries and receive their delegations in the PRC.

There are signs that the Chinese may reevaluate their relations with the ruling parties of some socialist countries, and establish party-to-party ties with them.  Party-to-party ties are already developing with Yugoslavia and Romania; the first Chinese party delegation in recent years went to participate in the RKP [Romanian Communist Party] congress.

Denying in essence the general regularities of development of the revolutionary processes and socialist economic construction in various countries, the Chinese leadership has once again returned to the use of the conception of the “national model” of socialism, and especially rises to the defense of the Yugoslav “model”.

Beijing’s divisive activity shows its limited, but nevertheless negative, influence in certain socialist states.  Some of the workers do not always grasp the meaning of the Chinese tactic and in certain cases do not provide  their own effective rebuff to Beijing’s hegemonic policy.  Moreover, the facts show that responsible leaders of certain fraternal countries, counter to the official positions of their parties, are expressing an interest in excluding some important directions in their ties with China from the sphere of multilateral coordination, that in certain situations they are taking steps to expand ties with the PRC without considering the level of relations between China and other states.

Judging from all of this, China’s tactical use of a differentiated approach [to socialist states], which plays on various nuances and changes in the domestic political and economic situation in certain socialist states, on any type of temporary difficulties, will not only continue, but may even be more widely used in the near future.  It can be inferred that attempts by the Chinese to penetrate into various areas of the domestic life of the socialist countries will be further intensified.

Under these conditions an important question in the work of ambassadors is the effective and systematic opposition of Beijing’s splitting activities in socialist countries, the neutralization of its plans to shake the unity of the socialist states, to influence their positions.  It is necessary to obstruct the intensifying attempts by the Chinese leaders to penetrate into various spheres of the domestic life of the socialist countries.  With the participation of the leaders and representatives of the political and social circles of your post countries, direct the following:

1. Pay attention to the noticeable activization of Chinese policy towards socialist states.  Using the example of Beijing’s recent maneuvers, continuously carry out measures to  clarify the danger of the Chinese differentiated approach tactic and efforts to penetrate the socialist states.  This danger is growing in connection with the fact that the splitting activity of the Chinese representatives is being coordinated all the more closely with imperialist circles, above all with the USA, and their intelligence services.  Expose the false character of Chinese assertions, which allege that China is “concerned” about the improvement of relations with socialist states, and cares about their interests and security.  In fact, Chinese policy, particularly its constant appeals to the USA, Japan, and the countries of Western Europe to unite with China in a “broad international front” and its pressure on the NATO countries to increase their armaments, including nuclear missiles, is totally and fully directed against the socialist states, their security.  Calling for the economic integration and military-political consolidation of the West, Beijing is all the more intensively seeking to undermine the positions of the Organization of the Warsaw Pact and the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance.

One must also keep in mind that the changes in domestic policy taking place in China, among them the rehabilitation of Liu Shaoqi at the Vth Plenum of the CC CPC and the promotion to leading posts of experienced political representatives who were victims of the “Cultural Revolution”, do not mean, as the facts show, that Beijing has renounced its hostile policy towards socialist countries.  On the contrary, one can expect that this policy will be pursued even more tenaciously.

2.  Show the dangerous character of the Chinese leadership’s aim to undermine the unity of the socialist states, its hypocritical efforts to separate the questions of bilateral relations between the socialist countries and China from Soviet-Chinese relations, to sow illusions concerning its goals in this area, for example by using for its own purposes the fact that Soviet-Chinese negotiations are being held.  As the leadership of the fraternal countries was informed, the results of the Moscow round of Soviet-Chinese negotiations showed that the Chinese side does not aim, in the near future in any case, to come to any agreements about the normalization of relations between the USSR and the PRC; that China knowingly proposes unacceptable preconditions, and rejects the Soviet side’s constructive proposals, directed at the elaboration of principles of relations between the two countries and the building of a political-juridical basis for them.  

As far as the second round is concerned, now it is generally difficult to say anything about it, insofar as the Chinese press announced that it would be “inappropriate” to hold them at present.  Recent events attest to the escalation of Beijing’s hostility towards the Soviet Union.

3.  Taking into account the hostile character of China’s policy towards socialist states and the strengthening of its aggressiveness, note the necessity of a careful and deliberate approach to the development of economic ties and scientific-technical cooperation with the PRC, particularly in those areas which would facilitate the growth of its military-industrial potential.  Beijing’s efforts to exaggerate the brilliant perspectives of trade and economic cooperation with some socialist countries don’t have any real basis and are only a tactical means of influencing these countries.  Beijing now considers it advantageous to orient itself towards the West, and not to the development of trade-economic ties with the countries of the socialist community.  The Chinese side is prepared to give any promises, however, as experience shows, among them the heralded experience of relations with Romania and Yugoslavia, China does not have sufficient foreign currency and trade resources to fulfill these promises.  In 1979, for example, the planned trade balance with the FSRY [Yugoslavia] was fulfilled only to one fourth.  China not only is an undesirable partner, but also often uses trade-economic relations as a means of pressure on socialist states (SRV, MNR, Albania), which refuse to undertake obligations for purely political motives.

4.  Pay attention to the importance of continuing a consistent and broad coordination of actions towards China and its attempts to use a differentiated approach to undermine the cohesion of the socialist countries.  Under present conditions, when the Chinese leadership is strengthening its subversive activities among countries of the socialist community, it is all the more important to meticulously observe the criteria elaborated at the meetings of the international departments of the CCs of the fraternal countries for approaching questions of bilateral relations between socialist countries and the PRC.  These mandate that the rapprochement between Beijing and the USA (as their actions in Indochina and Afghanistan attest) is taking a more and more dangerous form and is directed against the interests of peace and the process of detente.  Given the way the situation is progressing, keep in mind that the task of decisively repelling the strengthening attacks on the socialist community on the part of imperialism, reaction, and Chinese hegemonism, is all the more important.

5.  Note the necessity of a vigilant approach to the activities of Beijing and its representatives in socialist countries, its attempts to penetrate various spheres of the domestic life of these countries, to spread its influence in various strata of the population, particularly among young people, some of whom are a part of the technical, scientific, and creative intelligentsia.  It is important not to weaken control over their contacts with Chinese representatives, to monitor their visits to various organizations, including government agencies, scientific-research and educational institutions, and also to limit the attendance by citizens in the post countries of events at Chinese embassies.

It would be inadvisable to consider the explanatory work on this question to be an episodic campaign.  It is necessary to conduct it consistently, taking into account the specifics of the post country, and, as much as possible, involve a wide range of leading party and government cadres, as well as the creative intelligentsia.  As necessary, contribute any suitable proposals for effective opposition to Beijing’s subversive activities and the neutralization of undesirable tendencies in the policies of specific socialist states.