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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 02, 1980


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    Instructions to Soviet ambassadors discussing the growing military cooperation between China and the United States.
    "CPSU CC Politburo Directive to Soviet Ambassadors and Representatives, 'Carrying Out Additional Measures to Counter American-Chinese Military Cooperation' ," October 02, 1980, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD, F. 89, Per. 34, Dok. 10. Translated by Elizabeth Wishnick.
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Subject to return within 7 days to

the CC CPSU (General department, 1st sector)

Proletariat of all countries, unite!



No. P217/57

To Comrades Brezhnev, Kosygyn, Andropov, Gromyko, Kirilenko, Suslov, Tikhonov, Ustinov, Ponomarev, Rusakov, Zamiatin, Smirtyukov.

Extract from protocol No. 217 of the CC CPSU Politburo session of October 2, 1980


Re: Carrying out additional measures to counter American-Chinese military cooperation

Approve the draft indicated for Soviet ambassadors and Soviet representatives (enclosed).


*     *     *     *     *

For point 57 prot. No. 217



At the present time the partnership between American imperialism and Beijing’s hegemonism, which is spreading to the military sphere, is a new negative phenomenon in world politics and dangerous for all of humanity.  Counting on using “strong and stable” China in its strategic interests, Washington is expanding the parameters for cooperation with Beijing in the military-technical sphere.  In particular, the USA administration has affirmed its readiness to deliver modern American weapons and technology to China, which could be widely used for military purposes.

As American-Chinese military cooperation develops further, destructive elements will grow in international relations.

In accordance with the instructions you received previously and taking into account the specifics of your post country, continue your work to reveal the dangerous character of the developing rapprochement between aggressive circles in the West, above all the USA, and the Chinese leadership, calling attention to the following aspects.

1.  In developing military cooperation with China, the ruling circles in the USA count on the possibility of influencing China to act in a “desirable” way, of channeling its policies in an acceptable direction.  Frequently the foreign policy activity of the PRC is presented as a “stabilizing” factor in the international arena.  The Chinese leaders themselves are not adverse to playing up to such a discussion and, to this end, without withdrawing the thesis of the “inevitability of war,” have begun to use a more flexible terminology.  However, with the help of a sham “peaceful nature,” invoked to add greater “respectability” to the PRC’s foreign policy, Beijing is simply counting on gaining time to accomplish the forced arming of the country.  Actually, more and more, the Chinese leadership is resorting to a policy of diktat and interference in the domestic affairs of other countries, and assumes on itself the improper functions of “teaching lessons” and “punishing”  the unruly with the force of arms.

2.  As before, the PRC government declines to make any international legal commitments to disarmament, tries to diminish the importance of results achieved in this area, and refuses to take part in measures to limit and stop the arms race.  Beijing has set about to manufacture and experiment with intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and is working on the creation of neutron weapons.  All this drives the global arms race forward and directly contradicts the interests of detente.  This policy of Beijing’s seriously threatens everyone, even the USA and Japan, and not just the Soviet Union and other socialist states.

3.  There is absolutely no basis for concluding, as some do, that Beijing’s alleged adoption of a “modernization program” represents a new political course to overcome China’s economic backwardness.  In fact this course was taken above all to contribute to the realization of pre-existing plans to speed up the process of transforming China into a military “superpower,” and the resolution of the most serious problems, such as increasing the extremely low material and cultural level of the Chinese people, has been relegated to an indefinite future.  In China they don’t hide the fact that “modernization” is the best means of preparing for war.  In practice, unrestrained militarization accelerates economic collapse and increased instability in China.  Thus, those countries who actively take part in the Chinese program of “modernization,” actually contribute to the growth of its military potential and render a disservice to the Chinese people.

On the other hand, the policy of militarizing the country will inevitably engender unpredictable turns and zigzags and future evidence of foreign policy adventurism, leading to the dangerous destabilization of the international situation and the inflammation of international tension.  Any injection of aid, particularly by the USA, either directly or indirectly contributing to China’s militarization and to the development of the Chinese military potential, would enable China to find the striking power necessary for the realization of its hegemonic schemes.  Under conditions when Beijing not only opposes all constructive proposals to strengthen peace and detente, but also directly provokes international conflict, this [aid] would mean an increased danger of war breaking out and the growth of threats to all humanity, including the Chinese and American peoples.

The fact that what is proposed for delivery to China is “non-lethal” equipment and technology, “defensive,” and “dual-use,” etc., does not change the situation.  The issue is not that such distinctions are extremely relative, but that cooperation with military modernization will free up the forces within China and the means necessary for building up its principal strike force - its nuclear capability.

4.  The plans Beijing has been developing for a long time to change the global correlation of forces and the entire structure of contemporary international relations elicit serious alarm.  The transfer to China of any technology or equipment whatsoever—this would be a step in the direction of the erosion of the established military-balance in the world and of a new cycle in the arms race.  The destruction of the balance of military forces would erode the basis for the arms limitation negotiations  insofar as equal security is the main principle which the USSR and USA have agreed to follow.

As far as the Soviet Union is concerned, it has every opportunity to defend its interests and repel the presumptions of other countries, including the PRC.  The calculations of those who try to direct American-Chinese relations in such as way as to use China as a means of pressure and as a military counterweight to the Soviet Union are short-sighted.  Those who hope to redirect Chinese expansion to the north risk major miscalculation.  Encouraging the expansion of China’s military potential increases the danger that certain countries would be inveigled into Beijing’s orbit, and in the long-term, could lead to a situation in which these very countries could become the victims of Chinese expansion.  Therefore, thinking realistically, it would follow to recognize that a “strong” China would chose a different direction for its expansionist plans: in all likelihood it would swallow up neighboring countries, grab hold of all the vitally important regions of the world, and would certainly not serve as an instrument in the hands of the USA or any other country.

5.  The development of military-political cooperation between China and the USA, which elicits concern among many states, has led already to a noticeable worsening of the international situation and complicated the search for real paths to strengthening peace and security in various regions of the world. In an effort to create favorable conditions for the realization of its hegemonic aims, the Beijing leadership counts on aggravating relations between countries, setting some states against others, and provoking military conflicts.  Beijing does not hide the fact that it aims to cause a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the USA, and, from its ashes, assume world domination.

Those who insist on the necessity of “strengthening” China base their calculations on the assumption that Beijing would coordinate in a confrontation with the USSR and in its conflicts in Asia, and therefore would not be dangerous for the West.  But taking into account the continuing domestic political struggle in China, no one can guarantee that in 5-10 years China would not bring into play an anti-American card or anti-Japanese card and use its ICBM force against those countries which irresponsibly connived and assisted with the PRC’s re-armament.

The experience of history attests to the fact that the extent of China’s expansion will be proportional to the military might of the Chinese army.  Even today China’s neighbors, above all the countries of Southeast Asia which the Chinese leaders consider to be their traditional sphere of influence, experience an immediate threat.  It would be easy to imagine how China will behave in relation to its neighbors once the USA and its neighbors assist China to acquire more modern weapons.  Above all, China is trying to institute its control over Southeast Asia all the way to the coast of Malacca and the straits of Singapore.

Under these conditions, attempts to ignore the dangerous tendencies in Chinese policy and to remain neutral will only encourage Beijing to undertake new adventures and to extend its expansion.  Collective efforts by Asian states could, on the contrary, impede China’s path to increased military might, which is directed above all against countries of this region.

(For New Delhi only.  The connivance and outright support of the USA for military preparations in China can only contradict India’s interests.  Although the Chinese leadership is holding talks about normalizing relations with India, there is an entire array of means of pressure against it in China’s arsenal of strategies.  In American-Chinese plans, the role which is allotted to Pakistan as a key factor in pressuring India and as a base of support for the aggressive actions of the USA and China in Southeast Asia is expanding more and more.  In cooperation with the USA, Beijing is flooding India’s neighbors with arms and, by creating an atmosphere of war psychosis, is attempting to maintain in power unpopular regimes such as the current one in Pakistan.  Beijing is speeding up its military preparations along the Chinese-Indian border, constructing missile bases and strategic roads in Tibet, and activating its support for separatist movements in northeast India, where it is practically waging an “undeclared war” against this country.)

There is no doubt that as China strengthens its military-industrial potential, it will advance further along the path to the realization of Chinese leadership’s openly declared territorial pretensions against neighboring countries in Southeast, South, and West Asia.  This will not only lead to a serious destabilization of the situation in Asia, but, at a certain stage, also could present a direct threat to other regions.

Under these conditions, the Soviet Union can only draw the requisite conclusions. Not only do we carefully monitor the direction of American-Chinese cooperation in the military sphere, but also we must take the necessary steps to strengthen the security of our borders.  We cannot tolerate change in the military-strategic balance in favor of forces hostile to the cause of peace.

(Only for Berlin, Budapest, Warsaw, Prague, Sofia, Ulan-Bator, Havana, Hanoi, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Kabul.

The post countries should inform MID [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] that Soviet ambassadors were sent instructions about carrying out work to counter the negative counsequences for the causes of socialism, peace, and detente, of the establishment of an American-Chinese military alliance.  Familiarize the recipient with the content of the aforementioned instructions.  

Carry out your work in coordination with the embassies (missions of) Cuba, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV), the People’s Republic of Bulgaria (PRB), the Hungarian People’s Republic (HPR), the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Laotian People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR), the Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR), the Polish People’s Republic (PPR), and the Czechoslovak People’s Republic (CPR).)

It is necessary to attentively follow all foreign policy steps taken to carry out plans for the expansion of American-Chinese military cooperation, to regularly and effectively inform the Center about them, and to take the measures required to neutralize the tendencies that are undesirable for our interests.