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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 05, 1950

MESSAGE FROM STALIN TO MAO ZEDONG

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

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    Stalin describes the US inability to engage in a "big war" and encourages Kim in his fight against the US. He also discusses the domestic situation in China.
    "Message from Stalin to Mao Zedong," October 05, 1950, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Volkogonov Collections, Library of Congress; Archive of the President of the Russian Federation (APRF). Translated for CWIHP by Vladislav Zubok https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117313
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From cde. PHILIPPOV [Stalin]

October 5, 1950

I received your reply. I considered it possible to turn to you with the question of five-six Chinese volunteer divisions because I was well aware of a number of statements made by the leading Chinese comrades regarding their readiness to move several armies in support of the Korean comrades if the enemy were to cross the 38th parallel. I explained the readiness of the Chinese comrades to send troops to Korea by the fact that China was interested in preventing the danger of the transformation of Korea into a USA springboard or a bridgehead for a future militaristic Japan against China.

While raising before you the question of dispatching troops to Korea, I considered 5-6 divisions a minimum, not a maximum, and I was proceeding from the following considerations of an international character:

1) the USA, as the Korean events showed, is not ready at present for a big war [k bol'shoi voine];

2) Japan, whose militaristic potential has not yet been restored, is not capable of rendering military assistance to the Americans;

3) the USA will be compelled to yield in the Korean question to China behind which stands its ally, the USSR, and will have to agree to such terms of the settlement of the Korean question that would be favorable to Korea and that would not give the enemies a possibility to transform Korea into their springboard;

4) for the same reasons, the USA will not only have to abandon Taiwan, but also to reject the idea of a separate peace with the Japanese reactionaries, as well as to abandon their plans of revitalizing Japanese imperialism and of converting Japan into their springboard in the Far East.

In this regard, I proceeded from the assumption that China could not extract these concessions if it were to adopt a passive wait-and-see policy, and that without serious struggle and an imposing display of force not only would China fail to obtain all these concessions but it would not be able to get back even Taiwan which at present the United States clings to as its springboard not for Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek], who has no chance to succeed, but for themselves or for a militaristic Japan of tomorrow.

Of course, I took into account also [the possibility] that the USA, despite its unreadiness for a big war, could still be drawn into a big war out of [considerations of] prestige, which, in turn, would drag China into the war, and along with this draw into the war the USSR, which is bound with China by the Mutual Assistance Pact. Should we fear this? In my opinion, we should not, because together we will be stronger than the USA and England, while the other European capitalist states (with the exception of Germany which is unable to provide any assistance to the United States now) do not present serious military forces. If a war is inevitable, then let it be waged now, and not in a few years when Japanese militarism will be restored as an ally of the USA and when the USA and Japan will have a ready-made bridgehead on the continent in a form of the entire Korea run by Syngman Rhee.

Such were the considerations and prospects of an international nature that I proceeded from when I was requesting a minimum of five-six divisions from you.

Your reply contains one consideration about domestic situation in China that is new to me. You insist that, in case of a new war with regard to Korean events there will be many malcontents in the country, that there is strong longing for peace in the country. I understand it in such a way that the bourgeois parties that are part of the Chinese coalition may, in case of war, exploit discontent in the country against the Chinese communist party and its leadership. Of course, you should know the domestic situation in China better than anybody else. Would it be, however, possible to overcome the difficulties of internal situation in China or it would be impossible - only the Chinese comrades can decide it.

As to the arrival of comrades Zhou Enlai and Lin Biao, I would be happy to meet them and to have a conversation with them.

 Respectfully,

PHILIPPOV

5 October 1950

[Handwritten]  Dispatched to cde. Bulganiin via VCh [high-frequency phone] at 23 hours, 5 October.