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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 12, 1970

MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN ROMANIAN DEPUTY PREMIER GHEORGHE RADULESCU AND ZHOU ENLAI DURING A VISIT TO CHINA BETWEEN 20-26 NOVEMBER 1970

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

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    Gheorge Radulescu informs Zhou Enlai that the United States desires to improve Sino-US relations and discuss China's representation in the UN. Zhou states that China does not accept the proposal for Taiwan to remain a member of the UN as an autonomous region of China, because, in that case, other countries could ask that the same be done for Tibet and Xinjiang. Zhou notes the ongoing border disputes with the Soviet Union. Zhou also discusses Japan's growing economy and the threat of renewed Japanese militarism.
    "Memorandum of Conversation between Romanian Deputy Premier Gheorghe Radulescu and Zhou Enlai during a Visit to China between 20-26 November 1970," December 12, 1970, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANIC, CC RCP Fond, Foreign Relations Section, file 98/1970, p. 6-35; published in Relatiile Romano-Chineze, 1880-1974 [Sino-Romanian Relations, 1880-1974], ed. Ambassador Romulus Ioan Budura, (Bucharest, 2005), pp. 1021-42. Translated by Mircea Munteanu. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117762
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Nr. 00127 12 XII 1970/1333

Top Secret

Memorandum about the friendship visit of the Romanian government delegation in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

At the invitation of the governments of the DRV and the PRC, a government delegation, led by Cde. Gheorghe Radulescu, member of the [RCP CC] Executive Committee, of the [RCP CC] Permanent Presidium, Council of Ministers Vice President, made a friendly visit in the DRV between 15-20 November 1970, and, between 20-26 November 1970, a friendly visit in the PRC. Other members of the delegation were Cdes. Radu Constantinescu, vice president of the Governmental Commission for Technical and Economic Cooperation, as well as Constantin Babeanu, Romanian Ambassador to Hanoi during the portion of the visit in the DRV, and Aurel Duma, Romanian Ambassador to Beijing, during the delegation’s activities in the PRC.

[…] [text of the memorandum on Vietnam not translated] […]

B. The Visit to the People’s Republic of China

The purpose of this visit was to examine the possibilities of continual development of economic relations between the Socialist Republic of Romania (SRR) and the PRC. With this occasion, a meeting took place between the leader of the Romanian governmental delegation and Zhou Enlai, Premier of the State Council of the PRC, during which—per the indication of the [party] leadership—the Chinese side was informed of certain issues of interest that arose from the discussions held by Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu during his activities at the anniversary session of the United Nations (UN), as well as from the discussions he had during his visit to the United States of America (US). During the same meeting, the leader of the Romanian governmental delegation informed the Chinese side of certain aspects concerning the activity of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA).

[…] [discussion of economic issues not translated] […]

2. Other topics expressed by the Romanian side during the meeting with Cde. Zhou Enlai.

Before the start of the discussions, the leader of the Romanian delegation informed Cde. Zhou Enlai that he has a written message from Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu for transmittal to Cde. Mao Zedong. Cde. Zhou Enlai replied that both Cde. Mao Zedong and Cde. Lin Biao are in vacation and that during this period they have not received any foreign delegation, and asked that the message be delivered to Cde. Zhou Enlai for transmittal to Cde. Mao Zedong.

Following [that exchange], the discussions between the leader of the Romanian governmental organization and the Premier of the Council of State of the PRC focused on the following topics:

a. Certain issues regarding the legitimate role of the PRC in resolving the international issues touched upon by Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu on the occasion of the UN anniversary session and during the conversations he had during his visit to the US.

Regarding these issues, we told the Chinese side that, both during the meetings Cde. Ceausescu had with heads of state that participated at the UN anniversary session and during the discussions he had during his visit in the US, special emphasis was placed on PRC’s role in today’s world. Both at the UN and in the discussions during his US visit, Cde. Ceausescu argued firmly that without the participation of the PRC, of the great Chinese people, none of the major international issues facing today’s world can be resolved.

The Chinese side was informed that, during the conversations with US President [Richard M.] Nixon, he stated that he understands this, and agrees with Cde. Ceausescu’s position. Also, we pointed out that, during the discussions with R. Nixon and Rogers, it became clear that they are preoccupied by finding ways to normalize relations between the US and the PRC. As a matter of fact, R. Nixon stated that the US is ready to carry out negotiations on any issue toward the goal of improving Sino-American relations, in any way and at any time, and asked Cde. Ceausescu to inform the PRC that the US desires the develop economic, technical, and scientific bilateral relations. R. Nixon let it be known that, if Warsaw does not prove itself to be the right venue for Sino-American contacts, the venue can be changed.

During the meetings Cde. Ceausescu had with representatives of the financial and industrial circles in the US, a clear concern was evident on their side for improving Sino-American relations.

It was expressed that, during discussions with R. Nixon concerning his speech at the UN, Cde. Ceausescu expressed his impression, and the impression of other heads of state, that the US president was specifically addressing the Soviet Union, in a way that implied that the US desires to discuss world problems exclusively with the USSR. Nixon denied such a thing, stating that it is not his intention to approach and resolve global problems this way, and stating that in the draft of his UN speech there was a passage that was favorable to the PRC, but that he took it out after his conversation with Gromyko, so as not to upset the Soviets.

In his response to the topics raised, Premier Zhou Enlai stated that the entire Chinese people express warm thanks to Cde. Ceausescu for the position to take at the UN regarding the need to reestablish the legitimate rights of the PRC in this organization and the removal of the chiangkaishekist clique. Also, he stated that the Americans have been, for a long time, amenable to the reestablishment of the PRC’s legitimate rights in this organization, under the condition that Taiwan remains a member of the UN, as an independent country. Some are of the opinion that Taiwan can become an autonomous region within the PRC, and remain a member of the UN, the same way Ukraine is a member. In a situation like this, India could ask that Tibet, which is an autonomous region within the PRC, also become a member of the UN. The Soviets could ask that Xinjiang, another autonomous region, also become a UN member. In this way, one can say that the PRC would end up having more votes at the UN than the Soviet Union. It could be said that, in the end, the UN would chose this solution to the issue of Chinese representation. The party, the government, the people of China would never be able to accept such a solution. Twenty five years have passed since the UN was founded, and in 25 more years things will be the same.

Cde. Zhou Enlai stated that this in no means precludes Romania’s activities in the UN in support of reestablishing the legitimate rights of the PRC and toward throwing out the chiangkaishekist clique from the organization.

Regarding this topic, Cde. Zhou Enlai stated that: “A right cause will always remain right, truth will always be truth.” For example, the draft proposed by Algeria, Romania, and other countries, was adopted by 51 votes, 25 abstained, one country did not vote, and another representative went to get some coffee. But there was another resolution draft proposed there, the American one, which passed with 66 votes for, 52 against, and 7 abstentions. Because of this, the representative of Tunis stood up and proposed that the Chinese issue be sent to the Secretary General as a special issue for consideration. On this issue, [Tunisian President Habib Ben Ali] Bourguiba tried to speculate, the same way he did on the issue of the Middle East. It is known that he sent the Prime Minister in Jordan on the premise of mediation, but that he was on the side of [Jordanian King] Hussein. The solution of transforming the Chinese problem into a special issue [for the Secretary General] is worse then the American solution of two-thirds of the votes. The Americans have made public the idea that China does not desire and has not requested membership in the UN. But it is well known that China is a founding nation of the UN. After the Second World War many countries changed their leadership. [Egyptian President Gamal Abdel] Nasser made a republic out of a kingdom, and the most recent change took place in Libya. But no one had requested that these issues be considered important or special. France, Algeria, other countries, took a very just position on the issue raised by Tunis, which is why the representative of that country withdrew his proposal. As far as the Chinese party is concerned things will not stop here. The Americans will change their attitude on this issue only when Nixon, or another American president, will dig themselves into a hole.

Regarding what was sent through from Nixon, Cde. Zhou Enlai thanked Cde. Ceausescu, stating that “Nixon knew that Cde. Ceausescu will inform the Chinese party of these things.” He continued by stating that: “What the Americans stated is not that important. Between China and the US, there is one main issue—the issue of Taiwan. Taiwan is an integral part of China, and this was recognized in many international documents, including the [27 November 1943] Cairo Declaration. After the surrender of Japan, the Chinese government of Jiang Jieshi took over the administration of Taiwan. [US President Harry S.] Truman sent troops to occupy Taiwan only after the start of the Korean War; but before that he too recognized that Taiwan is an integral part of China.”

Referring to the presentation made by the leader of the Romanian delegation, that the American side is preoccupied with the normalization of relations with the Chinese side, Cde. Zhou Enlai stated that: “If Nixon truly wants and has the solution to resolve this key problem, then the Chinese government will welcome a special enjoy [of president Nixon] to Beijing.”

When asked if Cde. Ceausescu can pass this reply to Nixon, Cde. Zhou Enlai said that the following can be passed [to Washington]: “Taiwan is an integral part of China. Freeing Taiwan is an internal issue of China, and there can be no outside interference in this matter. The basic problem behind the tense Sino-American relations is that the US has occupied Taiwan and the Formosa Straits militarily. The PRC government has always come out in favor of resolving this issue diplomatically. This issue has been discussed for 15 years, without any results. Now, finding through Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu that Nixon desires to carry out negotiations with China, at any time and in any place, we reply that if Nixon truly has the desire and the solution to resolve this issue, then the Chinese government would welcome a special envoy [of President Nixon] to Beijing.” Zhou Enlai continued by saying that “Nixon could even come to Beijing, not just a special envoy. He was able to go to Belgrade and Bucharest, so why would he not be able to come to Beijing?”

Cde. Zhou Enlai asked that we transmit to Cde. Ceausescu that the PRC leadership discussed the issue of Sino-American relations in the [CCP] Central Committee, together with Cdes. Mao Zedong and Lin Biao, and that [the above statement] is the position of the Chinese party and government.

[…] [CMEA and CSCE sections not translated] […]

3. Certain topics presented by Cde. Zhou Enlai during the discussion with the Romanian delegation.

Premier Zhou Enlai also described certain Chinese considerations with respect to the state of Sino-Soviet relations, the rebirth of Japanese militarism, and [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] DPRK-USSR relations.

a. Regarding Sino-Soviet relations

Cde. Zhou Enlai stated that, during the meeting he had on 11 September 1969 with Cde. Alexei Kosygin, he discussed the issue of resolving border disputes “peacefully, without threats.” Concerning this, Cde. Zhou Enlai stated that: “the Chinese side suggested that, before the issues at hand be resolved, the two parties should finalize an agreement that would include: maintaining the status-quo at the border; avoiding skirmishes, disengaging from the disputed zones.

Cde. Kosygin asked what do we mean by disputed zones, he acted as if he did not understand. He was told that, on the basis of the accords agreed upon in the 19th Century, the two countries’ borders drawn on their respective maps intersect at certain points. The territories between two lines are territories in dispute. In these territories, border guards from both countries continue to patrol, which is why there are skirmishes. The Chinese proposal is that the troops of both countries be withdrawn from these regions. When Cde. Kosygin asked what would happen to the civil administration now present in those areas, he was told that they should remain in place, as they are now, until the border is finalized. It was mentioned that, by agreeing to this, negotiations can begin on the main issues concerning the demarcation line. Cde. Kosygin agreed to the proposal, and asked for a draft [of the understanding], also asking how long it will take the Chinese side to come up with the document. He was told that the Chinese side can send the document in one week, and, on 18 September, the document was sent. After that, on 20 October, the negotiations began, but there have been no results to this day. The main topics discussed are the disputed zones, which are different in size—some smaller, some larger. In principle, we are talking about the islands on the Amur and Ussuri rivers. Those [islands] are disputed because the Soviets do not accept the international practice regarding borders on rivers, meaning they do not accept thalweg [valley profile of the river]. In the West, the area of the disputed zones is larger, the largest one is in the Pamir plateau. In that area, the border was never settled. The Chinese side said that its guiding principle in the negotiations is the following: starting from the situation on the ground, and through mutual understanding, the necessary changes should be made [to the border]. On the basis of this principle, [China] has resolved its border issues with all its neighbors, except for India and the Soviet Union. The Soviets refuse to accept border changes because they are afraid of a chain reaction. They have issues with all their neighbors, without any exception, starting with Japan and going to Finland, but are insisting that their present borders are just. They are very afraid to create a precedent.”

b. Regarding the revival of Japanese militarism

Regarding this issue, Cde. Zhou Enlai said the following:

“From an economic standpoint, Japan is now number two in the world, ahead of England, France, and even the [Federal Republic of Germany] FRG. Attention must be paid to the fact that the Japanese economy is not growing naturally. It does not possesses raw materials, and it does not have a [domestic] market. In these conditions, it purchases resources from the US and the third world, and must find a market to sell its products. The Americans, for fear of competition from Japanese products, began adopting a protectionist tariff policy. Given the situation, Japan is orienting itself toward the markets of other countries, especially Asian countries. Last year, Japan had a trade surplus of approximately 4 billion dollars. This money came, especially, from Asian countries. Thus, Japan, as a country without raw materials and without a domestic market has no other options than economic expansion. It cannot do that without basing [its designs] on the support of a great power—the US. The economic expansion of Japan will be the source of military expansion.” That is why the US-Japanese security treaty has been extended indefinitely.

The Japanese economic expansion requires the expansion of its rearming plans. As it is well known, Japan had had certain rearming plans. The funds set aside for this goal for the 1972-1976 period are 15.8 billion dollars, thus twice as much as the total sum used in the period covered by the first three plans. Thus, their position as a great economic power will mean their expansion as a military power. In this context, it must be stated that the [Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku] Sato—Nixon declaration clearly states that South Korea and Taiwan are indispensable to the security of Japan.

The Japanese are very interested in Indochina. In the past 25 years, Japan has become very rich, taking advantage of the wars in this part of the world, which, even though they did not spread to become a world war, were, nevertheless, continuous. The first was the civil war in China, which lasted for three and a half years. This one, even though it was carried out with American equipment, was of great benefit to Japan, which gained transport [revenues]. Following that Japan benefited from the Korean War, where it participated with logistical support and reparations. In 1959, the Vietnam War started, which expanded in 1965. This war is now carried out throughout Indochina, and there is a possibility that it be expanded to Thailand. Malaysia is also fearful that it might extend there.

Japan is not prepared for a global war, and even less so for a thermonuclear war. [Japan] is interested in the existence of limited wars. Presently, [Japan] is developing its naval and air forces with the declared goal of protecting the investments it has made abroad. The Japanese defense minister has publicly stated that the Malacca Strait is a vital [logistical] line for Japan. The same declaration was made prior to the start of the Pacific War.

Japanese militarism is being reborn, step by step, and Japan must be seen as a base for defending American interests in the Far East and Asia.

In this issue, the DPRK, the PRC, and the Indochinese countries—Cambodia, represented by [Cambodian leader Norodom] Shianouk, and Laos, represented by the Pathet Lao—have common points of view.”

Cde. Zhou Enlai referred to the problem of Japanese militarism in the context of Soviet-Japanese relations, stating the following: “On the occasion of the recent meeting I had with the Soviet ambassador in Beijing, I asked him: do you remember that we are part of an alliance, and against whom this alliance is directed? The Soviet ambassador replied that the alliance was created against Japanese militarism. Then I told him that, presently, the USSR has very intimate relations with the Japanese, that it opened Siberia’s doors [to Japan], and that would lead to [economic] concessions. The Soviet ambassador said that there were no deals reached yet, and said that China [also] has intense economic relations with Japan. The Soviet ambassador was told that [Japan][1] is trading with private firms from Taiwan, South Korea, and South Vietnam.

When the Soviet ambassador stated that Japan was the aggressor country, and that there is a danger of future Japanese aggression, not only against China, but also against the Soviet Union, I told him that we cannot speak only of possible future aggression, since that danger exists even now. Japan is moving toward the rebirth of militarism, which constitutes a great danger for the [Far] East, for [North] Korea, for China, for [North] Vietnam. The US is planning for the withdrawal of a part of its armed forces from South Korea (approximately 20,000 soldiers), first, under the condition that Japan and South Korea sign a military alliance, and second, under the condition of the creation of a political alliance—formally named the Consultative Conference—between Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.”

c. Regarding USSR-DPRK relations

Regarding this issue, Cde. Zhou Enlai said the following: “Why did the Korean comrades have a dispute with the Soviet comrades? As it is known, the Americans are behind the Japanese in the creation of a Japanese—South Korean alliance, and at the same time, they are behind the Seoul clique, supporting its provocations at the 38th parallel. For Indochina, there are already a series of decisions adopted at an international conference, decisions that have, after all, already been trampled over, and regarding Korea, there is only an armistice, and no peace treaty. During the first part of the Geneva Conference, nothing was settled on the issue of Korea, that is why the [North] Koreans have no other choice but to continue fighting. But the Soviets, not only do they no longer deliver airplanes and cannon, and no longer deliver parts for weaponry, but they accuse them of capturing, downing, and sinking American and South Korean spy planes and espionage vessels. More so, the Soviets send a ship to help in the recovery effort of an American spy plane downed by the [North] Koreans. In such a case, how can the Korean comrades still consider the Soviet Union as a fraternal, socialist country?”

During the visit in the PRC, the leader of the Romanian governmental delegation had a conversation with Penn Nouth, the Prime Minister of the Royal Government of National Unity of Cambodia, since Prince Norodom Sihanouk was in a trip through certain provinces of the PRC.

On this occasion, [Penn Nouth] was told that the Romanian people remain united behind the just struggle of the Cambodian people against foreign, imperialist, intervention, and—in light of the speech given by Cde. Ceausescu at the Anniversary Session of the UN—the position of the SRR on the struggle of the Khmer people was expressed. Penn Nouth thanked [the delegation] for the communication, and for the sympathy and solidarity showed by the Romanian people to the Cambodian people, stating that, being convinced of the just nature of its goals, the Khmer people will continue their struggle until they reach victory.

During the official conversations and the negotiations, our interlocutors have repeatedly referred to the friendship and solidarity of the Chinese people toward the Romanian people, and to the strong and enduring relations between our parties and governments. The Chinese side manifested a clear desire that the negotiations reach a concrete conclusion, through the finalization of the [negotiated] accords. The Chinese side mentioned that, these accords reflect relations of mutual assistance, that they are not advantageous only for the Romanian side, but also for the PRC, because “Romania is on the same side of the battle line as the PRC.”

On the basis of the results obtained, and of the atmosphere in which the visit of the Romanian delegation took place, we conclude that the CCP and the PRC government are giving our country an exceptional level of attention, and are animated by the desire to continue the development of those relations in multiple respects. We also noticed that the internal and foreign policies of the Romanian party and government are well received, and receive the trust, appreciation and support of the Chinese party and state leadership.

[1]The country mentioned in the transcription is the PRC. This is either an error by the transcriber or a mistake in the memorandum.