Search in

Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 17, 1965


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

  • Citation

    get citation

    Materials stating that Ne Win's government favored neutrality in foreign relations and avoids interfering in international disputes. Burma wants to develop friendly relations with China and receive financial support from China, while keeping its distance. It opposes American and fears it. It relies on Soviet revisionism while also remaining wary of them.
    "Research Materials from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Subunit Concerning Burma’s Political Situation and International Relations Trends, etc.," February 17, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 105-01314-02. Obtained for CWIHP by Hongwei Fan and translated for CWIHP by Max Maller.
  • share document


English HTML

Burma’s government, both in international and domestic policy, has essentially not changed: “Not to offend China, the Soviet Union, America, England, India, etc. To emphasize not intervening in international disputes. Relations towards us have improved, but we do not wish to be too visible.”…After Khruschev stepped down, the Soviet revisionists continued to flatter Ne Win’s socialist ideals, as well as rushing to elevate their buying price for Burmese rice, doing their utmost to demonstrate goodwill toward Ne Win. The Burmese brought much attention to this…Not wishing to [offend] the Soviet revisionists, they made every effort to preserve good relations.” The socialist road that the England and the US guaranteed to buy [sic] was not there before, which is worth noting.

“Last July, the Premier visited Burma. Offering timely aid and giving ample support for Ne Win, he advanced the development of China-Burma relations. But the Ne Win government did not wish for the two countries’ relationship to be too noticeable; he feared overly upsetting America, feared getting drawn into India’s war. Last December, while General Chen [Yi] was visiting Burma, Ne Win did not want to talk much about Burma’s international and domestic problems. Lately, in order to avoid paying a visit to China before the Asian-African Conference, he postponed coming here.

“Since the Soviet revisionists’ new leader took office, they have stepped up their partisan wrangling and unprincipled flattery of Ne Win’s clique, viciously supporting Burma’s revisionists, all the while poisoning the Burmese government and inciting disharmony in China-Burma relations. What is worth noting is that these actions have catered to the needs of Ne Win’s clique; the influence of the Soviet revisionists in the Burmese government has therefore broadened…In less than half a year, nearly twenty articles have been published that verbosely embellish the Burmese socialist road, beautifying Ne Win’s clique, and announcing the Ne Win clique’s ‘success.’…They fully ratify the Burmese socialist road. Three articles, ‘Burma’s socialist road political program,’ ‘Party planning philosophy,’ and ‘Five qualities of party planning philosophy,’ all say, ‘Burma’s socialist road can be said to bring together the entire nation’s democratic force to lead the country down an anti-capitalist road.’

“The Soviet revisionists’ main objective is to attempt to push the Ne Win clique down a pro-Soviet, anti-Chinese road, thus curbing our influence in southeast Asia and serving as an example of the ‘peaceful transition’ of revisionist theory…The Ne Win clique intends, with the benefit of the Soviet revisionists’ support, to puncture and divide Burma’s revolutionary power, resisting the expansion of our influence in Burma and limiting our support for revolution in Burma. Add to this that Soviet revisionists have still not revealed their true face, [nor] have the two sides clashed or caused direct harm. Thus at present, the Ne Win clique and the Soviet revisionists share a great deal of political common ground. Ne Win still harbors many illusions about the Soviet revisionists.”

Following March 1965, the Burmese rightists used monks to enact an anti-Ne Win demonstration. One after another, thirteen county and city level gatherings led marches, posting slogans and distributing flyers, destroying the political party office and assaulting party officials, all culminating in a riot to overthrow the Ne Win government. The prime attacks were aimed at Ne Win himself: the monks shouted the slogan, “Strike down Ne Win, support the national defense forces!” They called Ne Win a “fascist” and attempted to spread the rumor that he was a part-Chinese half breed. By April or May, Ne Win had apprehended over 1000 politicians and monks. He shut down a pro-American [sticker] factory and publication. Even the news bureau at the American consulate in Mandalay participated in the anti-government rally.

The Ne Win clique’s “internal division has never flagged.” The right wing still has considerable power. Not only does it have the strength of a partly underground military outfit, but it also has considerable power and influence in areas governed by Ne Win. His only followers are those in his clique and within the government system.

“In international terms, the Ne Win clique deeply understands the fatal risk of colluding with the US to topple the right wing opposition. But they also believe that China poses a hidden threat, so they oppose America while fearing it and maintain friendship with China while keeping a safe distance. In international relations, the country is closed to international intercourse, neutrality is emphasized; they don’t interfere in disputes between world powers and, though completely surrounded, look after their survival. Since the war in Vietnam has expanded, they have become even more cautious. They fear deeply for their own safety.”

Internal struggle in the Ne Win government has developed a step further. After last year’s purging of colonels Qi [sic] and Su Min [sic], this year he also sacked colonels Lun Ding [sic] and Yin Niu [sic] for colluding with the rightists. At this point, seven of the 17 members of the Revolutionary Committee have been sacked. The interior economic division has some members in support of moderation; internal policy is marked by difference of opinion.

America has taken two approaches to Burma. One is to support the rightists in an effort to topple the Ne Win government: the other is to avoid directly adopting rough methods in an effort to stabilize Ne Win, keeping him from moving too far toward China. Ne Win is severely agitated, but he does not dare cause offense.

The USSR has published a bevy of articles flattering Burmese socialism, harming the Burmese military’s struggle and means of support while simultaneously destroying China-Burma relations. “In order to attack and divide the country’s revolutionary might, the Ne Win clique has limited our influence, profiting increasingly from Soviet revisionist methods.” But the Ne Win clique is still wary of the Soviet revisionists’ power mongering. They have the sense not to run off completely with the Soviet revisionists.

“The Ne Win government wishes to preserve good relations with us. On matters such as opposing American meddling and right wing conspiracy, as well as resolving domestic economic difficulties, it is deeply cognizant that China is its true friend. However, the Ne Win clique is extremely dissatisfied that we would support their political party, but not their ‘socialist road.’ They harbor misgivings for this, while at the same time being fearful of overly provoking the US. As such, they do not wish for China-Burma relations to be too visible; at times they wish to turn on some cold air.

“As for the problems in Vietnam, Ne Win’s greatest fear is that China and America will go to war, thus causing him harm. He also opposes the US expanding its invasions, worrying that America will make Burma its ‘next target,’ or that our strength will enter [within] India, impacting his control. Thus he strives for peaceful resolution between China and the US. He maintains the appearance of North and South Vietnam being separate, which is a complete illusion…

“He seems to want to proceed in developing cooperation with our country. His enthusiasm grows toward our country’s experience in economic infrastructure. But he always maintains a safe distance. After his visit to China, he immediately called for sending an industrial inspection unit and a housing and construction inspection unit to visit China. He requested for us to draw up materials for the population’s economic development plan. In the 1965-1966 budget, aid from our country was at the top (84.2 million Burmese kyat). But Ne Win, between the two great factions of China and the USSR, was still ‘playing fair,’ a smooth operator ‘drawing water from every side.’ He did not want to make China-Burma relations too visible. Ne Win visited China in July; in September, he visited the Soviet Union…He asks for aid from China, while holding out his hand to the USSR, America and Japan as well.”

Burma “‘closely observes neutrality’ in foreign relations. It does not interfere with important international issues. It opposes America; it fears America. It has illusions about the Soviet revisionists while remaining wary of them. It wants to develop friendly relations with China, while at the same time keeping its distance. It profits from disagreement between China, the USSR and America, sliding around to derive benefit, fishing for advantages. It avoids offending any side, attempting to procure its survival while being boxed in at its borders.”

Ne Win’s socialist road is “delusional that it can enact ‘socialism’ without a Communist party leader. In reality this is a developing country’s capitalism; they are walking along the military dictatorship road. Ne Win’s military junta is a special clique picked out from among the bourgeoisie. From their political demeanor, they are bourgeois moderates…Because of class limitations, internally they not only do not rely on the masses, but they put into practice a kind of anti-communist, anti-populace policy of dictatorship. Externally, despite their resistance to American imperial takeover and the fierceness of their protection of ethnic freedoms, they still do not dare to overly offend the American imperialists, and they harbor illusions about the Soviet revisionists, while against us they also take precautions.”