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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 29, 1972


This document was made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation

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    Zhou Enlai made statements on the Lin Biao Issue and responses of foreign representatives from the United States, Japan and the Soviet Union. In addition, he delves into modern Chinese History after the Anti-Japanese War.
    "Zhou Enlai's Remarks about the Lin Biao Issue," July 29, 1972, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, 2001-298, Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs. Also available at the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Obtained by Yutaka Kanda and translated by Ryo C. Kato.
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(Premier’s [Zhou Enlai's] Statements on the Lin Biao Issue)

There are of course generations that go against the flow of time.

In China’s case, we won the villages and cities through the victory of the people’s war, and in 23 years accomplished a socialist revolution.

There are those like Lin Biao that, despite being a Vice Premier, rebelled against Chairman Mao [Zedong].

He was with Chairman Mao since the Jinggang Mountain days, but ideologically they did not agree. He was quite individualistic. People abroad believe that it was Lin Biao who defeated the 500,000 strong army during the crucial Northeast Campaign [of the Chinese Civil War]. He was with Chairman Mao. He was a coward and was afraid. Chairman Mao gave orders over and over again. He finally acted after this. After Chairman Mao gave direct orders from Yan’an, the enemy was defeated after only a month. He was not aware that our army had become experienced while Jiang Jieshi’s [Chiang Kai-shek] army had been weakened.

He was undermining Chairman Mao’s strategies. Chairman Mao did not listen to his opinions. Lin Biao attempted to assassinate Chairman Mao.

China’s army, its citizens, and the [Communist] Party were all winning victories. We were oblivious to both his plotting and his attempt to escape. We attempted to educate him, but he became worried and fled to Mongolia. It was early dawn on September 13 [1971]. The American intelligence caught wind of this the quickest. Then it was Japan. The Soviets were unable to catch this. The Soviets did not know what had happened at first. Even when the Soviet representative went to the site, they did not get it. The Mongolians found out after their foreign ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador. They then buried the remains. After the foreign media began running this story, the Soviets raised their doubts. They unearthed the remains, and after running tests they confirmed that it was Lin Biao. Lin Biao had gone to receive medical treatment from the Soviets on two occasions.

[Leonid] Brezhnev repeated that it was disappointing, disappointing, disappointing, disappointing, disappointing. There were no problems domestically. Kissinger came to talk with us. Jiang Jieshi came to know of this occurrence much later. He had been a student of Jiang Jieshi’s, so it must have been a shock to him. Although by the time the news of the event reached Jiang’s ear, everything had been already settled.

China is now a far cry from Jiang Jieshi’s era of military cliques. Everything has changed. Prior to the Anti-Japanese War, we did not cease fighting against the likes of Yan Xishan and Feng Yuxiang and the military clique. This was under the orders of the Party. Due to this the rule of Jiang Jieshi was not a calm one.

Immediately after the end of the Anti-Japanese War, Jiang Jieshi and the military clique were swaggering on account of American support. They proclaimed five-point and four-point plans. Chairman Mao convened the Chongqing talks. Jiang approved the Yalta Agreement and a treaty was established. However, they lost their humanity and the five million man army was defeated after only three years.

Jiang Jieshi was likely pleased after learning of the Lin Biao affair. However, there were announcements and instructions for the entirety of the Party. We made similar announcements and instructions to the people. And now we are at a point where we can speak about the affair with our friends abroad. Brezhnev was likely disappointed and Jiang Jieshi was likely in despair. Even Toji Hideki began with elation, but he ended in despair. The Japanese and Asian people were the ones who suffered.

Chairman Mao told Mr. Nango Saburo that he is thankful for Japanese militarism. This is in the sense of learning from bad examples. The first is Jiang Jieshi; the second is Japanese militarism; and the third is American imperialism.

The Chinese people gained self-awareness through these. During the Meiji-era, the ruling class was still rampant.

There were peasant uprisings and we retook Nanjing, but we were unable to proceed north. This was during the period between 1851 and 1863.

When the British and French invaded China, they burned down the Old Summer Palace and the emperor at the time died. This was in 1861. Subsequently, the Empress Dowager Cixi ruled for forty years. This was for China a dark age, and for Japan this period was the Meiji era. This was in 1861.

After the Meiji era, militarism was rising and China was weakened. Victory for Japan was an easy outcome. They were triumphant in the 1894 Sino-Japanese war.

Next in 1904, Japan fought the Russians. Because the Russians were unable to use the Suez Canal, they had to take the long way and rounded the Cape of Good Hope. Having defeated the Baltic Fleet, Togo was named a ‘God of War’ and the ideology of worshipful militarism was born. Because of this, the Japanese made their mistake in the Second World War. The Chinese people were awakened by Japan and learned a great lesson. We believe that the Five Principals of Peace are not only beneficial to the Chinese people, but can also contribute to the peoples of the world.

I spoke with Mr. Haneda from the Social Democratic Party about the efforts for self-defense. I feel that it is fine to report to Mr. Nakasone [Yasuhiro] as well, that it is important to keep a strong spirit for the self-defense of a nation.

The next Tanaka cabinet is a coalition government of four parties.

It is important to maintain cohesion. It is important for the opposition party to raise their opinions and give criticisms when the cabinet makes mistakes. The other side is holding the power. It is important to give correct opinions and vigorously make their opinions heard so that Prime Minister Tanaka accepts them. If he accepts them, it will be progress.

Promoting the people’s voice so that the government acts is instrumental in the reform of society.
























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