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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 03, 1964

CABLE FROM THE CHINESE EMBASSY IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA TO THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 'OUR CONTACTS WITH MIDDLE- AND LOWER-LEVEL PERSONNEL'

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

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    The Chinese Embassy in Czechoslovakia reports that "people were willing to talk with us and listen to our opinions" since Khrushchev's fall from power.
    "Cable from the Chinese Embassy in Czechoslovakia to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Our Contacts with Middle- and Lower-Level Personnel'," December 03, 1964, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 109-02736-03, 27-29. Translated by Xi Zhao. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119202
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Our Contacts with Middle- and Lower-Level Personnel

Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Our contacts with a few middle- and lower-level personnel at the banquet hosted by the Indonesian Embassy on the 2nd gave us the feeling that people were willing to talk with us and listen to our opinions and that their thoughts are changing after the removal of Khrushchev: the left are becoming more confident; the middle are more hesitant; and the right are becoming more timid. Suffice it to say that now it is possible for us to take advantage of all the opportunities that come our way to make more contacts with people from various circles in order to bring them to our side.

1. A veteran cadre from the Czech National Athletic Committee said that, in the debate within the international communist movement, you people have the correct stand, since true communists should keep on fighting. He mentioned that sports exchange is a good way to expand influence. Citing the recent decision of the Pan American World Airways to set up a branch in Prague, he said that the closing line of a stage play currently run in Prague is “Comrades, where are we going from here?” which captures, he said, a growing concern of the people here.

The day before, one Embassy interpreter encountered the old mayor of Prague in the hospital, who, unpromptly, said that “I am really glad that the situation has cleared up and I believe it will remain clear.”

2. In a talk with us three journalists expressed the following opinions: (1) The urgent need at present is to strengthen solidarity, for which both sides of the debate should make compromises and concessions to each other. [But] they didn’t object when we emphasized that principles are not to be sacrificed. (2) An international conference should be held and open debate should be called stop. [But] when we pointed out that an international conference was only good for solidarity when held with sufficient preparations and under the principle of consensus, they admitted that a conference wouldn’t be helpful at this point; and then they had nothing to argue when we explained that the open debate is caused by the existing deep chasm of [ideological] paths [between the two sides] and therefore cannot cease based on subjective wishes. (3) For now, the removal of Khrushchev only marks his own personal failure and doesn’t mean the failure of his policy, since the new Soviet leadership is still implementing Khrushchev’s policy. (4) In today’s world, there are only three major powers that truly have and are able to hold on to an independent policy while the other small countries, dependent on these major powers economically, politically and militarily, are unable to do so. (5) As journalists they have limited access to information and only know what was told to them from the top down. (6) They paid attention to our article commenting the removal of Khrushchev and said they read from Western media report that we raised five prerequisites for Sino-Soviet reconciliation

3. The Second Secretary of the Soviet Embassy came to talk with us. [During the talk] he still stressed on the points of convening an international conference and ceasing open debate and said he wished the Sino-Soviet relations would be improved and the trade between the two sides would be restored to the previous level. He mentioned that in their letter to our party, they said they’d like to reconsider sending experts to China. [In response] we explained our principled stand on the issue and emphasized that strengthening solidarity has been our consistent position, but solidarity must be established on the bases of Marxism and Internationalism. We said we firmly object to convening a conference with divided agendas and pointed out that withdrawing experts was a mistake that has done serious damages to our economic development. [After we said that] he didn’t argue with us but instead avoided these subjects, saying that they have the wish to strengthen solidarity and improve relations [with us]. He also mentioned that Czechoslovakia said they wished to increase trade with China but China said no. After we pointed out such was not the fact, he didn’t say much.

Chinese Embassy in Czechoslovakia

3 December 1964