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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 31, 1988

MEMORANDUM, 'RE: CHINESE VIEWS ON SOME ASPECTS OF HUNGARIAN AND SOVIET REFORM POLICIES'

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

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    The Hungarian Ministry of the Interior weighs how China views the ongoing reforms in Hungary.
    "Memorandum, 'Re: Chinese Views on Some Aspects of Hungarian and Soviet Reform Policies'," October 31, 1988, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security (ÁBTL), 1. 11. 4. S-II/2/88, pp. 25-26. Obtained by Peter Vamos and translated by Katalin Varga. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119359
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Strictly confidential!

Ministry of the Interior

Dept. III/I-6

Re: Chinese views on some aspects of Hungarian and Soviet reform policies

Memorandum

A strengthening of reform processes can be witnessed in Eastern Europe, most of all in Hungary and the Soviet Union, as seen by the Chinese leadership. In this context, Hungary's taking up contacts with South Korea is considered to be a justified move that serves Hungary's economic interests and also promotes international thawing. Chinese experts studying Eastern Europe have voiced some reservations regarding a number of issues related to the adaptability of some characteristics of the Hungarian practice in foreign and domestic politics. For instance they stress that Beijing needs to proceed with more caution in issues related to the Korean Peninsula, what's more, the practice applied in domestic politics in Hungary cannot serve as a model for China to follow. (It needs to be noted here that in July the officials of the CCP CC expressed their disapproval of an article published about Imre Nagy published in the periodical of the Chinese counterpart of the [Hungarian] Communist Youth Organization, because the description of Imre Nagy's life path diverted from the official standpoint of the HSWP in a number of aspects.)

Beijing still refrains from taking sides in the Hungarian-Romanian dispute, since this would imply "intervention into Romania's domestic affairs". The Chinese leadership also disapproves of the "free flow" of criticism that Bucharest receives from Budapest in the mass media. Beijing is convinced that patience and persistence are needed even if Romania seems reluctant to solve the problems that have accumulated over time.

In the opinion of Western political observers, Nicolae Ceausescu's visit to Beijing put Chinese leaders in a delicate situation. According to their information, during the visit the hosts implicitly criticized Romania for rejecting reforms. The Chinese hosts made some indications that they disapproved of the current economic policy of Romania. This disapproval is assumed to bear reference to the failure of China's earlier autarkic policy.

Social scientists working under the direction of the CCP's Central Committee suggest that the Soviet Union conducts a more consistent reform policy than China in certain aspects. In their view, the Soviet leadership included the issue of ideological renewal in the official agenda while China still has not embarked on clarifying the ideological foundations of the reforms. They predict that the ongoing processes in the Soviet Union may contribute to the improvement of relations between Beijing and Moscow in the future.

(The information was provided by an intelligence source closely related to political circles in Beijing.)

Budapest, 31 October 1988

Prepared in 8 copies.

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