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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 25, 1984


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

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    Deng Xiaoping talks about his rise within the Chinese Communist Party, calling the Cultural Revolution the "most difficult experience" in his long career.
    "Cable from Ambassador Katori to the Foreign Minister, 'Prime Minster Visit to China (Conversation with Chairman Deng Xiaoping)'," March 25, 1984, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, 2002-113, Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs. Also available at the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Obtained for CWIHP by Yutaka Kanda and translated by Ryo C. Kato.
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Number R037807

Primary: Asia and China

Sent: China 20:45 Year Month 25

Received: MOFA 21:57 1984 March 25

To: The Foreign Minister From: Ambassador Katori

Prime Minster Visit to China (Conversation with Chairman Deng Xiaoping) 

      Regarding wire: during the press briefing, only mention that “Chairman Deng said things such as he was glad and that he had fun.”

Number 1363 Top Secret Top Urgent Q36RA

Regarding Wire 1361 Separate Wire 2

The following are respective statements made during Chairman Deng’s retrospection at the meeting

Prime Minister: I want to make one last inquiry. Yesterday I visited Chairman Mao’s mausoleum and also visited Premier Zhou’s mausoleum. There I saw a photo of Premier Zhou taken in Paris during his youth, and you were also in the picture. You looked exactly the same as now. What are your thoughts regarding your long battle for Chinese independence and unification.

Deng: I was 19 when that picture was taken. I joined the revolution when I was 18 and since that time I thought about fulfilling the revolution and nothing else. Of course there were difficulties in this path. In regards to myself, I returned to China in 1927 and by the end of the year I became the chief secretary of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. I was 23. My knowledge and abilities were not sufficient, but I somehow got by. In 1929, I lead the 7th Army of the Liberation Army in the Baise Uprising. Since then I was involved in military affairs from the War of Liberation until the creation of the People’s Republic of China. I believe you know what I was doing after the creation of the new China. I became an official and I was also thrown into the cattle houses. “To throw into the cattle house” is a new saying coined during the Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It means to be made to do physical labor by a leader.

Prime Minister: During your journey through the Long March, Yan’an, and finally to the New China, what was the most difficult experience and what was the thing you wanted to do most?

Deng: (1) My fondest memory is the Liberation War that lasted 3 years. We were underequipped, but we only had victories during those 3 years. We attained victory by standing against a stronger and more numerous foe.   

(2) Since the establishment of the new China, there have been successes, but we have also had failures. As one that is not of low-rank, but as one with considerable authority, I hold responsibility for these failures. In 1956, I became the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. This is the position currently filled by Hu Yaobang. At that time, a photograph was made public showing the seven primary leaders. I was one of the seven. Some of the achievements had between the establishment of the new China until the Proletarian Cultural Revolution are my success. Likewise, I too carry responsibilities for the failures, as well. The failures of those times cannot be all placed on Chairman Mao. The problems of the Proletarian Cultural Revolution are a whole other matter.

Prime Minister: What was your most difficult experience?

Deng: Of course, it was the Proletarian Cultural Revolution. However, even under those circumstances, I was confident in my knowledge that the issue would certainly be solved. Afterwards, many of my foreign friends would ask me how I lived through the Proletarian Cultural Revolution. However, I did not have a particular secret method. I simply dealt with the situation through optimism. I am also rather physically healthy. If I simply worried everyday, I would not have lived until today. It has been 7 years since coming to the fore again in 1977 after the fall of the Gang of Four, but looking back I have not made any large mistakes in my work. However, I cannot predict how things will go or if I will commit errors after turning 80 years old. I cannot make an assessment of myself. It is up to history to evaluate me.

Please forward to Shanghai. (End)


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