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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 29, 1964

CABLE FROM THE CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY, 'PREMIER ZHOU TALKED ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHINA-SOVIET DIFFERENCE AND THE NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT'

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    Account of Zhou's conversation with Kenyan officials, including discussions of the Sino-Soviet debate, imperialist manipulation of the debate, and enhanced US pressure in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
    "Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 'Premier Zhou Talked about the Relationship between China-Soviet Difference and the National Liberation Movement'," June 29, 1964, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 109-02372-02, 9-12. Translated by David Cowhig. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121188
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The Prime Minister's Talk on the Sino-Soviet Dispute and its Effect on National Liberation Movements

To Embassies and Agencies in Foreign Countries:

Diplomatic Circular #80

When the Prime Minister received a Kenyan government delegation last month, he discussed the relationship between the Sino-Soviet dispute and Asian-African national liberation movements.

The following is a summary (not reviewed by the Premier).

The Sino-Soviet debate will not affect the anti-imperialist struggle. It will, on the contrary, strengthen the fight against imperialism. It can only help the African struggle to obtain and safeguarding national independence and the development of Africa’s anti-imperialist revolution. There are good reasons for saying this.

I. The dispute between China and the Soviet Union was provoked by the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. We are not responsible for it. There are several practical issues in this debate. The most important one is what attitude to the take with respect to national revolutions in Africa and Asia? Should they be supported or discouraged? We are determined to give them strong support. We cannot simply refuse to support them because the imperialist forces are strong. As long as we support them, when the people in the Asian, African and Latin American regions rise up, the anti-imperialist forces will be that much stronger. The Soviet leaders are afraid that if they give them too much support, it will be more difficult to achieve compromises with the United States. Fundamentally, they are afraid of revolution even though Khrushchev said that he also supports national revolutions in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This presents us with two problems. If he wants to really support them and correct his mistakes, then that of course this is very good. Our goal is to support everyone and not to monopolize support. In another instances, he promised to provide assistance, but it was false, he said so but did not follow through, or provided assistance in order to control others. If the Asian and African people understood this clearly, they would oppose it. If the true face of revisionism were to be exposed, everyone would be against it. No matter whether or not the the Soviet leadership corrects its mistakes or not, this would be a good thing.

II. The second issue is, if this debate continues, will imperialism be able to use it to stir up trouble? There are three possibilities:

1. It is unlikely that the socialist forces will be weakened by this controversy or that the United States would launch a world war because of it. That is because fighting a war today would mean a nuclear war. It such a war should occur, not just one side, but both sides would suffer. The monopoly capitalists must take this into account. If war should break out, the Chinese and Soviet people would stand together. We can assure you that if the United States should declare war on the Soviet Union and the Soviet government resists, China’s status as a Soviet ally would require an immediate response. The revisionist leaders understand this. Many political commentators in the United States often make this point. If China and the Soviet Union stand together, the socialist countries will stand together, the people of the world will stand together and so any attempt by U.S. imperialism to launch a world war would inevitably fail. Everywhere the American people are saying that they do not want war. The United States deployment of troops to South Vietnam aroused much domestic opposition. Their allies did not want to be dragged into it. This is also true for local wars and so a world war is unlikely. Local wars are still possible but a world war is unlikely. We understand too that the United States is not very determined.

(2) The United States takes advantage of disagreements between China and the Soviet Union to ally itself with India and attack China. First of all, we say that this is impossible, and, second of all, there would be no need to worry about it even if it were possible. If the Soviet Union were to ally itself with the United States and attack us, then how could it be considered to be a socialist country? The Soviet people would not allow this. During the Sino-Indian border conflict, the Soviet Union helped India by supplying it with some strategic materials even while their ambassador made excuses to us. This shows that they are weak. They cannot really send troops to help India attack us. The second case is if the Soviet Union were to remain neutral if the United States or India attack China. When India attacked China in 1962 and the Soviets were neutral, India was defeated. At present, the Sino-Indian border is calm. For the Soviet Union to remain neutral while the United States attacks China is merely a hypothesis. If the war should occur and China has no nuclear weapons, would the United States dare to use them. This is a big issue for the entire world. The United States uses nuclear weapons, could the Soviet people ignore this? If the United States should invade China and seizes some of our territory, it will be able to get in but not get out. It would suffer serious losses this way and its forces in other parts of the world would be weakened. The Soviet Union would gain a greater say in Europe, and the African independence movements would get stronger. It would lose Europe, Africa, and even Latin America, and finally lose Asia as well. It would need to take that into consideration. We have gotten prepared should the United States come and so they dare not attack us.

(3) Due to the Sino-Soviet dispute, United States has stepped up its pressure on the Asian, African and Latin American independence movements. If the United States creates wars like Vietnam elsewhere, we will have to support the people’s anti-imperialist struggle even more strongly than before. Thanks to our resolute support, it is impossible for the Soviet Union to completely withdraw its support for Vietnam and Laos. Otherwise, it would be completely exposed. This brings us back to the first question. For example, currently the Soviet Union does not support the Congo, but if the armed struggle in the Congo develops further, they will have to support it. Otherwise, people will clearly see that they are revisionists.

Therefore, studying the issue from the aspects discussed above, that China and the Soviet Union continue their dispute continues to benefit national liberation movements as well as the entire world. If you don't fully believe this, you can just wait and see.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

June 29, 1964