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Digital Archive International History Declassified

August 12, 1963

RECORD OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN PREMIER ZHOU ENLAI, VICE PREMIER CHEN YI, AND PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR RAZA

This document was made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation

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    Zhou Enlai, Chen Yi, and Ambassador Raza coordinate China and Pakistan's strategies toward the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. They also discuss Sino-American relations.
    "Record of Conversation between Premier Zhou Enlai, Vice Premier Chen Yi, and Pakistani Ambassador Raza," August 12, 1963, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 113-00452-05, 18-22. Obtained and translated by Christopher Tang. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121572
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[…]

I – Regarding the Issue of the American, British, Soviet Treaty

(Following greetings, Chen Yi gave Raza his letter in reply to [Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali] Bhutto’s letter of July 19, and requested that Raza pass it on to Bhutto)

Chen Yi: In a few days, Ambassador [to Pakistan] Ding Guoyu might be in Karachi. I wanted him to convey to President Ayub Khan several ideas, which are also the ones I present to Foreign Minister Bhutto in my letter. Presently, our two countries should work together on exposing the fraud of the three-country treaty [i.e., the Limited Test Ban Treaty signed between the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union]. China cannot sign it because this treaty is targeted against us; whether or not Pakistan wishes to participate is its own affair. Pakistani public opinion is very good. Our points of view are identical. As for the behavior of our respective governments, please think it over yourselves. We hope that Pakistan will not participate in signing it. If Pakistan is facing difficulties and needs to sign it, we hope that it will conditionally sign, so as not to raise suspicions.

Raza: This afternoon I have just received two cables from Foreign Minister Bhutto which, most importantly, illustrated Pakistan’s fundamental attitude toward the three-country Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and which I have already communicated in the past. If China wants Pakistan to conditionally sign the treaty, we will try our best to come up with a way to satisfy your request, but if China wants Pakistan to not participate in the treaty, this will present some legal and technical difficulties. The Pakistani government has already instructed its embassy chiefs in the US, Britain, and the USSR that, at the time of our signing of the treaty, they should release the following statement: immediately following the signing of this treaty, we should quickly move to prohibit underground nuclear testing, prohibit nuclear proliferation and, at a certain time, thoroughly destroy all nuclear weapons; unless we do this, the Pakistani government will be concerned that even though the treaty itself is worth welcoming, it will become empty and worthless. After issuing this statement, Pakistan plans to issue this same statement to the press.

Additionally, since the Philippines and the USSR do not have diplomatic relations, the Philippines wants Pakistan to represent it in Moscow to sign the treaty, and Pakistan has agreed.

Regarding the Chinese government’s idea of convening a conference of the heads of government from each country, I have already conveyed this to my government; they are presently thinking it over, and after I return home I can continue discussing this matter with the government.

Chen: Thank you, Ambassador, for conveying Foreign Minister Bhutto’s cables. The position Pakistan has adopted is rather good, and indicates that Pakistan places importance on our opinions. We cannot request that Pakistan’s and China’s positions are exactly the same. What’s important is not fulfilling this treaty; we should make efforts toward requesting the prohibition of underground nuclear testing and nuclear proliferation, and completely prohibiting and thoroughly destroying nuclear weapons. After signing the treaty, if underground nuclear testing were legitimized, this would, in reality, establish a nuclear and political monopoly; most importantly, this would create an American and Soviet monopoly. Another danger is that the US could possibly give nuclear weapons to India, which would be a threat to both China and Pakistan. So, we want to emphasize the need to expose and oppose two things: the possibility of their nuclear and political monopoly, and the possibility they would give India nuclear weapons with which to threaten us.

Raza: Yes, we cannot allow India to be fully armed; Pakistani leaders spend all day and night worrying precisely about this issue and endlessly trying vigorously to unmask this plot; just last night the Pakistani president was discussing this issue. It seems now that the exposing of this plot has already had a few indirect results; American and British public opinion has already started to change. In the US Senate there are some saying that an armed India is not fair to Pakistan. In Britain also, more and more articles express opposition to an armed India. In the US Senate there is also discussion saying that the US should not supply aid to either India or Pakistan; Pakistani leaders say, why do you want to stop aid to Pakistan? What you should do is stop aid to India. Hong Kong public opinion has also started to change. India also has a few factions uniting together to issue a vote of no-confidence against Nehru. Even though these changes are very small, if they continue to develop they will have an effect and will also illustrate a trend. Moreover, I have heard the Soviet Union is also, to some extent, opposed to India receiving Voice of America broadcasts as well as benefiting from the American security umbrella.

Chen: India is currently undergoing changes; their internal situation is steadily worsening. But we cannot hold out much hope for changes in its relations with the US and the USSR. The US can only aid India, it cannot aid China and Pakistan. But, it would not be easy for the US and the USSR to unite against China, as they might wish to do.

Zhou Enlai: Here, there is a limit, if the US wants to attack China, Sino-Soviet relations are another matter; the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance would come into effect. This is not something Khrushchev as an individual can decide, but is instead decided by the Soviet people.

Raza: They would arm India to the teeth.

Zhou: If the US arms India, it is only a threat to China and Pakistan, but it is not worth fearing. This tooth of India is already soon about to fall out.

II – Regarding Sino-American Relations

Raza: I have a theory, perhaps absurd, that the US, in order to sow discord between the USSR and China, needs to move closer to China—what will you do?

Zhou: This is merely a tactic of the US; the imperialist United States could not possibly be genuinely amicable toward the peoples of China.

Raza: It is also possible that it could be genuine because, at present, the international situation is in the midst of changing; they too very much want to initiate trade with China.

Zhou: Did you know why the US wants to adopt these measures? This, in effect, is their two-sided strategy: one aspect is that they want to pressure the Soviets into concessions since, in reality, the Soviets have already made concessions, so selling out for a second concession would be very easy. In reality it is very clear; after signing the treaty Kennedy spoke three times, and every time he said: on the one hand this treaty is for peace, on the other hand it does not influence the manufacture, stockpiling, use and testing of nuclear weapons, etc. At the signing ceremony, Dean Rusk repeated Kennedy’s words and said he could not guarantee that this treaty would have great significance. As Rusk was expressing these words while facing Khrushchev, Khrushchev’s face turned pale, but he did not refute him. Soon afterward at the dinner banquet, Khrushchev spoke for ten minutes, but he did not dare utter a single word engaging with Rusk’s speech. Khrushchev is a person well versed in the Bible, and previously he was a religious person; if someone struck his left cheek, he would quickly offer up his right cheek. Kennedy understands well these kinds of people and thinks these types can be easily pressured. When Rusk spoke with Khrushchev at the Black Sea [in August 1963], he said the issue of the mutual non-aggression treaty, the German question and the Berlin problem were large issues and could not be discussed, and that the US wanted to discuss matters of interest to it, including preventing a surprise attack and establishing checkpoints along major transportation routes. Khrushchev agreed to wait until the following year’s meeting to research the Berlin problem. Consequently, Rusk immediately flew to West Germany and told [Konrad] Adenauer he could sign the treaty because now the problem of the two Germanys no longer existed. West Germany also then immediately created the impression that the US had already received a guarantee from the USSR. This story illustrates that US pressure on the USSR is very effective. In another matter, the US also probes China’s attitude. This was displayed on August 7 at the Sino-American talks in Warsaw when, after three and a half hours of talks, it had become the longest recorded of the Warsaw talks. Western reporters created the impression that the atmosphere of the Sino-American talks was extremely relaxed; this made the USSR, as well as Taiwan, nervous. This is the first matter. The second matter is that the US West Coast Trade Committee prevented a large group of businessmen from travelling to Hong Kong where they could do business with China; this is known to the public, but they have also done things not publicized—they act as a go-between everywhere. In fact, they also know that Sino-American relations are very difficult to improve; their tactics are all for the purpose of pressuring the Soviets into making concessions. Soviet leaders have no vision, so they believe these things. [Enver] Hoxha says, Khrushchev’s mind is a problem for China; this is objective proof on this point. So, we say, regardless of what changes the US and the USSR undertake, even if they are very small changes, we must cautiously consider them all. Because our goal is to obtain the real independence of the people of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, we reject Western great power control. You are a member of two alliance groups of the West, you want to cast off the control of American imperialism and insist upon national independence; we are an ally of the socialist camp, but we also want to oppose Soviet great power chauvinism. This is a commonality between us. Please pass this along to the President upon your return. We have a number of commonalities: first, we both want to protect our national independence and cast off the dominance of imperialism and colonialism; second, we both do not accept the dominance of great power chauvinism; third, we both oppose India’s expansionism; fourth, we both want mutual amicability and support.

Raza: The US definitely wants to sow discord between China and the Soviet Union…

Zhou: This has already become fact, not merely a desire.

Chen: If the US wants to improve Sino-American relations, they should simply return our Taiwan, restore our legal rights in the United Nations, abolish their economic blockade, and rescind their military bases threatening China, including their nuclear bases. If you are able to persuade them to do these things, well, that would be impressive.

Raza: Of course I believe this is impossible; as I said, it is merely a theory. But, if they were able to move toward this, or even move partway toward this, that too would be a good start.

Zhou: Several years ago, at the Bandung Conference, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Mr. [Muhammad] Ali [Bogra] also wanted to persuade the US to abandon Taiwan, but to no avail. Chinese and American representatives twice participated together at Geneva Conferences, at the signing of the Laos Agreement, and also at the ongoing Warsaw negotiations. This illustrates that we are willing to move forward, and the US should adopt measures. The US wants to, on the one hand, regard China with hostility, and, on the other hand, receive economic benefits—this is not acceptable. The trading community in the American west puts pressure on the US government and requests that they resume trade; we want to try to maintain that type of pressure.

[…]