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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 20, 1965

NOTE ON CONVERSATION BETWEEN NICOLAE CEAUSESCU, ION GHEORGHE MAURER, AND THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY DELEGATION LED BY DENG XIAOPING

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    This note from the dinner participated in by Nicolae Ceausescu, Ion Gheorghe Maurer, and the Chinese C.P. delegatioin at the R.C.P. 9th Congress summarizes the points discussed, including the adoption of a motion regarding the situation in Vietnam, and whether or not the conflict can be peacefully resolved.
    "Note on Conversation Between Nicolae Ceausescu, Ion Gheorghe Maurer, and the Chinese Communist Party Delegation Led by Deng Xiaoping," July 20, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Budura, Relaţiile Româno-Chineze, 1880-1974: Documente (2005), pp. 727-730; ANR, fond C.C. al P.C.R. – Secţia Relaţii Externe, dosar 4/1965, f. 187-191. Translated by Larry L. Watts https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122555
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Note of Conversation

On July 20, 1965, comrade Nicolae Ceausescu, first secretary of the C.C. of the R.C.P., comrade Ion Gheorghe Maurer, member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. of the R.C.P., president of the Council of Ministers of the P.R.R., had dinner with the Chinese C.P. delegatin at the R.C.P. 9th Congress. Comrade Vasile Patilinet, member of the C.C. of the R.C.P., assisted.

On this occasion several issues were broached:

  1. Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu explained that we think the party congress should adopt a motion in connection with the situation in Vietnam, considering that it would be well for the congress to adopt an attitude on this problem. Because delegations of the fraternal parities are participating in the congress, and in order that no one should say that we placed them before a fait accompli, comrade Nicolae Ceausescu continued, we desire to know your opinion beforehand.

Comrade Deng Xiaoping said it was a good idea, and comrade Kang Sheng added that through this the international importance of the congress will be increased.

In the same order of ideas, comrade Deng Xiaoping asked whether the C.C. of the R.C.P. received a letter from the S.E.D. signed by Walter Ulbricht stating his opinion for the convocation of a meeting of the representatives of the communist and workers parties, in order to discuss among other things the German problem, [and] the problem of Vietnam, with the aim of adopting some common actions. In the letter he speaks of unity and common actions, and pretends that the Chinese C.P. has encouraged West German imperialism, bringing prejudice to the interests of the German people.  Precisely because of that, when Ulbricht spoke of common actions – comrade Deng Xiaoping continued – we did not applaud; we know the significance of his words.

The letter is dated June 29 of this year, however it was remitted to us on July 9 of this year, thus on the eve of your party congress, which made us suspect that Ulbricht intended to use this congress in order to raise the issue. This is a second attempt. At Helsinki he tried to organize such a meeting. The source of inspiration is the same.

Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu clarified that the Romanians had not received such a letter (Deng Xiaoping remarked that neither the Vietnamese nor the Koreans had received the letter either.) Regarding the Helsinki initiative, as is known we did not participate.

Comrade Deng Xiaoping explained that on receiving the letter he had given a response consisting of two propositions:  

  1. We are not consulted beforehand and as such this is a unilateral action;
  2. Our delegation, which was already on its way, was not empowered to deliver interventions and to discuss problems that have not bee authorized by the C.C. of the Chinese C.P.

Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu explained that we, the Romanians, also responded to that [Helsinki initiative] letter.

It is possible, observed Kang Sheng, that as a result of this fact they gave up trying to raise the problem. Laughing, he added the words: “maybe they will still raise it, because the congress is not over yet.”

  1. Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu expressed interest as to whether the Chinese C.P. saw any perspective view for the resolution of the Vietnamese problem through negotiations.

Comrade Deng Xiaoping observed that the Americans resort to threats, to bombardment, in order to reach negotiations.

“We, comrade Deng Xiaoping continued, are not against negotiations in principle. However, it must be seen what sort of negotiations we are speaking about, when these negotiations are to take place, and what aim should be pursued in the negotiations. At the present time, negotiations would mean that the Vietnamese people renounce their weapons. But the Vietnamese have lain own their arms before and the losses were even greater: 200,000 people were assassinated. During armed combat, the number of dead and wounded is smaller.”

Comrade Ion Gheorghe Maurer explained that the sense of the question of comrade Nicolae Ceausescu is the following: if in the final analysis, seeing that there is no other exit, the Americans become smarter and show themselves willing to withdraw the troops.

Comrade Deng Xiaoping remarked, laughing, that then negotiations must be held.

  1. Speaking of the operations in the southern part of Vietnam, comrade Nicolae Ceausescu asked if the bombardment of industrial centers and lines of communication in the D.R. Vietnam did not also cause supply problems.

Comrade Deng Xiaoping responded in the affirmative, explaining that the only solution in such circumstances, as was proven by the experience during the Korean War as well, is the repair of the lines of communication after they are destroyed.

  1. Starting from the fact that up until the end of the year the Americans will bring 200,000 soldiers to Vietnam and that later this number will grow to 500,000, comrade Deng Xiaoping appreciated that that if the Americans will bring 2-3 million soldiers into Southeast Asia, including China, there is a very large territory on which such forces can be dispersed and destroyed.

“We, comrade Deng Xiaoping continued, have consulted with the Vietnamese comrades and we know that they have the same opinion as us; to do everything to limit the operations exclusively to Vietnam. In the northern part there is still not very much industry and its destruction has no importance. Later we will help the Vietnamese comrades to build an even more flourishing industry, just as the Korean comrades did.”

Referring to the eventuality of an extension of military operations, comrade Kang Sheng appreciated that there are three possibilities; a) that the Americans bomb the border area and the industrial centers of China; b) that the American naval fleet also attacks the maritime coasts of China, and disembarks assault troops, which engage in battle; c) that it attacks China and starts a general war.

“On the other hand, comrade Kang Sheng added, it is possible that the Americans do not dare to attack China and the [general] war does not occur. This possibility also exists.

However, according to Mao Zedong, we prepare for the worst case, the most serious of possibilities. We say to you openly – and the Americans know this – Chinese troops are amassed on the border with Vietnam with an effective of several hundreds of thousand personnel. They can be placed in motion in 24 hours. If we are prepared for any eventuality, the possibility of an attack on China is diminished; otherwise it is greater.”

“If the Americans bombard Beijing, comrade Deng Xiaoping intervened, then it is possible that we should bring a relatively large contribution to the cause of the international communist movement. Engaging several million American soldiers in this region, the tasks of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America will be resolved more easily.”

  1. Along another line of ideas, comrade Kang Sheng explained that the war that the Americans conduct in Vietnam is a war of weapons, while the war that the Vietnamese conduct is one of the people. These two types of war are not compatible.
  1. Referring to the arms used by Americans, comrade Deng Xiaoping explained that they are very expensive and because of that their loss is very hard. As a result, as well as from considerations of a tactical order, the Americans now turn to the use of less modern armaments. Thus, for example, they have given up using jet aircraft with their great speed and have returned to helicopters.
  1. Making a comparison with the war for the liberation of China (1946-1949), comrade Deng Xiaoping insisted upon the liquidation of the human effectives of the American army by the patriotic forces in the southern part of Vietnam, as an important factor that could speed up the end of the war.
  1. Speaking of the fact that the Chinese P.R. has entered into possession of nuclear weapons, comrade Nicolae Ceausescu appreciated this as a good thing. So long as the imperialists have nuclear arms it is well that more socialist countries, not just one [the USSR], should possess nuclear arms.

Comrades Deng Xiaoping and Kang Sheng thanked us for the support we expressed for the Chinese efforts. Comrade Deng Xiaoping said that the Chinese C.P. has produced nuclear arms in order to achieve their destruction. China makes a demonstration with this, it intimidates.

In the same order of ideas the hope was expressed that nuclear arms will not be used.

Speaking of the production of nuclear weapons, comrade Deng Xiaoping said that in 1954, when Khrushchev, Bulganin and Mikoyan were in Beijing, they refused to aid China in the production of nuclear weapons. They said that the use of all of the electric energy in China (then China had about 4 million kW) would not be sufficient for their production. The facts, however, have proven that it is not really all that difficult to produce them.

Comrade Deng Xiaoping also explained that a hydrogen bomb is more no more expensive than an atomic bomb. In fact, from the same quantity of prime material, one can obtain much more explosive material for a hydrogen bomb than for atomic bombs.

Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu and comrade Ion Gheorghe Maurer spoke about the efforts of our country for the use of nuclear energy in the production of electric energy.