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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 28, 1965

NOTE OF THE AUDIENCE OF LIU FANG, AMBASSADOR OF THE CHINESE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC IN BUCHAREST, WITH EMIL BODNARAS, FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF THE S. R. OF ROMANIA

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    This document describes the reporting of Chinese Ambassador to Romania, Liu Fang, on certain international situations, including US-Romanian relations in connection with Vietnam, US-Vietnam relations, and developments in Pakistan.
    "Note of the Audience of Liu Fang, Ambassador of the Chinese People’s Republic in Bucharest, with Emil Bodnaras, First Vice-President of the Council of Ministers of the S. R. of Romania ," October 28, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANR, fond C.C. al P.C.R., Secţia Relaţii Externe, dosar 4/1965, f. 215-237. Translated by Larry L. Watts. An excerpt of this document is also reproduced as Document 279 in Budura (2005), p. 762 https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122557
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Note of Audience

On 28 October 1965, comrade Emil Bodnaras, member of the Executive Committee and of the Permanent Presidium of the R.C.P. C.C., first vice-president of the Council of Ministers of the Socialist Republic of Romania, received in audience Liu Fang, Ambassador of the Chinese People’s Republic in Bucharest. Also participating were comrade Andrei Pacuraru, R.C.P. C.C. member, head of the Directorate of [Organizational] Tasks of the R.C.P. C.C. Translators: Romulus Ioan Budura, 2nd Secretary in the MFA and Li Xiling, 3rd Secretary of the Chinese Embassy.

Cde. Emil Bodnaras:  Within the framework of our relations of friendship and collaboration which have consolidated and developed in the last two years, I would like to inform you, on behalf of the Permanent Presidium of the R.C.P. C.C., regarding several international problems which, it seems to us, merit attention.

[…]

Let’s move on to the next point: the Manescu-Rusk meeting. This issue has a small preamble that took place when Crawford, the American Ambassador, came to say his farewells to comrade Ion Gheorghe Maurer [on October 3, 1965]. Crawford had, in a series of commercial issues, a positive attitude; he was one of the people who understood very well that commercial transactions with Romania could never be politically conditioned; he discouraged such illusions at the State Department, according to which Romania’s disagreement within the CMEA towards the control of the USSR could lead to a modification of Romania’s fundamental position as a communist state; he was one of the realistic Americans who more than once showed his disagreement with regard to the actions of the Pentagon or of the U.S. Congress; Crawford was sent to Paris, along UNESCO lines, but this is a secondary task;  he will in fact work with the American group from the Embassy.[1] Thus, he came to say his farewells and expressed regret that he was leaving and that he is thankful he succeeded in contributing to the resolution of some problems regarding the development of commerce, something which he considered positive along the line of rapprochement and understanding between our peoples.

Comrade Ion Gheorghe Maurer explained several things, completely unofficially, as a personal opinion, requesting that his remarks not been considered those of the President of the Council of Ministers but rather those of a man. Comrade Maurer began from the idea of peaceful coexistence, in our conception, the orientation that we affirm in relations with states having another socio-political order, but which we affirm conditioned by certain fundamental elements: respect for independence, sovereignty, equal rights, non-interference in domestic affairs, and mutual advantage. We also have this orientation in relations with socialist countries. On the basis of this conception, so conditioned, we build commercial relations, cultural relations, etc. with countries having different socio-political orders. On this basis, in relations with other countries of the world, we have not created any conflict with which the world would have to contend.

That, continued comrade Maurer, does not prevent us from having different opinions on some issues, different even from those of some socialist countries or, likewise, to have opinions diametrically opposed to those of capitalist states, regarding the regimes in those countries. Along this line is our complete disagreement with American imperialism and its practices.

“You, comrade Maurer said to them, have demonstrated understanding towards this conditioned conception as I have explained it on more than one occasion. I have noted identical points of view among a series of Americans, people who are honest, progressive, who, in the press and in books, confront reactionary attitudes in the U.S.A. and demonstrate progressive ideas regarding peaceful coexistence on the same basis [as ours]. And suddenly, Vietnam appears along with a complex of measures taken by the U.S.A. there, which no rational person who accepts the idea of peaceful coexistence could possibly understand.

All of these measures tend to demonstrate, through their lack of rationale, that peaceful coexistence with you is no longer possible, because where rational thinking is lacking, you can no longer create anything. Officially, our point of view towards the manner in which you proceed in Vietnam has been expressed, but I do not want to speak about the official point of view, but rather about the manner in which hundreds of thousands of people, including in the United States, judge these actions. What you are doing in Vietnam is much worse than a serious mistake; it is a wild adventure, something with no sense, absurd and irrational, more dangerous than an adventure. You are affirming an orientation that pushes us back 2,000 years, when destiny dictated the fate of people, because through your irrational measures you are directing things towards the loss of trust in the possibility of peaceful coexistence within a rational framework and that is more dangerous than anything.

As a man, continued comrade Maurer, I have faith that in the U.S.A. there are many hundreds of thousands of people who cannot accept such a situation. Please understand this. To this you should add our official attitude, which has great support among the masses, against barbaric measures, lacking any sense. For this reason, you will find yourselves facing ever more tenacious opposition. What you are doing is absurd and this constitutes the source of your loss. Please communicate these thoughts [when you arrive back] home.”

Crawford had not anticipated such a conversation, but he said that he would communicate it back home accordingly.

On 14 October of this year, a meeting proposed by the American side took place at the Department of State, a meeting of part of our delegation lead by comrade Corneliu Manescu with D. Rusk. At the meeting participated Undersecretary of State [John Leddy], a director [Raymond Lisle], and the new Ambassador, [Richard] Davies and, on our side, Deputy [Foreign] Minister M. Malita, Ambassador P. Balaceanu, and the counselor I. Baschiru. The meeting lasted three-and-half hours. The Americans extended every courtesy, in order to create a good atmosphere.

At the start, Rusk made reference to the conversation of Ion Gheorghe Maurer with Crawford, showing that he is current with this conversation and that he accords special significance to what comrade Maurer said. Rusk underscored that he appreciates the discussions with the Romanian side, which have been conducted in all frankness and that although, at present, there are divergences in opinion and special positions on almost all issues, this in fact permits a fruitful discussion.

The current problem raised by him in the discussion was that of Vietnam. He explained that recently the American side believes that the Vietnamese government could start a process toward negotiations. In his opinion, the problem of withdrawing American troops and armaments is no longer raised as a sine qua non condition by the Vietnamese side. Up to the beginning of 1966 we could be witness to an important evolution on the issue of negotiations.

At this point in the discussions, Corneliu Manescu interrupted and explained the known Romanian point of view, also bringing arguments in support of it. During Manescu’s exposition, Rusk spoke of the existence of numerous mediation proposals: Nasser, Tito and others, treating them with irony as being unrealistic.

After Manescu had expressed our point of view on the issue (of Vietnam), D. Rusk explained that he had listened attentively to our exposition and believed that if anyone would be justified in thinking it might have a role to play in resolving the problem of Vietnam, Romania certainly would be. What he desired, what he requested of the Romanian government is that it not remain deaf to certain elements that could be significant in the evolution of the situation and that if and when, through its existing connections, it should note any key signal coming from the Vietnamese side, the Romanian government should not block them.

Knowing the American point of view, D. Rusk said, could be useful to the Romanian government for better understanding that events that could follow. Presenting the American point of view, he said: “While the Soviet attitude towards the Vietnamese problem can be qualified as consistently reasonable and realistic, the Chinese attitude is qualified as the only inspiration for the hardline policy of North Vietnam. There are, however, a series of factors that operate to the disfavor of the Chinese position, namely: a) the events in Indonesia; b) the diminishing Chinese influence in Africa; c) the distancing from China of a number of socialist countries. There are two tendencies within the Vietnamese government that also are evolving to the disadvantage of the Chinese position.”

During his exposition of the American position, he several times expressed the indestructible decision of the U.S.A., even at the risk of global conflict, not to leave South Vietnam in the hands of the forces from North Vietnam. “We will never admit, under any pretext or any form, any political solution to be imposed by force on South Vietnam.”

On the issue of the role of Romania, Rusk talked about various mediation proposals, characterizing them as unrealistic and observing that all of their proponents want to get the Nobel Prize for Peace. Here Rusk said: “you have heard our point of view.” Rusk explained that abandoning this region under such conditions would represent the collapse of the American system, not only there but elsewhere as well, including in Europe. On the other hand, Rusk explained that aside from the point regarding the withdrawal of American troops and armament, which is non-negotiable for the U.S.A., the other Vietnamese conditions could be the object of negotiations from the very beginning of a peace conference, which even take place tomorrow. But regarding the first point, which cannot be the object of discussion at this time, after the situation is settled we do not want to leave a single American soldier or American base there: I have promised this to the American people.

In conclusion, he referred to Romanian-American relations, to the desire that they develop, he condemned the position adopted in the negotiations with Romania by the Firestone Corporation, of which the American authorities did not approve.[2]

Corneliu Manescu reminded him yet once more of our position on the Vietnamese problem, underscoring that the Vietnamese people are the only ones that should resolve the problem, without any outside interference.

The discussions were carried out without harsh polemics; Rusk listened attentively to the opinions of his interlocutor.

It is evident that the Vietnamese problem has become the central preoccupation.

[…]

Cde. Emil Bodnaras:  Regarding the conversation of comrade Ion Gheorghe Maurer with Crawford, I omitted one issue in yesterdays recounting. After he explained the lack of rationality in the manner in which the U.S.A. was proceeding in Vietnam, comrade Ion Gheorghe Maurer further said that no rational mind could accept what the Americans were doing in Vietnam, that the Americans are the ones pressing war and not Chinese policy, that the Americans should not delude themselves, because the USSR can make every sort of declaration of peaceful coexistence but none of them will be worth two cents and the USSR will be pushed into war: the Soviet people, and other peoples of the socialist countries, cannot accept your absurd actions.

The Fourth Issue: The conversation of C. Manescu [with] Bhutto, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan.

On October 13, 1965, Bhutto made a visit to comrade C. Manescu. He very insistently asked to be received. He was accompanied by Agachachi; the secretary for foreign affairs. M. Malita participated from our side.

After a short introduction regarding our visit to Pakistan and the appreciation of the development of our relations, Bhutto explained that the scope of his visit was something other than discussing issues in our bilateral relations, related to the proposals of the Pakistani government, connected with the issue of Kashmir. The Pakistani government considered that the UN Security Council decision created an uncertain and unstable situation. The conflict between India and Pakistan had not been ended but only suspended. Pakistan wants to end the conflict and believes that at present Romania could help with this problem. For this reason he had come to C. Manescu and for this reason he mentioned before the meeting that he wanted to come to Romania. The Pakistani government proposes that Romania agree to provide its good offices in the resolution of the dispute between India and Pakistan. The Pakistani government has received many offers of mediation but believes that none of the states that have proposed mediation could serve to liquidate the dispute as well as the mediation of Romania.

Comrade C. Manescu requested that he explain the opinion of the Pakistani government in connection with the offers of mediation from the USSR, the USA, England etc. Bhutto stated that he agreed to present their opinions.

Bhutto said that the direction of the actions of regulation through the Security Council presented considerable disadvantages through the fact that if the other great powers [on the Council] were interested in the security of the region, so was China, the most proximate country. It has a greater interest in the security of this region than most; but China is not on the Security Council. A regulation through the Security Council would be to the disadvantage of Pakistan because, up to a point, the interests and positions of the USA and of the USSR coincide at the present moment and they could move jointly, at a point when both have something to gain and the people of Kashmir continue to suffer.

The proposal of mediation by the USSR was accepted in principle and conditionally by Pakistan. The Pakistani government has reservations towards this proposal for the following motives: 1) the historic position of the USSR towards the Kashmir problem, characterized by traditional support of the point of view of India; b) the dissatisfaction that this form of mediation could produce in China, as well as the dissatisfaction that could be produced among other western powers and with the UN secretary general; c) the Pakistani government doubts that a meeting between Ayub Khan and Shastri in Tashkent, with the participation of Kosygin, could give results, because at such a meeting, the two sides could do nothing other than to express their opinions; and up until the present the Soviet representatives have been unable to present any constructive solution for the continuation of the discussions; d) the acceptance of the Soviet offer is even more difficult because we are currently witnessing a growing conflict between China and the USSR; e) the Pakistani government is conscious of the fact that the adoption of the mediation formula of the USSR could create complications and problems also in its relations with the western powers; the USA, England, which could say to the Pakistani Government: you have addressed another permanent member of the Security Council, so we are washing our hands of the problem; f) similarly, the Secretary General of the UN could be discouraged from exerting further efforts in the direction of reconciliation.

Bhutto underscored that the existence of many proposals for mediation did not create a state of contradiction because all of them had as their object the realization of peace and understanding. The problem that arises for the Pakistani government is that of choosing the proposal that best assures the realization of the goal: peace and understanding. Choosing one form of mediation does not annul the others, but it does require coordination, in different phases, of the mediation activities.

All of these considerations have led Pakistan to the idea of soliciting Romania’s good offices. Regarding the content and manner of developing this act on the part of Romania, he said that this would consequently be established in detail after obtaining approval in principal.

In continuation he underscored that, of course, the necessity will arise of making contact in the first place with the USSR in order to explain why Pakistan cannot receive its offer of mediation, in view of obtaining Soviet agreement in order to realize coordinated steps towards reconciliation. It is understood, said Bhutto, that in this case, in order to explain the situation to the Soviet Union, Romania also would have a mandate to speak in the name of Pakistan.

What results from what Bhutto said, to which C. Manescu requested a series of explanations? Pakistan does not have very much hope in the results of the diverse proposals for mediation. It does not want to refuse them and thereby create enemies, but neither can it accept one or another without creating resentments among the others. In this situation it appears that the good offices of Romania could be the least controversial. This concerns form; but what would be the result in substance? The exclusive basis of any solution must be the respect for the will of the people of Kashmir, on the condition that their liberty of expressing that will is assured and with the firm engagement of all of the other parties that the resulting formula at the end of these consultations should be considered absolute and definitive. Up until now there have been the resolutions of the Security Council from 1948-1949, which anticipated the organization of a plebiscite, whose result could be the complete annexation of Kashmir either to India or to Pakistan. No one has formulated any other modality.

Pakistan does not officially reject the eventuality of the constitution of Kashmir as an independent state, if such a formula is under discussion. But there are fears that such an independent Kashmir should not become a Vietnam, because the USA would do everything in order to win control over it and it is clear that China could not tolerate such a thing in so close proximity to Tibet and Xinjiang. In this framework he explained that the principal difficulties in Asia were due to the attempts of the USA to replace the former colonialist forces, which had collapsed: England, France, Holland, etc. According to Bhutto, the withdrawal of the USA from Asia would lead to the growth of the real prestige of the USA among the peoples of Asia and would permit the resumption of a close cooperation between Europe and Asia. But the USA does not understand this.

The problem of Kashmir is the subject of an Indo-Pakistan and also of an Indo-Chinese conflict. He believes that if they arrive at a solution of annexing Kashmir to Pakistan both conflicts would end, because China would be ready to recognize such a solution and respect it.

The foreign policy of Pakistan would suffer essential modifications; it could easily renounce its membership in military pacts.

These are the considerations presented by him.

Corneliu Manescu mentioned that in the opinion of our delegation, both Pakistan and India sought a framework for conducting discussions and that that preoccupation occupied a more important place than the solution itself. The mission of Malavia is along the same lines.

We have analyzed the problem in the Permanent Presidium and we reached the conclusion that we cannot accept a mediation mandate on this problem.

We met with this idea also on the occasion of the visit of comrade Ion Gheorghe Maurer in Iran, where the Shah asked him if Romania could not help to achieve an understanding. Comrade Maurer explained to the Shah why we could not engage in such a mediation effort.

Here is why we cannot do so. We consider that Pakistan has justice on its side. At the very least it has the right to pretend that the people of Kashmir have the right to self-determination. There is also a UN resolution that provides for the plebiscite, which all have accepted. However, India does not want to respect it. He responded to Radha-krishnan in this sense: it is a principle of International law that must be respected. If we a speaking of mediation both sides will ask in what conception will Romania mediate? From the start the mediator is placed in the situation of being refused by the other side.

We understand why Ayub Khan is asking us. He knows the point of view of Romania and he is being assaulted by a series of mediation offers, among which neither one nor the other is disinterested, having in view neighboring China. He knows that if one gets between these mediators he will receive a nail in the head. He would like to escape them, without getting into unpleasantness with them, and to move the nail from his head to our head. Ayub Khan would especially like to escape the goodwill of the USA and of the USSR.

We are now in the situation, because of our position in the problem of non-proliferation and in the problem of Vietnam, of finding ourselves in total disaccord with the USSR and the USA. We do not need other disagreements. For this reason, sincerely explained, without diplomacy, we reached the conclusion that it would not be wise to accept the proposal. The Shah of Iran also reached the conclusion that we were proceeding correctly. With that we concluded.

[…]

Ambassador Liu Fang: I thank comrade Emil Bodnaras for his detailed and careful presentation of international issues. This is of a nature to help us know many situations. I will bring it to the attention of our leadership. If other things will arise, I will seek you out.

Yesterday you spoke of your conversation with Rusk; you related that Rusk had said that even at the risk of total war they would not renounce South Vietnam. Through that [we believe] he expressed the real intention of the USA.

Recently I read a speech of Zhou Enlai, in which he explained that the USA wants to conduct negotiations without conditions, having the intention to prolong them, during which they should remain in South Vietnam.

Cde. Emil Bodnaras: That does not depend on them.

The Americans have problems with the student youth at home. They organize demonstrations, and rip up their recruitment papers in public.

Ambassador Liu Fang: One sees that the American soldiers cannot fight and in these circumstances the USA arms the FRG and Japan. It seems that last year they concluded an agreement with the FRG to send soldiers to Vietnam.

Cde. Emil Bodnaras: That would be a mistake, because the presence of German troops would permit the accusation that they are resorting to the Hitlerists to resolve the problem. It is absurd; it cannot be of any help. They count on public opinion, which in the USA is rather backward; they count on class solidarity with the capitalist countries.

This war costs millions of dollars and it is not simple. By informing you of these problems I have fulfilled a task received from the Permanent Presidium. Our concern is to assure a good connection and collaboration with the C.C. of the Chinese C.P.

Our collaborative relations have yielded only good things, because they are based upon sincerity, without reserve, even if our opinions sometimes do not coincide 100 percent. Along these lines we considered that it is useful for you to know this information.

Ambassador Liu Fang: Of course, this represents assistance; these are problems to which we must give attention.

Cde. Emil Bodnaras: If you have opinions, we ask you please to communicate them to us.

Send our salutations to all of your leaders, especially to comrade Mao Zedong to whom we wish health and vigor.

Ambassador Liu Fang: I will transmit them.

Our contacts are principled and genuinely sincere.

Cde. Emil Bodnaras: Please be careful of the means by which you transmit the information.

Ambassador Liu Fang: Certainly.

The conversation, over both of the audiences, lasted over five hours.

[1] In fact, Crawford served as international security advisor to the commander of the NATO’s Supreme Allied Command Europe (SACEUR) when NATO was still headquartered in Paris.

[2] Firestone cancelled the U.S. government-approved negotiation in the face of public campaign attacking the deal by a newly formed conservative group, the Young Americans for Freedom. See Ryan Floyd, “For Want of Rubber: Romania’s Affair with Firestone in 1965,” East European Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 485-518.

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