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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 27, 1966

NOTE OF CONVERSATION REGARDING AUDIENCE OF LESLIE CHARLES GLASS, THE AMBASSADOR OF GREAT BRITAIN IN BUCHAREST, WITH COMRADE NICOLAE CEAUCESCU, GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE RUMANIAN COMMUNIST PARTY

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    This conversation occurs between Leslie Charles Glass, British Ambassador to Bucharest,and Nicolae Ceaucescu, and discusses the Western wariness of China, but also the favorable view held by Britain toward Romania's passive, but friendly, relations with China.
    "Note of Conversation Regarding Audience of Leslie Charles Glass, the Ambassador of Great Britain in Bucharest, with Comrade Nicolae Ceaucescu, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Rumanian Communist Party," January 27, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Secţia Relaţii Externe, Dosar 181/1966, February 3, 1966, f. 3-7. Translated by Larry L. Watts https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122562
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[…]

L. Ch. Glass explained that in England the political actions of Romania, its independent affirmation in international affairs, were followed with great attention. The manner in which Romania conceives of the notion of peaceful coexistence has been of special interest. Up until recently, the opinion was spread about that the idea of peaceful coexistence presupposed an unrelenting struggle on every front with the single exception that it avoided the outbreak of nuclear war. But, to the degree that the English side has appreciated it correctly, Romania pronounces for coexistence in a pro-active sense, which also implies a certain dose of cooperation and means, in fact, peaceful competition between the two systems, competition that in the final analysis will demonstrate which system is the best and most adequate to the needs of the people.

In this context, the English ambassador explained that in England and in general in the Western world concern regarding the political evolution of China is intensifying. The most complicated issue in this regard is that the West has not yet achieved to even the smallest degree a rational understanding of the manner of thinking of the Chinese. It may be that the basis of the fears in regard to China resides precisely in the impossibility of understanding exactly what is going on in the mind of the Chinese, what is the aim of their actions. In this sense, one can recall the declarations of the Chinese leaders about world revolution, and their apparent lack of preoccupation with regard to the possible consequences of global nuclear war.

Certainly, Marx and Lenin were very important men of their time, who elaborated a new vision of the world. However, in the period in which they wrote their great works the extremely significant factor did not yet exist, that which is now manifest in international life, in contemporary world circumstances – the danger of total devastation as a result of global nuclear war. The nuclear factor has essentially modified the data of the problem.

Through its wise policy, elaborated dispassionately and conducted with sobriety – the English ambassador continued – Romania has created a unique platform of having good relations with China, maintaining at the same time close ties with the other socialist countries and developing its relations with western states. This balanced and elastic policy enjoys high appreciation in England and in other parts of the world. Perhaps it is due to this singular situation that Romania, which has incomparably greater possibilities of contact with China than any other country in the world, could – in case it considered it useful and at the opportune moment – help the West in understanding more precisely the policy of China, the manner of thinking of the Chinese leaders.

After clarifying that the raising of this problem constituted the principal element of the solicited audience, Ambassador L. Ch. Glass added that he is aware of the fact that Romania does not intend to engage in any activity of mediation. In this case it is not a question of mediation but of sharing some knowledge that the western countries had no practical possibility of gaining themselves. In case the Romanian government would consider it appropriate to analyze this question in a favorable spirit, the English government would appreciate very much such a gesture.

Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu underscored that, in its foreign relations, Romania promotes with consequence a policy of peaceful coexistence, of friendship and collaboration with all countries, regardless of their social system. The notion of coexistence is, certainly, broader and lends itself to different interpretations. In the concept of the Romanian government, peaceful coexistence refers to the relations between states having different social and political systems and it presupposes the possibility of an active collaboration, especially in the economic domain, as well as in the political and cultural domains, which comprise the larger sphere of technical-scientific, artistic, and editorial exchanges, etc. Peaceful coexistence implies the respect for the fundamental principles that govern relations between states – independence and sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs, equality of rights and mutual advantage. The cultivation and promotion of peaceful coexistence on a firm basis of principle creates the premises for a better knowledge and mutual understanding between countries and peoples, it makes possible the step-by-step solution of some divergent problems that still persist in the relations between states.

Regarding the aspect of peaceful competition, it must be remarked that one cannot talk in fact about competition between two systems. The victory of any social order in one country or another will be resolved by internal forces, by the working class, by the people. Romania considers that any modification of the social-political structure of a country is the exclusive attribute of its people, of the working class of the respective country.

Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu confirmed the idea expressed by the English ambassador in the sense that Romania has not intention to pose as mediator and explained in continuation that he does not understand the motives for the concern of the English government regarding the policy conducted by the People’s Republic of China. The prudence with which the Chinese government acts in many international problems is well known. For example, even on a question as clear as that of Taiwan, the Chinese People’s Republic declared that it is ready to seek a peaceful resolution with the United States, certainly with the condition of full respect for the vital interests of China. On the other hand, nonparticipation of the P.R. China in various international organizations can in no case be blamed on the Chinese government or on the tendency of the Chinese P.R. to isolate itself from international life but it is the result of the deliberate policies of the United States of America and other western powers, which oppose the P.R. China from occupying the place that it deserves.

Regarding knowledge of the way of thinking and acting of the Chinese leadership, it is known that Great Britain maintains diplomatic relations with the Chinese P.R. and has all possibilities for exploiting those contacts, of finding out directly the point of view of the Chinese government on one issue or another. Moreover, having broad possibilities in this domain, the government of Great Britain would have been capable of explaining to the government of the United States of America that it is not pursuing a fair and realistic policy towards China and of influencing it along the line of adopting a more rational attitude.

Intervening, Ambassador L. Ch. Glass affirmed that Anglo-Chinese diplomatic relations are maintained at a reduced level, England being represented by a charge d’affaires, because the Chinese side refuses to proceed to an exchange of ambassadors. In any case, there is no comparison between the possibilities for contacts and mutual information that the English representative in Beijing has and those which are offered the ambassador of Great Britain in Bucharest. L. Ch. Glass acknowledged that there are many “unfortunate elements” in the position of the United States and, in general, of the Western powers towards China, such as the policy of isolation or the attitude adopted on the issue of receiving China in the UN.

In another order of ideas, the English ambassador announced that he had to raise an issue with a more delicate character, however, one in which the government of Great Britain has manifested special interest, adding at the same time that he in no way insists on receiving a response.

In the last three years, Romania has imposed itself on the international arena as an independent and sovereign state, and has affirmed its personality among the ranks of the other socialist states. On this point, Ambassador Glass declared that he has followed with very much interest the festive spectacle on the occasion of the day of Unification from the evening of January 24, which, in his opinion, was oriented on the idea of the “continuity of the Romanian spirit.” Romania’s policy of independence and sovereignty was confirmed on the occasion of the visit of the Romanian party and governmental delegation in the USSR, in the summer of last year. A simple reading of the common Communique that was published at the end of the visit shows that the government of the Soviet Union accepted the great majority of the Romanian theses regarding the relations between socialist countries.

The essential question that is raised could be formulated in the following manner: Does the Romanian leadership appreciate that the Soviet government approved and sincerely supports the principles formulated in the communiqué, or is there a possibility that the Soviet Union might try to exercise some political or economic pressure on Romania in an attempt to modify its current course?

Great Britain would not be pleased if any misunderstanding broke out between Romania and the USSR. The British government would desire that there were no fights anywhere in the world, including in the situation at hand.

Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu clarified at the start that the relations between the Socialist Republic of Romania and the Soviet Union are good. Regarding the content of the joint communiqué given as a result of the visit in the USSR, it would be mistaken to consider that the Soviet Union “accepted” or “approved” certain theses. It would be more correct to say that, the communiqué affirmed the principles that stand at the basis of the relations of relations between Romania and the Soviet Union and which correspond to the policies of the two countries. The communiqué represents a reaffirmation of the basic principles that guide the relations between socialist countries, principles that Romania has followed and will follow with consequence. At the same time, it is no secret for anyone, including for the ambassador of Great Britain, that in there past there have appeared differences of opinion between Romania and certain socialist countries in connection with some issues of economic collaboration. Romania considers that the institution of supra-state forms or organisms for the coordination or direction of economic collaboration is not a problem for today or the near future, but rather belongs to a historical perspective in the distant future. When life places this issue on the daily agenda, then the most appropriate forms and methods for resolving it will be found. On cannot exclude other attempts to revive this idea, however, the position of Romania remains the same, firmly based on the strict respect of the acknowledged principles of relations between socialist countries.

[…]

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