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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 11, 1980

TELEGRAM FROM THE HUNGARIAN EMBASSY IN BEIJING, 'THE CHINESE ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE KOREAN WORKERS’ PARTY’S 6TH CONGRESS'

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    The Chinese attitude towards the Korean Workers’ Party’s 6th Congress on their support to Kim Il Sung and for the reunification plan
    "Telegram from the Hungarian Embassy in Beijing, 'The Chinese attitude towards the Korean Workers’ Party’s 6th Congress'," November 11, 1980, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, MNL OL XIV-J-1-j Korea 25-001140/1980. Obtained by North Korean Materials Archive, IFES, Kyungnam University, and translated by Imre Májer. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/123765
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EMBASSY OF THE HUNGARIAN PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC TO CHINA
BEIJING
Serial number: 91 Szt/80
Produced in 3 copies
Central: 2 copies
Embassy: 1 copy
Presenter: Dr. Mészáros Sándor
Typed up by Tóthné

TOP SECRET!
Beijing,
1980 November 11

Subject: The Chinese attitude towards the Korean Worker’s Party’s 6th Congress

The Communist Party of China had paid special attention to the KWP’s 6th Congress held in October, which were supposed to demonstrate that the Chinese party still considers the KWP as one of the first among the “friendly” parties. The Chinese delegation attending the Congress was led by Li Xiannian, the CPC (Communist Party of China) Central Committee’s Vice Chairman. The colleagues of the local Korean embassy expressed their satisfaction during conversations about the rank of the Chinese delegation. (The Chinese press mentioned the other delegations only as a sum of their numbers, it did not talk about their ranks.) Hua Guofeng, the Chairman of the CPC Central Committee greeted Kim Il Sung in a lengthy, warm telegram on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the foundation of the KWP, and its 6th Congress. The communication organizations published and broadcasted a number of materials on Korea as an introduction to the congress, already before its actual opening, and the congress materials themselves were discussed in detail.

From the Chinese point of view about the congress, they clearly expressed their support to Kim Il Sung in the published materials, as the leader of the party and the state, and commended him for his merits in detail. If we take into account the personnel changes that are currently occurring and recently occurred in China, and the arguments for them, it is highly plausible that the articles in the Chinese press published before the congress that stood up against, condemned, and judged the succession of power as a vestige of feudalism were not only directed at internal affairs. But they wanted to countervail the previously widely known rumors or possible concrete notions about Kim Il Sung’s transfer of power. It was apparent from the Chinese side’s clear approval of reelecting Kim Il Sung, and the detailed coverage about it in the press, that the appointment of a new leader with possible new concepts would have been highly undesirable by Chinese leadership in the current circumstances. It is also a sensitive issue for the Chinese leadership, because the dispute about the transfer of power is still unresolved in China. They still see a guarantee in Kim Il Sung’s person for maintaining the status quo on the Korean Peninsula.

In Hua’s greeting to Kim Il Sung, they described the KWP as a party that excellently applies the teachings of Marxism–Leninism to the circumstances of Korea. On the other hand, Chinese materials have not mentioned anywhere the officially proclaimed ideology of the KWP, the “juche”. Its appreciation was left to the Korean materials that were published anyway. The Chinese leadership was not willing to go as far as putting the Korean ideology on a pedestal too.

Druing his speech in Korea, Li Xiannian – as all other published Chinese materials – also assured the Korean leadership of China’s full support for the new, ten-point reunification plan that the Korean leadership announced during the congress.

Li Xiannian labelled the ideas for the unification of the country as the “most realistic” plans so far. In order to emphasize the support of the Chinese side, Li Xiannian demanded the withdrawal of the American forces using the adjectives of “immediate and unconditional”, which are rarely used by the Chinese press nowadays. According to the local diplomats of the American embassy by the way, this should not be taken too seriously, as the Chinese standpoint in this issue has not changed, and this is absolutely clear for them, i.e., that the Communist Party of China wishes to maintain the status quo of the Korean Peninsula, and forces the DPRK to do accordingly as well. In this, China is even willing to make gestures, like its benign contribution to the July DPRK visit of the American congress member Solarz. The fact that the Chinese press tactfully stayed silent in all of its articles about the 1961 friendship treaty between China and the DPRK cannot be interpreted otherwise than not wanting to put Kim Il Sung into an embarrassing situation, who recently declared that he is willing to terminate the treaties that the DPRK signed with both China and the Soviet Union, if the American party accepts settling relations with the DPRK according to the Korean conditions. The silence around the treaty also indicates that the Chinese leadership is carefully trying to avoid all statements that would possibly encourage the Korean leadership to take serious actions. China is obviously reckoning that a taking a step like this – which currently seems to be improbable – anyway would mainly distance the DPRK from the Soviet Union. In this light, it is worth to note that from the version of Kim Il Sung’s speech published in the Jenmin Jibao (People’s Daily), the part that described the relations between the DPRK and the socialist countries was simply omitted. It is also noteworthy to point out the other slight alteration of the Chinese press: from the part of Kim Il Sung’s speech demanding the dissolution of the imperialist blocs, the ‘imperialist’ adjective was left out.

The Chinese press tried to reduce the weight and sharpness of Kim Il Sung’s sharp anti-imperialist statements as much as possible from its published materials.

Ribánszki Róbert
Ambassador