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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 01, 1964

CABLE FROM THE CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY, 'SITUATION OF THE PREMIER'S VISIT TO THREE WEST AFRICAN COUNTRIES'

This document was made possible with support from the Henry Luce Foundation

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    The Chinese Foreign Ministry summarizes Zhou Enlai's conversations with Kwame Nkrumah, Modibo Keita, and Ahmed Sekou Toure. Emphasis is placed on the revolutionary conditions in Ghana, Mali, and Guinea, relations with the Soviet Union, and the Non-Aligned Movement and the Second Asian-African Conference.
    "Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 'Situation of the Premier's Visit to Three West African Countries'," February 01, 1964, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 108-00376-03. Translated by Stephen Mercado. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/165408
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[…]  

Situation of the Premier’s Visit to Three West African Countries

To All Embassies and Representative Offices Overseas:    No. 17

 The following is a summary of the main events concerning the Premier’s visits to Ghana, Mali, and Guinea:

1. All three countries attached the utmost importance to the Premier’s visit, and they received him with ceremony and warmth. The Government of Mali mobilized the people of the entire country; everywhere the masses in their finest dress welcomed him. They acclaimed him in the streets with singing and dancing, welcoming bands played the Internationale, and every speech brought up Chairman Mao. Guinea did its utmost to organize its welcome. Conakry’s welcome was already an exception, but the Guinean side also in the two administrative regions of Kindia and Labe carried out general mobilizations, with over two thirds of the entire regional population coming from afar to gather in the streets in welcome. In Ghana the situation was tense in the wake of the recent assassination attempt against [Kwame] Nkrumah. I took the initiative to propose that Nkrumah not come to the airport to welcome the Premier, not go to the guest house to pay a return visit, and reduce visits outside the capital, but the Government of Ghana’s reception of the Premier was still ceremonious and warm. The welcoming sentiment of the masses, too, was very moving. Nkrumah and the Government of Ghana were greatly appreciative of the Premier’s visiting as scheduled and Chairman Mao’s written letter of condolence and considered them as tremendously supportive.

During the visit, the Premier and the leaders of the three countries held multiple discussions and issued each time a joint communique relatively high in tone. The Premier’s visit, in regard to promoting these countries in the support of the struggle against imperialism and colonialism, deepening popular democratic revolution, advancing the development of friendly bilateral relations, and expanding our influence in Africa, particularly in Black Africa, will have a major role. This visit will also strike a powerful blow against imperialism, revisionism, and each country’s reactionaries.

2. The Premier and Nkrumah in their third formal talks mainly discussed the following issues:

(1) Concerning the issue of peace, Nkrumah expressed that in adopting peace it is necessary to eliminate war’s root causes -- imperialism and the new and old colonialism. One cannot coexist in peace with imperialism. The Premier said that peace must be adopted by way of struggle, not in accepting hardship. Nkrumah expressed agreement. (2) Concerning the issue of the Moscow trilateral treaty [the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty], Nkrumah expressed that because Ghana had advocated establishing Africa as a nuclear-free zone, he approved of the tripartite treaty, added that he agreed with China’s proposal, but proposed a global summit meeting. (3) Concerning the issue of African unity, Nkrumah thought that in order to avoid having independent African countries once again under the political control of imperialism, each African country, now in a fluid situation, ought quickly to unite and establish a federal government. The Premier said in regard to Africa countries that they must distinguish among Left, Center, and Right, that they must look after the great majority, that only putting forward the Organization of African Unity provokes some people, and that they should themselves first set an example. Nkrumah expressed complete agreement. (4) Nkrumah in regard to the Conference of Non-Aligned Countries expressed an attitude of suspicion, agreed to the holding of an Asian-African Conference after preparations, and advocated holding a conference of Asian, African, and Latin American peoples against imperialism. The Premier, after offering his affirmation, took the position that it was a good thought but that first it would be better to hold the Second Asian-African Conference. Nkrumah expressed his agreement. (5) The Sino-Indian border issue. Nkrumah advocated convening the first foreign-ministerial conference of the six Colombo Conference countries. Following the Premier’s explanation, Nkrumah said that he would immediately contact each of the Colombo Conference countries. At the present time there is no pressing need to hold a meeting. In addition, at Nkrumah’s request, the Premier, gave an introduction on Sino-Soviet relations and Sino-French relations. Regarding the Sino-Soviet differences, Nkrumah expressed total agreement with our point of view but hoped a solution would be found.

In each talk, the Premier introduced our country’s revolution and construction in five areas of experience: (1) establishment of a firm leadership core; (2) establishment of an extensive united front; (3) establishment of armed forces with high political awareness; (4) the obligation for the collectivization of agriculture and the nationalization of industry and commerce to proceed step by step; and (5) the carrying out of construction in relying mainly on one’s own strength. Nkrumah in regard to these areas of experience expressed total agreement. He also personally took notes.

3. The Premier and [Modibo] Keita held six talks. They mainly discussed the following points: (1) Mali follows the way of Marxist-Leninism and socialism, but they are not Marxist-Leninists. (2) Mali’s foreign policy is one of non-alignment and positive neutrality. If African countries cannot resolutely oppose imperialism and colonialism, they will certainly have domestic instability. Mali actively supports Ben Bella. Mali also desires to have good relations with the countries of West Africa. (3) In regard to the aid of the Soviet revisionists, he expressed dissatisfaction. He said that the Soviet revisionists’ interest on loans was high, the salaries of their specialists were high, and their efficiency was low. In regard to our country’s aid, he repeatedly expressed thanks. (4) He agreed to hold the Second Asian-African Conference, but said that it required very good preparation. The Premier stressed in introducing to him the two stages of experience of our country’s revolution. He emphasized the existence of class and class struggle, as well as the necessity of a transition period in taking the socialist path. He indicated that, apart from economic reform, there is also the problem of ideological struggle. Keita thought that the Premier’s introduction was full of educational significance and expressed his desire to have a recording of the Premier’s conversation arranged and sent to Mali’s leaders for study sessions.

4. The Premier and [Ahmed Sekou] Toure held five talks and had rather profound discussions. Toure’s major views are: (1) Guinea’s present system is not a dictatorship of the proletariat. It is a popular democratic dictatorship. Guinea has chosen the socialist path but does not publicly say so. How to proceed remains undecided. Class exists. There is also class struggle, but they adopt non-violence to resolve class contradictions. Due to the weakness of Guinea’s bourgeois class, Guinea has to seek foreign aid to develop the economy. But this is a way to control, and his understanding in regard to the US imperialists is clear. (2) He criticized Soviet great-power chauvinism, thinking that Soviet aid is not mutually beneficial and violates Marxism-Leninism. (3) Guinea has adopted a policy of non-alignment as a strategy. It absolutely cannot for this reason change Guinea’s position of opposition to imperialism and colonialism. He only went at the last moment to the First Non-Aligned Conference; recently Tito invited him to participate in the second conference. He has already given a negative response. In regard to the Second Asian-African Conference, Toure in the talks did not really express his attitude. When speaking of the communique, the Guinean side held a supportive attitude. In the last two talks, the Premier introduced the experience of our country’s revolution and construction, said that the differences between China and the Soviet Union made a statement of principle, and indicated that Africa in uniting should first unite together progressively. The Premier spoke gravely and earnestly. The result was very good.

5. The Premier’s visit to the three West African countries has been very influential; imperialism, revisionism, and each country’s reactionaries all in a panic. The United States, Yugoslavia, and India cannot but recognize that our influence in Africa is enormous, but they will also strive to reduce the achievements of the visit. Inciting disharmony in each African country’s relations with us, India has particularly made a fuss regarding such issues as the Sino-Indian border, non-alignment, and peaceful coexistence, smearing us. Yugoslavia has repeatedly via named official statements carried out attacks and provocations. The Soviet revisionists in their propaganda regarding our Premier’s visit have been extremely cold and embargoed information, in their actions making great effort to wreck things. In Mali, the Soviet revisionists planned for the same day as the Premier’s arrival to hold the opening ceremony for an exhibition and a press conference. The Malian side disagreed, ordering them not to engage in any activity during the Premier’s visit. When the Premier arrived, the Soviets distributed pamphlets at the airport for the Malian side to discover. The latter on the spot issued a stern criticism and a warning to the Soviet embassy. In Guinea, [Nikita] Khrushchev sent Toure a letter before the Premier’s arrival, exerted influence on Soviet reporters, thought to use an enormous sum of money to buy Guinea’s press to publish the Soviet side’s proclamations when the Premier arrived, and suffered the Guinean side’s strict refusal. After the Premier departed, the Soviets then sent Vice Foreign Minister [Yakov] Malik to go about both Mali and Guinea. They also sent a female cosmonaut to go to Ghana for a “visit,” attempting to dilute the enormous influence of the Premier’s visit. But these plots of the Soviet revisionists did not prevail. Rather, they further exposed their repulsive features, and our friendly relations with the three West African countries grew stronger. Our country’s influence, too, is unceasingly vast.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

[no day given] February 1964