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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 26, 1975

RECORD REGARDING KIM IL SUNG'S VISIT IN BEIJING (18-26 APRIL 1975)

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    Kim Il Sung visited in Beijing and discussed the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. Although China promised a diplomatic offensive on the behalf of the DPRK, it also warned against the outbreak of a war.
    "Record regarding Kim Il Sung's visit in Beijing (18-26 April 1975)," April 26, 1975, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AMSZ, Department II, 56/78, w. 6. Obtained by Marek Hańderek and translated by Jerzy Giebułtowski. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/208552
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DII-Kor-2413-3-75

SECRET [stamped, crossed out]

Classified [handwritten]

Record

regarding Kim Il Sung’s visit in Beijing

(18–26 April 1975)

The Indian embassy in Beijing carried out preliminary assessment of the visit and sent a report to the Delhi headquarters. Below is the full text of the report, translated into Polish.

X X X

1. The visit of President Kim Il Sung surprised most diplomats in Beijing. Beijing radio informed of the President’s visit on 16 April, that is two days before his arrival. The visit coincided with the visit of the Belgian prime minister Tindemans. There were rumors that Kim decided to come to Beijing in a hurry. Some even suppose that the Chinese accepted the date rather reluctantly. Our embassy in Pyongyang has been informed that the chief of staff of the Korean Army,  O Jin-u who is third in rank in the delegation, paid a visit (not publicized) to Beijing on 10 or 11 March and it was then that the date of Kim’s arrival was agreed upon.

2. This is Kim Il Sung’s first visit since 1961, when a pact of friendship and cooperation was signed with the Chinese, which was effectively a military alliance. The visit took place at a time when the so-called “friendly forces” achieved a victory  in Cambodia, and now in Vietnam.

Psychologically speaking the moment is not ripe yet to start discussing the possibilities of overcoming and exhausting United States forces in other parts of Asia.

3. Kim Il Sung was given a royal, magnificent welcome. The seasoned Beijing residents (that is diplomats who have been in the PRC for a long time – our remark) say that from the time of Enver Hoxha’s visit in 1964, Beijing has not seen such pomp as now when Kim arrived. The president was greeted by deputy prime minister Deng Xiaoping “on behalf of chairman Mao Zedong, the Central Committee of the CPC and the Chinese government.” Thus strong emphasis was laid on the especially friendly relations between the two countries, and in particular between the two communist parties. Symbol of these relation was the presence of Political Bureau members such as: Jiang Qing, Yao Wenyuan at the train station to greet the dignitary. At the welcome party there was also Wang Hongwen, third in the CPC hierarchy. None of these Chinese is a member of government.

4. The Korean leader was exceptionally honored with an audience with Mao Zedong almost upon arrival. Since January of this year, that is since the meeting with the German opposition leader, F. J. Strauss, it has been the first Mao’s meeting with a foreign guest. Characteristically, only one Korean was present during the Kim–Mao conversation, namely the chief of staff of the Korean Army O Jin-u and not the second in rank, Kim Don Giu [sic], who is deputy president. The reason why O Jin-u was there could be Kim Il Sung’s intention to acquaint Mao Zedong with the military situation on the Korean Peninsula and receive the Chairman’s blessing for a military offensive against the South with China’s support. Subsequent events appear to confirm the view that Kim Il Sung adopted a tough line in order to force the Chinese to take at least a radical stance before the reunification of the Korea and to cease hiding their support for an invasion of the South.

(In points 5–9 the report of the Indian Embassy in Beijing quotes fragments of known and [already] published speeches of Deng Xiaoping, and Kim Il Sung’s at the welcome reception).

10. Many views expressed in Kim’s speech contain the essence of the plan of aggression against South Korea; it is also an appeal for China’s support based on the foundation that is ideological solidarity. What is characteristic is one fragment of Kim’s speech that seems to confirm this opinion. Kim said that North Korea will not stand idly “if a revolution breaks out in South Korea.” He threatened war if “the enemy carelessly starts a war” and concluded that in this war “We will only lose a military demarcation line, but we will win the country’s reunification.” Just like Deng, Kim believes that the problem of war or peace hinges on the position of the United States.

As he droned on against the USA, Kim also mentioned the possibility of permanent peace. Namely, he said that if „the US pull its troops from South Korea and a democratic personage takes power, as the people demand, we shall formally guarantee permanent peace in Korea and we, Koreans alone, will successfully resolve the problem of Korean reunification by peaceful means.”

11. Speech at the farewell banquet. Having expressed his gratitude for the Chinese party, government and people, Kim Il Sung stated that during the talks both Parties achieved “complete agreement on all the discussed issues.” A customary declaration of military unity in the common struggle against imperialism was made.

American imperialism was mentioned specifically in the context of the common war waged in the early 1950s against the USA and South Korea.

12. Deng’s reply also made reference to „complete agreement” of opinion on:

A) Further consolidation of friendship military, great unity of the parties, countries and nations;

B) the international situation, including the situation on the Korean Peninsula;

C) the basic international issues.

Deng Xiaoping also promised China’s support for the fight against “imperialist aggression and intervention” and for the independent and peaceful reunification of Korea.

13. Deng’s speech clearly shows that China and Korea agreed on a joint strategy vis-à-vis Korea in the post-Vietnam era.

14. At the end of the visit a lengthy communiqué was published. It mainly contains frequently the repeated claim regarding the achievement of complete agreement “by both Parties on all the issues under discussion. China reconfirmed its “unqualified support” for an “independent and peaceful reunification of Korea” and especially approved of the three principles of independent, peaceful reunification of the fatherland and of the five-point proposal to prevent national division put forward by Kim Il Sung.

15. The communiqué contained a whole package of Chinese pleasantries towards the Koreans and vice versa.

16. The most important part of the communiqué is the statement that the DPRK is “the only legal and the only sovereign state of the Korean people.” The exact formulation reads: “as the only one, legal, sovereign state of the Korean people, the DPRK enjoys a constantly growing international prestige and still has an increasing role on the international arena.”

We have checked the joint communiqué issued at the end of Kim Il Sung’s visit to Beijing in 1961 as well as the text of the China – Korea pact signed during that very visit, however there was no such categorical statement that the DPRK is the only legally sovereign state. The same goes for the joint communiqué issued after Zhou Enlai’s visit to Korea in 1970. So the Chinese promised a diplomatic offensive on  behalf of the DPRK in order to win support for their African and Third World friends in order to kick the current Seoul regime outside the international boundaries.

In the diplomatic vernacular this means consolidating the model that was employed when it was being crammed into our heads that the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea (GRUNK) and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam were the only legal representatives of the two countries.

The same strategy can be applied to isolate Seoul diplomatically in the hope that psychological pressure could turn against any regime in the south, particularly against Park’s regime. This strategy triggers the slow decay of the regime just as it was in Indochina. Perhaps this is only wishful thinking, but for the North Koreans an open declaration by the Chinese exactly in such a spirit is an important psychological victory.

17. Clearly the Chinese stopped the North Koreans from embarking on an adventurist course vis-à-vis the South; nevertheless they did offer enhanced military, political and diplomatic support.

An outbreak of a war on the Korean Peninsula could cause China a lot of unpleasant consequences for their regional and global strategy because:

A) The USA could respond very violently in order to repair their prestige that was undermined in Indochina. The fragile Chinese – American relations could shake as a result of the tension caused by the Chinese ally on the peninsula.

B) Any improvement in close relations between China and Japan is contingent of the assumption that the United States continues its policy of responsibility for Japan’s security (which restricts Japan’s own ambition) and that Japan’s rearmament is a remote possibility

A North Korean strike against South Korea, which Japan deems vital to its own security, could arouse suspicions as to Chinese intentions, which is a country lying vis-à-vis Japan, and create an opportunity for the Soviet Union to further sabotage signing a ChineseJapanese peace treaty. In a worst-case scenario, the US Congress could again prevent the administration from military engagement, and then Japan would learn the lesson and take the only way out – to arm itself.

A militarily resurrected Japan would thwart many China’s plans in their Asian strategy and in the Far East. The Chinese mission with would thus simply accelerate the signing of the peace treaty Japan.

C) The tendency to normalize relations with the non-communist countries of South-East Asia could be seriously hindered.  China was very cautions in its attempts to support insurgent movements. As the consequence of the events in Indochina, the countries in South-East Asia took a different stance toward Chinese intentions. A North Korean adventure supported by China could confirm their worst suspicions.

D) If China were ready to take the risk in the above matters, then the situation in Korea would turn out to be fundamentally different from that in Indochina. It is important, that is no partisan movement in South Korea that could be used to isolate the South Korean army militarily. In fact that army is not only larger in terms of numbers, but also better equipped. According to some American diplomats, it is the United States that prevent South Koreans from starting a war with the North.

The North’s military defeat would push China into a very difficult situation.

E) The American diplomats here believe that there is some sort of a silent agreement between the US and China, so that the latter would restrain their Korean allies from any kind of military adventure. However, the rules of the game do not hamper diplomatic maneuvers in favor of their protégés.

The defeat of last year’s Chinese resolution on the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea is mostly a result of American back channeling which nearly damaged the US-Chinese relations. However, the Chinese claim that the South Korean regime backed by the United States should fall as a result of „internal contradictions”, and the North Koreans will take advantage of it, then China should not by blamed for it. The silent agreement concerns only an armed attack on the 38th parallel. That is why the US treat Kim Il Sung’s visit as an attempt to force the Chinese to adopt a harder  diplomatic stance in Korean affairs, and effectively use their Afro-Asian connection to isolate the South Korean regime by utilizing the internal contradictions in the South. Were that to happen, then the North Koreans would not stand idly by, as Kim Il Sung  had said.

18. One of the results of Kim’s Chinese visit could be something he had not expected, namely the political reconciliation of the Southern opponents with Park Chung Hee.

19. According to reports, Kim Il Sung will visit the USSR at the end of the month (that is May – our remark). It is doubtful whether he will get Soviet approval for his political goals, given that the USSR is less inclined to knock the American off their perch than China due to American defeat in Indochina. Kim’s visit to USSR could at least be used to argue that the Japanese more than they, the Koreans, should balance their relations with their enormous communist neighbors.

20. Regrettable is the delay in sending this report. We feel that a comprehensive report could be sent only after a wide range of comments has been collected.

Translated from English:

Włodzimierz Jokisz

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