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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 07, 1979

CABLE NO. 2637, AMBASSADOR YOSHIDA TO THE FOREIGN MINISTER, 'PRIME MINISTER'S VISIT TO CHINA (OHIRA – DENG MEETING) (A)'

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    Deng explains the "Four Modernizations," and the two sides discuss relations with Vietnam and Cambodia.
    "Cable No. 2637, Ambassador Yoshida to the Foreign Minister, 'Prime Minister's Visit to China (Ohira – Deng Meeting) (A)'," December 07, 1979, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, 2004-589, Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs. Also available at the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Contributed by Yutaka Kanda and translated by Stephen Mercado. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/209557
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Number (TA) RO98823 5188

Primary: Asia and China

Sent:  China, December 07, 1979, 03:15

Received: MOFA, December 07, 1979, 04:41

To: The Foreign Minister  

From: Ambassador Yoshida

Prime Minister's Visit to China (Ohira – Deng Meeting) (A)

Number 2637 Secret Top Urgent

Concerning Outgoing Telegram No. 2636

The parts concerning the situation in China and the Indochina problem are as follows:

1. The Situation in China

(1) In response to Prime Minister Ohira asking how he himself thought China would be in the future and within what kind of framework modernization and democratization would be carried out, Deng remarked as follows:

(a) The "Four Modernizations" were first proposed by the late Chairman Mao and the late Premier Zhou. The goal is to change China's poor and lagging condition. That is to say, we want to raise the people's standard of living and contribute to international society in a way appropriate to China. If we lag behind, we will be despised. The Soviet Union is now looking down on China.

(b) The "Four Modernizations" are China's way of accomplishing this.  Even by the end of this century, China's income per capita will probably be very low. Uncommon effort will be needed to reach one thousand dollars. We are not thinking of a car in every home. However, when we have carried through the "Four Modernizations," even greater aid to poorer countries in the Third World will probably be possible.

(c) There are some who worry that China may become an international competitor. However, even when the "Four Modernizations" have been carried through, it will be what you might call a modernization of a "moderately well-off condition," so there is no need to worry. On the contrary, in our present state, even if we introduced foreign capital and technology, the problem of repayment would emerge. Also (when China becomes rich), with a large domestic market, we will be able to use at home what we now must export abroad.

(2) In response to the above, Prime Minister Ohira said that Japan's modernization had been earlier than China's and had achieved a certain degree of success but, in retrospect, there had been repeated trials and errors, which had left behind aftereffects in such areas as urban policy and environmental protection policy. He expressed his hope, as a friend, that China would not follow in Japan's footsteps and make the same mistakes.

2.  The Indochina Problem

(1) Deng, saying that he would like to speak concerning the Indochina problem, made the following remarks:

(a) China is not thinking of the Vietnam problem in terms of China's interests but from a global and strategic point of view. Even if Vietnam were to dominate Southeast Asia, the threat to China would not be so great. Moreover, even if poor, China is a great country and capable of self-sufficiency.

(b) Vietnam's realizing the Indochina Federation would mean Soviet Union military bases there. Even if China were to come under attack from the south, our three southern provinces could readily handle it. Consequently, the threat from Soviet bases in Vietnam is not to China. Japan would more likely be threatened. Would not the United States, too, be threatened? The reason is that the Soviet Union would attempt an increase of naval and air forces in the Pacific and Indian oceans, because between them is the Malacca Strait. Consequently, it will be a terrible thing unless the construction of such Soviet strategic bases is thwarted. Japan's opinion on this point may be different but, as a friend of the Japanese Government, I raise it to have you think seriously about it.

(c) Concerning Cambodia, ultimately a political settlement will probably be necessary. But that time is not yet here. The prerequisite for a political settlement is Vietnam's withdrawal from Cambodia. It will be good if the Cambodian people themselves settle the problem of Cambodia. If Pol Pot is no good, then let it be Sihanouk or whomever. If the Cambodian people choose, then good.

(d) Of course, this prerequisite cannot now be realized, but if Vietnam's present difficulties (poor living conditions, shortages of goods, low wages, shortages of food) grow even worse, then there likely will be the possibility of achieving a political settlement.

(e) China has taught a lesson. There are some who see it as a failure, but we succeeded in that Vietnamese troops were increased in number from 600,000 to one million. That alone has greatly increased the burden on Vietnam. Every day Vietnam depends on a transfusion of two million dollars from the Soviet Union. US Vice President Mondale reportedly said that Soviet aid this year to Vietnam will reach 750 million dollars, but daily goods are scarce. Consequently, the invasion of Cambodia and Laos will becoms a great burden for Vietnam. It is good if Vietnam can have the Soviet Union shoulder such a burden. When they can no longer bear it, it may then be the time for a political settlement.

(f) Vietnam is now conducting a dry-season offensive, but I think that the forces of Democratic Kampuchea will not disappear. It will be all right if Democratic Kampuchea can maintain 20 percent of its strength. (At this point, Deng touched on the reduction of the army in the Chinese War of Resistance against Japan.)

(g) There is a movement now in Western Europe to rescind recognition of Democratic Kampuchea, but China cannot approve of it.

(h) The above is China's thinking in regard to Indochina. Of course, Japan's concrete policy is an issue for Japan.

(2) In response to the above, Prime Minister Ohira remarked to the effect: As ever, Japan thinks that all international disputes should be settled by negotiation. We are giving aid to Vietnam because we have promised to do so. As for the period of time, we are examining it. China likely has an opinion on this point, but the position of the Government of Japan is that we would like you to hear ours.

(End)

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