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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November, 1987

OPINIONS FROM A MEMBER OF AN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE OF THE PR CHINA OPERATING IN THE GDR UNDER JOURNALISTIC COVER

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    A report on information obtained from a member of the Chinese intelligence service; this report discusses their opinions on East German-Soviet relations, relations between China and East Germany and China and the Soviet Union, and economic relations between East Germany and China.
    "Opinions from a Member of an Intelligence Service of the PR China Operating in the GDR under Journalistic Cover," November, 1987, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, BStU, ZA, HA II, 40864. Translated by Bernd Schaefer. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/209561
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[Ministry for State Security of the GDR]

[Main Department II]

[November 1987]

Opinions

from a Member of an Intelligence Service of the PR China

Operating in the GDR under Journalistic Cover

In early November 1987, the following reliable opinions from a Member of an intelligence service of the PR China - apparently the Chinese Ministry for Security - operating in the GDR under Journalistic Cover became known unofficially:

There exists the impression that currently relations between the GDR and the USSR are quite tense. “Some official personalities” of the GDR would “openly oppose the Soviet Union”.

Especially in the area of cultural policy there are significant differences in opinion. For instance, the Soviet film “Repentance“[1], which was shown in the ZDF[2], was completely ignored by GDR newspapers. Many comrades on the SED base were disappointed about this. “Many people in the GDR” would especially now demand “political reforms”.

Regarding relations with the PR China, the GDR has “acted very courageously” and was the first demonstratively displaying friendship towards China. Despite the “vanguard role” of the GDR, China’s relations with all socialist countries, except for the Soviet Union, are now about the same as good, though there are some specifics in details. With the GDR, for instance, China is pursuing especially scientific-technological cooperation, where the strengths of the GDR are lying.

With regard to foreign trade between the GDR and the PR China, it was said that this is not developing rapidly because the GDR is not showing much willingness to pay for Chinese goods in “hard currency”. Thus also Chinese artists, academics, and workers who are temporarily staying in the GDR, are paid in Mark[3]. However, this money can hardly be used since you cannot transfer it to China. Therefore such people rather want to work in the FRG. Some Chinese academics had also said though that GDR sciences are lagging behind those of the PR China. He himself has the impression here in the GDR to have landed in the China of the 1950s. The comrades in the GDR, with whom he has to deal with, are all “very dogmatic and narrow-minded.”

Relations between the PR China and the Soviet Union have improved. So the Soviet Union is now making concessions in the border negotiations, also the atmosphere at the negotiations is very friendly. The problems, which do still exist, are especially related to Kampuchea and Vietnam. Like relations with the United States, a relationship with the Soviet Union is of global character. This is why you cannot compare them with China’s relations via-a-vis the other European socialist states. On the other hand China’s foreign policy has now become much more flexible compared to the past.

The course the Soviet Union its now following under Comrade Gorbachev is certainly very good, but the problem is whether this policy will turn out to be stable, and whether Comrade Gorbachev will prevail with his policy.

The XIII CCP Party Congress held recently brought a lot of new developments. It was a Party Congress of victory for the “reform group in the party”, the “spoilers of reforms” have almost completely lost their power. Except for one member, the Standing Committee of the Politburo does now consist only of young reformers. The current Deputy Prime Minister Li Peng, a representative of the reform group is supposed to become Prime Minister. The withdrawal of Deng Xiaoping “from the political stage” was necessary, because otherwise “many old conservative politicians would also not have vacated their positions”.

The Party Congress was held in a very democratic atmosphere and in public, not in secret as previous congresses. Representatives of democratic mass organizations and also other personalities participated as guests. Even Taiwan had sent a journaslist.

The coverage of the Party Congress in “Neues Deutschland”[4] had dealt to two thirds with domestic Chinese issues, there were rather few reports about Chinese foreign policy.

[1] A anti-Stalinist film by Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze from 1984. It got banned in the Soviet Union, but the decision was reversed on initiative of Georgian CPSU leader and Soviet Foreign Minister Edvard Shevardnadze and the film premiered in the West and in the Soviet Union in 1987.

[2] “Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen” [“Second German Television”], a public TV channel in West Germany 80 percent of the GDR population were able to watch as well, broadcasted the film on 13 October 1987. It was widely watched in the GDR where it remained banned. GDR newspapers published very critical reviews of the film though its citizens were supposed to not have seen it.

[3] GDR currency “Mark der DDR”.

[4] [“New Germany”]. Central newspaper of the SED, the communist party of the GDR.