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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January, 1972

MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE GDR, FAR EAST DEPARTMENT, 'THE INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES OF THE CHINESE LEADERSHIP AND CONCLUSIONS FOR THE STRUCTURING OF RELATIONS BETWEEN THE GDR AND THE PR CHINA'

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    A discussion of Chinese foreign policy towards the Soviet Union, countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the United States, Japan, and Western Europe.
    "Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the GDR, Far East Department, 'The International Activities of the Chinese Leadership and Conclusions for the Structuring of Relations between the GDR and the PR China'," January, 1972, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PA AA, C 6563. Translated by Bernd Schaefer. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/209701
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[Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the GDR]

Far East Department

[Berlin] January 1972

The International Activities of the Chinese Leadership and Conclusions for the Structuring of Relations between the GDR and the PR China[1]

I. The International Activities of the PR China and its Applied Tactics

1. The foreign policy activities of the Maoist leadership do confirm that it is continuing to follow the foreign policy strategy affirmed at the IX [CCP] Party Congress. It is making efforts to further expand on this during its practical implementation.

The “theoretical” foundations of foreign policy under the current leadership of China are the so-called four big contradictions outlined in the report to the IX CCP Party Congress:

“between oppressed nations and imperialism and social-imperialism; between proletariat and bourgeoisie in the capitalist and revisionist countries; between imperialist states and the social-imperialist states as well between the imperialist states; between socialist states and imperialism and social-imperialism.” Those [contradictions] are based on an anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist platform.

“The four big contradictions” are an expression of a long-term foreign policy concept with global character. It is the strategic objective of the Mao Group to accomplish its world domination goals with nationalist and anti-socialist policy.

In 1971 the increasingly escalating conflict inside the Chinese leadership led to the elimination of Lin Biao, to a strengthening of Zhou Enlai’s positions, and thus to a still larger concentration of power for the Mao Group. As a result, we have to note a further increase of anti-Sovietism in both domestic and foreign policy and an even broader cooperation with imperialism.

At the same time these conflicts have again made the instability of the Mao Regime apparent. They are a reflection of latently effective contradictions between the Mao Group’s policy dictated by subjectivist great power ambitions on one and the objective requirements of social-historical development on the other hand.

2. The extremist, militant, and adventurist methods in foreign policy during the “Cultural Revolution” have failed. The Mao Group has suffered a fiasco with its attempts to split the communist world movement. The balance of forces has shifted in favor of world socialism, and the tendency towards unity and uniformity of the forces of global socialism is growing further.

This balance of forces has made the limits of Mao Policy apparent. It causes the Chinese leadership to adopt corrections in its tactical line and to resort to several demagogic maneuvers. In recent times, the Mao Group has also applied more and more economic means to foreign relations.

This policy led to a re-activation of international relations of the PR China (e.g. establishment resp. re-establishment of diplomatic relations with 21 states since October 1970, among them 5 NATO states; restoration of the PR China to its United Nations rights; development of relations with the DPRK[2], the SRR[3], and the SFRY[4]; rapprochement and improvement of relations with the United States of America).

3. Means and methods applied by the Chinese leadership - in its attempt to create more favorable conditions for an implementation of its international objectives under certain consideration of the balance of forces - are versatile, flexible, and differentiated. They reach from normal diplomatic activity all the way to interference into internal matters.

Major efforts are especially undertaken in the political-ideological area. Here the Mao Group is again eager to infiltrate the ranks of the International Communist Movement by exploiting nationalist, rightist, and “leftist” opportunistic tendencies. From inside it wants to undermine the unity and uniformity of the International Communist Movement and especially the rallying around the CPSU and the USSR. Those activities of the Mao Group are met with clear rejection by the Marxist-Leninist parties by way of a principled political-ideological struggle.   

Regarding both form and rules, one can again observe in the international area a more factual and essentially correct protocol behavior from representatives of the PR China. The Chinese leadership was able to expand its international opportunities for more impact, especially in the Afro-Asiatic regions, by pretending to develop its relations with all states according to the principles of peaceful coexistence. At the same time the increasingly open collaboration with imperialism, however, is limiting those opportunities again; as it was on display in the presentation by the representatives of the PR China in the United Nations concerning the disarmament question and the Indian-Pakistani conflict.

Also, activities of the Chinese leadership in the economic, as well as in the cultural and scientific area, have been substantially expanded.

4. In the year 1971 as well, the USSR has persistently undertaken steps to support its efforts to normalize Soviet-Chinese relations. It has submitted the known proposals, which the Chinese leadership has rejected though. In fact, the Chinese leadership has not shown any interest in an improvement of Soviet-Chinese relations, not even on secondary issues. To the contrary, in the past year the political fight by the Maoists against the USSR has been pushed further. The main reason behind this is the fact that anti-Sovietism and hegemonism has remained unchanged as the core of the domestic and foreign policy of the Mao Group.

This policy of the Chinese leadership is also especially prevalent in the border negotiations. The Chinese leadership is delaying negotiations on purpose, and at the same time it is eager to maintain the tensions at the border. At the current moment, it is not interested in a final and comprehensive settlement with the USSR on the border questions.   

Vis-a-vis the socialist countries the Mao Group is orchestrating a broad differentiation policy with anti-Soviet direction. Like everywhere in the world, the Chinese leadership is trying yo plant anti-Soviet-directed “bases” also within the socialist world system - in order to undermine the unity and uniformity of the socialist countries. Through those efforts it [Chinese leadership] has gained certain positions (DPRK, SRR, SFRY).

5. Vis-a-vis the countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the Chinese leadership is attempting to further expand its influence and to push back the growing influence of the USSR and other socialist countries. Here it [Chinese leadership] is using primarily its “super-power thesis” to win the confidence of the small countries (China will never become a super-power) and to act up as “stakeholders” for these countries.

6. The invitation of President Nixon to the PR China and the rapidly moving preparations are evidence to the great interest on both sides in rapprochement and development of relations.

The PR China and the United States are guided in their steps towards development of mutual relations by their global interests. They are aiming their policy against world socialism, and especially against the USSR.

Despite the to be expected rapprochement and the common anti-Soviet positions, fundamental contradictions between the United States and the PR China will continue to stay in effect.

The Chinese policy of continuous expansion of its trade with Japan and the increase of political pressure are beginning to work more and more. The number of Japanese companies willing to comply with the political conditions set by the PR China is becoming ever larger. Chinese-American rapprochement and the domestic pressure will induce the Sato[5] Government to further modify its policy towards the PR China and Taiwan.

7. Western Europe is gaining ever more importance in the Mao Group’s foreign policy. Accordingly, the PR China has determinedly activated its policy vis-a-vis the European capitalist countries (especially France, Italy, England, Austria). Currently it is having diplomatic relations with 10 NATO states. In the Europe-Policy of the Mao Group more attention was devoted in the past year to the European Economic Community.

Next to France, the FRG is of special interest to the Mao Group’s policy in Western Europe (confrontation FRG with socialist community of states, relationship GDR - FRG, economic potential). Due to other priorities in their policies, both sides recently have not undertaken major activities to develop their bilateral relations.

Here the FRG Government is monitoring with great attention all the steps by the United States, Japan, and other imperialist countries in defining their relations with China in order to introduce similar steps if required. The reactionary forces in the FRG are advocating for a swift establishment of official relations with the PR China.

The strategic line of the Mao Group is also showing concrete expression in its rejection of convening a European Security Conference. All efforts towards detente of the situation in Europe and the successes achieved (Treaties by the Soviet Union and Poland with the FRG [in 1970], Quadripartite Agreement over West Berlin [in 1971]) are either ignored or harshly condemned. The latter was simultaneously linked to polemicize against the USSR, and indirectly against the GDR and other socialist states.

8. With the re-activation of Chinese foreign policy, there also came along a re-assessment of international organizations by the Chinese leadership. This became most visible in the Mao Group’s changed position towards the United Nations. The restoration of the rights of the PR China in the United Nations will expand the destructive opportunities of the Mao Group to become more active. As the first presentation of the Chinese delegation at the XXVI U.N. General Assembly [in 1971] has shown, the Chinese leadership is trying to use the stage of the international organizations primarily to massively slander the Soviet Union and other progressive states. It [Chinese leadership] is performing an intrigue with the United States, which is as shameful as dangerous for the socialist states and the anti-imperialist struggle.

[1] This is an internal memorandum by the Far East Department for GDR Foreign Minister Oskar Fischer.

[2] Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

[3] Socialist Republic of Romania.

[4] Socialist Federalist Republic of Yugoslavia.

[5] Eisaku Sato (1901-1975), Prime Minister of Japan 1964-1972.