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April 16, 1979

Cable from the Foreign Ministry, 'Notice on Holding Vice Foreign Minister Level Talks Between China and Vietnam'

This document was made possible with support from The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Fujian Province Telegram Received

From:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Precedence:  Priority Urgent 

Device No. 150

Serial No.

Principal agency responsible: Foreign Affairs Bureau.

Already transmitted to Provincial Party Standing Committee, department and committee offices, Fuzhou Military District, Provincial Military District

(Top Secret)

Notice on Holding Vice Foreign Minister Level Talks Between China and Vietnam

To the foreign affairs bureaus of all provincial, municipal and autonomous region revolutionary committees with copies to all regional military districts and to provincial military districts:

On April 14, Comrade Han Nianlong led our government's delegation to Hanoi to hold vice foreign minister level talks with Vietnam.  Our side suggested these talks at the start of our self-defense counter-attack against Vietnam.  We repeated those suggestions several times thereafter. Vietnam at first refused but then agreed to talk; then, on the pretext that “the Chinese military has not yet completely pulled out of Vietnam”, [they said this] created obstacles and prevented the talks from being held. After a repeated back-and-forth struggle, the Vietnam side was forced to give up that precondition and agreed to hold talks.

Vietnam agreed to hold talks on the one hand because it wanted to claim it was in favor of holding talks and to escape its passive position. One the other hand, it faced a dire domestic situation and wanted to relieve internal contradictions and get some breathing room. It also wanted to temporarily stabilize the situation on the Sino-Vietnamese border so as to marshal its forces to face an armed counter-attack from Cambodia. Vietnam's fundamental policy remains to follow the Soviet Union, to be a regional hegemon and to engage in anti-Chinese activities and seeding hate for China. Therefore, for the moment, Vietnam is not willing to seriously discuss a solution to its disagreement with Cambodia. These talks will be long and arduous.  At present it will be difficult to resolve substantive issues.  Now that the military struggle with Vietnam is over, the political, economic and propaganda struggle with Vietnam continues.

Our overall line and strategy with respect to these talks sets out from the strategy of striking a blow against the overall situation of both large and small hegemons. We directly confront them and don't give one inch. We stress exposing the Le Duan clique who are standing on the side of the Soviet Union and take China as their number one enemy. They crazily promote policies aimed at excluding China, opposing China, and spreading hate against China. They crazily promote ethnic expansionism, invading and occupying Cambodia, and controlling Laos. They are trying hard to achieve their ambition of creating an “Indochinese Federation”.  They are playing the role of the Cuba of Asia, working hard to help the Soviet Union become an Asia-Pacific hegemon.  In our actions, we must stress rationality, what is advantageous to us, and self-restraint. We must focus on the people and aim at stressing the friendship between the Chinese and Vietnamese peoples and solving the issues through peace negotiations. We need to take a broad view, to look at the facts and reason things out. In that way we will win sympathy and support throughout the international community.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

April 16, 1979

A report on negotiations between China and Vietnam ongoing in Hanoi. Document outlines China's positions, as well as how China interprets Vietnam's positions, in the talks.

Document Information


Fujian Provincial Archives, 222-12-287, 10-12. Translated by David Cowhig.


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