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February 13, 1954

From the Journal of Ambassador P. F. Yudin: Record of a Conversation with Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai on 13 February 1954

[Declassified stamp]

[pp.] 36-40



  Copy Nº 1


 East Dept stamp

Incoming Nº 066ss


from the journal of


[faded stamp]:


[Incoming Nº] 0115-vk



[handwritten]: Cde. Fedorenko/12.III and initials


23 February 1954

Nº 144



with LIU SHAOQI, CCP CC Secretary and ZHOU ENLAI, Chairman of the State Administrative Council and PRC Minister of Foreign Affairs


13 February 1954


Today I visited Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai and on instructions from Moscow informed them that the CPSU CC expresses gratitude to the Chinese comrades for the information concerning the special CCP CC plenum about the issue of the cohesion and unity of the Party.


Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai received this gratitude with great satisfaction.


Then, referring to an inquiry by Liu Shaoqi, I informed him and Zhou Enlai of the CPSU CC decision in connection with the upcoming first anniversary of the death of I. V. Stalin.


Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai were thankful for this information and said that the CCP CC will note the anniversary of the date of I. V. Stalin's death, taking this CPSU CC decision into account.


I also informed Zhou Enlai of the CPSU CC's reply to the 6 and 22 January CCP CC telegrams about Vietnamese affairs.


Referring to a conversation between Liu Shaoqi and Tevosyan before the latter's departure for Moscow I reported that the Soviet government had decided to grant the request of the PRC government about the accelerated delivery of the "1150" blooming mill equipment for the Anshan metallurgical combine and an increase of the productivity of the heavy machinebuilding plant in [Fulyaerdi].


Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai asked that [their] great gratitude be passed to the Soviet government for granting this request of the PRC government.


At their own initiative Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai then familiarized me with the results of the CCP CC plenum about the issue of unity and cohesion in the Party. The plenum lasted four days, from 5 to 9 February. All the members and candidate members of the CC attended, except for nine people. Fifty-two high-ranking Party officials also attended who were not members or candidate members of the CC. Liu Shaoqi promised to send the text of the report and the final text of the decisions later. Liu Shaoqi gave a report at the instruction of Cde. Mao Zedong. After the discussions the draft decisions which had been prepared were approved with some changes. The participants of the plenum did not make any substantial changes to the draft decisions submitted. As noted, no specific names were mentioned at the plenum meetings. However, in view of the fact that many CC members were informed of the facts of the anti-Party activity of Gao Gang and Rao Shushi before the plenum meeting and others were informed during the plenum's work and specific manifestations were soundly and totally criticized in the speeches, a majority of members knew who and what this was about.


Many comrades expressed serious self-criticism  and admitted that they had made the mistakes which the plenum mentioned in the decision. There were elements, but quite insufficient, of self-criticism in their speeches. Rao Shushi spoke more self-critically than Gao Gang.


At the conclusion of the plenum, said Liu Shaoqi, a number of CC members continued to talk with Gao Gang and Rao Shushi, trying to convince them to more deeply to assess their mistakes in a principled manner and approach them more self-critically.


As regards Gao Gang, he still continues to make threats that he might resort to suicide. Along with this he is also declaring that he is ready to leave managerial work and become an ordinary citizen. Some comrades expresses fears that Gao Gang would slide onto the path of more serious disruptive activity.


Adding to Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai noted that both Gao Gang and Rao Shushi are trying to avoid complete admission of their mistakes in every way and trying to paint them over. Both are also trying to involve the largest possible number of people in their anti-Party factional activity, referring to the mistakes and anti-Party discussions of others. However, those comrades whom they are trying to discredit are speaking out self-critically and in a principled manner. Gao Gang and Rao Shushi, guided by careerist motives, continue by and large to behave in a mistaken and insincere manner.


[Translator's note: a handwritten question mark appears in the left margin next to the above underlined words].


Having touched in more detail on the conduct of Rao Shushi, Zhou Enlai said that the scale of Rao Shushi's work in comparison to Gao Gang's was always less important and limited chiefly to east China (Shanghai). Now, when the question of the factional activity of Rao Shushi has come up, everyone who worked with him in east China openly condemned his past work and current factional activity. Considering this, said Zhou Enlai, we think that in the end he will admit his mistakes. Judging from everything, the question of Rao Shushi will be solved easier and faster than the question of Gao Gang.


Then switching to the question of Gao Gang's conduct, Zhou Enlai said that the amount and scale of Gao Gang's work both in the past and at present are much broader than Rao Shushi's. Gao Gang did a lot of work in the Northwest, then in the Northeast, and was finally appointed to a senior position in Peking. He had broad ties with a large number of Party officials and enjoyed great authority until recently. Many comrades still do not have a complete picture of the true face of Gao Gang. Exploiting this, Gao Gang on the one hand essentially avoids admitting his mistakes in every way, but on the other tries to influence the CC by threats of an intention to commit suicide, etc .


Rao Shushi is hypocritical and secretive. But when he was presented with the facts of [his] factional activity he lost his head. Gao Gang is a person of a different mentality and behaves differently: he tries to threaten and resort to hooliganistic attacks. It has also recently been uncovered that elements of corruption are occurring in his personal life.


Gao Gang, Zhou Enlai then said, admitted that he had intended to bring down Liu Shaoqi and toward this end had conducted corresponding disruptive work among Party members. However, he categorically refuses to admit that he wanted to bring down Liu Shaoqi in order to take his place. Gao Gang admits that he had careerist tendencies but he is on the whole not a careerist. "What about yours?", Gao Gang declares in private conversations. "Am I a Beria or Zhang Guotao?" Gao Gang admits that he has elements of individualism but declares that he is far from a bourgeois individualist and egoist.


At the present time, said Zhou Enlai, a number of senior comrades continue to hold conversations with Gao Gang. But these conversations are conducted by each comrade individually. Gao Gang does not object to individual CC members talking with him about his anti-Party actions but he does not want to meet with a large number of senior CC members simultaneously.


However, Zhou Enlai said, we are thinking of gathering a number of comrades together and giving Gao Gang an opportunity to openly state his mistakes before them. This would help stop further clandestine activity by Gao Gang, which comes down to spreading various slanderous fabrications among individuals.


Zhou Enlai stressed that at the plenum everyone concerned with Gao Gang or knew him supported the CC policy. Only a small part of the  participants of the plenum who did not know to a sufficient degree about the factional activity of Gao Gang expressed some doubt with respect to the degree of his guilt.


The question of Gao Gang is much harder and more complex than that of Rao Shushi, said Zhou Enlai. He either threatens suicide or spreads rumors that they supposedly want to arrest him, which does not correspond to reality. Zhou Enlai noted at this point that if Gao Gang or someone else goes far against the Party in their factional activity and consciously harms the cause of the Party then the Party will not stop at arresting such people in spite of their past services. In spite of the mistaken conduct of Gao Gang, said Zhou Enlai, when investigating his case the CC is being strictly guided by the instructions of Cde. Mao Zedong that a "method of treatment" needs to be employed with everyone who is mistaken and deceived and not a method of beating.


Soviet Embassy Counselor V. V. Vas'kov and Shi Zhe were present at the conversation, which lasted more than an hour and a half.



/signature/   (P. YUDIN)



printed backwards]:

2 copies sent

1- to Cde. V. M. Molotov

2- to file

Drafted by V. Vas'kov

Typed by Yershova


Nº 215



Yudin records a conversation he had with Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai, who described events in the "Gao Gang Affair," discussing at length the anti-party activities of Gao Gang and Rao Shushi.

Document Information


Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (AVPRF), f. 0100, op. 47, papka 379, delo 7. Obtained by Paul Wingrove and translated by Gary Goldberg.


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