Conversation between Stalin and Zhou Enlai concerning the extension of the Port Arthur agreement, the construction of a Sino-Mongolian railroad to the Soviet Union, and the situation in Korea. On the issue of Korea, they discussed sending arms shipments to China and Chinese arms production; the possibility of a Chinese offensive in Korea; and the return of POWs. Stalin reaffirmed his commitment to assisting China in the war in Korea.
September 19, 1952
Minutes of Conversation between I.V. Stalin and Zhou Enlai
Present: comrs. Molotov, Malenkov, Beria,
Mikoyan, Bulganin, Vyshinskii.
Li Fuchun, Zhang Wentian,
Su Yu, Shi Zhe
STALIN, opening the conversation with the Mexican proposal concerning the exchange of POWs, says that we agree with Mao Zedong, that the Mexican proposal is not acceptable, since it conforms with America's position at the negotiations in Korea. If Mexico comes forward with its proposal at the UN, the USSR delegation will reject this proposal as not conducive to the cessation of the war in Korea and will strive towards the following:
"1. Immediate cessation of military activities of the involved parties on land, sea and air.
2. Return of all POWs to their native land in accordance with international standards.
3. Withdrawal of foreign armies, including the Chinese volunteer units, from Korea in the course of 2-3 months; a peaceful settlement of the Korean issue in the spirit of Korean unification, conducted by Koreans themselves under the observation of a committee with participation of the immediately concerned parties and other countries, including those which did not take part in the Korean war."
He adds that the question of which and how many countries should take part in this committee can be further discussed and decided.
Regarding the proposal of temporary withholding of 20% of POWs from each side, and the return of the remaining POWs, the Soviet delegation will not involve itself with this proposal, which will be left in Mao Zedong's hands.
ZHOU ENLAI asks, what is your opinion concerning the possibility of the Chinese government entering into a non-aggression pact with India and Burma [?] Mao Zedong thinks such a pact would be expedient.
STALIN answers that we support comrade Mao Zedong's opinion. Of course, there are and there will not be any obstacles here.
ZHOU ENLAI asks, is it possible to delay the introduction of the second position, to wait 2-3 weeks[?]
STALIN answers that this is Mao Zedong's business. If Mao Zedong wants, we can introduce in the Assembly the discussion of the second position concerning the percentage of withheld POWs.
ZHOU ENLAI introduces a question about the third position - the possibility of transferring POWs to neutral countries so that their subsequent fate can be decided separately. He says that this is talked about in the international community, and asks whether comrade Stalin considers it possible to support this position.
STALIN answers, that we want the return of all POWs. This also concurs with the Chinese position. If an agreement cannot be reached on this basis, we cannot deliver the POWs to the UN [because the UN is a military participant in the war; he asks, in China's opinion, which country will the captives be sent to[?]
ZHOU ENLAI answers: Mao Zedong entrusted me to say, that we had in mind India.
STALIN asks who will be responsible, in this case, for the expense of maintaining POWs. It seems, every involved party?
ZHOU ENLAI answers that if the POWs are transferred to India, then after some time they will be transferred from India to China, and then the Chinese and Korean parties will pay for the maintenance of Chinese and Korean POWs.
STALIN says that this proposal can be acceptable, but we must keep in mind that the Americans will not want to deliver all the POWs, that they will keep some captives, with the intention to recruit them. This was the case with our POWs. Now we are capturing several of our POWs a day, who are being sent over by America. They are withholding POWs not because, as they say, the POWs don't want to return - America often refers to this - but so that they could use them for spying.
ZHOU ENLAI concedes that this is precisely so.
He introduces the following scenario: to cease fire and resolve the issue of POWs later. He reminds that comrade Stalin agreed with this, if no agreement is reached regarding the percentage [of POWs] withheld.
STALIN acknowledges that this can be considered as one of possible scenarios, but America is not likely to agree to it.
ZHOU ENLAI says that perhaps America will suggest this in the Assembly.
STALIN. This would be good.
ZHOU ENLAI says that in the last discussion comrade Stalin suggested that China take initiative in creating a continental or regional UN. He asks whether there would be any other instructions regarding this matter.
STALIN answers that he continues to hold his previous point of view. In addition he says that, besides the current UN, it is necessary to create separate organizations for Asia, Europe, etc., not in lieu of the UN, but parallel to the UN. Let America create an American organization, Europe - a European one, Asia - an Asian one, but parallel to the UN, not contrary to the UN.
ZHOU ENLAI says that China has no interest in the UN and obviously it is necessary to take initiative in creating a continental organization.
STALIN emphasizes that UN is an American organization and we should destroy it, while keeping up the appearance that we are not against the UN; we should conduct this with an appearance of respect to the UN, without saying that it should be destroyed, weakened, but in reality weaken it.
He reminds, that during the war Churchill suggested to create a continental UN, but America opposed this. We quietly observed the debate, but then Britain rejected its position and we supported the proposal regarding the creation of the UN.
ZHOU ENLAI asks whether there will be letters concerning this matter from comrade Stalin to Mao Zedong.
STALIN explains that it will be better without a letter. He sees that Zhou Enlai is taking notes and he fully trusts him.
ZHOU ENLAI mentioned the Peace Congress in Peking, scheduled in the end of September, saying that now it will be necessary to move the Congress to the beginning of October. He adds that China is striving for the participation of Japan and India in this Congress.
STALIN asks if Pakistan will participate.
ZHOU ENLAI agrees that Pakistan should participate as well and that Pakistan representatives are invited, but the Pakistan government is not issuing them passports. As for India, a part of the Indian delegation has already arrived, and the Japanese delegation will arrive via Hong-Kong.
STALIN says further that we should aim for China to have the principal role [in the Congress], because:
1/ the initiative in assembling the Congress belongs to China;
2/ it will be better this way, because the USSR is only partly located in Asia, and China is entirely in Asia, therefore it should have the principal role.
ZHOU ENLAI asks what specific actions will be taken by our delegation.
STALIN answers: peace.
ZHOU ENLAI talks about Nehru's proposal concerning the conference of five countries - the Soviet Union, China, England, France and USA.
MOLOTOV explains that this was a proposal of the Committee of the National Congress Party.
STALIN says, that this proposal should be supported.
ZHOU ENLAI emphasizes that at such a conference India, it goes without saying, will speak [in agreement] with England, but, it would seem, that it would be advisable to utilize this proposal.
STALIN agrees with this.
ZHOU ENLAI says, that in connection with the publication of the note about Port Arthur, the position which the PRC should take with regard to Japan is completely clear. The PRC should indicate that Japan does not wish the conclusion of a peace agreement with China and the Soviet Union.
STALIN adds--and is preparing for aggression. He underscores that our position was not directed against the Japanese people.
ZHOU ENLAI raises the question of Formosa [Taiwan]. He says that since the Japanese government has concluded an agreement with Chiang Kai-shek, it thus has confirmed that it is ignoring the interests of the Chinese people. This excludes the possibility of concluding a peace agreement. So long as a peace agreement exists with Formosa, a peace agreement between the PRC and Japan is not possible.
STALIN emphasizes that the note on Port Arthur was directed against America and not against the Japanese people. America maintains a [naval] fleet around Taiwan and exploits Taiwan. He affirms the correctness of Zhou Enlai's point of view on the impossibility of a peace agreement with Chiang Kai-shek, and indicates that the fact of the signing of an agreement by Japan with Chiang Kai-shek only worsens its [Japan's] position.
ZHOU ENLAI asks, what will be the further development of events with regard to Germany [?]
STALIN says that it is difficult to forecast. It seems, America will not support German unification. They plundered Germany; if the West Germany and East Germany unite, then it will not be possible to plunder Germany any longer. That is why America does not want German unification.
ZHOU ENLAI says: in his opinion, even though America is rebuilding the military forces of West Germany and Japan, hoping to use them, this weapon can turn against them.
STALIN says that it is quite possible, even though the German government will be controlled by nationalists, Hitler's followers.
ZHOU ENLAI shifts to the situation in Xinjiang. He says that the work in Xinjiang is generally going well and that agricultural reforms are being instituted there. But, there are also some leftist excesses, which manifest themselves in unlawful confiscation of domestic animals, in the domain of religion, and the reduction of interest rates and land lease. To eliminate these excesses the CC Plenum was assembled, which released [PLA commander] Wang Zhen from the office of Secretary of Xinjiang CC CPC sub-bureau, and a group of CC members was directed to take care of the excesses. In general discontent was eliminated, and cases of defection, including those to USSR territory, have been halted.
STALIN says, that the excesses resulted from the desire to obtain land and domestic animals faster, confiscating both from the rich.
ZHOU ENLAI notes that as soon as the rumors about reforms had spread, the hostile elements began to slaughter domestic animals.
STALIN notes that similar incidents took place at a certain time in our experience as well. It is necessary to hurry up with the reform. If the agricultural reform is not instituted, such looting will continue to occur.
ZHOU ENLAI explains that the agricultural reform is being instituted in crop farming regions, and redistribution and excesses connected with it [are occurring] in the animal farming regions. Since animal herders participated in the redistribution, the Chinese government has decided to improve their condition, which should improve the general condition as well.
STALIN says: of course, it is up to you.
ZHOU ENLAI says that according to the Liu Shaoqi report, two representatives from the Indonesian communist party should arrive at the XIX [Party] Congress, and he asks whether it would be timely to discuss party issues in Moscow with them.
STALIN says that it is difficult to tell yet. It depends on whether they will address the CC. He points out, that when the representatives from the Indian communist party arrived, they asked us to help in determining the party policy, and we had to do it, even though we were busy.
ZHOU ENLAI reports that the Japanese comrades should arrive as well, and it is likely they will also want to discuss party issues.
STALIN answers that older brothers cannot refuse their younger brothers in such a matter. He says that this should be discussed with Liu Shaoqi, who has substantial experience, and clarified how the Chinese comrades perceive it.
ZHOU ENLAI points out that Liu Shaoqi intends to bring with him appropriate material, in order to discuss a number of questions.
STALIN notes that if the Chinese comrades want to discuss these issues, then of course we will have no contradictions, but if they do not want it, then we will not have to discuss anything.
ZHOU ENLAI answers that the Chinese comrades will definitely want to talk.
STALIN answers that, in this case, we shall find the time.
ZHOU ENLAI says that it is possible that the comrades from Vietnam will also arrive.
STALIN notes that the Vietnamese comrades are our friends and will be our welcome guests.
ZHOU ENLAI, ending the conversion, says they would like to receive instructions concerning all these issues.
STALIN asks - instructions or suggestions?
ZHOU ENLAI answers that from comrade Stalin's perspective perhaps this would be advice, but in their perception these would be instructions.
STALIN notes that we give only advice, convey our opinion, and the Chinese comrades may accept it or not; instructions, on the other hand, are mandatory.
ZHOU ENLAI repeats that from the Chinese perspective these are instructions, most valuable instructions. He notes that they do not accept these instructions blindly, but consider it necessary to understand and accept them deliberately.
STALIN emphasizes that we know China too little, and that is why we are cautious in giving instructions.
ZHOU ENLAI says that comrade Stalin certainly is well familiar with the particular issues they are addressing, and asks again whether there will be any instructions.
Comrade STALIN answers that our advice is this: we should remember, that England and America will try to place their people into the apparatus of the Chinese government. It does not matter if they are American or French. They will work to undermine, try to cause decay from within, could even commit such crimes as poisonings. That is why we must be alert. He says we should keep this in mind. Here - these are all the instructions.
ZHOU ENLAI says that these are very valuable instructions. He agrees that not only Americans, English and French can commit such treacheries, but they also push the Chinese into it.
STALIN adds - their agents from the [Chinese] national bourgeoisie.
MOLOTOV, returning to the question of military credit, the payment for weapons for 60 Chinese divisions, asks whether he understood Zhou Enlai correctly the last time, that the cost of deliveries for 60 divisions is not related to the military credit, granted by the Soviet government to China from 1 February 1951, according to the agreement. The deliveries of weaponry for 60 Chinese infantry divisions will be paid in full amount according to the credit, granted in a special agreement between China and the Soviet Union.
ZHOU ENLAI answers that comrade Molotov understood him absolutely correctly, and again asserts, that the weapon supplies for 60 Chinese divisions have to be paid in full, according to the rates established for countries other than China, and not in half.
STALIN says that in this case we should sign a special agreement.
He mentions the gifts presented to Soviet representatives by the Chinese government, and notes that there have been very many gifts.
ZHOU ENLAI explains that they could not present gifts to comrade Stalin for the 70th anniversary [of Stalin's birth]. They attended the museum of gifts, saw the gifts sent by other countries, and they feel they must make up for what they were not able to do before.
STALIN says that we also would like to present the Chinese delegation automobiles made in USSR. He says that we have automobiles "ZIS", smaller than "ZIM", but very beautiful, and we would like to present you with these "ZIMs."
Then he mentions the question concerning Song Qingling [also Soong Chingling; widow of Chinese nationalist Sun Yat-sen and then Vice Chairperson of the Central People's Government of the PRC].
ZHOU ENLAI says that he is working on getting her closer to him, that she is gradually shifting from bourgeoisie ideology to our side, that she comes out with good articles based on our ideology. She says that Song Qingling is very proud of being the winner of the International Stalin Peace Award.
The conversation started at 10:30, ended at 12:30.
Recorded by: [signature] /A. Vyshinskii/
[signature] /N. Fedorenko/
Conversation between Stalin and Zhou Enlai focusing on the Korean War. They discussed the exchange of POWs (and the Mexican proposal), peace negotiations, Chinese cooperation with India and Burma, and the creation of regional organizations. They also mentioned Germany (reunification), the situation/reforms in Xinjiang, Taiwan and Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi), and military aid.
Associated People & Organizations
- China--Foreign relations--Taiwan
- Korean reunification question (1945- )
- Korean War, 1950-1953--Armistices
- Korean War, 1950-1953--Soviet Union
- Communist countries--Foreign relations
- United Nations--Korea
- Korean War, 1950-1953--China
- China--Foreign relations--India
- Korean War, 1950-1953--Prisoners and prisons
- Burma--Foreign relations--China
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