Skip to content

February 11, 1965

Minutes from a Conversation between A.N. Kosygin and Mao Zedong

The Kosygin-Mao Summit, 11 February 1965, Beijing—Polish Record




Top Secret


Minutes from a Conversation between A.N. Kosygin and Mao Zedong



February 11, 1965


The conversation took place in the edifice of the All-China Assembly of People's Representatives in Beijing.


While greeting Kosygin, Mao Zedong states that it is good that the Soviet delegation came to the East.  The East is unique [“samobytny[1]] and one must see it.  


Kosygin.  It is correct, but you must also some day visit the West.  


Mao Zedong. Nobody is inviting me over there.


Kosygin.  We are inviting you.


Mao Zedong.  Well, in such a case one can go.  Next, while talking about his work, Mao Zedong states that he is the Leader of the Party, but usually he does not participate in assemblies of the Political Bureau [of the] CC CPC anymore and he does not always take part in the work of the CC Plenum.  He says that he is old and that he will die soon.


Kosygin answers that everything that is alive was born, and sooner or later it will die; such are the dialectics of life.  It is difficult to say, however, who will go first.  He then says that Mao Zedong surely must devote much attention to theoretical issues regarding construction of the nation and the party, lessons in dialectics and other important matters.  Such work is unavoidable for a politician and one cannot get away from it by any means.


Mao Zedong.  That is correct.  I am particularly interested in dialectics.  I am interested in the historical process which takes places independently of the will of the people, parties and governments, and independently from the will of each individual.  The course of events is defined by the objective laws of life.


Take for example the Vietnamese - Who among them wants to fight with the Americans?  But the conditions which developed are pushing them towards it.  After the conclusion of the Geneva Accord in 1954, the French escaped from Vietnam; they withdrew their troops, which numbered 200,000.  However, Ngo Dinh Diem began killing people.  These bloody repressions against the people caused their resentment [indignation] and as a result the National Liberation Front came into being.  For some time, the South Vietnamese attempted persistently to conduct a line of political struggle, while guerilla warfare was to play a supplementary role.  It has now become clear, however, that one cannot achieve anything through only one political battle.  Some reasoned that one must conduct both political and military struggle simultaneously, but this course is not correct.  Can one state that the course of events is dependent on the will of the people?


Kosygin:  The Americans would like to plant capitalism everywhere, and we would like that communism was everywhere.  The wish itself, however, is not enough. Defined and objective conditions are necessary.


Mao Zedong: Currently, the main issue in Vietnam is guerilla warfare, whereas the political struggle plays a secondary role.  The war is taking on wider and wider dimensions.  The Americans have now begun the bombing of North Vietnam.[2]  But, so what?  What is horrible about the fact that some number of people died?  Tonight we received information that the guerrilla squads in South Vietnam conducted an air raid on one of the fortified regions located somewhat to the south of the 14th parallel and they destroyed 3 companies of the puppet[3] army and killed several Americans.


Kosygin:  This is good.  We support the fight of the Vietnamese people.  We are providing it with assistance, effective assistance, including delivery of weapons.  We came to an agreement [domówiliśmy się[4]] with the Vietnamese comrades with regard to delivery of surface-to-air missiles to North Vietnam in order to shield Hanoi and other regions against the air raids of the American airforce.  We also intend to deliver artillery, tanks, torpedo cruisers [cutters?] and many other kinds of weapons.  Since the Vietnamese may encounter problems in handling these weapons, we also intend to, if necessary, send our officers over there to train the soldiers.  It is true that we do not have a mutual border with Vietnam, but we deem it our socialist duty not to leave Vietnam in dire circumstances.  


Mao Zedong: One must accumulate experience.  And the planes have now become completely helpless.  


Kosygin: During our conversation with Zhou Enlai we discussed the issue of coordination of our operations with regard to Vietnam.  We also talked about this with the Vietnamese.  We have the impression that we have a mutual point of view in this matter.  As far as the Americans, their methods of rashness and provocation are a sign not of strength, but of weakness.  


Mao Zedong: What kind of a strength do they have?!  Out of their thirteen aircraft carriers [“awianoscew[5]] they are keeping four in the South China Sea.  When in 1958 we began the shelling of coastal islands occupied by the Americans, they sent here several more aircraft carriers [“awianoscew”], and when we continued the shelling they also began to transfer part of their Sixth Mediterranean Fleet, and later even part of their First Fleet in San Francisco.  However, when these battleships neared the South China Sea, we had already stopped the shelling and they already had nothing to do.  Their sailors rested for two weeks in Singapore, and then the battleships returned to their bases.  Currently the PRC is holding back the Seventh American Fleet and this is their most powerful fleet.


Kosygin: The Soviet Army is containing the US forces in Germany.  We are also forced to maintain serious forces in Europe, since, just like here in Asia, there runs the frontline between socialism and capitalism.  One has to only budge and the imperialists immediately take advantage of it.   


Mao Zedong:  Then, you take care mainly of that front in the West, and we will fight here in Asia.  The Americans are forcing us to coordinate our operations.    


Kosygin: We have one enemy and our forces must be joint [“splochennye”].[6]


Mao Zedong:  The American forces are scattered around the world.  In all they have 2,700,000 soldiers, and out of this 1,000,000 are located in Europe and Asia.


Kosygin: They are forced to scatter their troops, [but] this does not increase their power.


Mao Zedong: They have only eighteen divisions, and half of them are abroad.  


Kosygin:  In terms of their soldiers, the American division is twice as big as ours, but in terms of technology it yields to ours.  For example, in the American division there are fewer tanks than in ours, but there is more artillery.


Cde. Mao Zedong, I would like to ask you:  Once you asked Krushchev through our ambassador whether there was perhaps time for us to gather and discuss all matters which are ripe.   You stated then that if we met at the highest level, then in two hours we would be able to resolve many matters which would not be able to be resolved during usual negotiations even in the course of few years.  Has not such a time come now?


Mao Zedong: I also said another thing, and that is, I do not agree with your methods.  I said that if open polemics continue, nothing terrible will happen.  I said, and I am saying, that heaven will not fall, trees will still grow as before, fish will swim in water, and women will still be giving birth to children.  And this will continue regardless of our polemics.  After all, public polemics are a struggle by means of the fountain pen, brush and paper; nobody will die from it.  That is, I [Mao Zedong continues ironically] am in favor of your public polemics.  And I am against discontinuing the public polemics. Who knows when it is going to stop! I talked with the Romanian comrades.  They asked me about it and I answered:  Well, perhaps in some fifteen years, because in the course of these public polemics many issues will be cleared up.  It was you who began saying later that one must stop the polemics and that one is not allowed to conduct fractional activity.  We then raised the price.  We are now saying that all this will last yet another 10 thousand years – less is impossible.


As far as so-called fractional activity is concerned, then, since we are dogmatists, we will, of course, support these people whom you, as Marxist-Leninists, excluded from a series of communist parties.  Nowadays, new communist parties have already been formed in many countries, such as Australia, Ceylon, India, Belgium, Brazil, and others.  They are all based on standpoints of dogmatism, as you see it.  That is why we, the dogmatists, must absolutely support them.  This is exactly what we are doing with this, but we are lacking only one thing, namely such an activity in this respect, as you manifest.  Without comparison you are more actively supporting your Marxist-Leninist parties.


There are many who are for you.  As for us – not many.  They say that out of 100 parties, 62 are on your side, and, in that case, on ours there is a minority.  Besides, I must tell you that even among members of our party there are those who are on your side.  Here, for example, Chen Yi, Zhou Enlai – they are on your side.  They are urging you not to call a conference on March 1.  And I am personally in favor of you conducting this conference.  Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, Kang Sheng and I.  We the hardheaded dogmatists are in favor of you conducting the conference.  You see, we also have groups [factions] here.  They are urging you all the time, and I think that one should not dissuade you.  And moving the dates from December 15 to March 1 was also unnecessary.  After all, this is not good for you, as this impairs your authority.  I also believe that there is no need to change the name of the conference.  For example, instead of an Editorial Commission [why don’t you] call it consultations.  It is better if you use an old name.  You will hold the conference, then topics for new articles in the press will appear immediately.  And as such you are continuously shifting and changing – this is not good, you are after all the great party of Lenin.  This is why I am on your side.  I respect you and maintain that you should hold the conference.  It is Zhou Enlai and Chen Yi who are against you.


Kosygin: Cde. Mao, what you were saying about trees, fish and women – it is all correct.  Indeed, the objective rules of evolution exist, which will not change as a result of the fact that our parties will continue public polemics.  And it is not what we are afraid of.  But there is another side of the problem.  It is the importance of our unity, the unity of the communist party as a decisive force in the revolutionary process and as a main factor in the struggle against imperialism.  Our party advocates that one strengthens, with all power, the unity of the international communist movement and our unity with the Communist Party of China, which our party and the people treat with great respect.


Mao Zedong:  Well, as to this, I do not have any doubts.


Kosygin: I am not being ironic.  The topic is serious and I am telling you about the essence of the matter, and not for the sake of politeness.  When I talk about our respect for the CPC, I do not have to “krivit dushoy”[7] [to talk contradictorily to our own conviction – see footnote].  The most important thing to us is the union of forces.  As a result of this, they will be ten times bigger.  You say that one cannot kill people with a fountain pen and a paper, but fountain pen and paper, that is, ideology, are stronger than any weapon, as it has an enormous influence on the people, and you, most likely, know about this.  Besides, when we talk about meeting with the representatives of your party, about the necessity to eliminate [lit. liquidate] divergences, we are guided by the fact that the situation is changing, the conditions are changing, and the time has come to discuss peacefully and solve a series of issues.   Naturally, there are such matters whose resolution would require more time; I would even say whose solution would require prior studying of them in a theoretical framework.  But after all there are now many incidental things, “nametionykh.”[8]  We need to free ourselves of this baggage.  Even polemics can take place.  But it has to be polemics carried out with a scientific aspect, it has to be substantial, and in a friendly spirit, and the existing divergences have to be deliberated on a scientific, Marxist-Leninist foundation based on the Leninist principle of internationalism.  


Mao Zedong: Such polemics, of which you are speaking, do not have any flavor.  I am in favor of such polemics as you demonstrated in a letter from July 14 as well as at your Plenum in February 1964.


Kosygin: You don’t think that we are afraid of public polemics?  We are not afraid of it.  But when people are bickering [“dieriutsiya[9]], then at least they have to clearly realize what they are bickering about.  I will name one example:  here we are undergoing a quarrel with you with regard to the reliance on one’s own forces and you are imputing to us that the CPSU is against it.  Yet, this is a fabricated quarrel. After all we ourselves are relying on our own forces.  Who else are we to rely on? Perhaps you think that we are relying on the American imperialists? Well, isn’t it about time that we cleansed our relations from artificially fabricated divergences, that we meet and discuss a few issues?  Those on which we currently are not able to reach an agreement could be put off to the side for the time being.  You believe that one would have to put them off for a long time, for 10 thousand years.  Well, we are even ready to put them off for 20 thousand years if this were to be beneficial to our parties and nations.  The revolutionary movement, however, exists and we are participating in this movement and we should come out together and not against each other.  What ties us together is greater than what keeps us apart.


Mao Zedong: One could put it off for 100 years.


Kosygin: One can naturally put it off for, let’s say, “X” years.  But this would be injurious to our mutual cause.  Once I met with a group of West European communists in one of the European countries.  They were talking a lot about the fact that the divergences between the CPC and the CPSU are leading their movement astray and dragging them away from resolving main issues.  They are working underground and under these conditions they must drag away the party and the working class from the issues related to the fight against the exploiters, against the imperialists and capitalists, in order to ponder who in the end is right in their quarrels: the CPC or the CPSU?  They asked me a question:  if the imperialists can agree on a series of issues, why can’t the communists? I am convinced that the entire communist movement, the entire socialist world, the people of both our countries – they are all awaiting from us the settlement of our divergent views.  This, which one cannot resolve now, one can discuss by means of a theoretical aspect.  One could even create for this purpose a theoretical paper.


As to the theoretical disputes, one could carry it out without detriment to our unity, for example, in the columns of one of our theoretical papers.  


Mao Zedong:  You already have such a newspaper in Prague.


Kosygin:  It is called “Problems of Peace and Socialism,” but this is not our paper, but that of all communist parties.


And now about the March 1 conference.  We are not convening this meeting, but a series of parties are in favor of convening it.  There is a big difference between conducting this conference in the form of a consultative one or as a meeting of the Editorial Commission.  This is a fundamentally different approach.  You repeatedly stated that under existing conditions it is necessary to convene an international conference of all 81 communist parties.


Mao Zedong: We said in the past that in order to prepare a conference one would need 4 to 5 years, and now, apparently, one would need still 8 to 10 years more.  After all, contentious issues have not been resolved. How can one be meeting under such conditions?  You, for example, are supporting [North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van] Dong.  You dispatched a delegation headed by [CPSU Politburo member Boris] Ponomariev for their congress, and for the congress of the second Communist Party of India we did not dispatch a delegation, we did not even send them a cable [depesza].[10]  The same thing took place in Ceylon.  We are providing insufficient support, and you are providing full support.


Kosygin: Because of this they visit you in Beijing.  This does not change the matter.


Mao Zedong:  Time will flow, there will be contacts [relations], multilateral and bilateral consultations.


Kosygin:  The conference on March 1 will be precisely a multilateral consultation of the parties which want to discuss this issue.


Mao Zedong:  This is exactly why I am in favor of this meeting. Please, go ahead, and convene the conference, but do not change either the date or the title.  Gather representatives of 26 parties; there will be only a few absent among them.  After all you don’t see anything terrible in this.


Kosygin: But explain, why are you against the fact that several parties meet and deliberate when and how one should conduct an international conference of 81 communist parties?  What wrong do you think it can do to the international communist movement?  It is another thing if one were to work out some common policy [platforma] for a future conference at this meeting.


Mao Zedong: I already said that we are not against your conference.  Go ahead and convene it.  You can even work out a common policy.  But we will not participate in such a conference.


Kosygin:  In such a case, answer – why not?


Mao Zedong: In your letter dated July 14 and in the subsequent letter dated November 24, there is a mention that if we do not come, then you can do without us.


Kosygin: You should take into consideration new circumstances [lit. conditions] and the situation in Moscow after the October [1964] Plenum [which ousted Khrushchev].  After all, you don’t want to do this.


Mao Zedong:  We see them a little bit.


Kosygin: We are now taking steps to accommodate you, as comrades would do, we are treating you with respect, and we are publishing objective information in our press regarding the situation in China.  


Mao Zedong: Not always.  You do not publish our documents in your newspapers.


Kosygin: We are publishing everything that pertains to us.  We published a detailed content of the report of Cde. Zhou Enlai at the All-China Assembly of People's Representatives.  In your press, however, there was no mention regarding our report from the session of the Supreme Council [of the] USSR.


Mao Zedong: This means that we made a mistake.  But how are you going to proceed as to Albania?  After all, without solving this matter any conference is out of the question. On the other hand, this matter can be resolved only between the Albanian party and yours.  One must not torment [“tretirovat[11]] the small Albanian nation; it is improper.  We will be glad when you resume previous relations.


Kosygin: Haven’t you noticed that after the October Plenum not a single bad word was published with regard to Albania?  When a session of the [Warsaw Pact] Political Consultative Committee was held in Warsaw [in January 1965], the Albanian representatives were invited, but in their reply to this invitation they sent an insulting [obraźliwy[12]] letter.  Nevertheless, the participants of this meeting left these invectives without a reply and communicated to the Albanians that the invitation still stands.  Instruct your comrades to prepare all the materials and look through whether during the period after the October Plenum there was even one statement directed against Albania and compare this with what the Albanians were saying during this time.  We would like to resume diplomatic relations with them, but the Albanians are returning all the dispatches addressed to them unopened.  And what do you say about that?


Mao Zedong: First of all, I would propose that you leave everything you had done previously to Albania in the past.  It would be necessary for you to recognize that all of this was a mistake.  After all, you were openly criticizing a socialist country during your party’s congress; you broke off relations with this country.  Well then, one must declare that all of this was wrong [unjust].  But you prefer not to talk about the past.

If you want us to participate in the conference, then declare that your letter from July 14 and your February Plenum were mistakes, and that they are repealed.  We are against your program.


Kosygin: You know well, that this will not happen.  If you are really in favor of eliminating the divergences, if you want to find some solution, then we should meet.  And if one will discuss different matters seriously, in due form, and substantially, then it will turn out that you will have to retract many things that you had done in the past.  And when you are referring to Albania, you are not accurate; you are apparently relying on untruthful information.  It was not us who broke off the diplomatic relations with the Albanians, but it was the Albanians who broke off diplomatic relations with us.


Peng Zhen: And how they were berating [attacking] Albania during their XXII Congress.


Mao Zedong: You see, he is attacking you.


Kosygin: He is not attacking me, but the unity of the international communist movement.  


Mao Zedong:  And I am attacking the XX and XII congresses.  I do not agree with the line of these congresses, with the fact that Stalin turned out to be already so bad, that there was some cult of personality. And now you are saying that Khrushchev created his own cult of personality.  It is difficult to get the idea of what is going on over there.   You said that Khrushchev was a good man; then why did you remove him from power?  We are not removing his portraits, his books are in circulation, but to tell the truth, unfortunately there is not a great demand for them.  

We had never removed Stalin’s portraits; we are also supporting the cult of personality.  How is Khrushchev feeling?


Kosygin: One should address such questions to him.  


Mao Zedong: Well, I agree.  I am extending an invitation to him through you.  Let him come visit us.  I will go into polemics with him.


Kosygin:  It is, of course, up to you who you go into polemics with.  Khrushchev represents neither our party nor our government. And, as to why we relieved him of his post, we fully informed Cde. Zhou Enlai about this during his visit in Moscow.


Mao Zedong: But he used to represent it before.  After all Khrushchev had done much good.  He was a great leader; he made a great contribution to Marxism-Leninism.  This, it seems, was being said at all congresses.

Kosygin: You remember that you started this conversation by stating that history was not defined by subjective factors.


Mao Zedong: Well, why don’t you then convene the conference?  There is more of you and you are all Marxist-Leninists who made a great contribution to Marxism-Leninism.  We, on the other hand, are all dogmatists, and there is no dearth of Marxism in dogmatists.  In addition, we are bellicose people.  This is also a right characteristic.  First, we are dogmatists, and second, we are combative people.  That is why I have a bad reputation.  They are inveighing against us all over the world.  They call us dogmatists within the communist movement.  Then why invite us to the conference?  You should be forming solidarity among the Marxists; why unite the dogmatists?

We are indeed combative people.  Contrary to you, we do not believe in widespread and total disarmament.  In reality, and in our opinion, widespread and total armament is taking place all over the world.  Therefore, go ahead, meet and talk about the widespread and total armament.  But both in the West and in the East, everywhere, widespread and total armament is taking place.  If your comrades cherish the illusion as to the widespread and total disarmament, then how can one bring closer these two points of view?


Kosygin: And you seriously believe that you are fighting more against imperialism than we are?  


Mao Zedong: In any case, not less than you.


Kosygin:  And this is how we think about ourselves as well.  But we are not accusing you for the fact that you are not fighting much against imperialism.  And in the meantime, the fact remains that nowhere does the fight against imperialism take place without our participation.  It is carried out everywhere with our contribution, with the help of our weapons and with our risk.  However, we cannot see your particular combativeness anywhere, except in words.  It does not reflect much in reality, and words alone are not enough in the fight with imperialism.  


Mao Zedong: Our parties will perhaps be together in 10 years.  An objective situation will force us to unite.  The imperialists are acting independently of the people’s will; they will spare neither you nor us.


Kosygin:  That is why one should not postpone our union for the next 10,000 years, but one should unite now.


Mao Zedong: We will unite in 10-15 years.  The tension will escalate.  After all, there is no relaxation of tensions; this is also an illusion.  You are daily conducting propaganda regarding diminishing tensions, about disarmament, but all this is a lie.  Under certain circumstances, the imperialists can accede to everything. Will they ever go for an agreement?  Are they, for example, attaching importance to the Potsdam treaties?


Kosygin: They are not attaching importance to the Geneva Accords either.


Mao Zedong:  And that is also why the imperialists and the reactionaries will go their own ways.  They are ready to swallow not only us, but you as well.


Kosygin:  We, as the strongest in terms of military, would be first, but the sole wish of the imperialists is not sufficient to start a war – our unity will be a great obstacle on the road to unleashing a new war.


Mao Zedong:  They will most likely attack us first.  After all we only have hand grenades.  We do not have such things as atomic bombs; we are only now conducting trials [China had conducted its first atomic test on 16 October 1964].  Besides, we don’t even believe in an atomic bomb, as it is only a means of intimidating nations.  One has to rely on conventional weapons.  We have been fighting for 25 years and we well know about this.  


Kosygin: Everyone fought and saw wars.  Our countries had enough of war, up to their throats.  


Mao Zedong:  But the imperialists have not yet been destroyed.  Why did you bring along a marshal and generals?  It is evident that civilian officials are not able to solve problems.  One must rely on the army, mainly on regular troops.  In such conditions, one should not let the army and the nation lose heart.  There are revisionists in the ranks of your party as well as in the ranks of our party.  They write novels, they make films which do not raise the fighting spirit of the soldier.  They demoralize the masses. It is bad.  One must prepare for war. If we were able to guarantee 10-15 years of peace, this would be beneficial.  We are against a world war, but we are not generals of the leaders of the General Staff of the imperialists.  That is why we should be ready.  That is why I am saying that in 10-15 years, when the imperialists are lifting their hand against you, or against us, then we will be as one.  The war will unite [us] at once.  Why are we quarrelling now?  Because we are living under the conditions of peace.  But it is a bad thing that the imperialists have armed themselves with your slogans on peaceful competition, peaceful coexistence, and widespread and total disarmament.  At present there is no great difference between the American and the Soviet slogans.   The US and the USSR are now deciding the world’s destiny.  Well, go ahead and decide.  But within the next 10-15 years you will not be able to decide the world’s destiny.  It is in the hands of the nations of the world, and not in the hands of the imperialists, exploiters or revisionists.  


Kosygin: Since you brought up the most important issue, which rankles all of mankind, and that is the issue of war and peace, and the fight against imperialism, I would like to say that I do not quite understand what you were aiming at by talking about the necessity of strengthening the army and accumulating arms.  Do you really think that we are not doing the same?


Mao Zedong:  I was talking about the fact that everywhere, including with us, widespread and total armament is taking place.


Kosygin:  Armament is indeed taking place in both your country and ours.  I must say that if we were to compare which fraction of the national income goes to armament, it would be clear that it is greater in the Soviet Union than in your country.  Our nation takes on a greater burden with regard to armament.  Moreover, we are spending milliards of rubles on education related to security, hundreds of thousands of engineers who are working in the Soviet Union on the issues of security.  I am not saying all this to brag, but to answer you when you are talking about the necessity to arm, as if we ourselves did not understand it.


Mao Zedong: I was talking about the fact that the talks on widespread and total disarmament – these are mere words, calculated in order to deceive nations.  Naturally, one may even deceive the Americans, but such illusions have a bad influence on one’s own nation; they demobilize it.


Kosygin: You say – “one must arm.”  We are saying that we are doing everything to our best ability in this direction.  


Mao Zedong: What percentage of your budget is designated for military purposes?


Kosygin:  I would not like to name the number now since it does not fully reflect all expenses regarding security.  But I am reiterating:  we are doing everything in our power in this field.  If one spends still more on security, one may strain the economy of one’s own country.  


Mao Zedong:  In the current year you have decreased your military expenses by 500 million rubles.


Kosygin:  I would not like to specify now what this decrease of expenses means.  As to your statements, Cde. Mao Zedong, they contain a contradiction within them. On the one hand you are saying that it would be good to live without a world war for about 10-15 years; on the other hand, you are calling for a war.


Mao Zedong:  It would be good not to have war for the next 10-15 years.  


Kosygin: One could agree with this.  I am convinced that, in reality, you are against world war.  


Mao Zedong:  We are against world war, but we are in favor of a revolutionary war whose goal is to overthrow imperialism and its adherents.  


Kosygin:  I think that among the Chinese comrades present here no one is an adherent of world war.  This is what we believe.


Zhou Enlai:  But if the imperialists impose a world war on us, then one has to fight.


Kosygin: And, how else?  In 1941, German imperialism imposed war on us, it appropriated the most important industrial regions, but our country did not capitulate, it did not raise its hand in the air.  It conducted intense [unrelenting] war against imperialism and it won the war.


Mao Zedong:  The Soviet nation fought well at the time.


Kosygin: If the imperialists impose a new war, it [the Soviet nation] will fight even better.  As to the revolutionary war, we also think that one should support such a war.  You cannot help but know what great help we are providing the fighting nations.


Mao Zedong: We see it.


Kosygin: Why is it then that you are not speaking about this openly?


Mao Zedong:  You are helping South Vietnam to a small degree.  


Kosygin:  We are helping in such a degree as allows our geographical location.  At present the Americans are already bombing North, and not South, Vietnam.  Unfortunately, we do not have any airforce over there which could come with a counter-attack against the American bases.  Only you could do this, but you are not doing it and you are not repelling the American imperialists in due form, even though you could do this.  Why?  Apparently there are some reasons for this.  We cannot help but attach importance to this and do not intend to accuse you of not bombing the Americans in South Vietnam.  One should suppose that you are more familiar with the situation and you have your own reasons for this.


Mao Zedong:  The people of South Vietnam are fighting well without us, and they will drive the Americans away on their own.


Kosygin: But now the Americans are already bombing North Vietnam.


Mao Zedong:  This is stupidity on the part of the Americans.  Their bombing caused only insignificant casualties.


Kosygin:  We are convinced that one has to repel the Americans.


And now, I will continue what I started to talk about.  You stated that if we were to catch a breath in the course of the next 10-15 years of peace, then this would be good.  At the same time you believe that only a war situation can unite us.  It is here where the two ends clearly do not meet.


Mao Zedong: The imperialists will not give us this much time.


Kosygin: I did not name this timeframe, you did.


Mao Zedong: I was talking about this only because some are coming to us with the proposition of ending public polemics.  We answered that we could not agree to it.  But with time the imperialists may force us to agree to end the polemics.  We are being educated by enemies, but even from our side we had good pedagogues such as Marx, Engels, Lenin, later Stalin and then Khrushchev  (he pronounced Khrushchev’s name without hiding his irony).


Kosygin: And Mao Zedong?


Mao Zedong: I do not belong to this circle.  Besides, [Chiang Kai-shek [Jiang Jieshi] was bringing us up by means of his bloody tortures.


Kosygin: Well, if you take this, then we were brought up by Nicholas II.


Mao Zedong: Then we were brought up by the Japanese, and subsequently by the Americans who were helping Chiang Kai-shek and who were fighting against us in Korea.


Kosygin: In a word, we had many tutors.


Mao Zedong:  You had interventions from 14 countries.  Your nation was twice involved in a world war.  Germans twice invaded your territory.  All of this is your proud history.  When the working masses of your country were armed only with rifles, they overthrew a government which was armed with the most modern weapons in those days.  How old are you, Cde. Kosygin?


Kosygin: I will soon turn 61.


The Soviet people know very well what war is like.  As to your statements that armed forces must be maintained at a high level, that one must support the revolutionary struggle, and the fight of nations for their liberation, there are no disagreements between us here.  When you say, however, that you are combative people while we are not, then one cannot agree with such a contrast.  We are no less combative Marxist-Leninists than you.

Mao Zedong:  We are dogmatists.


Kosygin:  Perhaps you may have noticed that we have not been referring to you as dogmatists recently.  You, however, are always referring to yourselves as dogmatists, and apparently you consider us to be revisionists.  We, however, think that one must conduct a fight both against revisionism and dogmatism.  This is what Lenin taught us.


Mao Zedong:  One could conclude that there are no disagreements between us in this matter.  One must carry out a struggle against any deviations of Marxism-Leninism.


Kosygin:   While at a rally in Hanoi, I said in my speech that we are against both revisionism and dogmatism.  In this way, there are no differences of opinions between us with regard to the issues of the assessment of armed forces as well as the struggle against imperialism.  But the CPSU and the Soviet Government will do everything in order to prolong a peaceful situation and not to create a war situation.  We are carrying out such a policy not because we are afraid of war, as some would like to interpret.  And as for the imperialists, we are not afraid of them either, but we are against creating a war situation.


Mao Zedong: One must create a revolutionary war situation.


Kosygin: People of every nation should state themselves when they are to rise to fight against the oppressors and for what they should carry out the struggle.  Concrete conditions and objective factors are in play here.


Mao Zedong: But we should encourage the people to such a struggle [“poshchetat”[13]], to support it.


Kosygin:  And are we doing this to a lesser degree than you?


Zhou Enlai: You are most clearly mistaken.


Mao Zedong: We think that you are doing too little to support the revolutionary struggle of nations.


Kosygin: We have different assessments on this issue.


Deng Xiaoping: If you are saying this without being diplomatic, then you are simply afraid of a revolutionary fight.


Kosygin: And if I am to say this without being diplomatic, then you are helping in carrying out the revolutionary fight to a lesser degree than we are.  You only talk, and you do little.


Mao Zedong:  You are helping India’s airforce, you are equipping them with weapons against China.  And you may have a conflict [“stolknoveniye”[14]] with Zhou Enlai as far as this matter is concerned.


Kosygin:  Cde. Mao Zedong, there can be no conflict between the prime ministers of two socialist countries.  At most, they can undergo a disagreement.  


Mao Zedong:  As soon as your Ambassador Chervonenko came to visit us, Zhou Enlai immediately started a quarrel with him.  Apparently there is something to quarrel about.  Take, for example, the issue of Congo.  You voted to have UN troops sent to that country.


Kosygin:  We were, and we are, against sending UN troops to Congo.


Mao Zedong:  This was afterwards, but in the beginning you voted in favor of sending UN troops to Congo.  


Kuznetsov:  I was in New York when the issue was being deliberated in the UN.  The Soviet Union has always been against sending UN troops to Congo.

Mao Zedong:  Well, now you see you already have a widespread war.[15]


Kosygin:  This is not a war, but discussing an issue.  But when such a matter is being discussed, then one has to provide truthful and detailed information, and Cde. Zhou Enlai gave false information.  We were not in favor of supporting the intervention in Congo by the UN.


Kang Sheng:  But you are not supporting a liberation struggle in Congo either.


Kosygin: Now, I will answer to Cde. Kang Sheng:  Our planes are being used in Congo and they are operated by our Soviet pilots.  With their help Soviet weapons are being transferred to Congo from Algeria and the UAR [United Arab Republic; Egypt].  Our instructors are over there helping the Congolese to operate these weapons.  We are decidedly in favor of supporting the fight of the Congolese nation; we mobilize its public opinion.  What more, in your opinion, should we be still doing?


Zhou Enlai: Yes, your planes are flying in Congo, but we are paying for the leasing of these planes and we are paying quite a bit.


Kosygin: Cde. Zhou Enlai, why are you distorting the facts, why are you consciously heating up the discussion?  After all, you are not paying for these planes which we refer to here, you are not paying a cent and in general you have nothing to do with them.  If you would like, I will ask President Ben Bella to send information with regard to this issue to Cde. Mao Zedong, if you do not consider it suitable to believe our words.  You are confusing two entirely different issues. Cde. Zhou Enlai proposed to Algeria 4 planes, AN-12, in the form of a gift, and your government asked us to sell these planes to the People’s Republic of China in order to present them to Algeria.  We agreed instantly.  And you are distorting the facts.  When we received such an inquiry, we at once gave instruction to the Ministry of Foreign Trade to immediately sell the planes.  But here we are talking about different planes.  We are talking about our planes with our crews who are working in Africa, who are transferring weapons to the Congolese insurgents.  Therefore, your facts do not correspond with reality.  One gets the impression that someone, for provocative purposes, is spreading rumors and planting documents as evidence, in order to complicate our and your relations with Algeria as well as our relations with you.  I know very well the matter of the planes in Algeria, because I myself was taking care of this issue in Moscow.


Mao Zedong:  Zhou Enlai was also taking care of this issue.  A real battle arose between you and him and you could come out of it triumphantly.


Kosygin:  I would not like to triumph over Zhou Enlai, and I think that he would not like to triumph over me either, because we are both fighting for the same ideals together.


Mao Zedong:  No, no, one should attack him.  He has great pretenses; he wants to be a winner.


Kosygin: I don’t think that this is what he wants.


Mao Zedong: You are underestimating Cde. Zhou Enlai.


Kosygin:  Why, I have known him sufficiently for a long time.


Mao Zedong: Yes, after all, you met him in Moscow.  Precisely, truth is born due to such a quarrel – blade against blade –  as you carried out with him.  If one were to talk only about the weather, then little good will come out of such a conversation.  


Kosygin:  We spent only one day in Beijing and we did not have the time to talk about the weather.  What conclusions, in your opinions, can one draw from our conversation, how to sum it up?


Mao Zedong:  A real battle was fought here today.  A mutual point of view manifested itself with regard to some matters.  As to world war, one must strive to assure that it does not occur for the next 10-15 years.  The quarrel between us is essentially that of which paths to take while striving for the same goal.   In order to explain who is right and who is wrong in this quarrel, one will need an entire era to do so.  Marx and Engels stated that the justness of one or another view proves itself not during disputes, but in practice.


Kosygin:  Do you believe that the contacts and meetings with us are useful?


Mao Zedong:  It is always beneficial to talk and to meet.  We are not hiding our views.  We are not concerned with diplomacy.  


Kosygin: As you have surely noticed, we too, are openly speaking our mind.  As for our side, we deem the meetings and the talks with the representatives of our parties and countries as useful.  We agree that one has to meet more often and we think that then one will be able to solve contentious issues earlier than in 10,000 years.


Mao Zedong: One can shorten this deadline.


Kosygin: Then, let’s do it.


Mao Zedong:  If one were to subtract 9,000 from 10,000, then one would be left with 1,000.  This is a maximum concession.


Kosygin:  It would be good to yet subtract three zeroes from the 1,000 years.


Mao Zedong:  It is possible that perhaps with the help of the imperialists one will be able to shorten this deadline to 10-15 years, or even perhaps to 7-8 years.  If the imperialists unleash a new war, then we will be together again.  Even now we have not parted entirely.  We receive you, but we do not receive the American imperialists.  I did not, even once, receive the British charge d’affaires [Donald Hopson].  There was a British minister of trade here not long ago, and I also refused to receive him.  


Kosygin:  If you, or Cde. Zhou Enlai, are in Moscow as our guests we will not be making such comparisons.


Mao Zedong: Why is that?


Kosygin: If you come to visit us, we will state that we are glad to see you and ready to discuss with you, as with communists, all issues and we will not compare you to the representatives of the imperialist world.  

Mao Zedong:  I often tend to say unfair words [“oshchibochnye slova[16]].  I am a combative man and a dogmatist.  And now I have offended the Prime Minister of the government of the Soviet Union.

Kosygin: We are not pouters.


Mao Zedong:  Well, no.  You should have been offended.  Besides, we have a different situation; you are maintaining official diplomatic relations with the US and England whereas we are not.


Kosygin:  You maintain diplomatic relations with France.


Mao Zedong: Yes, that’s true.


Kosygin:  The time will come that you will establish diplomatic relations with other imperialist nations.


Mao Zedong:  This will not occur so soon.  In his time Khrushchev was persuading us to join the UN.  We answered that we would think about it, but we thought, and we think, that there is no point for us to join this organization.


Kosygin:  We are not imposing any stance on you in this matter.


Mao Zedong: We have more freedom outside of the UN.  It is the imperialists who would like us to join the UN.


Kosygin:  We believe that this is your business.  Proceed as you deem suitable.


Ma Zedong: We despise the UN.  It would be better to get rid of this whole organization and create a new international kitchen. [“Lutshe byloby vsiu jeje unichtozhit’ i sozdat’ novuyu mezhdunarodnuyu kukhniyu.[17]]


Kosygin: It would even be better to get rid of all imperialists and capitalists at once.  This would be the best solution.  But even then someone would think up some matters which would become a subject of contention between us.  


Mao Zedong:  There will be quarrels, but there will also be armistices.  You will see that not so many years will pass by and our relations will improve.  10-15 years – this is a definitive timeframe [“krainyi srok[18]], only a dogmatist could name it.  You are not capable of doing this.


Kosygin:  You love the word “dogmatist.”


Mao Zedong: It is you who placed this hat on my head.  It is true that in winter I do not wear either a hat or a coat.  Yesterday at the rally devoted to solidarity with Vietnam we all were without coats and we did not get cold.  You see how we are hardening ourselves – once with cold and once with heat.


Kosygin: I spent six years in Siberia.  Over there people are hardening themselves even better: they heat up in bathhouses, and from there head straight for the snow, and then back to the bathhouses.  That is why the Siberians are strong people.  When Cde. Zhou Enlai would meet us at the airport, he was also without a coat and he said that he hardened himself.  But I chose a different method of hardening myself.  Chen Yi built a good bath in the residence where we stayed and I took first a hot and then a cold shower.


Mao Zedong: Why don’t you leave from here bearing many victories.  The main thing is that you triumphed over Zhou Enlai.  


Kosygin: It was not my goal to do so, and I doubt whether this would be realistic.  The entire world states that Zhou Enlai is the greatest politician.  Only the day before yesterday I was reading in Americans dailies about this.


Mao Zedong:  There is nothing strange about this.  The imperialists have always praised Zhou Enlai.  Now they will be conjecturing as to the subject of our meeting.


Kosygin: It is good when the imperialists don’t know anything and when they are conjecturing.  At any rate, our meeting was directed at the imperialists.


Mao Zedong:  One should undertake proper steps again imperialism.  As to this matter, each of us sticks to his own point of view and there is nothing unusual about it.  One can allow for big differences among the Communists.  Communist parties of different nations are not of the same kind, similar to the fact that the imperialists are also diversified [“ne odnotipnye”[19]].


Subsequently, Cde. Mao Zedong was curious about the biographical data of Cde. [Yuri] Andropov, as well as other members of the delegation.


The conversation, which lasted two and a half hours, ended at this.


Towards the end of the conversation Zhou Enlai pointed to his watch and let Mao Zedong know that it was time to wrap things up, but it was apparent that Mao Zedong was in no hurry.  


Those who participated in the conversations were, from the Soviet side: Y. V. Andropov, E.F. Loginov, K.A. Vershynin, V.V. Kuznetsov, G.S. Sidorovich, S.V. Chervonenko, and from the Chinese side: Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Peng Zhen, He Lun, Kang Sheng, Chen Yi, Lo Zhu-tsing, Liu Xiao, Jian Chen-yu.



[AAN, KC PZPR, XI A/10, 517, 524. Obtained by Douglas Selvage. Translated by Translated by Malgorzata Gnoinska]


[1] Russian word “samobytny”, which means unique, was used here.

[2] The U.S. had bombed North Vietnamese targets several days earlier, while Kosygin was in Hanoi, following a Viet Cong raid on American barracks in Pleiku in central South Vietnam.

[3] The word which appears in the document is marietkowy, but this word does not exist in Polish.  It is therefore highly likely that the person taking notes meant to type marionetkowy which means “puppet.”  In any case it clearly referred to the pro-U.S. Saigon Government of South Vietnam.

[4] This word can also mean to hint, but in this case the most likely English equivalent would be “come to an agreement with,” as there is also a more colloquial form of saying this word which in Polish is dogadaliśmy się and which in English means “agree with” or “come to an agreement with.”

[5] The word “awianoscew” is a Russian word and it means an aircraft carrier.

[6] Splochennye is a Russian word which means joint or compounded.  

[7] This expression is in Russian and means “to go against one’s soul.”


[9] This is a Russian word which means “to bicker.”

[10]Depesza means wire, cable, telegram, dispatch.

[11]Tretirovat is a Russian word which means to torture.

[12]Obraźliwy also means offensive, rude or vituperative.

[13]Poshchetat is a Russian word which means to encourage. Must be a mistake here, “poshchetat” means to count, perhaps “pooschryat”? (pooschryat is to encourage).

[14]Stolknoveniye is a Russian word which means conflict.

[15] Here Mao Zedong refers to the argument which started here regarding Congo.

[16]Oshchibochnye slova is a Russian expression which means unfair [or excessive] words.

[17]Lutshe byloby vsiu jeje unichtozhit’ i sozdat’ novuyu mezhdunarodnuyu kukhniyu is the sentence in Russian which means: It would be better to get rid of this whole organization and create a new international kitchen.

[18] Krainyi srok is an expression in Russian which means a definitive timeframe.

[19]Ne odnotipnye is a Russian word which means not of the same type.

The Soviet Union sent a delegation to the All-China Assembly of People's Representatives in Beijing. During this time, A.N. Kosygin and Mao Zedong discussed Vietnam including American military actions, Soviet assistance and support, and their socialist path. The conversation then moved towards a debate over spheres of military influence. The Soviets believed that they and the Chinese should unite to fight against American capitalism, but Mao stated that the Soviets should protect Europe and Chine should protect Asia. Other issues addressed included imperialism, Africa, the United Nations, foreign relations, and the concern over factions between communist states and internal factions within parties.

Document Information


AAN, KC PZPR, XI A/10, 517, 524. Obtained by Douglas Selvage and translated by Malgorzata Gnoinska.


The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.

To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].

Original Uploaded Date



Minutes of Conversation


Record ID


Original Classification

Top Secret