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October 14, 1956

Notes of an Interview with Zhou Enlai

This document was made possible with support from Leon Levy Foundation

According to notes of an interview with Zhou Enlai from 14.10.1956.


The PRC must gradually obtain [membership] in all international organizations, including the UN.  The realization of this policy is connected to the problem of the “two Chinas.”  Never in any case can we accept “two Chinas” in international organizations.  Whoever supports this works in the service of the USA.  Negotiations are possible with those who reject the existence of the “two Chinas.”  Accepting the existence of the “two Chinas” means the end of any such possibility.  We applied to the UN, but not simultaneously [with Taiwan].  The application is to be without Taiwan there, but there might be representatives of Taiwan there.  We have not had success in this issue.  It seems like it will be necessary to wait 1000 years.  Sooner or later the situation must change.


The problem of the policy of “two Chinas” will be clear to the friendly countries and their press.  The policy of the presence of two Chinas in international organizations is above all supported by Britain.  Such has been our experience up until now.  These are only the outlines.  The USA now also has this policy.  However you will see whether or not the USA and Britain will have success in this.


The problem of the “two Chinas” has become a topic regarding the Olympic games.  England has adopted the position that Taiwan can participate in the Olympic games.  The Soviet Union stands against the views of India in the Olympic committee.  The situation with the “two Chinas” should not be compared to the “two Germanys.”   The difference between these cases is clear to our friends in Europe.  We have proposed to Taiwan that they be accepted into the Olympic community of athletic teams, as part of teams with a majority of PRC athletes.  In neither case would they be a minority.  The athletes from Taiwan would train on the mainland, but in this case we will not allow athletes from the PRC to train in Taiwan as part of the Taiwanese team.  We await the arrival of teams from Taiwan on the soil of the PRC.  Now there is an attempt on the part of the chair of the Olympic committee (an American) to engage in machinations regarding participation in the Olympics.  Taiwan is called “Formosa” China and the PRC is “Beijing” China, in which Taiwan figures before the PRC in order.  The Olympics cannot give us a name which we do not call ourselves.  It could refer to a factory in Beijing.  And the others might be hurrying to achieve first place in a factory that we do not have.


The problem of the “two Chinas” will come up at the meeting of the Red Cross in 1957 in New Delhi.  Each country pays for its own delegation representatives at the Red Cross.  The last meeting of the RC was in Canada and only the PRC was represented there.  That is the situation until now.  The RC committee agreed that the Taiwan can be represented as an observer.  The PRC was invited to Delhi to observe.  The Indian government clearly does not agree with the presence of Taiwan in Delhi.  Britain stood for the position of allowing both PRC and Taiwanese representation.  At the first meeting the PRC delegation suggested that the Taiwanese observers be sent away.  Unsuccessful, we went home.  To repeat, the problem of the “two Chinas” is a situation entirely unlike the problem of the division of Germany, Korea, and Vietnam.


The policy of Britain put forth as the conception of the “two Chinas” was presented at the Olympic committee, at the Red Cross, and then again at the UN.  It is not clear whether or not England will be successful with its policy of “two Chinas,” and able to attract supporters from other countries.  If they are unsuccessful they will be forced to compromise in their policy.


Further two states, it is clear, recognize the existence of a united China—the PRC—that is Indonesia and Burma.

Accepting the existence of the “two Chinas” is like the UN accepting an independent Western Iran or Goa, or Stevenson requiring the overturning of the elections in Honolulu, pronouncing the formation of an independent state, and demanding recognition in the UN.  Jiang Jieshi lost power in the mainland and now sits in Taiwan with the help of the USA.  Without the aid of the United States Chiang Jieshi would not exist.


Several times we have suggested the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan problem and have refrained from the use of force.  In Taiwan changes are taking place among the lower layers [of the population], but not among the leading figures, who maintain their previous positions.  We have relations with the people of Hong Kong and Taiwan, who want to unite with us.  Such people prefer a peaceful resolution.  Those in favor of a peaceful resolution are growing.  However we must not be impatient.  Change happens slowly.  He who proceeds slowly has the advantage.  Above all this is the safest.  Jiang Jieshi and his generals are growing old.  We have patience in our expectations.  We work and take initiatives that will result in change.  Time works for us.


Today in Taiwan there are two lines to engage with:  the international and the domestic.  The international forum begins in Geneva.  The domestic [line] is just beginning, but more time is required.  In Geneva we negotiated with the USA, but Jiang Jieshi was afraid he’d be sold out by the United States.  But as soon as we begin negotiations with Jiang Jieshi, the USA fears that it will be sold out by Jiang Jieshi.  The situation in Taiwan is extremely complicated and delicate—and none of it is our fault.  That all belongs to Mr. Dulles.


The USA endeavors to have absolute control over Jiang Jieshi and does not want him to have the freedom even to breathe.  But Jiang Jieshi defends himself and fights against this control.  We have evidence of this.  There was the example of Jiang Jieshi’s firing of a general that was needed by the United States—Jiang Jieshi found it unbearable to have such a high position occupied by a person who was loyal to the United States.  But we have evidence [about this].  The policy of “vzpirani se” control by the United States is not that of Jiang Jieshi himself.  Similarly, there is a proposal for independence put forth by Jiang Jieshi’s vice-president and elder son.  In Taiwan a similar situation has arisen as in Thailand, the Philipines, Greece, and South America—the American government is like American chemically preserved food [fast food]:  once you get a taste of it you’re quick to run away.


At the negotiations in Geneva:  c. Zhou Enlai compared the situation to a “crossroads” in contemporary Peking Opera (our note:  when two touch each other and quickly meet).  And we must have patience, in the event of the absence of success, to come to a compromise which will not harm us.  We press forward, but if we are not successful, we wait until an opportunity arises.  Never are we ignorant.


In conversation with the British charge-de-affaires about events in Kowloon [Hong Kong]:  c. Zhou Enlai notified us that the British representative interprets this not as a protest, but as much sound advice.  “We were happy to see that our people walk along the streets of Hong Kong and are beaten by the Guomindang,” was the speech of the British representative.  “But do you see where this is leading?  This will lead to the American occupation of Hong Kong.  Perhaps it has occurred to you that in Hong Kong there are many people who are not equal, where the Chinese propose to get involved.  That is also your policy in the case of the Kashmir princesses.  The Guomindang spies extend a free hand.  When the operations continue at present, the situation becomes worse and worse.  Hong Kong is separated from China by only a line.  Therefore we cannot endure the assassination of Chinese citizens in Hong Kong.”


(To journalists):  The events in Kowloon lasted several days.  No one can assume that the events were planned and prepared ahead of time.  The British authorities evidently considered it to be a good opportunity, as they could get rid of several progressive organizations and elements in Hong Kong.  But then later the situation got out of their control.  (Later it was said that there was a 15 October article in Renmin ribao (People’s Daily) about a conversation with Zhou Enlai—the public portion of the interview).  Conclude with the words of Zhou Enlai:  “A devious Churchill and a devious Eden are becoming a stupid Churchill and a stupid Eden.”




P.S.:  The press conference was organized by the MFA with the participation of c. Liehma, Štěpanovský and about 20 journalists, on 13 November 1956.


Zhou Enlai describes China's desire to gain international recognition. However, the question of Taiwan as one out of "Two Chinas" makes it difficult to agree internationally, since Great Britain and the United States recognize Taiwan and not PR China as the legitimate Chinese government. Hong Kong and the US endeavor to gain control of Chiang Kai-Shek's Taiwan are also discussed.


Document Information


MZV Teritoriální odbory – Tajné 1955-1959, ČLR, krabice 1, obal 3. Obtained and translated by Austin Jersild.


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