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January 4, 1959

Policy Documents for Expatriate Affairs related to the CCP Central Committee, Expatriate Committee, and District Committees (1956, 1957, 1959)

This document was made possible with support from MacArthur Foundation

“Lecture by Liao Chengzhi during the Expatriate Committee’s 1959 Meeting for Expatriate Affairs within the Party”, 01-04-1959.


The most fundamental thing for our foreign affairs work is making it a component of worldwide revolution, making it a component of the struggle to actualize socialism and communism within the global context. Our Chinese internationals work is also in service of this kind of revolutionary foreign policy.


“Our approach toward Southeast Asian national bourgeoisie is most importantly to ask, are they anti-imperialist? Anti-colonialist? Do they want to have friendly relations with socialist states? Taking this to be the starting point, I inaugurate a policy toward them. Our fundamental policy toward nationalist states will be to support their refusal of imperialism and colonialism, and to support their national independence. This way, we will be able to weaken capitalism and break up imperialist camps. However, we will not preserve any unrealistic illusions about them. We cannot possibly require Southeast Asian national bourgeoisies to completely trust us or understand us. They will only be able to halfway understand us, or not understand at all. I should be clear: regarding international Chinese policy, these national bourgeoisies or bourgeois ruling factions, over a period in which they oppose imperialism and colonialism, could make quite considerable concessions toward us. These concessions are highly necessary. For example, during the international Chinese programs, calling on Chinese internationals not to participate in local political struggles, to subject themselves to the law of the land, not to engage in illegal activities, etc.


It is also permissible, regarding economic matters, to adopt certain measures to support them. In the past this is precisely what we did. We called on Chinese internationals to advance friendly relations with these nationalist states. We have even considered persuading them to turn gradually from business to labor. We have even gone so far as saying to Chinese internationals, “You have entered local citizenship, therefore you must pay homage to your nation of citizenship.” We have said all of these things. Shall we retract them? We shall not. If they are friendly to us, honestly opposing imperialism and colonialism, enacting democracy, preserving friendly relations with China and other socialist states, we can still enact these policies.


But at present, power wielding national bourgeoisies need to change. National bourgeoisie situations and the like should basically be interpreted this way: in these states, if there is not a robust leadership of the proletariat and the communist party, such that the bourgeoisie is put on a comparatively progressive road under the control and pressure of the proletariat, accepting a certain degree of reform, then it is possible that they will enter upon the comprador and bureaucratic capitalist road. If the comprador and bureaucratic bourgeoisie are allowed to develop further, foreign relations will by necessity go down the “accession road”. Burma is acting in the same vein as India: we treat them very well, but they want to block our claim to Tibet. In doing so one walks down the fascist military dictatorship road. [Indonesian Minister of Defense Abdul Haris] Nasution is walking down this very road. Ne Win is walking down this road. Their right-leaning natures are in my opinion situated on this very point. Internally, they are enacting fascist military dictatorships. Thus I fear it will prove difficult for these states to support long-term peaceful neutrality.


“That is how the situation is in Asia. Military dictatorships: Egypt is a military dictatorship, India’s ground forces are preparing for a military dictatorship, Burma is also a military dictatorship, Indonesia’s Nasution also wishes to have a military dictatorship. There are some who are afraid, asking whether China is being alienated. Judging by appearance, Nasution has been bad for us; [President of Egypt Gamel Abdel] Nasser and [Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal] Nehru are both not so good. But it is essential that we see one thing clearly: these states’ class struggles have developed expansively. Revolutionary movements are ascending higher up. As of now we are out a couple of bosom buddies. What’s the big fuss? The important thing is that we have gained tens of millions of conscious brothers who are carrying out class struggle in huge droves. These are the real ‘friends through adversity’. In the Asia context, affairs have developed in an advantageous way for us. It is not us that have been alienated, but rather it is imperialism and the reactionaries. Our influence has broadened, those countries’ class struggles have developed: this was the inevitable outcome.”


The name of the next document is: The CCP Central Committee ratifies “Talks on the border topic: Ideas for remedying China-Vietnam border issues”


This document has been revised in accordance with the ideas suggested by the related departments from Guangdong, Guangxi, and Yunnan provinces. We now follow up with the provincial committees from the three provinces:


China’s Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan provinces are contiguous with Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. There are over four thousand miles of border, and we have had a series of border issues with these states, including national boundary issues, economic issues (cross-border tillable fields, forests, water power, livestock, fishing, manure accumulation, debt, exchange, and unidentified seasonal crossers), issues between the native and Chinese international populations (citizenship, intermarriage, immigration), religious issues, entry and exit, peacekeeping issues, etc. These issues often lead to disputes and conflict between people at the borders, giving the enemy an opportunity for instigation and destruction, as well as influencing the carrying out of our state’s national defense and foreign relations policy. The following three points have formed the most important basis for these complicated issues.


1- Our border with Burma has a few segments wherein the national limits are not made explicit. We may have drawn formal borders with Vietnam and Laos. But in the past, since British and American imperialism had a policy of infiltrating through gaps into our country, and because China’s reactionary government paid little mind at the time to its borders, there were occasional disruptions in the demarcation of territory. Therefore, there is in fact no distinct border, no clearly delineated barrier between China and Vietnam, Laos, or Burma.


2- The Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Burmese inhabitants of the borderlands are increasingly forming a discrete ethnicity. They live on both sides of the borders. They hold common linguistic tendencies, religious beliefs, and economic destinations. Historically and socially, they are closely bonded. Therefore, within this ethnicity there will everywhere be found united ethnic principles and relationships. They will lack the ordinary principles and relationships that correspond to one country or another.


3- China’s southern frontier is far removed from the interior. In the past, there were quite a few regions that state power had difficulty reaching or almost never reached. Since the Liberation, the majority of locales have seen a fundamental change in these circumstances. However, up until now vast regions have not begun, or are just beginning, democratic and socialist revolutions, and as a result these regions, culturally, politically, and economically, are still lagging far behind the interior. Moreover, as far as local administrative power, there are a few local governments where control is concentrated solely in the leader’s hands, such that each individual locale is still a ‘blank’. Therefore, at the China-Burma and China-Laos borders, imperialists, remnants of the Bandit Chiang [Kai-shek] clique, have led the Burmese government and local administrators to continue to create entanglements, which create considerable damage.


The above particulars are the fundamental reasons that the issues at the border have been produced. They are also the reasons for the complexity of the border issues, and the means for resolving their difficulties. As for resolving the issues, the following few points are to be observed during their resolution:


1- In order to thoroughly resolve the border issues, action should originate first from strengthening our state’s borders.


2- We should follow China’s foreign policy—which is mutually beneficial, as well as mutually respecting of sovereignty and the principle of territorial integrity of states—to fix the border issues. We cannot proceed solely from the interests of the frontier and expect to solve the border issues: this will bring great losses and little gains. In other words, the partial interests of the border issues should only follow from the collective interests. However, when the issues are being fixed specifically, we should proceed knowing that the nature of the opposing state is different and unlike ours. Vietnam is a brother state: as of now it has not yet unified and there are many domestic difficulties. Therefore, when we are fixing issues at the China-Vietnam border, we should fully develop the spirit of internationalism, listening to Vietnam’s voice on many fronts, often caring for the Vietnamese peoples’ struggles. To only look after our own convenience would be to cheat Vietnam. We must decisively fend off the imperial power mindset that would disrespect or invade Vietnam’s territorial integrity. Only in this way can we strengthen the friendly brotherhood between China and Vietnam.


3- The border issues are not just a question of international issues between states. At the same time, they are a question of struggling for and uniting national minorities’ relations with the interior. Therefore, while fixing the border issues, do not compromise China’s interests. As much as possible, respect ethnic minorities’ local customs and protect their interests, in order to better integrate national minorities into our one great family.


4- Resolving border issues and constructing normal relations between our border peoples and the Vietnamese, Laotians and Burmese at the borders, is a long term, painstaking effort. It cannot be done by simply making decrees and restrictions. It is imperative to fuse decrees with instruction of the populace. In fact, instruction of the masses, raising the people’s awareness, and strengthening patriotic and law-abiding concepts, should be given prime position.


5- In order to fix and resolve the border issues, we must focus our diligence toward the goal of ultimately erecting a distinct, strict border between China and Laos, Burma and Vietnam, as well as constructing normal relations between our sides. This will result in the resolution of the present border issues. But at the same time we have to look after the historical, ethnic and popular ingredients of these border issues, as well as our present realistic capabilities.


The CCP reviews its work with international Chinese in Southeast Asia as well as some of the boundary issues with Laos, Burma, and Vietnam.


Document Information


Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Archives X42-1-72. Obtained for CWIHP by Hongwei Fan and translated by Max Maller.


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