An internal speech given by Zhou Enlai during the 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis.
November 10, 1958
Premier Zhou Enlai’s Report on the Current Situation of Conflict and Our Current Tasks in the Taiwan Straits Region
This document was made possible with support from Chun & Jane Chiu Family Foundation
Premier Zhou Enlai’s Report on the Current Situation of Conflict and Our Current Tasks in the Taiwan Straits Region
(November 10, 1958)
Today’s report session is hosted by the Central Committee Propaganda Department for the purpose of helping everybody study Chairman Mao’s most recently issued essay asserting how all imperialists are paper tigers. I intend to address the following five issues.
Part One: The Chinese People’s Two Major Tasks
Put simply, we are facing two major tasks, a social struggle and a struggle with nature. In September of this year, when he returned from inspecting various regions, the Chairman told reporters: Ending imperialism, mainly American imperialism’s aggression and oppression, is a task for all the people in the world, and also the task for the Chinese people. Last year, while discussing “The Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” the Chairman said, “to raise the question of drawing a line between contradictions among the people and contradictions between us and the enemy, as well as the question of the correct handling of contradictions among the people, in order to unite the people of all nationalities in our country for the commencement of a new battle, the battle with the state of nature, develop our economy and culture, help the whole nation to relatively smoothly traverse this period of transition, consolidate our new system and build up our new state.” These words have very clearly pointed out our two major tasks. The first battle is to end humanity’s previous historical era of class struggle, and the second task is to enter the historic era of interstellar communication that began with the Soviet Union’s launching of three man-made satellites. The Chinese people are facing the test of these two battles. In the three years just passed, we Chinese people, after achieving basic victory on the economic battlefront, have also achieved a tremendous victory on the political and ideological battlefront. Having gone through last year’s Anti-Rightist struggle, now we are entering into the era of the People’s Communes. After going through three tremendous years, we can say that we not only have done a great deal for agriculture, but at the same time promoted industrial development. It has made it possible for us to build up a national industry beginning with steel as the key link. This has not only given us the possibility of conquering the natural world, it has also made it possible for our battle-ready nation to defeat of imperialism. These two tasks and two types of struggle influence each other; the faster we build [a modern economy], the more power we have to defeat imperialism. This became especially clear during the September and October conflict in the Taiwan Straits. It was exactly in the midst of our most intense conflict with imperialism in the Taiwan Straits that we have reached a climax in our efforts to transform People’s Communes, national steel production, get the people battle-ready, broaden education, and developing science. The relationship between the two struggles is extremely close. If we concentrate on [nation] building yet do not forget our fight with the enemy, this is the best exercise our people can have. But there are some people who are doubtful and say how can we be so anxious and still be able to do all aspects of our work well? Right now, we are only at the start of the Great Leap Forward, and in a few years when our grain [harvest] reaches 15,000 billion catties [900 billion metric tons?], and steel [production] reaches 100 million tons, we can say that our anti-imperialism struggle will experience even greater transformation, and imperialism will also change their views of us. Thinking even further ahead, taking our current slogan of “catching up with the UK,” raising per capita production to catch up and overtake Great Britain, that is to say when we reach a population of 800 million, and say sixteen times the UK’s production of its principal products: this will be an issue of 300 million tons of steel and more than 3000 million tons of coal. Our principal agricultural production should be much greater than that of most developed capitalist countries and output per unit of area should be higher. Just imagine how it would be, with the other socialist countries also developing this way. We would be invincible in the world, we could defeat imperialism without a fight. If imperialism starts a war then it would only be hastening its own demise. It is possible to accomplish this task. With our current enthusiasm, we will reach this level in about fifteen years. I hope that every comrade listening to this report, every friend, believes that this is possible. There will be more believers, especially those comrades who are working at the grassroots and who have constant contact with the broad masses. However, there are a few more who might not believe that, after fifteen years, we will be able to prevail without a fight, because this is a question involving us and the enemy. This is a question of determining whether American Imperialism really is a paper tiger, whether we can overcome imperialism without a fight, whether or not the east wind prevails over the west wind. There are those with these doubts not just among the Chinese people but among other socialist countries. When Chairman Mao’s essay asserting how all imperialists are paper tigers was published, Chairman Mao corrected a note in People’s Daily, the first sentence of which was: “the question of how to recognize revolutionary force and reactionary force is still a major problem in China as well as throughout the world, and many people just can’t understand it.” It’s easier for people to understand issues on [infrastructure, economic] development, but many people will have doubts about overthrowing imperialism. Therefore, we need talk a little more about why all imperialists are paper tigers.
Part Two: Why all reactionaries and imperialists are paper tigers
When the Chairman said in 1946 that Imperialism is a paper tiger, he was being contemptuous of imperialism. It means that it has no future, no life force, it is a decaying power and thus has no future. Speaking of people, don’t we old folks have a shorter future, but the young have a longer one: that’s a fact. In his essay On New Democracy, Chairman Mao said: the ideological structure and social system of Communism is a marvelous youth, it is the morning sun rising in the East. Imperialism is reactionary, every day it is more unpopular. [The imperialists’] aggressions have offended the great majority of people, even internally the imperialists push each other around: the big fish eat the little fish, the little fish eat the shrimp, everyone betraying everyone else. In the end they are left isolated. Although Imperialism looks powerful on the surface, in reality it is empty and weak. Strong outside and shriveled on the inside, its aggressiveness is just death throes. From the standpoint of the socialist proletariat, we must have confidence, as well as reasons to look on [imperialism] with contempt. However, this is not to say that this paper tiger will topple over at the slightest breath and we can already have victory without battle. That is to say, when we have become more powerful, then we will be able to achieve victory without a battle. All new-born forces have the courage to fight with old powers, and we have the courage to say that. But this is not to say that overthrowing imperialism is easy. We may be contemptuous towards it strategically, but that does not mean that we should not take it seriously in specific battles. We have to finish it, one by one, in each specific battles. Even though it doesn’t have long to live, in any particular place, at any particular time, it is still able to wreak havoc. This is a temporary phenomenon. New-born forces are young people who will grow up. Their ferocity is a superficial image, not their basic nature. Their basic nature will not allow them to hold out for long, they will be bullies for a while, [but] eventually they will end up in the opposite position. It’s not easy to explain this clearly in abstract terms, but here are some historical examples from after the Second World War that the Chairman had used to clarify it.
The first case is that Hitler was unstoppable, swept through all of Europe, but after his defeat in the battle of Stalingrad he began to be defeated, it took less than three years for him to be wiped out. Back in 1942, when the war had reached a turning point, the Chairman had already predicted Hitler’s defeat.
The second example is when, after the Second World War, liberation movements among the people all over the world began developing in earnest. At that time British Imperialism was already frayed beyond repair, and in 1946 Churchill ran to the U.S. to rally its assistance in opposing the Soviet Union and Communism – this was also exactly the time when Marshall was in China to mediate a cease-fire. But were they able to prevent the revolutionary movements from rising in Eastern Europe? They could not, one after another. All the countries in Eastern Europe established socialist governments.
The third case: after the Second World War, not only did a string of socialist countries come into being, but the imperialists were also unable to prevent national independence movements from growing. For example, the UK withdrew from India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka; France withdrew from North Africa and Indochina; later The Netherlands withdrew from Indonesia. Imperialism was either defeated or withdrew. As Chairman Mao always says, there are many socialist countries coming into being, and nationalist countries have also come into being, one after another.
The fourth case: the success of the Chinese revolution is a great event after the Second World War. The American imperialists lent a hand to help the reactionaries suppress the Chinese revolution, but not only was it not suppressed, but it overthrew Chiang Kai-shek [Jiang Jieshi]. This was an earth-shaking big event that touched the hearts of all the people in the world.
The fifth case: The Korean War; the U.S. was not happy to withdraw from the Chinese mainland, so it started a war in Korea. We entered the war to “resist America and help Korea,” beat back American imperialism, which represented a direct contest between the Chinese people and American imperialism and the Chinese people (of course we need to mention the Korean people and the people’s army, without which there would have been no victory, as the war took place on Korean soil). But the imperialists were beaten back, and we forced them to sign the armistice agreement.
The sixth case: the armistice in Indochina. The Vietnamese war opposing France went on for a very long time, France was defeated. In particular the French colonialists were defeated at the battle of Dienbienphu and although the U.S. did not agree, the French colonialists withdrew from North Vietnam. This explains the retreat of imperialism.
The seventh case is the Hungarian incident. This was a major mistake within the socialist camp, a weak point, an error of leadership. The people’s dissatisfaction was taken advantage of by counter-revolutionaries, but bad things turned into good things. Once the incident had burst into the open, like pus-filled sores on a body, the counter-revolutionaries were suppressed with the assistance of the Soviet Union, and Hungary became stronger as a result. In this case it was a good thing for this to have happened, so that the matter could be resolved. It was particularly important that when Nagy seized the government, and the counter-revolutionaries all came back, but once the Soviet Union sent troops, the imperialists could do nothing about it. This proves that imperialism isn’t strong, but weak, because it did not dare to use this opportunity to start a war.
The eight case is the Suez Canal incident. The UK and France interfered with Egypt regaining (sic) control of the canal. The Egyptian people and the Arab people opposed it, people all over the world opposed it, and imperialism withdrew.
The ninth case is how last year imperialism caused an incident in Syria; counter-revolutionary elements in Syria sought to use Turkey to start a war, but the result was that Syria was protected, and it formed the United Arab Republic with Egypt.
The tenth example is the uprising in Indonesia; although it was fomented by American imperialism through Chiang Kai-shek, nevertheless when the Sukarno-led government resolutely suppressed it, the American imperialists changed their attitude.
The eleventh case is the Soviet Union sending satellites into space; now the third satellite is in space. This shows how socialist science and technology has surpassed imperialist science and technology. Based on these examples, the Chairman said definitively that the East Wind has overcome the West Wind. In just a year, we can add many more new examples.
The twelfth case are the nationalist movements starting in Latin America. Nixon was attacked everywhere when he went to South America. According to the Latin Americans, of the twenty or so countries in Latin America, there are only three countries that really listen to the Americans, which goes to show that the Americans can’t even control their own backyard anymore.
The thirteenth case is the Iraqi revolution, and the U.S. and UK dispatch of troops to Lebanon and Jordan. The victory of the Iraqi revolution broke the chain of the Baghdad Pact. At first imperialism wanted to intervene in Iraq, but after it couldn’t intervene it turned around and recognized it, thinking it could sabotage it from within, but it failed again, and the counter-revolutionary group led by Deputy Prime Minister Arif was captured. Because of the Iraqi victory, the U.S. intervention in Lebanon became the target of everyone’s attacks. The whole incident ended up at the United Nations, and the U.S. had no way to explain and could only agree to withdraw. This was the greatest loss of face for the United States in front of the people of the world.
The fourteenth case is the Taiwan Straits incident. This incident has not yet ended, but it’s the most embarrassing and isolating incident for the United States before people of the world. The U.S. wants to carry out further interference in Jinmen and Mazu from Taiwan and the Penghu islands, which caught the notice of people all over the world. We bombarded Jinmen. The Americans wanted to intervene but didn’t dare to openly send troops. It wanted to defend [Jinmen] but was afraid to. Their allied countries were also afraid to assist [the Americans] in the fight. Even Japan was afraid this would drag it into a major war. All democratic countries and neutral countries also opposed. Socialist countries stood together with us. Public opinion all over the world opposed it, to an even greater extent than it had opposed the U.S. dispatch of troops to Lebanon. This was because instead of facing one Lebanon, the U.S. was facing the united hearts of 650 million people, and the war it could lead to might be long and much more far-reaching. Thus, Dulles’ power policy, his “brinkmanship policy,” stumbled in the Taiwan Straits. The Republican defeat in the last American election is definite proof this, of course there were domestic causes, like the domestic economic crisis, the failure of domestic policy to win people’s approval, but the Taiwan Straits incident was one of the causes for the Republican vote to fall short of expectations. Since the U.S. Republican Party only has one third of the votes in the Senate, [Senator William] Knowland, the key supporter of Chiang Kai-shek in the Congress, was defeated in his own state election and so went home to run his newspaper.
These fourteen cases that we’ve mentioned bear evidence to the fact that, in the 16 years since the battle of Stalingrad, which of these cases proves that imperialism is powerful? If it is powerful, why hasn’t it advanced, why has it been defeated? This proves that all imperialists, in their fundamental nature, are paper tigers, whereas in the past 16 years, socialism has become stronger day by day. As Chairman Mao said, in the whole world there are a billion people in socialist countries, 700 million people have achieved national independence, 600 million are currently fighting for independence, 400 million are in imperialist countries – and among this 400 million there are internal splits and divergences.
Some people ask, if socialism is strong, how do you explain Yugoslavia? It’s true, Yugoslavia calls itself socialist, and when the Cominform first criticized it in 1948, the basic viewpoint was correct, but the method was wrong. The 1949 decision was incorrect, since the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia improved their relations. All other socialist countries have also improved their relationship [with Yugoslavia] one after another. If the leadership in Yugoslavia is Marxist-Leninist, it ought to correct its own mistakes, but it has never made any self-criticism. On the contrary they believe they are the only ones who are right, and under the banner of socialism they have developed a revisionist point of view and a capitalist class nationalism. We cannot refrain from condemning them. Without condemnation we will be mixing up right and wrong. We would rather have it be exposed, so that we can oppose it. We don’t want it to continue as an internal problem, spreading its revisionist viewpoint. Comparing the two, condemning them will further reinforce our camp. We can see that after a year of condemning Yugoslavia, the ideological level, the theoretical level, of the socialist camp, have all been much elevated. Unity has been much more solidified, and there has also been more economic development.
Of the nationalist countries receiving our support, 700 million people have achieved independence, and nearly 600 million people want to be independent, these are all countries which have been exploited by imperialism. Although imperialism uses the excuse of opposing the Soviet Union and being anti-Communist, actually it is more interested in conquering the intermediate zone first. This naturally has antagonized the people of these areas. American newspapers admit that they have not won people’s hearts everywhere. Every year the U.S. spends several hundred millions in [foreign] aid, the majority of which is military aid, which as a result generates opposition. Why is this? This is because the investment in these regions is of an exploitative nature, an exclusionary nature, and is dumping. [They] export arms for profit, the arms are third or fourth rate, and no good if there really were a war. In addition, they don’t provide ammunition – the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Cambodian Prince have both explained this to me. The U.S. doesn’t help these countries develop their industries. Instead, it just dumps commodities. Third, each type of assistance comes with conditions, and doesn’t promote development in these newly-independent countries. The U.S. aids Burma in setting up a textile factory but makes it import raw cotton from the U.S., [the factory] can’t use local cotton. The textile plant we helped them build can use the local cotton, so there is a clear contrast. Japan is like this too. The Japanese people oppose the Kishi government’s tilt towards the U.S. The 400 million people in the other imperialist countries cannot unite under the banner of war. When the Western Atlantic (NATO?) countries discussed the Taiwan situation quite a few countries opposed going to war over Jinmen and Mazu. The most recent U.S. election is further proof. This time the Republican election slogan was that the Republican Party was the peace party, the Democratic Party was the war party, because the Democratic Party was responsible for the Korean War. The Democratic Party said in return that on the contrary the Republican Party was the party of surrender, since the Republicans did nothing on the Korean battlefield during the past several years. Canada and the UK have both said they haven’t undertaken any obligations regarding the Jinmen and Mazu issue. France has expressed that it absolutely will not participate in this matter. This shows how, on the Taiwan issue, the U.S. is becoming increasingly isolated, and increasingly losing people’s confidence. Even within imperialism it is isolated. Now we can see how U.S. imperialism is full of leaky holes on all sides.
Eisenhower said, next year there will be a budget deficit of 120 million U.S. dollars, but there still has to be foreign aid. The Taiwan Straits have been tense for two months, and the U.S. has spent 3 or 5 billion dollars, this is a bottomless pit, and as a result Chiang Kai-shek is also anti-American. Dulles said, Chiang Kai-shek was stupid, putting 110,000 troops on Jinmen and Mazu. I say that Chiang Kai-shek ought to tell Dulles, he was stupid to spend so much money in American foreign aid. Although of course, the money still has to be spent. As we see it, this is most idiotic. But all he can do is continue along this track.
If we look at this from a military point of view, there are some people who say can it be possible that all the military bases that the U.S. has built are useless? Because the more bases there are, the more dispersed are the troops. The whole of U.S. military forces are no more than two or three million men. During this spate of Taiwan Straits tensions, the U.S. sent out six of its 13 aircraft carriers. Right now, the situation has relaxed some, so they immediately sent them back home. Now it’s like he’s using all ten fingers to catch jumping lice and can’t even catch one. This kind of military deployment would just get beaten everywhere, if it actually came to war.
It isn’t just military affairs that are like that. In politics as well, as I just said, there are splits and divergence, and loss of confidence. Even though the U.S. wants to take the Fascist road, it isn’t easy to promote a Fascist dictatorship in the United States. Why isn’t it as easy as it was for Hitler to carry it out? Because at the time Germany was a defeated nation, looked down on by other countries, and the people were in an angry mood and wanted to fight their way out of a bloody path. The American people don’t have this kind of sentiment, even though the U.S. has unemployment, but this is an American internal affair, a question of domestic policy. [Senator] Knowland’s defeat explains this question. Eisenhower is a “hero” of the Second World War but no longer has that standing. So, even though they might want to advance this policy, they will encounter difficulties.
In terms of culture, after World War II, the U.S. has been demolishing progressive American culture. They promoted rock and roll dancing. American culture has declined, decadence has reached its peak. Even though the U.S. today still has 10 million tons of steel, 30 million tons of oil, this is just a surface phenomenon. Its politics and culture are all heading downhill. This is its true nature. Although socialist countries have their flaws, these have been quickly overcome, and made us even more powerful. The nationalist countries, even though these countries are still led by the capitalist class, but they are allies of socialism. They have suffered several hundred years of oppression. They are poor and blank just like us. The Soviet Union’s strength and the influence of the socialist countries inevitably will become stronger day by day. People’s self-realization inevitably will grow greater day by day, and any future development will be determined by the people. Thus the Chairman says, “the East Wind overcomes the West Wind.” What we have gone through this past year has borne evidence to the correctness of the Chairman’s assertion. The East Wind will continue to overcome the West Wind.
Part Three: Strategy and Tactics for the struggle in the Taiwan Straits region
We are now close to the 80th day of bombardment, since starting on August 23, exposing the U.S. paper tiger for what it is.* If we fought on the Korean battlefield for two years, and held two years of peace talks, and finally withdrew [our troops] after eight years, then the scale for this time is a little smaller, but it is a further step in puncturing the American paper tiger. If war were to actually break out, it could possibly become a world war. In Korea it was an indirect [confrontation] but this time it is a direct engagement. For two months now the U.S. has not dared to start a war, and that is even clearer proof of the absolute correctness of the thesis that imperialism and all reactionaries are paper tigers.
This conflict has a direct influence on three sides, that is to say: our side, Chiang’s side, and the U.S. side. This is a triangle. There is a further, larger triangle, which is the socialist camp, the imperialist camp, and nationalist camp. Internally, Taiwan also has a smaller triangle: one is those who want to return to their motherland, another are those who firmly follow along with the Americans, and the third are those wavering between the other two sides. The complexity, breadth and depth of the entire struggle are obvious. In this conflict the U.S. is very much acted upon, because it never expected the bombardment, nor did it expect the situation after the bombardment, so they panicked, they suffered a scare. Our bombardment was very heavy, the situation was very serious, and the U.S. hurriedly transferred forces from the Mediterranean to the Eastern Pacific. This action aroused the opposition of the American people and indeed the people all over the world. The nationalist countries, the socialist countries, are all opposed to the U.S. threat of war. Because of this the U.S. decided on a policy of forcing Chiang Kai-shek to withdraw from Jinmen and Mazu, to be managed by Taiwan from across the sea. His first move was to isolate Taiwan, and the second was to [impose a] mandate on Taiwan. The U.S. policy sought to abandon Jinmen and Mazu. For us it was just as the Chairman had said, he put the noose on his own neck and handed us the other end. He wanted to escape his passive situation but was unable. First, he was opposed by Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang figured his best option would be to drag the U.S. into a Sino-American war. Dulles went to Taiwan and told Chiang Kai-shek that “you have become someone opposed by the entire world, you better change your ways,” therefore in the Chiang-Dulles talks said that recovering the mainland must rely on [the Nationalist ideology of the] Three People’s Principles and not military force. Some people said that our October 20 bombardment was a salute, giving Chiang an excuse to stay put on Jinmen and Mazu. So why was Chiang Kai-shek unwilling to leave? If Chiang had left he would have had nothing but Taiwan, which would become an American protectorate, and the U.S. would have gotten rid of Chiang Kai-shek and made Taiwan a mandate [territory]. At present the anti-Chiang sentiment in Hong Kong is quite strong. One Hong Kong pamphlet said that to be anti-Communist one must first be anti-Chiang Kai-shek (it was produced by the U.S. intelligence service). On the cover there was a cartoon of Chiang Ching-kuo [Jiang Jingguo] and Chiang Kai-shek; in Chiang Ching-kuo’s hand was the ‘Five Starred Red Flag’* as though he was trying to hang it up, and Chiang Kai-shek was saying, “slow down, slow down, we aren’t done yet with the U.S.?” Ultimately, he fears that Chiang Ching-kuo will imitate Zhang Xueliang and change flags. Some people said that the bombardment was good. (For the Americans) Chairman Mao is the best agent for Taiwan and perfectly suited to Taiwan’s requirements. The third force, those who totally favor the U.S., like those who published that pamphlet in Hong Kong to support a U.S. mandate over Taiwan, and there are those who want to join with the Japanese like Liao Wenyi (Thomas Liao) whose objective is to turn Taiwan into a little country. These are the worst sort of people. There are many people who are afraid of war, and many such people in the world, even inside our own country. There is now no war between China and the U.S., but there is a U.S. threat of war. In fact the U.S. doesn’t want to go to war either, the U.S. Defense Department has ordered its Navy not to go within the 12 nautical mile limit, and the Air Force cannot come within 20 miles [of the Chinese border]. When we ceased our bombardment we said that if the U.S. were to lead convoys [to Jinmen and Mazu] we would resume bombardment. On the 16th the U.S. was more than 12 miles out from Jinmen and patrolled within 12 miles of Mazu. In reality they were afraid to strike but also afraid of losing face. There was one U.S. landing craft, which had participated in the convoy, so we seized this infraction and started firing. There are some people in the U.S. navy who advocate limited war, one company commander said that if a Communist plane attacks us, I will fire back, and also chase it back to the mainland and bomb there. The U.S. Department of Defense immediately stated, the first sentence is correct, but the second sentence doesn’t count. Chiang Kai-shek has asked the U.S. air force to bomb our military bases, but the U.S. refused. The U.S. is afraid that it won’t be able to manage our counterattack. Chiang Kai-shek made use of a gap and tried out a Sidewinder guided missile. We immediately exhibited it. The U.S. was very shaken, and the Senate made a fuss, asking why the missile was used, and brought four pilots back to the U.S. for questioning. The second time on October 10 Chiang Kai-shek’s airplanes wanted to show off and claimed they had shot down several of our airplanes, and also that one of their pilots had made a heroic sacrifice, while in fact now he is still alive in Beijing. These actions made the U.S. angry. This shows that only the Chiang Kai-shek clique wants to start a war, whereas the U.S. is afraid to start a war. However, we need to acknowledge that there are also some people in the U.S. who are war-mongers, who really want to provoke a war. At this session of Chiang-Dulles talks the U.S. military participants were mainly from the army and not the navy. This is how the U.S. tries to control these war-lovers.
Throughout the world the nationalist countries are most afraid of war. This is the natural psychology of people in the middle. If you recall during our civil war, when the Nationalists and Communists fought, prominent persons caught in the middle were most afraid of war, because they were powerless. Now it is the peaceful neutral nationalist countries that are most afraid of war. We say, we have been at war with Chiang Kai-shek for many decades and it has had no effect on the international situation. The U.S. didn’t dare publicize our bombardment a few days back, on September 6, because it was afraid that would influence the election. You can see it isn’t a question of whether we bombard or not, but whether the Americans interfere or not. In short, the U.S. wants to get away, so should we let him get away? Or should we not let him get away? There’s some benefit in letting him get away. If Chiang withdraws from Jinmen and Mazu, the Xiamen seaport would be usable. Ships could sail in the Taiwan Straits. We could peacefully carry on construction of [the country]. But there are also quite a few drawbacks. Once we are separated from the enemy, we will no longer be able to take action except for yelling at them. Having them at our door increases our motivation. In the last two or three months, due to the tense Taiwan situation, we stepped up the formation of the People’s Communes (96% of the rural areas) and made great leaps in steel [production], guaranteeing output of 10.7 million tons of steel. Right now the question remaining is how to improve the quality. Making everyone be battle-ready was also accomplished in September. More than 2 million people in Beijing were organized into militias. How did we do it so fast? Because the situation was tense. So it wouldn’t be good for the enemy to withdraw. With Jinmen and Mazu the way they are we can rotate all sorts of troops for training exercises, even the cultural troupes can go fire a few shells. If we let them depart, formally we would have gained Jinmen and Mazu, but in fact we would have given way to the U.S., because the U.S. is no longer in a reactive position. The nationalist countries will then come forth as go-betweens and urge us to improve Sino-American relations, which would actually be annoying. If we don’t let the U.S. leave, we can mobilize the entire country to accelerate construction, build up land air and sea forces, build up people’s militia, and greatly accelerate the development of cutting edge technology. We will be able to retain the initiative and we will be able to keep [ the U.S.] under control. If Chiang Kai-shek doesn’t withdraw, the U.S. will have to take on more responsibility, the U.S. will have to spend money and we will have grasped the initiative. Those people who say we are in a reactive position are wrong, right now it doesn’t matter which newspaper, even the pro-U.S. newspapers all say that the U.S. is in a reactive position.
We made the rule of shelling on odd days and not shelling on even days. Chiang Kai-shek was very obedient. We only bombed the fortifications to prevent him from strengthening his artillery units. Also, we would notify him in advance of bombardment to reduce his damage and let him maintain his defenses. The front-line commanding comrades were totally flummoxed, they said what kind of battle is this? Chief of Staff Huang said, this is a political battle. Acting in this way benefits us in the national independence movement. The independent nationalist countries in the middle east say that we have been of assistance to them. Actually, in the past we didn’t help much, being separated by distant oceans there isn’t much we can help with, but this time as soon as we began bombardment it forced [the U.S.] to withdraw troops from Lebanon. This kind of assistance is actually quite effective. From now on, as the situation requires, we will fire a few more shells. Our final conclusion is that it’s better that we don’t allow the U.S. to depart. We will use the “noose policy” to fight him. If we let it go then it will become an alliance with the U.S. against Chiang, while now we in an alliance with Chiang to resist the U.S. Doing it this way is more beneficial. This way at the very least Dulles got Chiang Kai-shek to say that he will abandon the use of force against the mainland, so that the Hong Kong newspapers as well as Chiang Kai-shek’s newspapers are just like Ta Kung Pao, they have all turned against the U.S. As a result, right now the U.S. CIA is very angry about this.
If the U.S. really did leave it would appear that it doesn’t take care of its puppets, which would produce fear in the other puppet governments. If it would be good if the U.S. can withdraw from Taiwan, but it is afraid to do so, therefore the U.S. has a serious dilemma. Withdrawal would mean that their entire policy is bankrupt. It would be equivalent to a retreat in the face of socialism. In this election the Democratic Party attacked the Republican Party for surrendering to us, and the Republican Party said the Democrats were warmongers. The U.S. must go through five hurdles regarding the Taiwan issue: (1) force Chiang Kai-shek to withdraw from Jinmen and Mazu. We estimate that Chiang Kai-shek won’t leave since if he leaves he will be completely under U.S. control. (2) To promote “two Chinas” is an even harder hurdle. Not only do we oppose it, Chiang Kai-shek is even more opposed to it. If that happens, Taiwan won’t become a single China but will become a tiny political unit, which will affect civilian and military confidence. This is why we say the U.S. only acknowledges one China on the surface, but in its heart it wants to make two Chinas. (3) Entering the United Nations. To allow us to enter, but at the same time let Chiang Kai-shek hold on to his seat as a representative – something we don’t want and neither does Chiang Kai-shek. (4) Get rid of Chiang Kai-shek and set up another puppet. That’s completely impossible. We won’t allow it. Chiang Kai-shek won’t do it. Since Chiang has several hundred thousand troops, that would be hard to handle. (5) Taking charge through a mandate over Taiwan; with the current Republic of China signboard, this is an even more difficult hurdle. These five hurdles are all difficult to pass through, it isn’t as easy as Guan Yu passing. We will make many layers of obstacles. We can keep fighting on and off with Chiang. We can fight and talk with the U.S., making it hard for the U.S. to make any moves, give us more exercise. Don’t we always hold on-the-spot study meetings? This is the best such meeting we can have. The conclusion is: leaving Taiwan, Jinmen and Mazu in Chiang Kai-shek’s hands for a period is relatively advantageous tous. In the past we have thought about taking two steps at the same time, but now we think that leaving a step for the future is even better.
This must be explained clearly to cadres. To do this we need several preparatory steps. First, to ask the United Nations to intervene. There will be some people who will come out to help the U.S., that will be compromisers and well-meaning fools. We are prepared for the United Nations to say that we are the aggressor nation. We also need to be prepared for peaceful neutral nations coming forth to mediate. If they do, we will explain that this is China’s internal affair. Of course, we also need to be prepared for some people in the world who do not understand and say that the Chinese people are in a warlike mood. We need not worry about this, because we are peace-loving, but having suffered oppression China is rich in fighting spirit. Which change of dynasty in Chinese [history] didn’t take place through war? Also there could be some people who for the moment misunderstand and slander us. But no need to worry about this either, because we are not the ones who start wars. It might even be that some diplomatic envoys will leave. If the British diplomatic representative office in Beijing were to recognize two Chinas, we would have to let them go. Because it will ultimately prove that we are doing the right thing and we are peace-loving.
Will the contradictions between the U.S. and Chiang get worse? Some people say that both Chiang and the U.S. are reactionaries, and are acting in unison, so how can we join together with Chiang? It’s true that the. U.S. and Chiang are the same in terms of anti-Communism, but do not forget, even countries that are fundamentally the same can go to war, for example Hitler fought France. On the other hand, when there was a common need, the USSR, the U.S., and the UK all joined together. At present the contradictions between Chiang and the U.S. are quite serious, greater than the contradictions between us and Chiang Kai-shek, because the U.S. presses him so hard he can’t live. So, although they are together now, they can still break apart and separate from each other. And some people ask, does the fact that we can get a lot of use from Chiang against the U.S. mean that Chiang Kai-shek retains some measure of positive qualities? We say that Chiang Kai-shek does have some positive qualities. There is a contradiction between his nationalism and imperialist aggression, this nationalism is his positive quality. Take Zhang Zuolin: he got blown up by the Japanese exactly because he had some nationalist qualities. Chiang Kai-shek carried out a massive massacre against us on April 12 , still, didn’t we ally with him ten years later in the War of Resistance [against Japan]? Therefore, we still want to make use of whatever little positive qualities he has. In a few years circumstances can change. If we succeed in building socialism (of course in constructing socialism there is a range from lowest to highest, industrialization would have been accomplished, the highest would be to have implemented complete nationalization and a high level of industrial and agricultural development) this cannot not have an influence on Taiwan. At that time the Taiwan, Penghu, Jinmen and Mazu issue would be easily solved. We have no problem with solving this a little later.
Looking at it from an historical point of view, the Qing dynasty unification with Taiwan was completed during the Kangxi reign period. Looking among the socialist countries, the Soviet Union did not regain the Baltic region until 22 years after the October Revolution. And although we have already unified with Tibet, but social reform can’t be carried out until the third Five Year plan or even later, since we have to wait for the broad masses’ consciousness to be enlightened. So one can see that unifying the entire country cannot be carried out so evenly. Taiwan, Penghu, Jinmen, Mazu are better off in Chinese hands than in the hands of imperialism. Also as long as they are in Chinese hands they will eventually be transformed. In the Taiwan group there are three kinds of people (mainly this refers to the upper class): (1) those who want to return to the mainland; (2) those who exclusively follow the American line; (3) the wavering majority. If we do our work well with those who are happy to return to the motherland and with those who are wavering, then there will eventually be a day when Taiwan returns to the embrace of the motherland. We place our hopes on those people who are patriotic. We can’t imagine that Chiang Kai-shek would return and live in a commune, but having Chiang Kai-shek on Taiwan opposing the Americans would be just fine.
Some people say, what is there for China and the U.S. to negotiate? We say, even if talking won’t solve problems, we should still talk. Some people ask, will there be a time when we can stop talking? November 7 a journalist asked the U.S. representative, and the U.S. representative said that he could answer in another ten years. We say, we’ll still be talking in a hundred years, if the U.S. still exists. Even if you can’t get the problems solved, there’s still no harm in [talking]. We do not reject negotiations. This demonstrates on the political level that we still have some relationship with the U.S. If we want to solve problems, the U.S. must get rid of its irrational positions, withdraw from Taiwan. Practically speaking the U.S. is in a very awkward position. Most recently Dulles said he saw the existence of China, but he wouldn’t shake my hand when we met in Geneva. This is typical Ah Q [behavior]. Some people say that to keep giving warnings but never to actually attack – isn’t that being like Ah Q? Not at all. It’s just keeping an account. Not attacking doesn’t indicate weakness but is a preparation for strength. The more debts you owe, the heavier will be your repayment. Is the enemy not paying attention to our warnings? Not at all. Now the enemy doesn’t even go to Mazu anymore, so the warnings must have been useful. Right now we aren’t in a hurry to collect results, we are looking at results from a long perspective.
The Fourth Part: Responding to some points of view regarding the Anti-Imperialist Struggle
1. Who fears whom the most? Based on Chairman Mao’s many years of observation, imperialism is a little more afraid of socialism. From the thirteenth of the fourteen examples in the earlier second section [of this talk] one can see that imperialism fears us a bit more. Imperialism has multiple crises. The proletariat has nothing to lose, all it can lose are its chains. Every day our influence in the world gets broader, the Pakistani Prime Minister Suhrawahrdy told me that the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were correct, but the influence on us of you socialist countries is not easy to control. I said there’s nothing that can be done about that. That’s your own problem. I can’t ask you to accept socialism. We are the rising sun from the East. We don’t fear anything, and imperialism is like the sun setting in the West.
2. Are the military alliances that U.S. imperialism has created aggressive or defensive? We say they are both aggressive and defensive. First of all, they are aggressive. Some of the alliance countries, like the UK, Iceland, Greece, etc, have all turned into U.S. military bases. The people of all those countries know that this is an invasion of their country. Their target is us, with a relatively more defensive position. On Taiwan they are aggressive against us. They have built a wall, to defend against the influence of socialism, a defense that will not hold.
3. Is it better for the international situation to be tense or not? It’s good if it isn’t tense, but no need to worry about tensions arising. The tensions come from imperialism. If they loosen up, that would be fine. Even U.S. magazines are urging Dulles to withdraw from Jinmen and Mazu, because otherwise he won’t be able to withdraw in the [near] future. This comment is very insightful. If [the tense situation] were to relax then their internal contradictions will increase. They won’t be able to dump their products. The U.S. doesn’t want relaxation [of tensions] because they are afraid their allies will run away. For imperialism, neutralism is an unstoppable wind. Sihanouk came to China and wrote an article. After that he went to the U.S. and wrote another article. These two articles are worth reading. Some people fear tensions, but what is there to fear? By October, our steel production reached 7.2 million tons. Just for the month of October, we produced 1.8 million tons. Of course, we don’t fear tensions.
4. Is it better for the U.S. to slip away, or not? The Chairman talked about this issue with respect to Lebanon. Once the U.S. has caused trouble, it is better if it doesn’t get away. The more trouble they cause, the more nooses they create. When the U.S. left Lebanon a bit late, the people became more united, their anti-imperialist goal was more unified, as this turned into a negative lesson for the people. We are now taking advantage of this negative opportunity to educate the people, so we aren’t worried about them getting away later. A person’s growth goes from small to large, the strength of new life also goes from weak to strong, from unformed to more formed, and the enemy ends up in the opposite position. Things all develop out of the unity of opposites.
5. Is it better for reactionaries to take power, or not? If we can overthrow them, of course it is better not to let them take power. But should they mislead some of the people and take power, it isn’t cause for worry. Once they are in power we can expose them, and that would be a good thing. On the surface it looks like the U.S. is democratic. If in XX place with ten million people only 7 million have the right to vote, and only 5,000 out of those seven million actually cast a vote, that goes to show that American politics is unpopular. The French bourgeois revolution was relatively thorough, but now it is already completely bankrupt. The French change their government several times within a single year, and none of them are any good. The people are tired of bourgeois democracy. DeGaulle came out as the hero he used to be, so 80% of the people voted for him, which shows that the people still have illusions about him. This kind of thing educates the people by negative example, because in fact he will not lead France in a democratic direction, and when the people realize this, they will certainly turn against him. Another advantage comes from the internal fights in imperialism. They fight with each other for power, which is useful in exposing their weaknesses, and is useful in turning the people towards the left. The question is how best to plan our strategic policy. At present there are some countries tending towards the right, such as Thailand, Burma (though since the Burmese government fell the situation has been unclear) and other countries. As long as we are convinced that the enemy is doomed to fail, there’s nothing to worry about [him] taking power temporarily. The victory of the Iraqi people’s revolution is a concrete example of the turn towards the left. All the places where imperialism stages a coup are [places where] the people learn to understand how to carry out armed struggle.
6. Is the imperialist embargo of China a good thing or a bad thing? We think of it as a good thing. Our economic construction has two basic principles: the first is self-reliance, acquiring outside assistance as a supplement; the second is to prioritize the domestic market, with foreign trade as secondary. With socialist countries, we should help each other and exchange what is needed. With nationalist independent countries we help each other as equals and take care of them. As for imperialist countries, we will carry out trade on the basis of equality under circumstances advantageous to our political struggle. Imperialism has had an embargo against us for seven to nine years, and now we can produce about 80% of things by ourselves, and in the future it will be even more. The U.S. has announced it is lifting its embargo on some countries, but it hasn’t lifted it for us. This is better, eventually this forces us [to be self-reliant]. In the future we will be completely self-sufficient, and they’ll be too late. The socialist countries have done their best to assist us. We have increased our last minute orders, and they have made early deliveries, and repaired machinery in support of our Great Leap Forward. However, we have some comrades who want to get rid of our foreign trade program, this is not good. We certainly have some reasons for this, for example in concentrating on making steel, we even had some women embroidery workers coming forth to make steel, which has led to delays in embroidery work. So, although we have some reasons, we still have to guarantee [delivery of] exports.
7. Is it good for imperialism to recognize us, or is it better for it not to recognize us? The answer is that it is good either way. At the time of the founding of the state, Chairman Mao said that we can establish diplomatic relations with anyone who respects our country’s complete sovereign territory. We have established diplomatic relations with all the democratic countries, with the majority of neutral countries, and we have partial diplomatic relations with two imperialist countries. One is the UK and the other is the Netherlands; they are called representative offices. According to the foreign emissaries, among the missions in the capital, the UK and the Dutch have it the hardest. They get criticized whenever we feel like it. Even now there are big character posters on their wall – members of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army who are returning home should hurry to take a look, otherwise they’ll be washed away by the rain. Sixteen years after the victory of the Soviet Revolution, the U.S. finally recognized [the USSR]. The three Soviet constituent republics in the Baltic Sea area finally joined the Soviet Union after 22 years of independence. International law is made by men. Not every existing country in the world will need to be fed with recognition. Those that are unrecognized will continue to exist anyway. When the U.S. finally recognizes us in the future, we will still set some conditions. They will have to return Taiwan to us. This is my personal opinion; in the future the party center will discuss it.
Would it be good to join the United Nations, or not? To join would definitely be good, but it’s fine not to join. What is so bad to be in the era of the Flower Fruit Mountain?* We will be more free to criticize the U.S. if we don’t join. This time, the Security Council [sic] vote in support of India’s motion was 28 votes for, 9 abstentions, and 44 opposed. This number will change. In the next General Assembly, if there are an additional 9 votes in favor, that would make 37 votes, and the opposition would be 35 votes. We will not join if there are two Chinas. We should not be that anxious to join. Currently the United Nations is debating the issues of arms reduction and banning nuclear weapons, so we have more freedom this way. This will give us more confidence to grow and become stronger.
8. Is peace better, or is war better? Of course, peace is better, but if they force war on us we won’t be afraid, either. Looking at the situation in the Taiwan Straits over the past several months, the U.S. doesn’t dare fight. However, if the war crazies want to fight, we will not yield. Some people think that a war can be confined to a limited area, and if it is in a limited area we will fight with them too. We will want to hold them back. This is an issue for the two camps of the U.S. and China. If they use advanced weapons, of course we will suffer some losses, but they will be condemned by the entire world. We don’t have these advanced weapons, but we can buy or borrow them. Therefore, we don’t need to be afraid. If they dare to start a war, we dare to meet them in war. War can only be stopped if you are not afraid of it.
The Fifth Part: The Chinese People’s Bright Future
If we continue doing things this way, we will realize the aforementioned two great tasks, which are the tasks of all our people, and which will require the unity of all the people. Under the Party’s leadership, we must pump up our energy, strive to be on top in the fight against imperialism in a reasonable, advantageous and controlled manner, striving to build a socialist country within a relatively short period of time, and advance further towards communism. This is our great and glorious task and is also the bright future of the Chinese people.
An internal speech given by Zhou Enlai during the 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis.
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