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April 17, 1958

Record of Conversation with Member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the CCP CC, Deng Xiaoping

From the diary of



SECRET. Copy No. 2



Record of Conversation

with Member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the CCP CC, DENG XIAOPING


17 April 1958


I visited Deng Xiaoping and on instructions from the Center informed him of the letter from the CC of the Union of Communists of Yugoslavia [UCY] to the CC CPSU of 12 April of this year.


During the translation of the Yugoslav letter, Deng Xiaoping expressed his indignation at the first sentence in the letter in which the Yugoslavs state that they were "surprised" by the CC CPSU's letter. Deng Xiaoping reacted in the same way to some of the Yugoslavs' arguments in the letter about their attitude toward the Soviet Union and the international communist movement.


Referring to the Yugoslavs' words to the effect that the UCY's draft program is based on a belief in the victory of socialism, Deng Xiaoping recalled that the Yugoslavs believe in the victory of socialism in America through an augmentation of the role of the working class in the bourgeois system of government. Deng Xiaoping noted that the Yugoslav draft program devotes more space to this than to many other issues.


After the translation was completed, Deng Xiaoping said that the Yugoslav response fully accords with the Chinese comrades' expectations. He noted that "this is a very logical step by the Yugoslavs." It is difficult to imagine, Deng Xiaoping said, that the Yugoslavs could easily change their positions and quickly correct the most serious mistakes contained in the program. As for changing selected phrases, Deng Xiaoping pointed out that this would not change the character of the Yugoslav document since what was at issue in the given case was an entire system of erroneous views.


I set out for Deng Xiaoping the CC CPSU's decision regarding the CC UCY's answer. Having heard out what I had to say, Deng Xiaoping said that this was without doubt a correct decision. At present, he said, we have absolutely no basis for reviewing the resolutions which we previously adopted regarding the UCY's program and its congress.


"On the whole," Deng Xiaoping said, "it is a good thing (khoroshee delo)-I consider that the upcoming struggle in the international communist movement will be very lively and interesting, and that all communists, all fraternal parties should join in this struggle."


Having pointed out that the Yugoslavs talk a lot in their letter about the need to "develop Marxist thought," Deng Xiaoping noted that on that point we can support the Yugoslavs. Right now, he said, we are repulsing Yugoslav revisionism, and in the course of this fight we will develop yet further the theory of Marxism-Leninism.

I noted that a collection of Lenin's statements about revisionism had been published in our country. Deng Xiaoping answered that he had heard about the collection and had ordered its translation into Chinese. Deng Xiaoping went on to comment that "we must study and compare the old Bernstein and the new Bernstein [to determine] the similarities and differences between them." I noted that the old Bernstein did not hold state power and that probably this was the essential difference between them. Deng Xiaoping agreed with this thought. [Ed. note: At the turn of the century, Lenin and Eduard Bernstein polemicized over the correct path of social democracy. Lenin labeled his opponent a "revisionist."]


Afterward, I informed Deng Xiaoping about the conversation between the USSR's ambassador in Poland and com. Gomulka as to the UCY's answer to the CC CPSU. Deng Xiaoping reacted to this information with great interest and was especially happy to hear com. Gomulka's statement that the PZRP [Polish United Workers' Party] would not send a delegation to the Seventh Congress of the UCY. Moreover, Deng Xiaoping said that the Poles had tried to persuade the Yugoslavs, but became convinced that this was futile. Deng Xiaoping noted that some interesting points had come up in the Poles' own position in the course of the discussion about the UCY's program, and that for that reason, he said, one could conclude that for our understanding of the PZRP's position, this too "was not a wasted episode, and also showed us something."


Deng Xiaoping warmly expressed his thanks for the information. He noted that timely information from the CC CPSU permitted them to keep abreast of these Yugoslav affairs. Deng Xiaoping furthermore stated that in connection with the most recent hostile speech by the Yugoslavs, the CC CPSU had adopted entirely correct and very good decisions.


I pointed out that an article on the UCY's draft program would be published on 18 April in "Communist." At this, Deng Xiaoping commented that of course the Yugoslavs would have to be taught a lesson, insofar as "they got themselves into this."


In the course of the conversation, Deng Xiaoping touched on the issue of other parties' attitudes to the Yugoslav congress. Having touched on the position of the Italian communist party, Deng Xiaoping stated that the Italians' motives as set out in their letter to the CC CPSU were incomprehensible to the Chinese comrades. Nevertheless, Deng Xiaoping noted, "let them, the Italians, make their own decisions."


Deng Xiaoping informed me that according to information they had received a few days ago from the PRC's ambassador in Switzerland, the Swiss comrades were planning to send their delegation to the Seventh Congress. Deng Xiaoping pointed out that the CCP had not informed the Swiss party about their [the CCP's] decision on this issue. I said that I did not know whether that party [the Swiss] was informed of the CPSU's position. Deng Xiaoping expressed the thought that several minor (melkie) parties might end up not being abreast of things and might mistakenly send their representatives to Yugoslavia....


"You," Deng Xiaoping said, "are catching up with America. At present, we do not have the strength to do this, but we are trying to catch up with England. However, we are still thinking about how to present the following task to our people in some form: to catch up with the United States of America in 25 years or more." Again making the caveat that they were only thinking this issue over at present, Deng Xiaoping then added that such a slogan would help them to move forward....



[signature] /P. Iudin/


Memorandum of Conversation between P.F. Iudin and Deng Xiaoping. Iudin and Xiaoping discussed the letter from the CC of the Union of Communists of Yugoslavia [UCY] to the CC CPSU. Deng expressed his support for the CC CPSU decisions regarding the Yugoslav affairs, showed no objections to the CC UCY's program, and favored the Yugoslavs in their development of Marxist thought.

Document Information


RGANI (formerly Center for Preservation of Contemporary Documentation [TsKhSD]), f.5, op.49, d.131, ll.71-74. Translated by Benjamin Aldrich-Moodie.


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