Chen Yi, Zhou Enlai, Pak Seong-cheol, and Ri Ju-yeon have a detailed conversation about the situations in Indonesia, Algeria, Uganda, Mali, Guinea, and members of the Third World.
November 11, 1965
Record of the Third Conversation between Zhou Enlai and North Korean Vice Prime Minister Ri Ju-yeon
This document was made possible with support from MacArthur Foundation
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Building No. 4, Conference Room
Main Contents: The Japan question; Zhou [Enlai] asked about Japan changing the citizenship of Korean nationals in Japan to South Korean; China’s preparedness for war.
Premier Zhou [Enlai] (to be abbreviated as Zhou): Look at the map (unfolds a map of the situation in South Vietnam and offers an explanation). We will send you the two sets of materials and the related diagrams written by journalists of the Xinhua News Agency. We received the diagram of the United States’ global strategic deployments last night. (This was personally given to Vice Premier Ri on the morning of 12 November.) Should we ask questions first or talk about Japan[?]
Vice Prime MinisterRi [Ju-yeon] [Ri Ju Yon] (to be abbreviated as Ri): Let us discuss the Japan issue [first].
Zhou: We do not have many materials on the Japan issue. Our views on the reasons why the American imperialists have revived Japanese militarism are the same as the Korean Workers’ Party and the Japanese Communist [Party]. In recent years, the United States and Japan have been active. They have sped up the completion of the Korean-Japanese Treaty [the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea], which fulfills their immediate and long-term needs. Their immediate needs can be seen to [coincide] with a period of tension in the Vietnam War, beginning with the restoration of Korean-Japanese talks last year and up to the signing of the treaty. In the past Syngman Rhee stalled [the talks], [and] Park Chung-hee also stalled [the talks]. But last year, during the seventh meeting, they sped up and signed the Basic Treaty. They resolved the issues of compensation, fishing, and the return of cultural artifacts. This speed was very quick, all the way down to [the treaty’s] approval by the South Korean puppet assembly. My view of these immediate needs is that, on the one hand, the American imperialists want South Korea to send combat troops to South Vietnam and, on the other hand, the emphasis was on connecting the South Korean issue with the South Vietnam issue. [These issues] can be connected through the treaty between South Korea and Japan. In my view, the priority [for the United States] is to stabilize the political situation in Korea, otherwise the South Vietnam situation would be affected by the slightest movement. The second [priority] is to drag Japan into South Korea and have Japan shoulder some of the financial burden from the [United States]. These are the immediate needs. The long-term need is to push for a “Northeast Asia Military Alliance” of Japan, [South] Korea, and the United States. Perhaps Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek] will join the alliance in the future as well. The American policy is confirmed. Yesterday we received information that said the ministerial level meeting proposed by the United States between the United States, Japan, and [South] Korea is the beginning of a “Northeast Asia Military Alliance.” They will need to entice Japan with something in order for Japan to accept the alliance. Economically, [they may offer] Japan investments in South Korea; politically, [they will] back pro-Japanese forces [in South Korea], attack the people, and restore Japan’s former position; and, militarily, [they will] engage in a joint defense system between Japan, [South] Korea, and the United States. So the Japanese Communist Party and the left-wing of the Social Democratic Party revealed the “three arrows plan” [the Mitsuya Plan], which marked China and [North] Korea as imaginary enemies. In short, the American imperialist invasion and war plans for the East cannot be realized without the manpower and material support of Japan. They cannot go it alone, [while] other countries, such as the Philippines and Thailand, also cannot help them. Similarly, in order for the Japanese militarists to be resurrected—if there are no concessions from the United States in Taiwan and South Korea, then this is also impossible. The Korean-Japanese Treaty clarified that the Republic of Korea is the only legal representative of Korea. It is just like Jiang Jieshi’s Republic of China, and they are both called “national republics.” They are brothers in suffering. So the Japanese militarists are using the needs of American imperialism to realize their own ambitions. [The Japanese militarists] are expanding towards Taiwan and South Korea while making political, economic, and military moves. This is one aspect of it. This first caused the peace-loving and anti-war people of Japan to expand the struggle against the Japanese-Korean Treaty. Recently the scale of the struggle has expanded. It is the same in South Korea, [and] the majority of intellectuals are also participating because they want to turn Korea back into a colony [of Japan]. If Japanese militarism were to be revived and Japan was rearmed, then when the U.S. begins a war in the East, Korea will be part of it and Taiwan will be part of it. Of course, Korea will be [where] the Japanese military offensive [is launched from] and Taiwan will be [where] Jiang Jieshi’s military offensive [is launched from]. Not only will the Japanese army come, [but] the U.S. military might also come from the sea. If they launch a war, Korea and China will not be divided into two steps. The current stage is the Vietnam phase. If [they] go further to wage war, China and Korea will not be two-fronts but will be a single battlefield. Based on general preparations, Japanese militarist forces are developing, but they have not yet turned the ordinary economic system into a wartime economic system. [They] still need several years [to do this] because the Japanese people are opposed [to it] and so is parliament. We estimate that it is still too early for them to act now. At the very least it will take them a few more years [of preparation]. The Japanese militarists preliminary plan is to be completed by 1970. The United States is escalating [the conflict] in Vietnam and [they] are restricted to Vietnam, but [they] are expanding the bombing of North Vietnam, even bombing Hanoi and Haiphong on a limited [scale] to force the Vietnamese to accept peace talks and throw in the towel. I say that [we] should force the enemy to throw in the towel. As a result, America’s use of Japan and South Korea are also phases. The enemy [operates in the] same [way] as us. But as I said yesterday, the law of how wars develop does not follow the will of the people. Perhaps war will arrive too quickly. Owing to these kinds of estimates, we agree with the Korean Workers’ Party and government to strengthen war preparations. We are also doing this. Not only will [we] do this, but [we will also] publicize it. Not only will [we] not conceal this, [we] will openly announce it. In this regard, we have two ideas. The first is to act but not publicize. [We will] act quietly internally, and stress externally that [we] want to ease the situation. Such an approach only has one benefit, and that is the enemy will see that we are willing to ease the situation and not accelerate the steps toward a war. Of course this is good. But it also has several disadvantages. First, if the enemy sees us easing but steps up their aggressive activities and attacks us, and we have not taken precautions, then we would suffer losses. This would be unfavorable. Second, the people will not be mobilized. Their ideology will be slackened and they will be off guard. Once the enemy attacks, they will be caught by surprise. Third, it would be unfavorable for war preparations. If we do not publicize [war preparations], then we cannot publicly complete them, and so the potential of the masses will not be realized. Fourth, it would be unfavorable on the international stage. The world’s peoples will think that, in easing the situation, we are the same as the revisionists. Once a war breaks out in the East, [they] will not understand and will feel panicked. Fifth, it is disadvantageous to the Japanese people. They are in Japan opposing the revival of Japanese militarism and we are here publishing about easing the situation. It is inappropriate. Therefore, [if] we choose to openly carry out propaganda and ideological mobilization, the advantages would outweigh the disadvantages. According to the enemy, they know we are prepared. [They] will be cautious. [They] are afraid to take risks and fear suffering losses. In waging war, [they] must consider everything and may delay the time in which [they] launch a war. If the enemy knows we are prepared and [they] still start a war, we will not be caught off guard. Furthermore, the people will all be mobilized and [we] can play to their potential. The cadres completing war preparations will be more serious and will concentrate more on this work. According to the people of the world, they know that we are prepared and that the imperialists are taking risks. When a war breaks out, they will not be surprised. It is encouraging for the people of Japan and South Korea. They know that we are prepared and will fight against the American and Japanese imperialists’ scheme to start a war. There is only one drawback to acting this way, and that is if they do not start a war—if [they] delay—some people will blame us for estimating incorrectly and that [we] prepared for war too much. As I see it, if this happens, then there is nothing wrong, even if a lot of [people] say our estimates were wrong. Our thinking is consistent with the thinking of the Korean Workers’ Party. In their conversation with Comrade Yang Yong and Ambassador Hao Deqing, the [North] Korean leaders were in this spirit and emphasized preparing for war. So, we think that there are benefits to strengthening war preparations and the propaganda about war preparations, to opposing the U.S. imperialists’ aggression, to opposing the collusion between the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, and to opposing the expansion of the Vietnam War. This type of propaganda must be a little fierce and the imperialists should be a little careful. More importantly, [we must] elevate the people’s consciousness so that they are ready. So in terms of propaganda, over the past six-months we have published many articles, particularly Comrade Chen Yi’s conversation of 29 September , emphasizing this point. The Americans know we are preparing for war. Their plan to expand the war must predict the various factors and possibilities [at play]. If our propaganda—China, [North] Korea, and Vietnam’s—stays in step, its force will be greater. Our foreign policy toward the United States is clear. America is hostile towards us and opposes us, [so] we have a critical attitude [of them]. We quarreled with them in Warsaw and in Panmunjeom [Panmunjom]. Wherever we quarrel, it is always in a tense region. So Warsaw and Panmunjeom are tense areas, this is clear. This is also a diplomatic struggle, but there has not been war. Since the [Eisaku] Sato government came to power, we have also strengthened the struggle against Japan. Because the [Hayato] Ikeda government wavered on talks, Sato is different and is very active. Sato is a right-winger in the Liberal Democratic Party. He is a bit further off from his predecessors, more courageous. So the way [the United States is acting] is because of the developments of the times and the different environment. This does not mean that there are not any contradictions between the United States and Japan. There are still contradictions. Because of the Vietnam War, the United States needs Japan’s participation in its aggressive policies towards the East. As a result, our policy toward Japan, toward the ruling parties who support the Japanese-South Korean Treaty, is to be severely critical and to give no illusions. Struggle is also consistent in terms of the economy and trade. For example, Ikeda agreed to supply [us with] equipment [under a] deferred payment [plan], but the Sato government, acting under what [Shigeru] Yoshida told Jiang Jieshi, decided not to give us the convenience [of the payment plan]. We took the initiative to withdraw two sets of equipment. One was for building shipyard equipment, the other was equipment for the second vinylon factory. There were also some Japanese companies who came to talk with us. We told them the conditions are not ripe and that we cannot talk. In this way, because of the backlog in their equipment and the products which they cannot sell, the contradictions within the monopoly capitalist class will turn toward the Sato government. Because [Kenzo] Matsumura of the Liberal Democratic Party’s anti-government group [completed] trade agreements with us, [they] were still implemented but only within the scope of the agreement. After we abolished the contract, some ministers from the Ikeda period who were forced to resign by the Sato government wished to visit China individually in order to create the impression that the Chinese government has contacts with the Japanese government. We said no to individual visits. If you want to come, then come under the form of the anti-government faction with Matsumura as head of the delegation. Publish anti-Sato government materials—this is good. As for the left-wing of the Social Democratic Party, [they] also want to visit China. We said if [you] want to visit China then there must be an agreement [which] publicly condemns our common enemy, the American imperialists, supports the struggle of the Vietnamese people, opposes the revival of Japanese militarism, and is against the Japan-South Korea Treaty and the [U.S.-Japan] security treaty. It is also this approach for the people’s organizations. A little while ago it was decided that, for policies toward Japan, [we] will discuss them with the Japanese Communist Party whether our actions will be beneficial for the Japanese people’s struggle against the United States. Right now, our four parties (Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and China) should consult [one another] on policy towards Japan. [We should] work in coordination and concerted action. The slogans from our struggle against the “Northeast Asia Military Alliance” are gradually becoming a reality. Later on, in the anti-American anti-Japanese struggle, our two parties should regularly exchange views and reach a consensus. As for general and private trade with Japan, it will not be hampered. Especially [because] Japan wants to revive militarism, the civilian industries will be affected. Two days ago I went to Guangzhou and saw the trade fair there. Because it was at night, there were no sellers present. Japan has many small traders who have gone to Guangzhou to order goods. Cash transactions are greater than before, and the volume of trade is greater than it was during spring. In addition, we opened up a [North] Korea exhibit and a Vietnam exhibit, but it was too late for you to come so you did not go.
Ri: [We] had people who went, but they did not bring any products.
Zhou: Vietnam sent a small selection of goods. They sold well.
Ri: We did not have enough time to bring sample products. We only brought product lists, but they still sold well.
Zhou: When I visited the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Second Ministry of Light Industry, they both asked me about the 6 million yuan for building repairs. Because of crowded buildings—two merchants per each building—they are very dissatisfied. The preceding conversation was about policy towards Japan. I will not talk much about the Japanese military today, [but] we have statistics which we can give to you for reference. The Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party might know more than we do. This is what we are aware of and the general policies which we have implemented. We would like to hear your views.
Ri: [We] did not prepare anything, [so] there is not much to say.
Zhou: I will raise a question. What is the situation of Japan changing the citizenship of the Korean nationals in Japan to South Korean?
Pak Seong-cheol [Pak Song Chol]: Presently, the Korean nationals in Japan—in the past, when filling out residence permits, they always wrote down “Korean” ambiguously. But since the division of [Korea] into north and south, South Korea established a South Korea Representative Ministry in Japan and has requested that the Japanese government force Korean nationals in Japan to take South Korean citizenship. At present, there are 200,000 or so who have changed to South Korean citizenship. There are 300,000 or so who are unwilling to change citizenship and are citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They have all participated in the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.
Zhou: Have there been any coercive measures taken against them?
Pak: The problem right now is that [those] who register as South Koreans enjoy treatment as foreigners. The [North] Korean citizens do not receive this type of treatment. They [the North Korean citizens] are being forced to become South Korean citizens. Not long ago, our Foreign Ministry issued a statement about this enemy conspiracy.
Ri: Some of the people who were forced to change to South Korean citizenship are now requesting that it be changed to North Korean citizenship and to become citizens of the Republic. Whatever the collusion going on between South Korea and Japan, 100,000 [Korean nationals] have already returned [to North Korea]. There are still 600,000 more, and most of them support us. Of course, in the future the Sato government will move to the right and [become] more reactionary. This will create problems for us, but at present the situation is still favorable for us. The student-youth in South Korea have already risen up against the South Korea-Japan Treaty. There is also a struggle developing in Japan. The support from the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan has been very useful in this struggle. Of course, the General Association has a very close relationship with the JCP [Japanese Communist Party], so the Japanese reactionary forces are hostile towards them [the General Association]. The Japanese reactionaries are forcing the Korean nationals in Japan to change their citizenship, and this is related to America’s activities toward Japan and South Korea. Not long ago, the Japanese Minister of Justice said in Parliament that those who have already obtained South Korean citizenship cannot become North Korean citizens. There was a left-wing Member of Parliament on site who asked if South Korean citizenship cannot be changed into North Korean, then is it also true that North Korean citizenship cannot be changed into South Korean? The Minister of Justice responded that [these two ideas] are unrelated and that there would be no hindrances to changing to South Korean citizenship. In some respects, the actions of the Japanese reactionaries result from American pressure.
Zhou: The United States has more urgent needs [than the Japanese government].
Zhou: The Japanese people are very strongly anti-American. The Sato government itself is not strong, it is very fragile. But the Sato government has good luck. [Sato’s] two rivals, Ideka and Kono [Ichiro], are dead, so [he] successfully reorganized the cabinet and bought [Takeo] Miki. But it is not consolidated, and this reflects that there are many cliques of Japanese monopoly capitalists with intense contradictions [among them]. Some depend on American raw materials and the American market, others depend on the world market to get by. [If they only] intensify war preparations and do not do anything else to resolve the crisis, the capitalist groups will not pass it. Only the arms dealers will be happy. In the struggle against American and Japanese imperialism, the exchange of information and mutual cooperation between our parties is very important. Are there any other questions?
Pak: There is nothing else. For us, it is important to support the struggle of the Korean nationals in Japan to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests. Other than that, [what is important] is to try to hold on to the General Association [of Korean Residents in Japan]. Although the Sato government is trying to get rid of the General Association, right now there is nothing that [they] can do.
Ri: We still cannot have direct contact with them. But all of the activities of the General Association have been very good, such as on 15 August [Liberation Day], [when they] requested that envoys from socialist countries come. The JCP, the Social Democratic Party, and the Liberal Democratic Party also had people participate. [The General Association] publishes a paper and does a lot of business. [They] have money. Their relationship with the JCP and the Social Democratic Party is also very close. In the twenty years since liberation, the maltreatment of Korean nationals in Japan has changed. They have a great influence upon South Korea.
Pak: They have played an important role toward South Korea. Many of our publications are sent [to South Korea] through them.
Ri: Under these circumstances, we cannot not send money to them.
Zhou: [I] am afraid that [you] still want to prepare a second line. Once the General Association is gone, [you] will have to use other covert activities [to transfer money], such as shops, clubs, cultural groups, and sports organizations. Sometimes religion can be used.
Ri: The General Association has many organizations beneath it.
Zhou: This is very beneficial. If there are no other issues, then, for your reference, let us talk about [how] we are preparing for war. With the American imperialists intensifying the war in Vietnam, [this has] brought to our attention the issue of war preparations. Advances in war preparations have been made in the past year and a half. First, at the Central Committee Work Conference of June of last year, Chairman Mao [Zedong] proposed the construction of a Third Front. Although in the past there was also construction, the main emphasis has been on coastal and near-coastal areas, such as Anshan, Shenyang, Shanghai, Nanjing, Ji’nan, and Qingdao. These are all the First Front. Our so-called Third Front refers to the southwest and northwest interior regions. Between the First and Third Fronts, there is a Second Front. The vast areas near the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway are the Second Front. Of course, Guangzhou [itself] is a First Front. Beginning last year and up until the Third Five-Year Plan, our investment focus will primarily be on the Third Front. Of course, [we also] want to strengthen production, the technological revolution, and technology renewal in the First and Second Fronts. Construction in the Third Front is a little slower because transportation is not convenient. If [we] do not strengthen the First and Second Fronts, then production cannot grow and technology cannot develop. Equipment will not be renovated and product quality will not improve.
When Chairman Mao mentioned the construction of a Third Front, [he] also proposed three small fronts. Every region, every province has three fronts. When the Japanese attacked in the past, they could not occupy every territory. [They] set up puppet Manchukuo in the Northeast, but [they] could not occupy the mountainous areas, [and so] we conducted guerrilla warfare. This is to say, there must be three big fronts and three small fronts. In the past, our construction over the past ten years had erroneous tendencies, mainly with setting up big cities near transportation routes and the coast. Because industry is developed and the technical personnel are strong in those areas, construction was easy. But [we] did not pay enough attention to the mountainous areas in the rear. Right now [we] are setting up a Third Front to fill this gap and to correct this shortcoming. The construction of the Third Front will probably require much time, and during the Third Five-Year Plan [we] can establish a rudimentary foundation. The three small fronts are on a small scale and the provinces will set these up separately and in a shorter time period. Probably three years. This is one of our layouts.
During construction, the focus of the Third Five-Year Plan will largely be on the following aspects: one, defense industries and preparing for war; two, foreign aid. Because of the development of the armed struggle, [we] need assistance in this area, [but] at the same time the construction of some other countries also need assistance. Not only do fraternal countries need assistance, such as Vietnam, nationalist countries also need help. Although the Afro-Asian Conference could not be held, there are still bilateral activities [which] need assistance. Recently, Pakistan asked us for military aid because the U.S. and Britain have put a freeze on aid. Cambodia also sent a military delegation [to China] to seek our assistance. Some African countries are swinging to the right, and they still want our help. The President of Kenya, for example, often criticizes China but still asks us for carpets and cash. Of course [those countries] entirely to the right, such as [Habib] Bourguiba [in Tunisia] do not seek us out. India also does not. [Jomo] Kenyatta [from Kenya] is a bit like Asia’s Nehru. Third, construction. In the three big fronts, this is mainly transportation, mining, power, and other basic infrastructure. Four, [our] basic industries are weak. Smelting, power, fuel, and chemical raw materials, these are all weak [industries] which we must develop. This is also a key point. Five, advanced [weaponry] also requires investments, [but] this is relatively more difficult. [We] cannot just make a couple noises and then go silent—this is not okay. [If we] make noise but do not have a means of delivery, that is not okay. [But] the investments [for advanced weaponry] are huge.
Ri: [I] hope that China can quickly resolve [missile] delivery, and then point a missile at the United States. Then we will be relatively safe.
Zhou: We want to surpass it [the United States].
Ri: The United States is saying that China will soon have a hydrogen bomb and a means for delivery.
Zhou: Yes. The next steps are these two things. In this regard, Khrushchev did us a favor. He forced us to do this. [If we] had done this more slowly, then [we] would not be ready. So, we should thank him and send him a special medal. Chairman Mao met with [Alexei] Kosygin in February and said [if] you do not want Khrushchev, you can send him here. We can make him a teacher by negative example. Kosygin did not say anything. We have published Khrushchev’s collected works. Nine sets are already out—there are even more for after 1957. Probably thirty in total.
Ri: What a waste of paper.
Zhou: You are right. In this regard, Chairman Mao found us a way out: publish the 1000-plus works and stash them in a library for research. Those who love to study can go study [these works]. Who will read them? I do not have time to. [We] will also select the representative [works] and [publish] only one volume of selected works. We are preparing for the Third Five-Year Plan according to these five areas.
The second [thing] is to strengthen the organization and training of the militia. This was also decided at the June Central Committee Work Conference and has been in progress for more than a year. [We] have made great progress. Because [you] always have to spend money with the regular army, [when] there is no war, it is bad to have spent so much. We have two types of militias: the first is the core militia, which is 20 or 30 million strong. The other type is the ordinary militia. We have not yet fully realized [our goal] and are still intensifying training. The most important thing for the militia is to master rifles. Shooting should be more accurate than the regular arm’s so that they do not waste ammunition.
The militias also have to practice a variety of techniques: mountain climbing, swimming, night fighting, independent combat, and using bayonets. Yesterday, Vice Premier Ri inspired me when he mentioned “fortification warfare.” Militias also have to learn how to dig tunnels. The core militia needs to learn in peace time so [this skill] can be used to prepare for combat. Not only has the entire [People’s] Liberation Army learned to swim, but so have the militias. Learning to swim has been useful for the militias. Recently, we downed an American aircraft over Hainan Island. The pilot parachuted into the sea and the United States dispatched a helicopter to rescue him. Our militia swam out and caught him. Third, we are also repairing fortifications. This comes a little before war preparations.
When Premier Kim was in the Northeast [of China], he saw our fortifications. He knows them. The Chiefs of Staffs of our two countries should talk about this. The entire northern half of Korea has become a fortress and can withstand the enemy. On the one side of China is [North] Korea, and the other is Vietnam and in between is a large belly. We cannot dig fortifications all along the coast and we cannot stop the enemy from coming ashore. If the enemy does not come ashore, then there will be no place to fight and we will not be able to destroy them. If the war in the East expands, then the enemy might also arrive [in China] through Korea or Vietnam, or they might come from the sea. Because of such a long coastline, it is impossible for us to hold the entire coast. So, in this sense, we should coordinate [with each other]. It is good that [North] Korea is digging tunnels. You can block them and stop them from coming [into China].
It is also possible that they will come up through the belly and break through from the middle. That would also be good. Otherwise, if the enemy cannot arrive, then the war cannot expand and we will not be able to destroy the enemy. We will not be able to resolve the problem of destroying American imperialism. Therefore, we assume that [North] Korea can hold [the Americans] and prevent them from coming [into China]. There are benefits to holding the northern half [of Korea]. Of course, there will be bombings, but they cannot bomb underground. We can protect people that way.
The United States has misgivings about fighting in Korea because the Soviet Union is on the flank and it might provoke new problems. In Vietnam, they [the United States] can exploit the Sino-Soviet conflict and the contradictions between the left-wing Marxists-Leninists and the revisionists. [If] the United States attacks [North] Korea and then attacks China through the Korean Peninsula, then the United States will face a triangular relationship. In this way, it must consider political factors.
So, it was nice to hear last night that Vice Premier Ri wants to turn North Korea into a fortress. This is an important factor in preparing for war. In the struggle against America, in the struggle against the U.S.-Japan-South Korea coordinated [effort] to turn Korea back into a colony, publicly [spreading] propaganda on this point is a good thing. Make them know that China and [North] Korea are prepared, so that they have misgivings [about a new war].
Four, weapons production. We have experience which we found while preparing for war. Besides the American claim to air superiority and nuclear weapons, [their] navy can also move around. For example, [they] have aircraft carriers and the Marine Corps. But their warships are not that effective. [We] want to break U.S. air superiority, but if the war expands in the East over the next three to five years, [we] will not be able to. No matter how fast we move, [we] cannot overwhelm them in air combat. [We] can weaken them.
They might concentrate bombing on [only] one region, such as Hanoi. I once told the Vietnamese comrades that if the Americans are concentrating their bombing, it will very difficult for us to defend against this. Even with missiles, they can still break in. So the Vietnamese comrades are determined to evacuate women and children. China is the same. If the United States conducts concentrated bombing on Beijing or Shanghai, we cannot avoid this. Since it is impossible to outdo them in the air, is there any way to weaken their air superiority?
According to the experience of the Vietnamese comrades, relying on ground artillery [can do]. We made a mistake in 1960. At that time, the Soviet specialists had not yet been withdrawn. They told us that 37mm anti-aircraft guns are too small and only 57mm or 85mm will suffice. Because we believed that 57mm is big and could strike higher, we did some tests and stopped production of the 37mm [anti-aircraft guns]. If not for this, we would have been able to produce 37mm anti-aircraft guns much sooner. The end result was that we could not produce 57mm and we wasted three years. [We] eventually had to restructure the factories. The 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun does not require towing. So, last year, [we] were able to produce the 37mm, the 14.5mm, and the 12.7mm anti-aircraft guns.
Now, the Vietnam War has not only proved that lighter [weapons] are more useful than heavier [weapons], but so has the Indo-Pakistan Conflict. [We are also interested in] anti-tank weapons. Because the enemy has quite a few tanks, we cannot compare. They are dominant. If we have more and better anti-tank weapons, when the enemy attacks, we can destroy a lot of their [tanks]. Furthermore, this type of weapon costs less and is easier to produce. Of course, on the Vietnamese battlefield, there are not many cases of this, but when the enemy attacked the beachhead, the tanks were defeated. With blocked roads, [they] could not move forward. In South Vietnam, [they] mainly used explosives and rocket launchers in the past. During the Battle of Giron [the Bay of Pigs] in Cuba, [they] mainly used rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guns. [We] have produced very few of these types of weapons in the past, [but] now [we] are adjusting. When discussing military aid with the Vietnamese, they lacked these weapons. The Soviet Union no longer produces 37mm and 57mm weapons. They only produce 85mm and 100mm. So we must hurry to produce these weapons. What we have just discussed are the main details of [our] war preparations.
Additionally, there is ideological mobilization, coordination, culture, education, labor, and wages, [but we] will not talk about those. We have heard the North Korean slogan for mobilization, “a weapon in one hand and a sickle and hammer in the other.” It is the same as Vietnam’s. Our slogan is to prepare for war during development and that everything is subordinate to preparing for war. These preparations are made [because] the possibility of war exists as long as imperialism continues to exist. It is possible to delay, but it is impossible to completely avoid. Of course as we grow stronger, they will have misgivings about starting wars. They will struggle for their life as they walk towards death and their territory shrinks daily. So, our war preparations mentality is a strategic mentality and a long term mentality. If they are going to come, then earlier is better. Before those of us who have fought once before die off.
Ri: Comrade Premier [Kim Il Sung] also says that. [They should] come and fight while we are still alive.
Zhou: Premier Kim is still in the prime of his life. Of course, if they are going to be late, then we do not have any solution. You cannot provoke war. If that is the case, then the mentality on war preparation will be handed off to the future generations. Let us look at Eastern Europe, which is greatly influenced by Western culture. [They] fear war. Many people [there] are paralyzed by a peace mentality. This is a problem of war preparations mentality. Additionally, material preparation is mainly an issue of stockpiling food. Other [difficulties] can be tolerated, but it is difficult to fight without food. We have more problems than you in regards to this problem. We have expended greater efforts because our country and population are both large. One or two years of harvest does not resolve the issue, [so] we must have stockpiles of food. Fighting is easier with more people, but they also eat more. We do not have much food in our stockpiles since agricultural growth varies each year. If the distribution is unsatisfactory then we eat more; [food] consumption is high. Initially, if our distribution is okay, then we still have enough and we would not need to import [food].
But right now we are still importing [food]. What is the reason? There are two reasons: the overall production has increased but there is an imbalance between abundant harvests and poor harvests. In the areas with abundant harvests, we cannot procure much [grain] because they need to stockpile food and they also need to eat more. In areas [hit by] disasters and poor harvests, we also cannot force procurement. We have to reduce the amount [of procurement]. This way the country provides less for the cities [and] we are forced to import.
The other issue is economic recovery. During the three year famine, the production of cash crops was destroyed. In order to develop production for cotton, tobacco, sugar, oil, and hemp, the state encouraged the exchange of grains for these cash crops. So cash crop production has increased and, for many [cash crops], [production] is higher than last year. But [we] have not completely canceled grain encouragement [because] it needs to be canceled gradually. If [we] gradually do a good job over the next two years, then the country’s grain reserves will increase. So I see adjustment and development of industry as a difficulty, but improving agricultural production is even harder. Because industrial [production] was delayed by a month, [we] can make it up in a month, [but] agricultural [production] was delayed by a year. Furthermore, there are always famines, which is a natural phenomenon and cannot be avoided completely. If industrial plans are good, even if the growth is small, it is still growth.
Agriculture will suffer from the climate. So, in June of this year, Chairman Mao proposed that not only [should we] prepare for war, [we should] also prepare for natural disasters. China was an agricultural country in the past, but it also has a good traditional mentality. [If] this year is good, [we must] think of a poor harvest. This is a mentality which prepares for natural disasters. So the outstanding slogan about preparing for natural disasters is presently being spread among the majority of the people. Because the people have all participated in the militia, a little bit of food has been saved. Every cooperative and every family all has some grain reserves. If something happens, then it will be easier to handle. If there is a famine then we can send relief, if there is a war then we can send support. This has been the main work for us the past year or so, and [this information] is provided for your reference, for Premier Kim and Choe [Yonggeon] [Choe Yonggon]. Our combined slogan is “prepare for war and prepare for famine for the people.” Okay, do you have any other questions?
Ri: Thank you. Are you tired?
Zhou: Not to worry.
Ri: I will report the conversations with Premier Zhou and Vice Premier Chen Yi back to Comrade Premier [Kim] in their entirety.
Zhou: Does Minister of Foreign Affairs Pak have any questions?
Zhou: If there are no questions, then we will rest for a while and have dinner. A few of us will stay behind to talk and exchange some views. Think carefully to see if you have any more questions. It is difficult to make a trip [to China]. For our side, Vice Premier Li Xiannian, Comrade Fang Yi, and myself will stay behind. The rest are on vacation. About a half hour will be enough time, and then you (meaning Vice Premier Ri and others) can [return] to the [North Korean] Embassy.
Zhou Enlai, Ri Ju-yeon, and Pak Seong-cheol discuss Japanese militarism, U.S. imperialism, the issue of Korean citizenship for Koreans in Japan, the Chinese 5-year plan, and military preparations.
Associated People & Organizations
- Korean reunification question (1945- )
- China--Military policy
- China--Foreign relations--Korea (North)
- Korea (North)--Economic conditions
- Sino-Soviet Split--Korea (North)
- United States--Military policy
- China--Foreign relations--Soviet Union
- China--Foreign relations--United States
- Korea (North)--Foreign relations--Korea (South)
- Repatriation--Korea (North)
- Return migration--Korea (North)
- Japan--Foreign relations--Korea (South)
- Korea (North)--Economic policy
- Japan--Foreign relations--Korea (North)
- General Association of Korean Residents in Japan
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