Nie Rongzhen reports to Mao on scientific and technical issues and Soviet assistance and cooperation in the area of nuclear development. The Chinese were becoming frustrated by what they called the Soviet "stranglehold" on key technical data, and led to an unwanted feeling of dependence on their Soviet comrades.
July 11, 1960
Some Remarks by Zhou Enlai on a Report by Nie Rongzhen
This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)
Base ourselves on independence, self-reliance and autarky.
Technical cooperation: 1. Hold on to what has been agreed upon, but don’t press further. 2. Don’t ask for too many new items or new requests, but don’t make none at all; otherwise we may bring on unintended consequences. 3. It is better not to raise very often [the topic of] routine technical cooperation.
The issue of [Soviet] specialists: 1. Generally do not retain [but] warmly send off those whose contracts have expired; when absolutely necessary and specialists are also [of] good [character], we can propose an extension, but if they don’t agree, then don’t [try to] retain [them]. 2. As a general rule, we won’t send back those whose contract terms have not expired, we will help them to do their work well, and if they want to withdraw them, we will [try] to retain them once. And if they don’t ask our agreement and withdraw them, we should express our regret. 3. Don’t ask or don’t ask very often about new [Soviet experts], but, when absolutely necessary, and they don’t agree after we raise [the issue], then just drop it.
Let’s decide the issue of [Chinese] students studying abroad after further study. Let’s separately decide the issue of technical exchanges and the protection of secrets.
Regarding science and technology: 1. Yes. We should still propose what is absolutely necessary. If they can’t do [what we propose], we should not press [further]. 2. Study. Overseas students, graduate students, trainees, and research fellows who have already gone [to the Soviet Union] should study diligently, [but] if they are not allowed to study, then they [can’t] study; [as for Soviet] experts who have come to our country, we should assign people to study diligently with them, but if they don’t teach, then [our assignees can’t] study. 3. Purchasing. All essential technical material that can be purchased must be purchased from Western countries; what cannot be purchased should be acquired through other means. 4. Intensive study. Regardless of what we acquire, what we study, and what we purchase, or how much [is involved], we must principally rely on our own intensive study. If we don’t engage in intensive study, not only will we not be able to create our own unique inventions, but, furthermore, we also will not be able to make practical use and develop what we have acquired, studied and purchased.
In the wake of a deepening Sino-Soviet split, Zhou Enlai explains how to manage Chinese bilateral technological and educational exchanges. Above all, Zhou emphasizes the importance of Chinese self-reliance in innovation and education as the country moves forward.
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