A telegram from the leader of the group of Soviet specialists in Northeast China to the Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers about the results of Chinese-Korean talks on military cooperation.
May 15, 1949
Telegram, Shtykov to Vyshinsky
Cypher. Strictly secret.
On May 14 I had a meeting with Kim Il Sung who informed me about the results of the trip of a representative of the CC of the workers’ party of Korea Kim Il (member of the CC, head of the Political Directorate of the Korean People’s Army) to Beijing. Kim Il was sent to China with the aim of establishing contact with the CC of the Chinese Communist party and for talks about the Korean divisions, which are a part of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (meaning the divisions, staffed by Koreans who live in Manchuria).
Kim Il, accompanied by the Chinese trade representative in Korea, left Pyongyang on 28 April and on 30 April reached Mukden, where he met with Gao Gang. The latter put Kim Il in touch with the CC of the Chinese Communist party.
In Beijing Kim Il had four meetings with Zhu De and Zhou Enlai and one meeting with Mao Zedong. Kim Il passed on to Mao Zedong a letter from the CC of the Korean Workers’ Party with the request, in case it becomes necessary, to transfer Korean divisions that a part of the PLA to the Korean government.
Mao Zedong replied that from the three Korean divisions that are a part of the PLA, two divisions are located in Mukden and Changchun, and one division is involved in the offensive operations. Mao Zedong stated that they are prepared at any time to transfer two divisions, located in Manchuria, to the Korean government, completely armed. The third division can be returned from the South only after the end of the fighting but no earlier than in a month’s time. At the same time Mao Zedong warned Kim Il that the aforesaid divisions, as well as their entire army, are not regulars, and are poorly prepared in military terms. He recommended the Koreans to begin military training of the officer corps of these divisions.
As the Korean divisions that were being referred to, are armed with Japanese weapons, Kim Il asked Mao Zedong whether the Chinese can later provide help with the ammunition, necessary for the aforementioned divisions. Mao Zedong replied that they manufacture ammunition and can give to the Korean as much as they need.
Mao Zedong and Zhu De asked in detail about the situation in Korea. Mao Zedong said that Korea could see military action at any moment; Kim Il Sung must take this into account and thoroughly prepare.
In Korea, the war can be of the lightning or the protracted type. A protracted war, Mao Zedong said, it not in your interest, because in this case the Japanese may get involved and provide aid to the South Korean “government.” You don’t need to worry: next to you are the Soviet Union and we in Manchuria. In case it becomes necessary, we can through a few Chinese soldiers over to you; they are all black-[haired], no one will make them out, added Mao Zedong.
Mao Zedong asked in detail about the trip of the Korean government delegation to Moscow. He informed Kim Il that the CC CCP received a letter from four Communist parties, including the com[munist] parties of Burma, Malaya, Indochina, with the proposal to create an Inform[ation] Bureau of com[munist] parties of the countries of the East. Mao Zedong was interested whether there was a discussion on this question in Moscow during the trip of the Korean government delegation. Mao Zedong asked about the opinion of the CC of the Korean Workers’ Party on this question. Kim Il replied that he knows nothing about this question but that he will report on this conversation to Kim Il Sung.
For his part, Mao Zedong expressed the opinion that the creation of the Informburo is, for now, probably premature, as there is a war going on in China [and] Indochina, the situation is tense in Korea, and the creation of the Informburo can be viewed as the creation of a military alliance.
However, Mao Zedong said, this question should be thought through.
Mao Zedong expressed the wish to establish more tight ties between the CC CCP and the CC of the Korean Workers’ Party and said that on these questions the Koreans can turn to the secretary of the Northeastern Bureau of the CCP Gao Gang, who is an agent [doverennoe litso] of CC CCP.
In conclusion, Kim Il informed Mao Zedong that the CC of the Workers’ Party of Korea intends, upon the establishment of the government of liberated China, to immediately recognize this government and send to China a Korean government delegation headed by Kim Il Sung.
Mao Zedong replied that they are not in a hurry to establish a government; they intend to capture Canton [Guangzhou], bring the house in order, and only then form a government.
During Kim Il’s last conversation with Zhu De and Zhou Enlai, Zhu De asked Kim Il whether the Soviet comrades are aware about the Koreans’ request regarding the transfer of divisions, and about their opinion. Kim Il replied that he has an instruction of the CC of the Workers’ Party, and the CC, presumably, had a conversation [with the Soviets].
Zhu De was interested in Korea’s economic situation. He said that the Chinese could help Korea with bread and, for their part, asked the Koreans to help China with the fertilizer.
On his way back Kim Il met with Gao Gang who informed him that he had already received instructions from Mao Zedong regarding two Korean divisions. Gao Gang expressed a wish to establish contact with Kim Il Sung. Kim Il asked Gao Gang whether he could come to Korea. Gao Gang replied that he can come at any time.
Kim Il intends to personally meet Gao Gang at the end of May in Pyongyang.
Kim Il Sung informed that Mao Zedong, Zhu De and other CCP leaders were pleased by the arrival of the Korean representative and gave him a very warm and friendly welcome.
Shtykov recounts a recent meeting between Kim Il and Mao Zedong.
Associated People & Organizations
May 18, 1949
Cable No. 54611 from Kovalev to Stalin
The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.
To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].