To Comrade Poskrebyshev, A.N.
Conversation between Stalin and Mao, Moscow, 16 December 1949
To Comrade A. N. Poskrebyshev
Hereby I am sending you 2 exemplars of the record of a conversation between Comrade I.V. Stalin and Comrade Mao Zedong from the 16th of December 1949.
The conversation is recorded by Comrade Fedorenko and is checked by me.
31st of December 1949.
Record of the Conversation Between Comrade I.V. Stalin and the Chairman of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong on 16th December 1949
After an exchange of greetings and a discussion of general topics, the following conversation took place.
Comrade Mao Zedong: The most important question at the present time is the question of establishing peace. China needs a period of 3-5 years of peace, which would be used to bring the economy back to pre-war levels and to stabilise the country in general. Decisions concerning the most important questions in China depend on the prospects for a peaceful future. With this in mind the CC CPC [Central Committee of the Communist Party of China] entrusted me to clarify from you, comr[ade]. Stalin, in what way and to what extent is international peace going to be preserved.
Comrade Stalin: In China a war for peace, it
seems, is taking place. The question of peace greatly preoccupies the
Soviet Union as well, though we have already had peace for the past
four years. With regards to China, there is no immediate threat at
present: Japan has yet to stand up on its feet and is thus not ready
for war; America, though it screams about war, is actually afraid of
war more than anything; Europe is afraid of war; in essence, there is
no one to fight with China, not unless Kim Il Sung decides to invade
Peace will depend on our mutual efforts. If we continue to keep up our friendship, peace can last not only 5-10 years, but 20-25 years and perhaps even longer.
Comrade Mao Zedong: Since Liu Shaoqi's return to China, the CC CPC has been discussing the treaty of friendship, alliance and mutual assistance between China and the USSR.
Comrade Stalin: This question we can discuss and decide. We must clarify whether to declare the continuation of the current 1945 treaty of alliance and friendship between the USSR and China, to announce impending changes in the future, or to decide on these changes right now.
As you know, this treaty was concluded between the USSR and China as a result of the Yalta Agreement, which provided for the main points of the treaty (the question of the Kurile Islands, South Sakhalin, Port Arthur, etc.). That is, the given treaty was concluded, so to speak, with the consent of America and England. Keeping in mind this circumstance, we, within our inner circle, have decided not to modify any of the points of this treaty for now, since a change in even one point could give America and England the legal grounds to raise questions about modifying also the treaty's provisions concerning the Kurile Islands, South Sakhalin, etc. This is why we searched to find a way to modify the current treaty in effect while formally maintaining its provisions, in this case by formally maintaining the Soviet Union's right to station its troops at Port Arthur while, at the request of the Chinese government, actually withdrawing the Soviet Armed forces currently stationed there. Such an operation could be carried out upon China's request.
As far as the KChZhD [Chinese Changchun Railroad, which traverses Manchuria] is concerned, we could do the same, that is, to effectively modify the corresponding points of the agreement while formally maintaining its provisions, upon China's request.
But if the Chinese comrades are not satisfied with this strategy, they can present their own proposals.
Comrade Mao Zedong: The present situation with regard to KChZhD and Port Arthur corresponds well with Chinese interests, as the Chinese forces are inadequate to effectively fight against imperialist aggression. In addition, KChZhD is a training school for the preparation of Chinese cadres in railroad and industry.
Comrade Stalin: The withdrawal of troops does not mean that Soviet Union refuses to assist China, if such assistance is needed. The fact is that we, as communists, are not very comfortable with stationing our forces on foreign soil, especially on the soil of a friendly nation. Using this situation anyone could say that if Soviet forces can be stationed on Chinese territory, then why could not the British, for example, station their forces in Hong Kong, or the Americans in Tokyo?
We would gain much in the area of international relations if, with mutual agreement, the Soviet forces were to be withdrawn from Port Arthur. In addition, the withdrawal of Soviet forces would provide a serious boost to Chinese communists in their relations with the national bourgeoisie. Everyone would see that the communists have managed to achieve what Chiang Kai-shek could not. The Chinese communists must take the national bourgeoisie into consideration.
The treaty ensures the USSR's right to station its troops in Port Arthur. But the USSR is not obligated to exercise this right and can withdraw its troops upon Chinese request. However, if this is unsuitable, the troops in Port Arthur can remain there for 2, 5, or 10 years, whatever suits China best. Let them not misunderstand in a way as if we want to run away from China. We can stay there even for 20 years.
Comrade Mao Zedong: In discussing the issue of the treaty in China we had not taken into consideration the American and English positions regarding the Yalta agreement. We must act in a way that is best for the common cause. This question would need further consideration. However, it is already becoming clear that the treaty should not be modified at the present time, nor should one rush to withdraw troops from Port Arthur.
Should not Zhou Enlai visit Moscow in order to decide the treaty question?
Comrade Stalin: No, this question you must decide for yourselves. Zhou may be needed in regard to other matters.
Comrade Mao Zedong: We would like to decide on the question of Soviet credit to China, that is to draw up a credit agreement for 300,000,000 dollars between the governments of the USSR and China.
Comrade Stalin: This can be done. If you would like to formalise this into an agreement now, we can do that.
Comrade Mao Zedong: Yes, exactly now, as this would resonate well in China. At the same time it is necessary to resolve the question of trade, especially between the USSR and Xinjiang, though at present we cannot present a specific trade operations plan for this region.
Comrade Stalin: We must know right now what kind of equipment China will need, especially now, since we do not have equipment in reserve and the request for industrial goods must be submitted ahead of time.
Comrade Mao Zedong: We are having difficulties in putting together a request for equipment, as the industrial picture is yet unclear.
Comrade Stalin: It is desirable to expedite the preparation of this request, as requests for equipment are submitted to our industry at least a year in advance.
Comrade Mao Zedong: We would very much like to receive assistance from the USSR in creating air transportation routes.
Comrade Stalin: We are ready to provide such assistance. Air routes can be established over Xinjiang and the MPR [Mongolian People's Republic]. We have our specialists. We will give you assistance.
Comrade Mao Zedong: We would also like to receive your assistance in creating a naval force.
Comrade Stalin: Cadres for the Chinese navy could be prepared at Port Arthur. You give us your people, and we will give you ships. Trained cadres of the Chinese navy could then return to China on these ships.
Comrade Mao Zedong: Guomindang supporters have built a naval and air base on the island of Formosa. Our lack of naval forces and aviation makes the occupation of the island by the People's Liberation Army [PLA] more difficult. With regard to this, some of our generals have been voicing opinions that we should request assistance from the Soviet Union, which could send volunteer pilots or secret military detachments to speed up the conquest of Formosa.
Comrade Stalin: Assistance has not been ruled out, though one has to consider the form of such assistance. What is most important here is not to give Americans a pretext to intervene. With regard to headquarters staff and instructors we can give them to you anytime. The rest we will have to think about.
Do you have any assault landing units?
Comrade Mao Zedong: We have one former Guomindang assault landing regiment unit which came over to join our side.
Comrade Stalin: One could select a company of landing forces, train them in propaganda, send them over to Formosa, and through them organise an uprising on the island.
Comrade Mao Zedong: Our troops have approached the borders of Burma and Indo-China. As a result, the Americans and the British are alarmed, not being sure whether we will cross the border or whether our troops will halt their movement.
Comrade Stalin: A rumour could be created that you are preparing to cross the border and in this way to frighten the imperialists a bit.
Comrade Mao Zedong: Several countries, especially Britain, are actively campaigning to recognise the People's Republic of China. However, we believe that we should not rush to be recognised. We must first bring about order in the country, strengthen our positions, and then we can talk to foreign imperialists.
Comrade Stalin: That is a good policy. In addition, there is no need for you to create conflicts with the British and the Americans. If, for example, there will be a need to put pressure on the British, this can be done by resorting to a conflict between the Guangdong province and Hong Kong. And to resolve this conflict, Mao Zedong could come forward as the mediator. The main point is not to rush and to avoid conflicts.
Are there foreign banks operating in Shanghai?
Comrade Mao Zedong: Yes.
Comrade Stalin: And whom are they serving?
Comrade Mao Zedong: The Chinese national bourgeoisie and foreign enterprises whom so far we have not touched. As for the foreigners' spheres of influence, the British predominate in investments in the economic and commercial sectors, while the Americans lead in the sector of cultural-educational organisations.
Comrade Stalin: What is the situation regarding Japanese enterprises?
Comrade Mao Zedong: They have been nationalised.
Comrade Stalin: In whose hands is the customs agency?
Comrade Mao Zedong: In the hands of the government.
Comrade Stalin: It is important to focus attention on the customs agency as it is usually a good source of government revenue.
Comrade Mao Zedong: In the military and political sectors we have already achieved complete success; as for cultural and economic sectors, we have as yet not freed ourselves from foreign influence.
Comrade Stalin: Do you have inspectors and agents overseeing foreign enterprises, banks, etc.?
Comrade Mao Zedong: Yes, we have. We are carrying out such work in the study and oversight of foreign enterprises (the Kailan mines, electric power plants and aqueducts in Shanghai, etc.).
Comrade Stalin: You should have government inspectors who must operate legally. The foreigners should also be taxed at higher levels than the Chinese.
Who owns the enterprises mining wolfram, molybdenum, and petroleum?
Comrade Mao Zedong: The government.
Comrade Stalin: It is important to increase the mining of minerals and especially of petroleum. You could build an oil pipeline from western Lanzhou to Chengdu, and then transport fuel by ship.
Comrade Mao Zedong: So far we have not decided which districts of China we should aim to develop first: the coastal areas or those inland, since we were unsure of the prospects for peace.
Comrade Stalin: Petroleum, coal, and metal are always needed, regardless of whether there be war or not.
Comrade Stalin: Can rubber-bearing trees be grown in southern China?
Comrade Mao Zedong: So far it has not been successful.
Comrade Stalin: Is there a meteorological service in China?
Comrade Mao Zedong: No, it has not been established yet.
Comrade Stalin:It should be established.
Comrade Stalin: We would like to receive from you a list of your works which could be translated into Russian.
Comrade Mao Zedong: I am currently reviewing my works which were published in various local publishing houses and which contain a mass of errors and misrepresentations. I plan to complete this review by spring of 1950. However, I would like to receive help from Soviet comrades: first of all, to work on the texts with Russian translators and, secondly, to receive help in editing the Chinese original.
Comrade Stalin: This can be done. But do you need your works edited?
Comrade Mao Zedong: Yes, and I ask you to select a comrade suitable for such a task, say, for example, someone from CC VKP/b/.
Comrade Stalin: It can be arranged, if indeed there is such a need.
Also present at the meeting were: Comrades Molotov, Malenkov, Bulganin, Vyshinskii, Fedorenko and Shi Zhe /Karsky/.
Recorded by Comrade Fedorenko.
[signature illegible 31/XII]
For approval to Comrade Vyshinskii
received (date illegible)
(Then the text repeats the text of page 2 of this document, ending with the words ‘Peace will depend on our mutual efforts. If we continue to keep up our friendship, peace can last not only 5-10 years, but 20-25 years and perhaps even longer’.
RGASPI F. 558. Op. 11. D.329. LL. 8-18.
Translated from the Russian by Irina Malenko.
To Comrade Poskrebyshev, A.N.
I am sending you 2 exemplars of the record of a conversation between Comrade I.V. Stalin and Comrade Mao Zedong.
The conversation is recorded by Comrades Fedorenko and Roshchin is checked by me.
31st of January 1950.
Protocol of the Meeting Between I. V. Stalin and the Chairman of the Central People’s Government of the Chinese People’s Republic, Mao Zedong
22 January 1950
After greetings and a short conversation about common topics a discussion of the following content took place.
Stalin: There are two groups of points which we have to discuss: one group is about the present agreements between the USSR and China; another group is about the current issues in Manchuria, Sinkiang, etc..
I think we should rather start not with the current issues, but with discussing the present agreements. We believe that those agreements are to be changed, although we used to believe that we could leave them as they are. The present agreements, including the Treaty, are to be changed since they are based on the anti-Japanese war realities. Since the war is over and Japan is defeated the situation has changed and the current treaty turned into an anachronism.
Please express your opinions about the Friendship and Alliance Treaty.
Mao Zedong: We still do not have a detailed project of the new Treaty, but only some drafts.
Stalin: We can first share our opinions and then develop a corresponding Treaty.
Mao Zedong: Basing on the current situation we believe that we should consolidate our dealings by agreements and treaties. It would make a positive impact in China as well as in the area of international relationships. In the Friendship and Alliance Treaty everything that assures the prosperity for our states should be fixed; also the necessity of preventing the repeated aggression of Japan is to be envisaged. Since there is an interest in the prosperity of both our states, since that possibly the capitalist countries will attempt to obstruct it.
Stalin: That is true. The Japanese still have the human resources and they will inevitably hold their heads up, especially if the Americans go on with their current politics.
Mao Zedong: The following two points would make a significant difference between the current Treaty and the new one. The Kuomintang used only to talk of friendship. Now the situation has changed and there are all necessary conditions for the real friendship and cooperation.
Besides that, if earlier we used to make agreements about waging the war against Japan, now we have to agree about preventing the Japanese aggression. The new Treaty has to include the issues of the political, economical, cultural and military cooperation. The economical cooperation is going to be the main point.
Stalin: Should we keep the statement fixed by the 3rd article of the current Treaty: ‘… This article is in power up to the moment when upon the request of both High Agreeing Parts the matter of preventing the future aggression of Japan is put into the United Nations hands’?
Mao Zedong: I do not think we should keep this statement.
Stalin: We think that as well. So which statements should we make for the new Treaty?
Mao Zedong: We believe that the new Treaty should include a statement about the international consultations. This statement would reinforce our positions since the Chinese national bourgeoisie objects to the politics of getting closer to the Soviet Union on questions of international relations.
Stalin: Well. Making a Friendship and Alliance Treaty implies a statement of this kind.
Mao Zedong: That is right.
Stalin: To whom should we entrust developing a project of the Treaty? I believe we should entrust it to Vishinskii and Chou En Lai.
Mao Zedong: I agree with that.
Stalin: Let us pass to the point about the Chinese Eastern Railway. What suggestions do you have for this point?
Mao Zedong: Maybe for the basis we should accept keeping the previous agreements about the CER, as well as the Port Arthur agreement, de jure, but introduce changes de facto?
Stalin: So you support claiming the conservation of the previous agreements de jure while changing them de facto?
Mao Zedong: We should start from the interests of both sides; China and the Soviet Union as well.
Stalin: That is true. We feel that the Port Arthur agreement is not equal.
Mao Zedong: But changing this agreement impacts the decisions of the Yalta conference?!
Stalin: You are right; it does – but the hell with it! Once we have accepted the position of changing the agreements, we should go ahead till the end. Although it brings some inconveniences for us and we should confront the Americans. But we have already got used to that.
Mao Zedong: The only thing we are concerned about is that it may bring uncalled consequences for the USSR.
Stalin: It is known that the current agreement was made during the war with Japan. We did not know what trick Chiang Kai-shek may play. So we assumed that the presence of our troops in Port Arthur would be in the interests of the Soviet Union and Chinese democracy.
Mao Zedong: This point is clear.
Stalin: If so, would you accept the following way: claiming the Port Arthur agreement is in power till the peace with Japan is signed and to withdraw the Russian troops from Port Arthur after that? Another way is also possible: claiming the previous agreement is in power, but actually withdrawing the troops from Port Arthur. We will accept the version you like more. We would agree with either.
Mao Zedong: We should think about this point. We agree with comrade Stalin’s point of view and believe that the Port Arthur agreement should stay in power till the peace with Japan is signed. After that it loses its power and the Soviet troops leave it. However we’d like to keep our military presence in Port Arthur as well as the opportunity to use it for training our marine powers.
Stalin: The point about Dalny. We are not going to ensure in any way the rights of the Soviet Union in Dalny.
Mao Zedong: Would Dalny be conserved as a free port?
Stalin: Since we give our rights in Dalny away, China has to make its own decision about Dalny: whether it’s going to be a free port, or not. Once Roosevelt insisted that Dalny was to be a free port.
Mao Zedong: Thus keeping Port Arthur as a free port would be in the UK and US interests?
Stalin: Surely. It would be like a house with the door opened.
Mao Zedong: We think that Port Arthur may be a basis for our military collaboration, while Dalny – a basis for the Soviet- Chinese economical cooperation. There are a number of industrial objects in Dalny which we can’t use without the Soviet help. We should develop our economical collaboration there.
Stalin: So the Port Arthur agreement should stay in power till the peace with Japan is signed. After that it loses its power and the Russian troops are to be withdrawn. Am I correctly summarising the expressed points of view?
Mao Zedong: That is the basis; and that is exactly what we would like to expound in the new agreement.
Stalin: Let’s go on with the CER point discussion. Could you speak out your hesitations, as the communists have to do?
Mao Zedong: The key idea is that the new agreement should recognise: the co-operative usage and governing will be lasting in future as well. However, what about governing, the Chinese part should play the main role. Further we have to work through the point about shortening the duration of the agreement and decide about the investments of the parts.
Molotov: Providing the co-operative usage and governing of some industrial project by two countries, they usually envisage the parity involvement of both countries into governing, as well as interchanging in occupying the key positions. According to the old agreement the governing was belonging to the Soviet part, however for future we believe it would be necessary to interchange occupying the key positions. Let us say the change of the top management may take place once in 2-3 years.
Chou En Lai: Our comrades believe that the present system of CER management as well as the position of the governor is to be annihilated creating a governing board for CER. The positions of the board chairman and the top manager should be given to the Chinese. However taking the suggestion of Comrade Molotov into account we should think about those points.
Stalin: If we are talking about the co-operative governing, it is necessary to interchange occupying the key positions. It would make more sense. About shortening the duration of the agreement, we do not object to it.
Chou En Lai: Should we not change the ratio of the investments made by the parts? Instead of the current parity in the investments we can increase the Chinese part of investments up 51 %.
Molotov: It would contradict the existing parity.
Stalin: Indeed, we have agreements with Czechs and Bulgarians which imply the parity, the equality of the parts. If we have co-operative governing, let us also have equal participation.
Mao Zedong: We have to learn this point through some more and ensure the interests of both parts.
Stalin: Let us discuss the agreement about the credit. The key ideas of that agreement should take the form of a two states treaty. Do you have any points?
Mao Zedong: Does the financial credit include the supply of the military equipment?
Stalin: This is up to you: we can either include it into the credit, or make a separate trading agreement.
Mao Zedong: In case we count the military equipment as a part of the credit, we will be short of funds for industry development. Thus it looks like we will have to include some part of the military equipment into the credit, while the remaining part should be counted as trading. Could we shorten the delivery time of the industrial and military equipment from 5 years down to 3-4 years?
Stalin: We have to evaluate our potential. The crucial point is our own industrial indents. Nevertheless, we can transfer the expiry date of the credit agreement to the 1st of January 1950 since the equipment delivery is to start now. Had we defined the credit agreement to start from July 1949, the world community would have been confused: how the Soviet – Chinese agreement was developed if China didn’t have its national government at that time? I think you would rather hurry with the list of industrial equipment orders. Keep in mind that the faster you prepare that list the better it is.
Mao Zedong: We find the credit conditions to be very favourable for China. We have to pay only 1% of interest.
Stalin: Our credit policy standards imply 2 % interest for the countries of people’s democracy. We can increase the interest for you, if you insist. (Joke) But we assume that the Chinese economics is devastated too much. As we know from telegrams, the Chinese government is going to use its army in building the industry. It’s very good. In our time we were also using the army for industrial building obtaining positive results.
Mao Zedong: That is right. We are using the experience of Soviet comrades.
Stalin: Have you raised the question about China receiving some corn for Sinkiang?
Mao Zedong: Yes, about some wheat and textile.
Stalin: You will have to propose the corresponding orders with figures.
Mao Zedong: OK, we will prepare that. What should we do with the trading agreement?
Stalin: What is your opinion? Till now we’ve only had a trading agreement with Manchuria. We would like to know the situation for future: whether we are about to have separate agreements with Manchuria, Sinkiang and other provinces, or a single agreement with the Centre?
Mao Zedong: We would like to make the only agreement with the Centre. But Sinkiang in its turn may have its own agreement.
Stalin: Only Sinkiang? What about Manchuria?
Chou En Lai: A separate agreement with Manchuria is impossible since the agreement with the Centre is mainly ensured by the transfers from Manchuria.
Stalin: We would like the central government to approve the agreements with Sinkiang or Manchuria and to be responsible for those agreements.
Mao Zedong: The agreement with Sinkiang should be made in the name of the central government.
Stalin: That is right, since the local provincial government may not take into account many things while the central government can always have a better view. Any more questions?
Mao Zedong: At present the most important question is the economical collaboration – the rebuilding and development of the economy in Manchuria.
Stalin: I think we should entrust the preparatory work to comrades Mikoyan, Vishinski, Chou En Lai and Li Fu-Chun. Any other questions?
Mao Zedong: I wish to note that the air forces regiment you sent to China have helped us a lot. It has transferred about 10 000 people. Let me thank you, Comrade Stalin, for your help. And to ask you to keep this regiment in China for a while more because we would like it to help in transferring foodstuffs for the army of Li Bo Chan which is about to advance in Tibet.
Stalin: It is good that you are preparing to advance. You have to take the Tibetans in hand. We will consult with the military regarding the air forces regiment and provide you with our advice.
The conversation lasted for 2 hours.
Comrades Molotov, Malenkov, Mikoyan, Vishinskii, Roshchin, Fedorenko and Comrades Mao Zedong, Chou En Lai, Li Fu-Chun, Van Tsya Syan , Chen Bo Da and Shi Zhe (Karski) attended.
RGASPI F. 558. Op. 11. D. 329. LL. 29-38.
Translated from the Russian by Michael Shaturin
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