At the core of this article is the publication of the note by Mikoyan on his mission to China in the early part of 1949. It was written in 1960 at a time when fissures had appeared between the CPSU and the CPC on a wide range of questions. The Mikoyan note reveals some of the differences of views between the two parties during the time of their co-ordination on the brink of the establishment of the Chinese government.
It is valuable to examine these divergences.
First, we may note that the CPSU (b) and Stalin did not accept the proposal of the CPC and Mao that while establishing the Chinese state that the dictatorship of the proletariat should be incepted on the lines of the Soviet Union and the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia which had been formed in 1946. It was the understanding of the Soviet leadership that the government coalition should include those oppositional forces representing the middle classes which were opposed to the Kuomintang. The CPC eventually came to agree with the Soviet view. This later became a marker of the Chinese revolution but Stalin and the CPSU (b) could not have anticipated that a situation would arise in the post-Stalin period that People’s China would declare itself a dictatorship of the proletariat whilst preserving more or less indefinitely the representatives of the middle bourgeoisie in state power.
The CPSU (b) gave its opinion at the point of victory of the Chinese
revolution when the Kuomintang proposed in early 1949 to cease the war and
agree to a peace settlement. The CPSU (b) suggested that the CPC should support
a peace settlement but not agree to international participation in negotiations
for this. In this manner the CPC would be seen as a supporter of peace whilst
preventing the intervention of the US in the matter. In later years the CPC and
Mao were to claim that the Soviet Union and Stalin were not in favour of the victory of the Chinese revolution. The
correspondence exchanged between Stalin and Mao on this question which has
already been published in this journal show that the later claims of Mao were
the opposite of the actual situation.
Third, Mikoyan on behalf of the CPSU (b) leadership, suggested that the CPC take over the main centres such as Shanghai and Nanjing as this would weaken the position of Chiang Kai-shek and help create a proletarian cadre through struggles. Mao differed from this view saying the CPC was basically a peasant party which would not be able to run these centres. It was held in the CPC leadership in this period, that while the party considered itself, as Marx had thought, the advanced group of the proletariat, it also represented the peasants, the petty bourgeois, and the middle class of the towns. In her discussion with Liu Shao-chi in 1947, Anna Louise Strong noted that the Chinese leader referred to the position of Karl Marx that the industrial workers were the only class which accepted communism and could bring it to fruition. This was the position in the western world but in China he argued there were only two or three million of such industrial workers. Alongside these sections Mao was training two-three million from other sections which were in fact perhaps more disciplined and devoted than the industrial workers.2 It is in this context that we may see the statement of Mao to Mikoyan when he averred that the political consciousness of the Chinese peasantry was more advanced than that of the American workers and many of the British workers.
According to the account of Mikoyan the CPSU (b) in these exchanges took internationalist stands on the questions of Port Arthur and Sinkiang saying that these were considered to be areas which belonged to China. The note of Mikoyan on the Mongolian question is of special interest. Prior to the Chinese revolution the CPC accepted the right of nations to self-determination and sought to establish a free federation of nationalities. In his discussion with Edgar Snow of 23rd July 1936, Mao expressed the view that the relationship of the Soviet Union and the Mongolian People’s Republic throughout had been one based on complete equality. Once the people’s revolution would be successful in China the ‘Outer Mongolian republic will automatically become a part of the Chinese federation, at its own will’.3 In the discussion with Mao, Mikoyan, Stalin (through his intervention through telegrams) and the CPSU (b) reconciled the views of the Mongolian People’s Republic and the CPC. Stalin considered that it was not advisable for the Mongolian People’s Republic to unite with Inner Mongolia to establish a united Mongolia as this would limit a range of territory from China. Nor did he consider that after its long history of independence the Mongolian People’s Republic would agree to be incorporated into the new Chinese state as an autonomous unit. It was for the state of Outer Mongolia to take its position on this question. Matters did not conclude there as is clear from the famous discussion of Mao and the delegation of Japanese Socialists which took place in July, 1964. Mao reversed his positions of 1936 and 1949 and now argued that under the Yalta agreement the Soviet Union ‘under the pretext of guaranteeing the independence of Mongolia, had actually placed that country under its domination’.4 The plebiscite in the Mongolian People’s Republic of 1945 which favoured independence was not a factor of concern for the Chinese leader. Mao revealed that in 1954 when Khrushchev and Bulganin visited China the Chinese leadership had raised the Mongolian question ‘but they refused to talk with us’.5 The varying stands of Mao between 1936 and 1964 on the Mongolian question suggest that he fluctuated considerably on the questions of proletarian internationalism.
The talk of the Japanese Socialists and Mao Zedong had its repercussions in the relations of the CPC and the Party of Labour of Albania. Enver Hoxha noted in his political diary on August 22nd 1964 that the raising of territorial claims on the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies was not regarded as a tactic by the CPC but as a matter of principle. He considered that the ‘claims of the Chinese have been built on a dangerous platform, to the point that they themselves have pretentions to Outer Mongolia’. Enver Hoxha considered that by raising the territorial questions the struggle against Khrushchevism was being diverted towards nationalist ends.6 The Chinese were inciting nationalist passions in Japan, Rumania, Poland, Finland, China and the Soviet Union rather than confronting revisionism.
Quite extraordinary, finally, was the position of the CPC and Mao himself in the talks of January-February 1949 that they wished to receive directions and orders from the CPSU (b). Mikoyan rejected this demand and said that it was not possible for the Soviet party to rule over the Chinese party. The CPC was an independent party and the CPSU (b) could only restrict itself to rendering advice to the Chinese. Even though the views of Mao were shunned by Mikoyan they were repeated to Stalin by the Chinese delegation which visited the Soviet Union a few months later in June 1949. Stalin and the CPSU (b) leadership again rejected the views of Mao and the CPC that the Soviet party should give orders to the Chinese party saying that it was not permissible for the communist party of one state to submit to another although the parties did consult each other on issues and mutually help each other.7
As we know, after the defeat of the Kuomintang in the civil war in China and the communist government taking power in October 1949, in the USA began a sharp internal political struggle around the issue “Who has lost China?”, that meant: because of whom and for what reason did the USA suffer a serious defeat in relation to China, that meant the loss of what seemed to have been the very solid position of domination by the US in this country by the time of the end of the Second World war.
In the “White Book on China”, published by the US State Department in 1949, the Soviet Union was named as a main culprit of the defeat of the Kuomintang and thus of the defeat of the US policy in China. At the IV session of the UN’s General Assembly in 1949 the representative of the Kuomintang government, with the support of the USA, filed a complaint to the UNO about the Soviet Union, titled “Threat to the political independence and territorial integrity of China and to peace in the Far East, caused by the Soviet Union’s violation of the Soviet-Chinese Peace and Friendship Treaty of 14th of August 1945 and also by the violation of the UN Charter by the Soviet Union”. In this complaint the Soviet Union and the Soviet military command were accused of the following:
2. that when the USSR withdrew its troops, it passed the power in Manchuria into the hands of Chinese communists, opened a free entrance for them to Manchuria from Northern China and helped them to create there the powerful armed forces of the CPC, having given to their disposal almost all weaponry and military equipment of the capitulated Japanese Kwantung army of almost 1 million men;
3. that the Soviet government secretly from the Chinese central government signed several agreements and contracts with the communist power in Manchuria about giving them material, technical and other assistance.
In the declarations of the Kuomintang and the US representatives it was pointed out that the actions of the USSR, Soviet help and support for the Chinese communists became the decisive factor that defined the results of the Chinese civil war towards the CPC victory.8
In the 1960s the propaganda campaign against the USSR was unfolded from exactly the opposite positions: Mao Zedong personally and his supporters began to criticize the policy of the USSR towards China and Stalin personally. First in their closed and later also in their open speeches they put forward a whole range of claims and accusations, the most important ones of which came down to accusing the USSR of supporting the Kuomintang during the anti-Japanese war and of not providing support to the CPC, that Stalin allegedly interfered into the internal affairs of the CPC after 1945, “created obstacles for the Chinese revolution”, “did not believe in its victory”, “did not allow the Chinese revolution” etc. According to the logic of these theses that later were taken over by the Chinese historians and politologists, if only the USSR had not provided help to the government of Chiang Kai-shek in fighting the Japanese, but had provided support exclusively to the CPC, if only the USSR had not signed the Treaty of Peace and Cooperation with the government of Chiang Kai-shek, if Stalin would have refrained from giving any advice to the CPC leadership about the strategy and tactics of the Chinese revolution, then the CPC would have achieved the victory in the civil war much earlier.
Under the influence of these speeches a turn took place in the description of the issues of the Soviet-Chinese relations, of the role of the USSR and Stalin in the victory of the CPC, of the relations between Mao Zedong and Stalin in the western historiography. Many western authors began to develop versions that the Soviet help to the CPC was quite insignificant and did not play any serious role in the results of the struggle between the Kuomintang and the CPC. Some authors almost literally quoted Mao’s versions of “obstacles” created by Stalin for the Chinese revolution, about his disbelief in the victory of the CPC over the Kuomintang, etc.
Mao Zedong has passed away long ago, but the versions created by him are still being repeated in the works of the Chinese authors and of the authors from other countries. In the last few years some theses of such versions appear also in some publications of the Russian authors. There are different reasons for it. In some cases this is caused by a voluntary or involuntary following of certain ideological views or requests, in some other cases – by the inertia of the old approaches and stereotypes of the “cold war”. In the third case it is caused by the wish “to follow the trends” in criticizing the Soviet policies. But in all these cases the versions of relations between the VKP(b) and the CPC, between Stalin and Mao Zedong, are mainly speculative and are not based on the studying of the documentary sources of the utmost importance.
The opening of the archives in Russia in the last few years gives new opportunities for their usage by the researchers, allowing to move a good bit forward in studying the events of this crucially important period of Moscow’s policy towards China, in working out an objective evaluation of its influence on the course and the outcome of the events in China in the late 1940s-early 1950s.
In relation to this, especially interesting are the documents related to the secret mission of A.I. Mikoyan in January-February 1949 to a small place called Xibaipo in Northern China (where the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was situated back then), the notes of his discussions with Mao Zedong and other members of the Politbureau of the CC of the CPC, the ciphered correspondence between Mikoyan and Moscow, and also between Stalin and Mao Zedong. We had the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with a range of such documents in the Archive of the President of the Russian Federation.
Briefly; about the background of this trip. According to the documents, it was organized instead of the planned but not realized trip at the end of December of 1949 of Mao Zedong to the Soviet Union. The issue of such a visit had already been raised in the beginning of 1947. The initiative for this came from the Chinese side. Stalin agreed to the visit, but under condition of its full secrecy. In the telegram to the doctor who was responsible for the connection, A. Ya. Orlov9, Stalin wrote on the 15th of June 1947: “Please pass on to Mao Zedong that the CC of the VKP(b) wishes that his visit to Moscow will be completely unannounced. If Mao Zedong agrees on that, we think that the best way to do this will be through Harbin. If necessary, we will send a plane. Please send by telegraph the results of your discussion with Mao Zedong and his wishes”.10 But two weeks later, on the 1st of July 1947, Stalin sent to Orlov a telegram with different contents. He wrote: “In connection with the upcoming (military) operations and because the absence of Mao Zedong can have a negative influence on operations, we think that it would be necessary to delay temporarily the visit of Mao Zedong.”11
In the course of further correspondence the visit of Mao Zedong to Moscow was planned for mid-July 1948. But in his telegram of the 26th of April 1948 Mao Zedong reported: “I decided to travel to the Soviet Union earlier than it was planned. It is planned to depart in the first days from the district of Fuping (100 km to the north of Shijiazhuang) Hebei province, and under the cover by troops to cross the Beijing- Kalgan railroad. It is possible to arrive to Harbin by the first days or by mid-June. Then from Harbin – to you. I will ask for advice and directions from the comrades of the CC of VKP(b) on political, military, economic and other important matters... Besides that, if it will be possible, I would like to travel to the countries of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, in order to study the experience of the popular front and other forms of work.” Mao planned to take along with him Zhang Bishi12, Chen Yun13 and also two secretaries and several other workers – cryptographers, radio operators etc. “If you agree with this plan, then we will act accordingly. If you do not agree with this plan, then I will have only one way – to travel alone.”14 On the 29th of April Stalin replied: “Your letter from the 26th of April is received. You can take with you anybody and as many people as you wish. Both the Russian doctors should depart together with you. We agree with leaving one radio station in Harbin. We will discuss everything else when we will meet.”15
But soon, on the 10th of May, Stalin sent a telegram, suggesting to Mao to delay his visit. “In connection with possible development of the events in the area of your positioning, in particular, in connection with the started offensive of the troops of Fu Zuoyi16 to Suiyuan, thus in the direction of three areas through which you are planning to travel to us, we are worrying that your absence will influence the course of events, as well as about your safety during the journey.
“Based on this, perhaps you should somewhat delay your journey to us. In case if you will decide not to delay your departure... we ask you to inform us when and where to we shall send the plane. We are awaiting your reply.”17 On the same day, the 10th of May, Mao Zedong replied: “Comrade Stalin, today I received your letter. I am very grateful to you. Under the current circumstances it would be wise to postpone my trip to you... I need a short rest after which I can fly by plane. I will inform you of the aerodrome for the plane and the port after finding it out.”18
On the 4th of July Mao Zedong informed Stalin: “My health condition, in comparison with two months ago, is much better. I have decided to visit you in the nearest future. There are three possible ways to travel: by air, by sea and by land. But in all cases we will have to pass through Harbin, because I need to have a conversation with a range of high-positioned comrades in Manchuria. We hope that the plane will arrive around the 25th of this month to Weisian ... If you will decide to transport us by sea, we hope that the ship will arrive to the designated port by the end of this month... Ifboth the air and the sea ways are impossible for our transportation, then we will depart in any case around the 15th of this month to the north.” Mao Zedong informed that 20 people will travel with him and asked, in case of transportation by air, to send two planes.19
On the 14th of July in response to that telegram of Mao Zedong came a telegram from Stalin: “To TEREBIN. Please pass on to Mao Zedong the following: ‘In connection with the beginning of the grain harvesting season all leading comrades from August on will travel around the country with inspections and will remain there until November. For this reason the CC of the VKP(b) is kindly asking comrade Mao Zedong to time his visit to Moscow towards the end of November, in order to have the opportunity to meet all the comrades from the leadership.’”20
In his telegram to Moscow on the 14th of July 1948 A. Ya. Orlov wrote that Mao Zedong asked to send the following reply: “Comrade Stalin. Agree with your opinion, explained in your telegram dated July the 14th. Let’s delay my trip to you till the end of October-beginning of November.”21 Reporting about the contents and his impressions of the talk with Mao Zedong that took place while passing on to him the mentioned telegram of Stalin, A. Ya. Orlov wrote that Mao Zedong did not take seriously the references to the preoccupation of the Soviet leaders with grain harvesting. “Is it really so, – he said, – that they give such big importance to the harvesting of the grain in the USSR that the leading members of the CC of the party are attending to it?” Orlov wrote: “As far as I know Mao Zedong, for more than six years, his smile and words “hao, hao... – good, good” while he was listening to the translation of the telegram did not mean at all that he was content with the telegram. It was clearly obvious while looking at him. I personally think that Mao Zedong personally expected that in the worst case he would be refused a plane or a boat. But even this was unlikely for him, because the plane was offered by Moscow. He was certain that he will travel right away. Probably, the trip became necessary for him. He was waiting for the reply with such great impatience…. The suitcases of Mao Zedong were packed, even leather shoes were bought (he, like all people here, wears cloth slippers), a woollen coat was sewn. The issue not only of the trip itself, but even of its date was already decided for him. The only question remaining was which way to use. He now looks calm on the outside, polite and attentive, courteous purely in the Chinese way. But it is hard to see his true soul. Zhang Bishi looks as if he did not expect a delay. Melnikov22 told me that on the 15 th of July Mao Zedong asked him the same question about the grain harvesting.”23
In his telegram to Moscow dated the 28th of August 1948, A. Ya. Orlov reported about his new conversation with Mao Zedong, in which they have discussed the issues that Mao Zedong would like to discuss with Stalin.
“Mao Zedong said that if in 1947 he was not in a hurry with his trip to Moscow, then now, in 1948, the situation has changed, and he would like to visit Moscow as soon as possible. He would like to talk there about many things, to ask for advice about several issues, and for help with some, in the frame of what’s possible.
In his telegram to Moscow dated 28th of September 1948 Mao Zedong wrote: “On a range of issues it has to be reported personally to the CC of the VKP(b) and to the main leadership. In order to receive instructions, I am intending to arrive to Moscow in accordance with the timeline indicated in the previous telegram. For now, reporting in general lines all of the above, I am kindly asking you to pass it on to the CC of the VKP(b) and to the comrade main leadership. I hope sincerely that they will issue instructions for us.”25
In a telegram sent on the 21st of November 1948 Mao Zedong, referring to a small illness and also to being busy with issues linked to the operations at the war fronts, asked to postpone the time of his visit to Moscow to the end of December 1948.26 But during the discussion of this issue in the Politbureau of the CC of the VKP(b) on the 14th of January 194927 it was decided to postpone once again the visit of Mao Zedong to Moscow and to send A.I. Mikoyan to China instead. He was given the tasks to hold discussions with Mao Zedong and other Politbureau members, to express the opinion of the Soviet leadership on the issues raised by them to Moscow, to report to the Politbureau of the CC of the VKP(b) requests and wishes of the CC of the CPC.
The main contents of his negotiations with Mao Zedong and other members of the CC of the CPC, A.I. Mikoyan set out in his Note introduced to the Presidium of the CC of the CPSU on the 22nd of September 1960, that is published here below. In this Note are also included some previously unknown materials of the correspondence between Moscow and the CC of the CPC, between Stalin and Mao Zedong for the period of 1947-1949. Judging by the direct quotations, A. I. Mikoyan had those documents at his disposal when he was preparing his Note. But at the same time, the Note includes only a portion of the large amount of information contained in the telegrams and notifications of discussions with the leaders of the CPC, that have covered a broad circle of issues of internal and international policies, Soviet-Chinese relations etc. By their amount and importance, they could have concluded a separate documentary publication (and deserve it).
The note published below which is offered to our readers includes: – the full text of the above mentioned Note ofA.I. Mikoyan, as well as grouped mainly by subject, large extractions from the documents, dated January- February 1949.
In connection with the differences which have appeared between the Communist Party of China and communist parties of other countries and the forthcoming discussion of these differences I find it necessary to send to the members of the Presidium and to the candidate members of the Presidium of the CC in order to familiarize them with the texts of reports, passed on by me in January-February 1949 during my visit to China, and also with the instructions of the CC that were sent to me in the same period.
These reports were sent ciphered from Xibaipo, where the Revolutionary Committee28 and the CC of the Communist Party of China were then situated and are given without any changes or omissions, in a exact copy. Two Soviet army doctors were accompanying Mao Zedong at that time – Terebin (who died later in the USSR in a plane crash) and Melnikov, who were treating Mao and his family. They had a radio station and performed communication functions.
In 1947-1948 an exchange of opinions was taking place between our CC and Mao Zedong about his visit to Moscow. He had never been to Moscow before, and our invitation was issued to him already back in June 1947, we expressed readiness to receive him for discussing the issues of the Chinese revolution, issues that the CPC would have to deal with after the military victory, including Soviet-Chinese issues.
But the dates of the trip were postponed many times because of the difficulties in communication in connection with the remoteness of the places where Mao Zedong was staying, because of his illness, because of the complications in the battlefields of the Chinese revolutionary army and because of other reasons.
By the end of 1948 the battle actions of the Chinese communists were developing swiftly and in a favourable direction. In Northern China decisive battles were taking place. The Chinese revolutionary army that had received the weaponry of the 700,000-men strong Japanese Kwantung army, which was fully passed by us to China, was moving towards the centre of China, in the direction of Beijing.
On the 14th of January 1949 during a meeting of the Politbureau of the CC, while discussing the reply to Mao Zedong’s request about the timing of his visit to Moscow Stalin expressed the opinion that the arrival of Mao Zedong at that particular time was not really expedient. He was in the position of a guerrilla commander and even though he was planning to travel incognito, the news of his departure from China would definitely leak. His trip undoubtedly would be seen in the West as a visit to Moscow for receiving instruction from the Soviet communist party, and he would have been branded “an agent of Moscow”. This would have caused damage to the reputation of the CPC and would have been used by the imperialists and the Chiang Kai-shek clique against the Chinese communists.
In the meanwhile, soon the official revolutionary government of China could be formed, led by Mao Zedong. Then he would get the opportunity of a visit not incognito, but as the official head of the government, in order to conduct the negotiations with a neighbouring country. This, to the opposite, would raise the prestige and the reputation of the Chinese revolutionary government and would have a big international importance.
Even though such a delay of Mao Zedong’s trip to the USSR, was delaying the discussion of pressing issues, but this negative side could be balanced with a business journey to China of one of the members of the Politbureau of our CC.
At that time everything was already prepared for the arrival of Mao Zedong. The Politbureau, having discussed this issue, approved Stalin’s proposal and he immediately dictated a telegram to Mao Zedong which said:
“Still, we insist that you will temporary postpone your journey to Moscow, because your stay in China is very necessary at present. If you wish, we can immediately dispatch to you a responsible member of the Politbureau to Harbin or to another place for discussing the issues that are of interest to us.”
Mao Zedong responded that he had decided to delay his trip to Moscow and that they welcomed the dispatching of a Politbureau member to China, at the same time he expressed a wish for his arrival to take place in late January or early February and not in Harbin, but in the place where they were situated.
In order to minimize the difficulties during negotiations in China and to be better prepared, to exclude unnecessary dispatches to Moscow, I drafted a list of possible questions that the Chinese could ask us, thought about possible answers and discussed them with Stalin and other Politbureau members.
I. About the disagreement of our CC with the point of view of the CPC who thought that after the victory of the Chinese revolution all parties, except the CPC, should disappear out of political life. In Mao Zedong’s telegram dated November 30th 1947 it was stated: “In the period of the final victory of the Chinese revolution, following the example of the USSR and Yugoslavia, all political parties, except for the CPC, will have to leave the political arena, which will strengthen significantly the Chinese revolution.” In the responding telegram of our CC, signed by Stalin on April 20th 1948, about this it was written in particular the following: “We do not agree with this. We think that various oppositional political parties in China who represent the middle classes and oppose the Kuomintang clique, will still exist for a long time, and that the Chinese communist party will have to involve them to cooperate against the Chinese reactionaries and the imperialist states, while keeping its hegemony, and thus the leading role. It is possible that some representatives of those parties will have to be allowed to enter the Chinese people’s democratic government, and that this government will have to be declared a coalition, in order to broaden the support for this government among the population and to isolate the imperialists and their Kuomintang agents.”
II. About the attitude towards the offer of Nanjing government to the Soviet government to become a mediator between the Nanjing government and the CPC on the issue of ceasing the war and signing peace.
On the 9th of January 1949 a note from the Nanjing government was received which offered to the government of the USSR (as well as of France, England and the US) to take upon itself mediation between the Nanjing government and the CPC on the issue of ceasing the war and signing peace.
“We think to respond in such manner. The Soviet government always supported and continues to support the ending of war and establishment of peace, but before agreeing to mediation, we would like to know if the other side (the Chinese communist party) has agreed to accept the mediation of the Soviet Union. For this reason the Soviet side would like to make sure that the other side – the Chinese communist party – would have been informed about the peace initiative of the Chinese government and that the agreement of the other side for the mediation by the USSR would be requested. This is how we would like to respond and we are asking you to inform us if you agree. If you do not agree, please give us a hint of a more suitable answer.
“We also think that your response, if they will request it, should be like this: the Chinese communist party always supported peace in China, because it was not the party, but the Nanjing government that has started this civil war, and it is this government who should bear the responsibility for it. The Chinese communist party supports peace negotiations with the Kuomintang, but without the participation of those war criminals who had unleashed this civil war in China. The Chinese communist party supports direct negotiations with Kuomintang, without any foreign mediators.”
“As it is clear from the above, our draft of your response to the Kuomintang is aimed at a breakdown of peace negotiations. It is obvious that the Kuomintang will not agree to peace negotiations without the involvement of foreign mediators, especially without the mediation of the USA. It is also clear that the Kuomintang will not want negotiations without the participation of Chiang Kai-shek and other war criminals. That is why we count on the Kuomintang refusing negotiations under the conditions offered by the Chinese communist party. As a result of this it will be clear that the CPC agrees to peace negotiations, and because of this it cannot be blamed in wanting to continue the civil war. In this situation the Kuomintang will look like the guilty party in the breakdown of the negotiations. In this way the “peace” manoeuvre of the Kuomintang people and the US will not work, and you will be able to continue the victorious liberation war. We are awaiting your reply.”
On January the 12th Mao Zedong sent his reply, which said that the Soviet government should respond to the request of the Nanjing government in the following way: “The USSR government has always wanted and wants to see a peaceful, democratic and united China. But what is the way to reach peace, democracy and unity in China, that is a matter for the people of China to decide themselves. The USSR government, basing itself on the principle of non-interference into the internal affairs of other states, finds it unacceptable to participate in mediation between the two sides in the civil war of China.
“Only the USSR has a high reputation among the people of China, that is why the USSR in response to the note of the Nanjing government will take such a position as you have offered in your message dated 10th of January, that will lead to a situation in which the USA, England and France might think that participation in mediation is necessary, and that will give Kuomintang an excuse to insult us as militantly minded elements. And the broad popular masses who are unhappy with Kuomintang and are placing their hopes on a speedy victory of the People’s Liberation Army, will be in despair.
“Now we are keen to reject with all directness the deception of ‘peace’ by the Kuomintang, because now, based on the fact that the class balance in China has already changed drastically, and international public opinion is also not on the side of the Nanjing government; and the PLA can already in the summer cross the Yangtze river and launch an offensive on Nanjing.
“How can we respond to such a manoeuvre by those in Nanjing and the USA. There can be two replies. The first variation is to reject openly and directly the peace proposals of those in Nanjing and by doing so to declare the necessity of continuation of the civil war. But what would that mean? That means in the first place that you will put on the table your main trump card and that you will give into the hands of Kuomintang such an important weapon as the banner of peace. Secondly, it will mean that you will help your enemies in China and abroad to look down at the communist party as a supporter of the continuation of war and to praise Kuomintang as a supporter of peace. Thirdly, that will mean that you will give the US an opportunity to work on public opinion in Europe and America in such a direction that peace with the communist party is impossible, because it does not want peace, that the only way to reach peace in China is to organize an armed intervention, of the type that was undertaken against Russia for 4 years, from 1918 till 1921.”
Further the second, flexible variation of a response was outlined, in the spirit already mentioned, in the first Soviet telegram proposals. On the same day, January the 14th, Mao, referring to the receipt of additional message dated 11th of January, as described above, declared in his telegram that “we are completely united with you in the main course (breakdown of negotiations with Kuomintang, continuation of the revolutionary war till the end)”, and also reported that on this day they have published 8 conditions for agreeing to begin peace negotiations with Kuomintang. In connection with this it was reported to Mao Zedong that from his last telegram “it is obvious that there is a mutual understanding between us on the issue of the peace proposals of the Nanjing people, and that the CP of China has already started its “peace campaign”. That means that the issue is closed.”29
I went to China under the fake surname of Andreev and this is how I was signing the telegrams, addressing them to the fake name of Filippov.30 It was done at the initiative of Stalin, in case the information about my stay in China would leak from there.
I flew to China on the 26th of January, arrived there on the 30th of January and stayed there until February the 8th 1949. Together with me were in China: the former minister of transport Kovalev31, who was proposed to be appointed our representative at the CC of the CPC at that time, and an interpreter, employee of the apparatus of the CC, also surnamed Kovalev.32
We flew out of Port Arthur early in the morning, before dawn, and by dawn we arrived to the former Japanese military airport near Shijiazhuang. We were greeted by the commander Zhu De33, member of Politbureau Zhang Bishi and interpreter Shi Zhe34. From there we went by car, a trophy Dodge, approximately 160-179 Km to the base of the CC of the party and the revolutionary committee, Xibaipo, that was situated in a gorge.
For the first two days Mao Zedong informed us of the history of the Chinese revolution and of the fractional struggle that had taken place inside the Chinese communist party. Later, during following meetings, he also came back to these issues of the history of the CPC, spoke a lot about how hard was it for him to fight against the left and the right deviation in the party, how the party was broken and the army was destroyed because of the actions of Wang Ming35 who was supported by Comintern, how later they managed to correct the mistakes, how the factionalists were destroying the cadres of the Chinese communists, and that he barely managed to survive himself, he has been arrested, thrown out of party, they wanted to dispose of him. But from that time when Wang Ming and Li Lisan were unmasked, Mao Zedong, according to him, works well with his comrades, has put an end to the destruction of the communist cadres. He was and remains the supporter of tolerance within the party, he thinks that men should not be thrown out of the CC when they have different opinions, they should not be repressed.
Take Wang Ming, for example, said Mao Zedong, he played a bad part, but we have left him in the CC, he is at the disposal of the CC, even though he practically does not do any work. He spoke in great detail about the errors of Wang Ming, probably he wanted to test our opinion about him, and if we would attempt to support him or to listen to his advice. I knew about the differences between Mao Zedong and Wang Ming and I did not support these conversations. We had agreed already in Moscow that I will not meet Wang Ming, and he was not present during my conversations with Mao and he did not make any attempt to meet me.
I. To my question when Mao Zedong thinks it possible to take over the main industrial centres – Nanjing, Shanghai etc, he said that he is not in a hurry to do this. He said, for example, that “it would take us another 1-2 years to become in the position to take China over completely, politically and economically”, he hinted that the war cannot be over before this. He also expressed the thought that they avoid taking over big cities, but aim for taking over agricultural areas. For example, they do not want to take Shanghai. They say it is a big city and the Chinese CP has no cadres. The Communist Party consists mainly of peasants; in Shanghai the communist organization is weak. Also, Shanghai lives on imported raw materials and fuel. And if they will take Shanghai over, there will be no fuel imports, the industry will collapse, there will be unemployment, all of this will make people’s lives worse; the CPC has to prepare cadres, they already had started working on it, and in time, when the cadres will be ready, they will take over Shanghai and Nanjing. Based on the position of our CC, worked out already back in Moscow, I argued with him, and tried to explain to him that the sooner they will take the big cities, the better, that the cadres will develop with the struggle. Sooner or later the issue of fuel and food supplies for Shanghai will rise in any case. But the takeover of Shanghai will seriously weaken Chiang Kai-shek, and will give a proletarian base to the communists.
II. Mao Zedong did not give the necessary importance to the proletarian layer in the composition of the party and the attention of the CPC towards the cities and the working class was weaker than that towards the peasants. This position was based on the old times, when the party and the army acted in the mountains, far away from the working centres. Times have changed, but the attitude towards the workers remained the same.
From my notes it is clear, for instance, that Mao Zedong proudly stressed that the communist party has total influence in the countryside where it has no competition. Chiang Kai-shek has helped communists in this by his policy towards the peasants. In the cities it was different. Here among the students the communist party has big influence, but among the working class the position of the Kuomintang was stronger than that of the communist party. For example, in Shanghai after the victory over Japan the influence of the communist party covered 200,000 out of 500,000 workers, the rest followed Kuomintang.
III. Based on the instructions of the CC, I attempted to convince Mao Zedong not to delay the formation of the revolutionary government, to create it quickly, based on a coalition that will be profitable. For instance, after taking over of Shanghai or Nanjing one could announce immediately the formation of the new revolutionary government. This would be useful also in international relations: after that the communists could act already not as guerrillas, but as a government, and that would make it easier to fight Chiang Kai-shek in the future.
Mao Zedong was of the opinion that there is no need to hurry with formation of the government, he even said that it is better for them to remain without government. Because if there will be a government, there will be a coalition, and that means, they will have to be responsible towards other parties for what they do, and that would cause complications. For now they acted as a “revolutionary committee”36, independent of the parties, even though they continued to maintain ties with them. This, according to Mao Zedong, was helping to clear the country of counterrevolutionary elements. He was stubborn on this issue, and claimed that the government should be formed not immediately after taking of Nanjing (it was supposed to happen in April), but only in June or July. But I insisted that extra delay with formation of the government will weaken the forces of the revolution.
IV. About Port Arthur. Mao Zedong said that he had been visited by one woman – a bourgeois politician who raised the issue that when China will have a revolutionary government it will make no sense for the Soviet Union to keep the navy military base in Port Arthur and that it will be a great thing for China to get that base back.
Mao Zedong said that, in his opinion, it is a wrong position, that the woman did not understand politics, that there are communists both in Soviet Union and in China, but that does not exclude, but allows the USSR to keep their military base in Port Arthur. That is why they, the Chinese communists support this base to remain. American imperialism sits in China for exploitation, but Soviet Union sits in Port Arthur for defending China against Japanese imperialism. When China will become sufficiently strong to defend itself against Japanese aggression, then USSR itself will have no need in a base in Port Arthur.
Our CC and Stalin had a different position: there is no need to have a base there, if the government in China will be a communist one. I outlined this position to the Chinese comrades. Having received my report about the Chinese position on this issue, Stalin wrote in a telegram to Mao Zedong on the 5th of February 1949:
“…With the takeover of power by the Chinese communists the situation will change drastically. The Soviet government has taken a decision to denounce this unequal treaty and to withdraw our troops from Port Arthur as soon as peace with Japan will be signed and thus the American troops will leave Japan. But if the Communist Party of China will consider it desirable to withdraw the Soviet troops from the Port Arthur region immediately, then Soviet Union will be ready to fulfil this wish of the CPC.”
V. About Xinjiang. This is also an important issue. Mao Zedong had suspicions about our intentions in Xinjiang. He mentioned that in the Iliysk district of Xinjiang there was an independence movement that does not obey the Urumqi government and that there is a communist party there. He told us that when in 1945 he has met Bai Chongxi31 in Changchun, he told him that in Iliysk district the rebels have artillery, tanks and planes of Soviet make.
I told him clearly that we do not support the independence of the Xinjiang nationalities and even more so, we have no ambitions in relation to Xinjiang’s territory, being of the opinion that Xinjiang is and should be a part of China.
Mao Zedong made a suggestion to build a railway between China and the USSR through Xinjiang. Zhang Bishi offered, as a variation, to build such railway through Mongolia. Later, when this issue was discussed in Moscow, Stalin supported the building of such a railway through Mongolia because it would be shorter and the construction would be cheaper, and then later on to build another road through Xinjiang.
VI. About Mongolia. Mao Zedong asked out of his own initiative what is our attitude towards the issue of reunification of Outer32 and Inner Mongolia33. I told him that we do not support such unification as this would lead to the substantial diminishing of China’s territory. Mao Zedong said that he thinks that Outer and Inner Mongolia could unite and become part of the Chinese Republic. To this, I answered him that this is impossible because the Mongolian Popular Republic enjoys independence already for a long time. After the victory over Japan the Chinese government also recognised the independence of Outer Mongolia. The MPR has its own army, its own culture, develops its economy and culture fast, it already tasted independence for some time and is unlikely to ever give it up voluntarily. If it ever unites with Inner Mongolia, undoubtedly as a result it will become a united independent Mongolia. Zhang Bishi who was present during this conversation, remarked that in Inner Mongolia there are 3 millions of population and in Outer Mongolia only one. In connection with this information from me Stalin sent me a telegram to familiarize Mao Zedong with it, which said:
“The leaders of Outer Mongolia support the unification of all Mongolian regions of China with Outer Mongolia under the banner of an independent Mongolian state. The Soviet government speaks out against this plan, because that would mean the breaking off from China of a range of regions, even though this plan does not endanger the interests of the USSR. We do not think that Outer Mongolia would agree to give up its independence in favour of its autonomy within the Chinese state, even if all Mongolian regions will be united as an autonomous unit. Naturally, it is up to Outer Mongolia itself to decide this.”
After having familiarized himself with this telegram Mao Zedong said that he will consider its contents, and that “of course, they do not support the Great Han chauvinist line and thus will not raise the issue of Mongolian unification”.
VII. About the recognition of the future revolutionary government by other countries. Mao Zedong had two variations on this issue: the first one, for the USSR as first and other foreign countries would recognize the new government of China immediately. The second variation that obviously enjoyed the preference of Mao Zedong himself, consisted of not trying to achieve the immediate recognition of the new government, and if a foreign government will announce such intention to recognize it, not rejecting it, but not agreeing to it immediately either, and continuing such tactics for approximately one year. The advantages of this second variation, according to the Chinese, was that the new government did not need to have its hands tied and could easily pressurise all things foreign in China, without having to take into consideration the protest of the foreign governments.
Mao Zedong was saying all the time that they, the CC of the CPC, are awaiting directions and leadership from our CC. I answered him that the CC of our party cannot intervene in the activities of the CC of the Communist Party of China, it cannot issue any directives, it cannot rule the Chinese communist party. Each of our parties is independent, we can give only advice, when we are asked about it, but cannot issue orders.
Mao Zedong insisted, declared that he is awaiting orders and leadership from our CC, because they still do not have enough experience, he deliberately diminished his own role, his own importance as a leader, and as the party’s theoretician, by saying that he is just a pupil of Stalin, that he does not give importance to his own theoretical works, because he did not add anything new to Marxism etc.
As a confirmation of this I can give some extracts from our conversations with Mao Zedong that had taken place at that time. Already during our first conversation he said: “I am asking you to take into consideration that China is much behind Russia, we are weak Marxists and are making many mistakes, and if you measure our work by Russia’s standards, then it will appear that we have nothing.”
I answered that such words are probably a sign of modesty of the leaders of the CC of CPC, but that it is difficult to agree with them. It would be impossible to lead the civil war in China for 20 years and to conclude it with such a victory if they were weak Marxists. As for errors, all actively working parties make them. Our party too, makes mistakes, but it is steadfastly holding up the principle of mercilessly analysing its own mistakes in order not to repeat them and to learn a lesson from them.
Mao Zedong added that they make mistakes in good faith and correct them in good faith too, giving an example. In 1946 the CC of the CPC committed an error in the realisation of the land reform34. When they began to analyse it, it appeared that already back in 1933 he had written correctly about the land reform35, but that they forgotten about it by 1946. If they had read this work again in 1946, they would not have committed those errors. They reprinted in 1946 what was written about the land reform in 1933 and openly told the farmers about their error, having taken all the responsibility for it, because the leadership bears responsibility for the errors of the lower rank workers, even though the leadership itself has not committed those errors.
First of all, Chinese revolution is a great historic event, secondly, it would be incorrect to use Russian criteria without taking into consideration that reality in which the revolution in China is taking place.
Further Mao Zedong stated that “one of the big tasks of the CPC is the Marxist education of cadres. In the past they thought it necessary for the cadres to read all the Marxist literature. But now they came to the conclusion that it is impossible, because cadres are getting their education and at the same time they are doing big practical work. That is why they decided to make it compulsory for their cadres to read 12 Marxist works. Having named these works (The Communist Manifesto, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific36, State and Revolution, Questions of Leninism and others), he did not name even one Chinese communist work.
I then asked Mao Zedong, if he considers it correct that in the list of 12 books for the party education of cadres of the CPC there is not even one work of the leaders of the CPC that covers in theory the experience of the Chinese revolution.
Raising a glass for the health of comrade Stalin, he stressed that at the base of today’s victories of the Chinese revolution is the teaching of Lenin and Stalin and that Stalin is the teacher not just for the nations of the USSR, but also for the Chinese people and the peoples of the whole world.
About himself Mao Zedong said that he is a pupil of Stalin and does not think that his own theoretical works are important, that they just realise the teaching of Marxism-Leninism in practice, without adding anything new to it.
Moreover, he personally had sent a strict telegram to local party cells, forbidding them to name him together with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin37, even though he had to argue about it with his closest comrades.
I answered that this is a statement of modesty of Mao Zedong, but one cannot agree with it. Marxism-Leninism is being used in China not mechanically, but based on taking into consideration the peculiarities, the Chinese conditions. The Chinese revolution has its own way, that gives it the outlook of an anti-imperialist revolution. That is why the studying of the experience of the CPC cannot be but theoretically valuable, cannot but enrich the Marxist science. How can it also be denied that the generalisation of the Chinese experience has theoretical value for the revolutionary movement of the Asian countries? Of course, it cannot be.
To this, I answered that usually the nationalist elements use the historical peculiarities of their countries in order to turn the party into the way of bourgeois degeneration, but Marxists take them into consideration in order to lead the revolution in a Marxist-Leninist way, and Mao Zedong did not argue with that.
In my telegram of 5th of February 1946 I informed you that during one of the conversations Mao Zedong “stressed that during the studying of the issue of the character of the Chinese revolution he based himself on the quotations from comrade Stalin, dated 1927, and on his later works about the character of the Chinese revolution.
Mao Zedong said that the most valuable for him were the remarks of comrade Stalin that the Chinese revolution is a part of the world revolution, and also the criticism of the nationalism of Simic39 from Yugoslavia.
During the last conversation, that took place on the 7th of February, Mao Zedong expressed satisfaction with the completed discussion of the most important issues and warmly thanked Stalin for his care for the Chinese revolution.
When I arrived in Vladivostok, Poskrebyshev phoned there and on behalf of Stalin informed me that the Politbureau is very pleased with my work in China. Every day men read and discussed my telegrams in the Politbureau. Stalin asked me to come to Moscow as quickly as possible and to tell about everything in more details.
2. Anna Louise Strong, ‘The Thought of Mao Tse-tung’,
Amerasia, New York, Vol. IX, No. 6, June 1947,
3. Edgar Snow, Red Star over China, Harmondsworth, 1973, p. 505.
4. Mao Tse-tung’s ‘Talk with Japanese Socialists’ in the booklet In Connection with Mao Tse-tung’s Talk with a Group of Japanese Socialists, Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, Moscow, 1964, pp 17-20. This is also available in a different translation in Franz Schurmann and Orville Schell, Ed., China Readings 3 – Communist China Harmondsworth, 1968, pp. 368-370.
5. Ibid. p. 20.
6. Enver Hoxha, Reflections on China, Vol. I, Tirana, 1979, p. 75.
7. From the Speech at the Reception for the Chinese Delegation (27th June 1949). J.V Stalin in Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. XX, No. 2, September, 2014.
8. See more details about it in A.M. Ledovsky Chinese policy of the US and the Soviet diplomacy. Moscow, 1985, pp.191-217.
9. A. Ya. Orlov in 1949 was using a codename “Terebin” for coded correspondence.
10. Archive of the President of the Russian Federation (further – AP RF), F.39, Op.1, a.31, L. 23.
11. Idem, L. 24.
12. Zhen Bishi (1904-1950) – at that time a member of the Politbureau and of the secretariat of the CC of the CPC.
13. Chen Yun (1904- ) – at that time member of the Politbureau and of the North Eastern Bureau of the CC of the CPC.
14. APRF, F. 39, Op.1. Doc. 31, L. 30-31.
15. Idem, L. 32.
16. Fu Tsin (1895-1974) – one of the generals of the Kuomintang army, at the time commander of the group of troops in Northern China.
20. Idem, L. 37.
21. Idem, L. 38.
22. Melnikov- 2nd Soviet doctor and adviser from Moscow. Real name and years of his life are unknown.
23. AP RF, F. 39, Op.1, Doc. 31, L. 40.
24. Idem, L. 41.
25. Idem, L. 42.
26. Idem, L. 44.
27. See note by A. Mikoyan.
28. Apparently, it means Military Council of the CC of the CPC.
29. See also S.L. Tikhvinsky. Correspondence of Stalin and Mao Zedong in January 1949, “New and Newest history”, Moscow, 1994, No. 4-5, pp. 132-140. [This is available in English as ‘Continue Your Glorious War of Liberation’ Correspondence of J.V. Stalin with Mao Zedong in January 1949, Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. 3, no 2, pp. 123-135.]
30. Philippov- code name used by Stalin in those years in coded correspondence.
31. I.V. Kovalev (1901-1993) – in 1948-1949 leader of the group of Soviet specialists in economic issues, representative of the CC of the VKP(b) at the CC of the CPC.
32. Ye. F. Kovalev (1907-) – at that time senior official of the CC of the VKP(b).
33. Zhu De (1886-1976) – at that time member of the Politbureau and of the secretariat of the CC of the CPC, main commander of the People’s Liberation Army.
34. Sh Zhe (1914-) – at that time senior official of the CC of the CPC.
35. Wang Ming (Chen Shaoyu) (1904-1974) – at that time member of the CC of the CPC, vice chairman of the Political and Judicial Committee.
36. Li Lisan (1899-1967) – at that time member of the CC of the CPC, vice chairman of the All China Trade Union Federation.
37. It is a reference to the Treaty about friendship and union signed in Moscow on 14th of August 1945 by the representatives of the governments of the USSR and the Republic of China. Simultaneously were signed the Agreement about the Chinese Changchun Railroad, that was including the mutual use of that railroad, about Port Arthur, which included an agreement on the mutual use of its military maritime base, with the USSR being responsible for its defence, about Dalny which prescribed turning it into an open harbour, free and open for trade and usage by ships of all countries, with the USSR being given to rent part of the harbour and some warehouses. The Treaty was annulled by the Soviet side due to signing of Treaty of friendship, union and mutual cooperation between the USSR and the PRC on the 14th of February 1950.
38. Bai Chongxi (1893-1966) – well-known person in the Kuomintang government at that time.
39. Reference to Mongolian People’s Republic.
40. At that time – the regions inhabited by Mongolians in the Northern and North-Eastern China.
41. Reference to the leftist twist in the realisation of the agrarian policies of the CPC in 1946-1947.
42. Reference to Mao Zedong’s work “How to Differentiate the Classes in the Rural Areas”, October 1933, See Mao Zedong, Selected Works, Moscow, 1952, vol. 1, pp. 229-234. This work, along with some others, was republished by the CPC in the late 1940s.
43. Reference to the Communist Manifesto, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.
44. Document is not published.
45. In reality at that time and later in the CPC documents and in the PRC history books Wang Ming was accused of dogmatism, blind copying of the Soviet experience, in not understanding the necessity to take into consideration the peculiarities of China and the Chinese revolution.
46. Simic, Stanoe – minister of foreign affairs of Yugoslavia at that time.