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43 Ibid, pp. 73, 75 44 Ibid, p. 178 45 Ibid, p. 106 46 “Kak snimali Khrushcheva (How Khrushchev was deposed), the materials of the Plenum of the CC CPSU, 14 October 1964, Istoricheskii arkhiv, no. 1 (1993), p. 10. 47

Glenn T. Seaborg with Benjamin S. Loeb, Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Test Ban (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), p. 239. 48 Kohler to the Department of State, Moscow, July 18 and July 19, 1963, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961 - 1963, vol. VII: Arms Control and Disarmament, (Washington, GPO,

1995), pp. 808 and 814. I am thankful to James Hershberg and William Burr for bringing these documents to my attention. 49 Stenographic Report, pp. 251-252. 50 Ibid, p. 90 51 Borisov, Koloskov, op. cit., p. 226 52 David Goodman, op. cit., p. 73 53 This is Goodman's conclusion. op. cit., p. 64 54

Li Zhisui, The Private Life of Chairman Mao: The Memoirs of Mao's Private Physician (New York, Random House, 1994). 55 Arbatov, The System, p. 95. 56 Goodman, op. cit., p. 71.

Deng Xiaoping, Mao's "Continuous Revolution," and the Path toward the

Sino-Soviet Split: A Rejoinder

By Chen Jian


eng Xiaoping is a legendary figure in the political history of modern China. During the Cultural

Revolution (1966-1976), Mao Zedong twice purged him, but did not destroy him (as the Chinese Chairman did to Liu Shaoqi, China's second most important leader from 1949 to 1966, who died in disgrace in 1969). Early in 1973, after Deng had been absent from China's political scene for more than six years, Mao pardoned him and brought him back to China's decisionmaking inner circle. Three years later, when Deng was again expelled from the Party's Politburo and Central Committee due to his alleged "unchanged reactionary attitude” toward the Cultural Revolution, he retained his Party membership and was never exposed to physical torture by the “revolutionary masses.” He would reemerge and eventually become China's paramount leader after Mao's death in 1976.

It is apparent that Deng Xiaoping's purge and survival during the Cultural Revolution were primarily Mao's work. But Deng's image in Mao's mind must have been extremely complicated, otherwise his experience would not have been so tortuous. While it will take a much more

a comprehensive study to reconstruct the relationship between Deng and Mao, thanks to available Chinese sources one thing is certain: both Deng's purge and survival were related to Mao's changing memories of the role he played in promoting or resisting the Chairman's grand enterprise of continuous revolution aimed at, among other things, preventing a Soviet-style "capitalist restoration" from happening in China.

Indeed, the “Soviet factor" played a crucial role in determining Deng Xiaoping's political fate during the Cultural Revolution. If the causes of his downfall were

symbolized in the label placed on him of “China's Second Largest Khrushchev," one of the main reasons for his reemergence could be found in the fact that Mao again remembered that Deng was once an “anti-Soviet revisionist” hero. On 14 August 1972, less than one year after the death of Marshal Lin Biao, Mao's designated successor during the Cultural Revolution, who then betrayed Mao in 1971, Mao commented on a letter Deng wrote to him about ten days earlier: “After we entered the cities, it is not true to say that he (Deng Xiaoping) has done nothing that is good. For example, he led the (CCP) delegation to Moscow to negotiate (with the Soviets). He did not yield to the pressure of the Soviet revisionists. I have talked about this many times in the past. Now I want to repeat it once more.”)

The transcripts of the meetings in Moscow between Chinese and Soviet Party delegations in July 1963 will help us to understand why Mao's memory of Deng's experience of “not yielding to the Soviet revisionists" was so persistent. Deng, simply put, was a fighter. As shown by the meeting transcripts, he fully believed that truth was on the side of the Chinese Communists. Indeed, as far as the mentalities of the two sides are concerned, the Chinese exuded a strong sense of superiority. If for half a century the Chinese Communists had been willing to accept Moscow's dominant position in the international communist movement, in 1963 they acted in accordance with a different underlying assumption. They obviously believed that Beijing, rather than Moscow, should play the leadership role in the world proletarian revolution. Deng Xiaoping's passionate performance indicated his seemingly wholehearted embrace of this belief.

The divergence between Beijing and Moscow, as

reflected in the transcripts, was certainly substantive. Mao and Khrushchev in particular. While de-Stalinization was Khrushchev's most important In his essay, Vladislav Zubok has convincingly achievement as the Soviet party's first secretary, Mao and demonstrated that Khrushchev fully understood how the CCP leadership claimed that “Khrushchev had com- intimately the legitimacy of his leadership role within the pletely renounced such a sword as Stalin and had thrown it Soviet party and state was interconnected with the Soviet away, allowing the enemy to seize it and to kill us.”2

party's position in the world proletarian revolution. In While the Soviet leadership believed in the utility of other words, Khrushchev fully understood that his domespursuing détente with the West, the Chinese leaders tic programs, as well as his own position as the Soviet emphasized that the socialist camp must stick to revolu- Party's top leader, had to be justified by maintaining and tionary principles and should have no illusions regarding enhancing Moscow's continuous dominance of the the evil intentions of Western imperialist countries. While international communist movement. the Soviets pointed out that the danger involved in a

In the case of China, Mao's criticism of “Soviet nuclear war could never be exaggerated, Mao and his revisionism” was an integral part of his constant efforts to comrades were unconvinced by the Soviet emphasis on the enhance his "continuous revolution" as a dominant theme destructive effect of nuclear slaughter, and argued that of China's political and social life. This was particularly communists all over the world should not shrink from true after 1958, when the disastrous consequences of the revolution because of the concerns about triggering a “Great Leap Forward” began to result in an ever increasing nuclear war.

division among top Chinese leaders, while at the same But what really distanced Beijing from Moscow was time breaking up the myth of Mao's “eternal correctness.” not just the divergence over these issues concerning The criticism of "Soviet revisionism" provided Mao with strategy and policy. The debates between Chinese and an effective weapon to combine his need to create momenSoviet communists focused on two more fundamental and tum for continuous transformation of China's party, state interrelated issues: how to define "equality" and how to and society with one of the Chinese revolution's ultimate interpret history.

goals-reviving China's central position in the internaThe “equality” question had been a staple of conversa- tional community through establishing China's centrality tions between top Chinese and Soviet leaders since the in the international communist movement. mid-1950s. As a general tendency, the Chinese leaders

Under these circumstances, “equality” was given a became increasingly accustomed to accusing the Soviets of meaning much more complicated than what may be having failed to treat other fraternal parties, including the obtained in a superficial reading of the word. In actuality, Chinese party, as equals. The Soviet leaders, on the other each side talked about "equality" with an assumption that hand, used every opportunity to defend their own behavior, they were superior to the other. For Mao and his Chinese arguing that although Moscow, for historical reasons, had comrades, talking about "equality" meant that they played a central role in the international communist occupied a position from which to dictate the values and movement, it never intentionally treated other parties as codes of behavior that would dominate relations between inferior.

communist parties and states. This fundamental assumpSuch differences over remembering and interpreting tion made Beijing's conflict with Moscow inevitable. the past drove almost every meeting between top Chinese Deng Xiaoping was assigned the task in 1963 of and Soviet leaders in the late 1950s and early 1960s into leading the Chinese delegation to Moscow for several an extensive review of history. Indeed, the Chinese reasons. The most obvious one was that he had long been leaders, especially Mao, had endeavored to cite historical known within the CCP as a talented leader, who was able cases to argue that the Soviets (since the years of Stalin to use concise language to effectively argue on compliand continuing after Stalin's death) had mistakenly

cated issues. As Zubok documents in his essay, the other interfered with the internal affairs of the Chinese party and reason was that by 1963 he was a veteran in representing the Chinese Communist state, as well as many other

the CCP in its dealings with Khrushchev and other Soviet fraternal parties, and that such behavior proved Moscow's leaders. But Mao's choice of Deng to lead the CCP failure to treat communists in other countries as equals.


delegation could also have been based on more complex The Soviets would categorically deny that the new Soviet considerations. As is well known, by 1963 Mao had leadership after Stalin's death had continued to commit already developed a real distrust of some of his close such mistakes. The transcripts of the July 1963 Sino- colleagues, including Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, Soviet meetings indicate that this pattern was again

because of his sense that not only were they unable to followed.

follow the logic of his "continuous revolution” programs, Why, one must ask, are these two issues so important? but also that they might attempt to weaken, or even to This must be understood by keeping in mind that these challenge, Mao's authority and power as China's paraissues not only are closely related to the legitimacy of each mount leader. By choosing Deng to head the CCP party's self-perceived position in the international commu- delegation, Mao would effectively use Deng's talent to nist movement, but are also interwoven with legitimizing bolster the international legitimacy of his "continuous the domestic programs pursued by each party's top leaders, revolution,” while at the same time further testing Deng's

capitalist and free world in holding the initiative of historical development.

More importantly, the great Sino-Soviet split destroyed the idea among communists and communist sympathizers all over the world that communism was a solution to the problems created in the world-wide process of modernization. Nothing could be more effective in destroying the moral foundation of communism as an ideology and a revolutionary way of transforming the world than the mutual criticism of the communists. Therefore, the events leading to the Sino-Soviet split, in which Deng Xiaoping actively participated, marked the beginning of the final decline of international communism as a 20th-century phenomenon.

Chen Jian, an Associate Professor of History at Southern Illinois University and, during the 1996-1997 academic year, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, is the author of China's Road to the Korean War (Columbia University, 1994) and a frequent contributor to the Cold War International History Project Bulletin.


Mao Zedong's comments on Deng Xiaoping's 3 August 1972 letter, 14 August 1972. Zhonghua renmin gongheguo shilu, vol.3,

part 2, p.846.


political attitude and loyalty toward his "continuous revolution.”4 Here, once again, Mao demonstrated his mastery of Chinese party politics.

Deng did not disappoint Mao. His stamina and eloquence in Moscow, together with that of Kang Sheng and other members of the Chinese delegation, put the Soviets on the defensive. This proved both the correctness of the Chinese stand and the superiority of the Chinese mentality. When members of the Chinese delegation returned to Beijing, they would be welcomed by Mao at the airport, which was a highly unusual gesture by the Chairman. Moreover, Mao was so confident that the transcripts of the meetings in Moscow would enhance his "continuous revolution" that, on 28 July 1963, he ordered them to be printed and distributed to low- and middle-rank CCP cadres. This was the only time in the CCP's history,

5 to the best of my knowledge, that the transcripts of top Party leaders' meetings with foreign party leaders were relayed to the whole party.

Deng Xiaoping certainly made history. His outstanding performance in Moscow in July 1963, as mentioned earlier, had created such a strong impression in Mao's mind, that it would contribute to his survival and reemergence during and after the Cultural Revolution. This would allow his name to be linked with China's history from the late 1970s to mid-1990s in such a dramatic way that this period has become widely known as “The Deng Xiaoping Era.”

Deng Xiaoping's debates with the Soviet leaders in July 1963 represent a historical juncture in the development of Sino-Soviet relations as this was the last substantive exchange of opinions between the Chinese and Soviet parties. The failure of the meeting led to the great polemic debates between the two parties, which would quickly expand into a confrontation between the two communist powers. Even Khrushchev’s fall from power in October 1964 could not reverse the trend of deteriorating relations. In February 1965, when Mao told Soviet Prime Minister A. N. Kosygin that his struggle with the Soviet “revisionists” would last for another 9,000 years, the CCP Chairman had virtually proclaimed the demise of the SinoSoviet alliance. In a few short years, Beijing and Moscow would proclaim the other as primary enemy, even worse than capitalist-imperialist America.

In a broader historical perspective, Deng Xiaoping's meetings with the Soviet leaders in July 1963 represented a defining moment in 20th-century history. Up to this point the communists in the world had acted under a profound belief that history and time were on their side. The great Sino-Soviet split, to which Deng Xiaoping made such a crucial contribution, drained both the material and spiritual resources of international communism. While the Soviet Union, with China emerging as a potent enemy, fell into an ever-worsening overextension of power, the Communist world as a whole spent much of its resources on internal fighting. This effectively weakened, and eventually eliminated, its ability to compete with the


Ed. Note: See the Deng-Suslov Talks, 1963 in this issue of the CWIHP Bulletin. 3

See, e.g., “Mao on Sino-Soviet Relations: Two Conversations with the Soviet Ambassador," (intro. Odd Arne Westad), CWIHP Bulletin 6-7 (Winter 1995/1996), pp. 164-169; Minutes, “Mao's Conversation with a Yugoslav Communist Union Delegation,” September 1956, and Minutes, “Conversations between Mao Zedong and Ambassador Yudin,” 22 July 1958, trans. Zhang Shu Guang and Chen Jian, CWIHP Bulletin 6-7, pp. 148-152, 155-159. 4

Zubok is certainly correct in pointing out that “Mao Zedong must have cleverly decided to direct the energy of his potential critics, Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi, toward external, foreign policy use.” 5

After returning to Beijing, both Kang Sheng and Deng Xiaoping proposed to Mao that the transcripts of the nine meetings between the Chinese and Soviet delegations in Moscow “be read” to party cadres “above Level 17." Mao replied in a letter to Deng Xiaoping: “It is not sufficient only reading the transcripts (to the cadres), and it seems that the transcripts should be printed. Every several (such as three to five) of the cadres above Level 17 should have a copy (of the transcripts), so that they can discuss and study them. After three months, all the copies must be taken back. Please consider this and make a decision on it.” Mao Zedong's letter to Deng Xiaoping, 28 July 1963, Jianguo yilai Mao Zedong wengao, vol. 10 (Mao Zedong's (Manuscripts since the Founding of the People's Republic), Beijing: The Central Press of Historical Documents, 1996), p. 330. 6

Kosygin was then visiting Beijing on his way back from a visit to Vietnam. He suggested to Mao that China and the Soviet Union should stop the polemic between them, so that they could take joint steps to support the struggles of the Vietnamese people; Mao refused the suggestion. He then made the statement that the struggle between the Chinese and the Soviets should go on for another 9,000 years, if not 10,000 years. See Cong Jin, Quzhe qianjin de suiyue (The Years of Tortuous Development] (Zhengzhou: Henan People's Press, 1989), pp.607-608.

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From the Diary of P.A. ABRASIMOV

SECRET 9 July 1957

Memorandum of Conversation With the General Secretary of the CCP,


3 July 1957

On 3 July 1957, I visited Deng Xiaoping and on the instructions of the CC CPSU gave him the full texts of the decision of the CC CPSU's July Plenum on the anti-party group of Malenkov, Kaganovich and Molotov and the CC CPSU's closed letter to all party members and candidates. In the conversation which ensued, Deng Xiaoping talked about the struggle with rightist elements in the People's Republic of China. He said that it was calculated that this struggle would go on for a long time; the Chinese Communist Party had the strength to crush the rightists in two or three days, but there was no need for that. The rightists will be given a further chance to finish stating their case, since by doing so they are giving the people and the CCP a good lesson.

By showing their true face, they are actually helping to educate the broad masses and intermediate elements. Without encouragement from the CCP, they would not dare to open fire and begin to act on such a broad scale. The rightists, noted Deng Xiaoping, resemble a snake which has slithered out of the earth, scented danger, and wants to slither back in, but has been strongly seized by the tail.

The positive side of the struggle with the rightists which has unfolded is that it has given cadres the opportunity to garner experience and to be tempered. Some party workers were afraid to provide the rightist elements the full freedom to state their opinion. Experience, however, has shown that where the rightists had the chance to express themselves fully, the struggle with them has proceeded more successfully; in those cases, the object of the struggle has been exposed, and a target for a counterstroke has been revealed; in those cases, the masses were convinced of the obvious hostility of the rightists to socialism and the party organizations have had the support of the overwhelming majority of the people in their conduct of the struggle.

In some establishments and organizations, the rightist elements were not given the chance to speak out and thereby reveal their true face. There were even cases where "rightists” from other places were invited to give speeches. In such establishments, the struggle was aimless and did not attain its goal.

The shortcoming of the given movement was the fact that at the necessary time, not all party organizations had clarified sufficiently for themselves the goals and tasks laid out by the CC CCP for this struggle. The CC CCP

avoided micromanagement and detailed elaboration on these issues and wanted the party organizations themselves to work out the Central Committee's tactic in the course of the struggle, to understand deeply the necessity of conducting this tactical line and its advantages.

Deng Xiaoping added that great courage and calm were needed to endure the stream of abuse which the rightists unleashed on the CCP both orally and in the press. Furthermore, Deng Xiaoping observed that the campaign of struggle with the rightists was proceeding unevenly. In some places, they went over to the counterattack too early and the enemy hid himself. However, to be late in this struggle would have been unforgivable. It was necessary to deliver the blow before the opening of the session of the All-Chinese Convention of the People's Representatives. Of course, it would have been possible to listen to the rightists for another ten days, but as a whole the conditions for a counter-attack had already come together. The leaders of the rightists had already shown themselves, and their views were widely known to the masses. “The big fish was already in the net," Deng Xiaoping observed. I noted that com. Zhou Enlai's speech to the session of the All-Chinese Convention of the People's Representatives was not only a report on the government's work, but was also the first strong blow delivered by the party against the rightists. Having agreed, Deng Xiaoping added that the popular masses received com. Zhou's speech in precisely that way. The rightists also clearly acknowledged this side of the report by the Premier of the State Council.

I inquired as to how the rightist elements were behaving after the collapse of all of their attacks.

Deng Xiaoping answered that they now want to hide themselves, but they will not be able to. Squabbles and divisions have begun among the rightists. In Shanghai, prominent representatives of the rightists denounced ringleaders with the most reactionary tendencies. Some of the rightists have already capitulated, but others are continuing to resist.

The CCP is not only not crushing this resistance, but is even, in a certain sense, supporting it. The rightists are unmasking themselves completely and on that basis, it will be possible to teach the masses a good lesson. Zhang Naige and others are not recognizing their mistakes, and are continuing to resist. The CCP considers that even if they continue to hold out stubbornly for a year, the party will also conduct painstaking explanatory work with them for the entire year.

The same policy will be carried out in the country institutions of higher learning. Rightist elements among the students will be left in the institutions of higher learning, and some of them after graduation may be left in their respective institutions of higher learning as instructors. They will even be given the opportunity, for instance, to speak their views once every three months. That will help us to conduct educational work [with] object (lessons] among the students. The same applies to the instructors of the institutions of higher learning.

From the diary of P.F. IUDIN

SECRET. Copy No. 2

Record of Conversation with member of the Standing Committee

of the Politburo

17 April 1958

To my question of approximately what percent the rightist elements comprise among the students, Deng Xiaoping answered that on average among the students, the rightists comprised only one percent, and that there were many more waiverers and individuals deceived by the rightist demagogues, but that at present they were once again reverting to the correct path.

In some institutions of higher learning, the percentage of rightists was higher, as, for instance, at Beijing University (there were] about 3%, while in some institutions of higher learning there were up to 10%.

At the conclusion of the conversation, Deng Xiaoping noted that this year prospects for the harvest were good, but that at the end of July and the beginning of August flooding often occurs.

In China every year, an average of 20 million people suffer from natural disasters. In the first five-year period, there were strong floods three times, and each time about 40 million people suffered, and last year, 70 million people suffered from natural disasters.

Having thanked com. Deng Xiaoping for the conversation, in my turn I told him about the progress of the preparation for the Sixth Worldwide Festival of Youth and Students in the USSR.

The head of the chancellery of the Secretariat of the CC CCP, com. Yang Shangkun, was present at the conversation.

Chargé d'affaires of the USSR in the PRC (P. Abrasimov)

(Source: AVPRF (Arkhiv vneshnei politiki rossiiskoi federatsii) (Russian Federation Foreign Policy Archive], f. 0100, op. 50, p. 424, d. 8;. obtained by Paul Wingrove; translated by Ben Aldrich-Moodie.)

I visited Deng Xiaoping and on instructions from the Center informed him of the letter from the CC of the Union of Communists of Yugoslavia (UCY] to the CC CPSU of 12 April of this year.

During the translation of the Yugoslav letter, Deng Xiaoping expressed his indignation at the first sentence in the letter in which the Yugoslavs state that they were “surprised” by the CC CPSU's letter. Deng Xiaoping reacted in the same way to some of the Yugoslavs’ arguments in the letter about their attitude toward the Soviet Union and the international communist movement.

Referring to the Yugoslavs' words to the effect that the UCY's draft program is based on a belief in the victory of socialism, Deng Xiaoping recalled that the Yugoslavs believe in the victory of socialism in America through an augmentation of the role of the working class in the bourgeois system of government. Deng Xiaoping noted that the Yugoslav draft program devotes more space to this than to many other issues.

After the translation was completed, Deng Xiaoping said that the Yugoslav response fully accords with the Chinese comrades' expectations. He noted that “this is a very logical step by the Yugoslavs." It is difficult to imagine, Deng Xiaoping said, that the Yugoslavs could easily change their positions and quickly correct the most serious mistakes contained in the program. As for changing selected phrases, Deng Xiaoping pointed out that this would not change the character of the Yugoslav document since what was at issue in the given case was an entire system of erroneous views.

I set out for Deng Xiaoping the CC CPSU's decision regarding the CC UCY's answer. Having heard out what I had to say, Deng Xiaoping said that this was without doubt a correct decision. At present, he said, we have absolutely no basis for reviewing the resolutions which we previously adopted regarding the UCY's program and its congress.

"On the whole," Deng Xiaoping said, “it is a good thing (khoroshee delo)—I consider that the upcoming struggle in the international communist movement will be very lively and interesting, and that all communists, all fraternal parties should join in this struggle.”

Having pointed out that the Yugoslavs talk a lot in their letter about the need to develop Marxist thought," Deng Xiaoping noted that on that point we can support the Yugoslavs. Right now, he said, we are repulsing Yugoslav

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