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Chinese “may have oversimplified a Soviet

The problem of succession preoccupied strategy which was... more subtle.... Domestic Need to Transform the Chinese Mao throughout the first half of the 1960s. Moscow's diplomatic initiative of mid-Feb- State and Society:

His acute awareness of impending death ruary may in fact have been timed to coin- Beginning in the late 1950s, Mao be- contributed to his sense of urgency. The cide with rather than to constrainthe came increasingly apprehensive about the U.S. escalation of war in Vietnam made him Communist offensive in South Vietnam.”84 potential development of the Chinese revo- all the more eager to the put his own house in The Chinese criticism of the Soviet peace lution. He feared that his life work had order. He was afraid that if he did not nip in initiative must have confirmed the Ameri- created a political structure that would even- the bud what he perceived to be revisionist can image of China as a warmonger. tually betray his principles and values and tendencies and if he did not choose a proper

The Sino-Soviet rivalry over Vietnam become as exploitative as the one it had successor, after his death China would fall certainly provided leaders in Hanoi an op- replaced. His worry about the future of into the hands of Soviet-like revisionists, portunity to obtain maximum support from China's development was closely related to who would "change the color" of China, their two Communist allies, but we should his diagnosis of the degeneration of the abandon support for national liberation not overstate the case. Sometimes the ben- Soviet political system and to his fear about struggles, and appease U.S. imperialism. efits of the Sino-Soviet split for the DRV the effects of U.S. Secretary of State John Mao was a man who believed in dialectics. could be limited. For example, the Hanoi Foster Dulles' strategy of “peaceful evolu- Negative things could be turned into posileadership sought a communist international tion.”'86 Mao believed that Dulles' approach tive matters. The American presence in united front to assist their war effort. They to induce a peaceful evolution within the Indochina was a threat to the Chinese revowanted Moscow and Beijing to agree on socialist world was taking effect in the So- lution. But on the other hand, Mao found common support actions, particularly on a viet Union, given Khrushchev's fascination that he could turn the U.S. threat into an single integrated logistical system. They with peaceful coexistence with the capitalist advantage, namely, he could use it to intenfailed to achieve this objective primarily West. Mao wanted to prevent that from sify domestic anti-imperialist feelings and because of China's objection.85 happening in China.

mobilize the population against revisionists.


Mao had successfully employed that strat- avidly sought advice and weapons from first discussed the idea with a CCP delegaegy during the Civil War against Jiang Jieshi China. But sentiments of distrust were never tion led by Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, and [Chiang Kai-shek). Now he could apply it far below the surface. Friction emerged Peng Zhen in Beijing. The two sides worked again to prepare the masses for the Great between Chinese military advisers and Viet- out a communiqué that went part of the way Cultural Revolution that he was going to namese commanders during the war against toward the “united action” proposal. But launch. Accordingly, in the wake of the the French in the early 1950s.88 Vietnamese when Miyamoto, accompanied by Deng, Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Mao unleashed a distrust of the Chinese also manifested itself came to see Mao in Conghua, Guangdong, massive "Aid Vietnam and Resist America" when Chinese support troops entered Viet- the chairman burst into a rage, insisting that campaign across China. 87 nam in the mid 1960s.

the communiqué must stress a united front When Chinese troops went to Vietnam against both the United States and the Soviet Sino-Vietnamese Discord

in 1965, they found themselves in an awk- Union. Miyamoto disagreed, so the Beijing

ward position. On the one hand, the Viet- communiqué was torn up. 93 Clearly, Mao In its heyday the Sino-Vietnamese namese leadership wanted their service in by this time had connected the criticism of friendship was described as "comrades plus fighting U.S. aircraft and in building and Soviet revisionism with the domestic struggle brothers,” but shortly after the conclusion of repairing roads, bridges, and rail lines. On against top party leaders headed by Liu, the Vietnam War the two communist states the other hand, the Vietnamese authorities Deng, and Peng. It was no wonder that these went to war with each other in 1979. How tried to minimize their influence by restrict- officials soon became leading targets for did it happen? In fact signs of differences ing their contact with the local population. attack when the Cultural Revolution swept had already emerged in the early days of When a Chinese medical team offered medi- across China a few months later. China's intervention in the Vietnam con- cal service to save the life of a Vietnamese In the meantime the Vietnamese made flict. Two major factors complicated Sino- woman, Vietnamese officials blocked the

their different attitude toward Moscow clear Vietnamese relations. One was the histori- effort. 89 Informed of incidents like this, Mao by deciding to send a delegation to attend the cal pride and cultural sensitivity that the urged the Chinese troops in Vietnam to “re- 23rd Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnamese carried with them in dealing frain from being too eager” to help the Viet- the Soviet Union (CPSU), which was to be with the Chinese. The other was the effect namese.90 While the Chinese soldiers were held between March 29 and April 8 and of the Sino-Soviet split.

in Vietnam, the Vietnamese media reminded which the Chinese had already decided to Throughout their history, the Vietnam- the public that in the past China had invaded boycott. The Vietnamese were walking a ese have had a love-hate attitude toward Vietnam: the journal Historical Studies pub- tightrope at this time. On the one hand they their big northern neighbor. On the one lished articles in 1965 describing Vietnam- relied on the vital support of Soviet weaphand, they were eager to borrow advanced ese resistance against Chinese imperial dy- ons; on the other hand, they did not want to institutions and technologies from China; nasties. 91

damage their ties with China. Thus Le Duan on the other hand, they wanted to preserve The increasing animosity between and Nguyen Duy Trinh traveled from Hanoi their independence and cultural heritage. Beijing and Moscow and their efforts to win to Beijing on March 22, on their way to When they were internally weak and facing Hanoi's allegiance put the Vietnamese in a Moscow. Although no sign of differences external aggression, they sought China's dilemma. On the one hand, the change of appeared in public during Duan's talks with help and intervention. When they were Soviet attitudes toward Vietnam from reluc- Zhou Enlai, China's unhappiness about the unified and free from foreign threats, they tant to active assistance in late 1964 and early Vietnamese participation in the 23rd Contended to resent China's influence. A pat- 1965 made the Vietnamese more unwilling gress can be imagined. 94 tern seems to characterize Sino-Vietnamese to echo China's criticisms of revisionism. In sum, the Beijing-Hanoi relationship relations: the Vietnamese would downplay On the other hand, they still needed China's included both converging and diverging intheir inherent differences with the Chinese assistance and deterrence. Mao's rejection terests. The two countries shared a common when they needed China's assistance to of the Soviet proposal of a “united action” to ideological outlook and a common concern balance against a foreign menace; they would support Vietnam alienated leaders in Hanoi. over American intervention in Indochina, pay more attention to problems in the bilat- During Kosygin's visit to Beijing in Febru- but leaders in Hanoi wanted to avoid the eral relations with China when they were ary 1965, he proposed to Mao and Zhou that danger of submitting to a dependent relastrong and no longer facing an external Beijing and Moscow end their mutual criti- tionship with China. So long as policymakers threat.

cisms and cooperate on the Vietnam issue. Hanoi and Beijing shared the common This pattern certainly applies to the But Mao dismissed Kosygin's suggestion, goal of ending the U.S. presence in the Sino-Vietnamese relationship during the asserting that China's argument with the region, such divergent interests could be 1950s and the first half of the 1960s. The Soviet Union would continue for another subordinated to their points of agreement. Vietnamese Communists during this period 9,000 years. 92

But the turning point came in 1968, when confronted formidable enemies, the French During February and March, 1966, a Sino-Soviet relations took a decisive turn for and the Americans, in their quest for na- Japanese Communist Party delegation led by the worse just as Washington made its first tional unification. When the Soviet Union Secretary General Miyamoto Kenji, visited tentative moves toward disengagement from was reluctant to help, China was the only China and the DRV, with the purpose of South Vietnam. In the new situation, source of support that Hanoi could count encouraging “joint action” by China and the Beijing's strategic interests began to differ upon against the West. Thus Ho Chi Minh Soviet Union to support Vietnam. Miyamoto fundamentally from those of Hanoi. Whereas the Chinese now regarded the United States helped precipitate the U.S. escalation of the lion. Most of these cities are located in the as a potential counterbalance against the war) and adopted significant measures at coastal areas and are very vulnerable to air Soviet Union, their Vietnamese comrades home to prepare for war. China's assistance strikes. No effective mechanisms exist at continued to see Washington as the most to the DRV, to use John Garver's words, the moment to organize anti-air works, evacudangerous enemy. After the withdrawal of "was Mao's way of rolling back U.S. con- ate urban population, guarantee the continuU.S. troops from Vietnam and the unifica- tainment in Asia.”96 From the viewpoint of ation of production, and eliminate the damtion of the country, Hanoi's bilateral dis- ideology, China's support for North Viet- ages of an air strike, especially the fallout of putes with Beijing over Cambodia, a territo- nam served Mao's purposes of demonstrat- a nuclear strike. rial disagreement in the South China Sea, ing to the Third World that Beijing was a (3) Principal railroad junctions, bridges, and the treatment of Chinese nationals in spokesman for national liberation struggles and harbors are situated near big and meVietnam came to the fore, culminating in a and of competing with Moscow for leader- dium-size cities and can easily be destroyed direct clash in 1979.

ship in the international communist move- when the enemy attacks cities. No measures ment.

have been taken to protect these transportaWas China Bluffing During the War? If the actions recommended by Sum- tion points against an enemy attack. In the

mers had been taken by Washington in Viet- early stage of war, they can become paraThe fact that Beijing did not openly nam, there would have been a real danger of lyzed. acknowledge its sizable presence in North a Sino-American war with dire consequences (4) All reservoirs have a limited capacVietnam raised questions about the justifi- for the world. In retrospect, it appears that ity to release water in an emergency. Among cation for Washington's restraint in U.S. Johnson had drawn the correct lesson from the country's 232 large reservoirs with a conduct of war, both at the time and in later the Korean War and had been prudent in his water holding capacity between 100 million years. Harry G. Summers, the most promi- approach to the Vietnam conflict.

and 350 billion cubic meter, 52 are located nent of revisionist critics of President

near major transportation lines and 17 close Johnson's Vietnam policy, asserts that the

to important cities. There are also many United States drew a wrong lesson from the

small and medium-size reservoirs located Korean War: “Instead of seeing that it was NEW CHINESE DOCUMENTS ON

near important political, economic, and milipossible to fight and win a limited war in


tary areas and key transportation lines. Asia regardless of Chinese intervention,

We believe that the problems mentioned we...took counsel of our fears and accepted

Translated by

above are important ones directly related to as an article of faith the proposition that we

Qiang Zhai

the whole armed forces, to the whole people, should never again become involved in a

and to the process of a national defense war. land war in Asia. In so doing we allowed our Document 1: Report by the War Depart. We propose that the State Council organize fears to become a kind of self-imposed de- ment of the General Staff, 25 April 1964. a special committee to study and adopt, in terrent and surrendered the initiative to our

accordance with the possible conditions of enemies.” Summers contends that “whether Deputy Chief of Staff Yang 97:

the national economy, practical and feasible the Soviets or the Chinese ever intended

measures to guard against an enemy surprise intervention is a matter of conjecture," and According to your instruction, we have attack. that the United States allowed itself “to be made a special investigation on the question Please tell us whether our report is apbluffed by China throughout most of the of how our country's economic construction propriate. war." He cites Mao's rejection of the Soviet should prepare itself for a surprise attack by 1965 proposal for a joint action to support the enemy. From the several areas that we The War Department of the General Staff, Vietnam and Mao's suspicions of Moscow's have looked at, many problems emerge, and

April 25, 1964. plot to draw China into a war with the United some of them are very serious. States as evidence for the conclusion that (1) The industry is over concentrated. [Source: Dangde wenxian98 (Party DocuMao was more fearful of Moscow than Wash- About 60 percent of the civil machinery ments) 3 (1995), 34-35.] ington and, by implication, he was not seri- industry, 50 percent of the chemical indusous about China's threats to intervene to try, and 52 percent of the national defense help Hanoi.95

industry (including 72.7 percent of the air- Document 2: Mao Zedong's Comments Was China not serious in its threats to craft industry, 77.8 percent of the warship on the War Department's April 25 Rego to war with the United States in Indochina? industry, 59 percent of the radio industry, port, 12 August 1964. As the preceding discussion has shown, and 44 percent of the weapons industry) are Beijing perceived substantial security and concentrated in 14 major cities with over one To Comrades Luo Ruiqing 99 and Yang ideological interests in Vietnam. From the million population.


Chengwu: security perspective, Mao and his associates

(2) Too many people live in cities. were genuinely concerned about the Ameri- According to the census conducted at the This report is excellent. We must carecan threat from Vietnam (although they did end of 1962, 14 cities in the country have a fully study and gradually implement it. The not realize that their own actions, such as the population over one million, and 20 cities a State Council has established a special comsupply of weapons to Hanoi in 1962, had population between 500,000 and one mil- mittee on this question. Has it started its


(b) For those currently on-going con- sponsible for the protection of city buildings

struction projects in the First Front and par- and government departments and instituMao Zedong ticularly in the fifteen big cities, except those tions. August 12.

that can be completed and put into effective We will spend the months of September

operation next year or the year after, all the and October investigating the various as(Source: Ibid., 33.)

rest must be reduced in size, undergo no pects and produce detailed plans that can be expansion, and be concluded as soon as pos- implemented gradually. The special comsible.

mittee will synthesize the plans before subDocument 3: "Report on How Our (c) For existing old enterprises, espe- mitting them to the Central Committee for Country's Economic Construction cially those in cities with high industrial inclusion in the general plan for the next year Should Prepare Itself Against an Enemy concentration, we must remove them or some and in the Third Five-Year Plan. Surprise Attack” by Li Fuchun 100, Bo of their workshops. Particularly for military (3) We propose to revive the People's Yibo 101, and Luo Ruiqing 102, 19 August and machinery enterprises, we must break Anti-Air Committee. Premier 104 should 1964.

them in two parts if possible, and shift one still serve as Director and Comrade Xie

part to the Third and Second Fronts. If we Fuzhi as Secretary General (Comrade Luo Chairman 103 and the Central Committee: can remove them as a whole, we must do that Ruiqing was Secretary General originally). with careful planning and in steps.

The Ministry of Public Safety will be reIn accordance with Chairman's com- (d) Beginning in next year, no new large sponsible for the daily work of the commitments on the General Staff War and medium-size reservoirs will be built. tee. Department's report of how our country's (e) For key national universities and We should restore the Planning Office economic construction should prepare itself colleges, scientific research and planning for the Construction of Underground Railfor a surprise attack by the enemy, we have institutes in the First Front, if they can be way in Beijing and carry out an active prepagathered comrades with responsibility in removed, we must relocate them to the Third ration for the building of underground railthese areas for a meeting. All of us agree and Second Fronts with careful planning. If way in Beijing. In the meantime, we should that Chairman's comments and the War they can not be removed, we must break consider the construction of underground Department's report are extremely impor- them into two parts.

railway in Shanghai and Shenyang. The tant. We must pay serious attention to and (f) From now on, all new projects, in Ministry of Railway will be responsible for do our best on such an important issue whatever Front they will be located, must this task. concerning our country's strategic defense. comply with the principle of dispersion, close- (4) If the central leadership approves The meeting has decided:

ness to mountains, and concealment. They the above suggestions, we propose to dis

must not be concentrated in certain cities or tribute our report along with the General (1) To establish a special committee on

Staff War Department report as well as this case within the State Council. We We have divided labor to deal with the Chairman's comments as guidelines to all suggest that the committee consist of thir- above work:

Party Bureaus, to all provincial, municipal, teen people including Li Fuchun, Li (a) The State Economic Commission and district Party committees, and to all Xiannian, Tan Zhenlin, Bo Yibo, Luo and the State Planning Commission will be Party committees within government minisRuiqing, Xie Fuzhi, Yang Chengwu, Zhang responsible for the arrangement of the indus- tries. Jichun, Zhao Erlu, Cheng Zihua, Gu Mu, trial and transportation systems.

Please inform us whether our report is Han Guang, and Zhou Rongxin. Li Fuchun (b) The Ministry of Railway will be correct. serves as Director, and Bo Yibo and Luo responsible for preparation measures conRuiqing Deputy Directors. cerning railroad junctions.

Li Fuchun, Bo Yibo, Luo (2) In addition to the four areas men- (c) The Office of National Defense In- Ruiqing tioned by the War Department, our prepara- dustry will be responsible for the arrange

August 19, 1964. tion measures also need to include universi- ment of national defense industry. ties and colleges, scientific research and (d) The General Staff will be respon- [Source: Ibid., 33-34.] planning institutions, warehouses, govern

sible for the division of the First, Second, and ment departments and institutions as well as Third Fronts on the national level and for the civil shelters in cities and mines. We must arrangement of national defense fortifica- Document 4: Zhou Enlai's Conversation follow Chairman's principle of "careful tions and war preparation mobilizations. with Ayub Khan, President of Pakistan, 2 study and gradual implementation" in con- (e) Comrade Tan Zhenlin will be re

April 1965. ducting our investigation into various areas sponsible for preparation measures concernas early as possible and pay attention to the ing reservoirs.

(1) China will not take the initiative to profollowing issues.

(f) Comrades Zhang Jichun and Han voke a war (with the United States). (2) (a) All new construction projects will Guang will be responsible for the arrange- China means what it says and will honor the not be placed in the First Front, especially ment of universities and colleges, scientific international obligations it has undertaken. not in the fifteen big cities with over a research and planning institutes.

(3) China is prepared. China's policies are million population.

(g) Comrade Zhou Rongxin will be re- both prudent and prepared.... (4) If the Ameri


can madmen carry out an extensive bomb- enemy lacks reasons and justifications in cuts us into parts will the leadership go to the ing, China will not sit still and wait to be sending troops. If the enemy invades us mountains. It will not do that when China is killed. If they come from the sky, we will without our attacking it first, the enemy's not cut into parts. For instance, if the enemy take action on the ground. Bombing means morale cannot be high. This will decide the does not occupy cities like Xian and war, and war will have no boundaries. It is difference between a just and an unjust war. Tongguan, Shaanxi 109 will not create a impossible for the United States to resolve In addition, there is the issue of increas- Shaanan Military region and a Shaanbei the issue of war simply by relying on a policy ing the size of troops. In order to build military region. The leadership will decide of bombing.

fortifications, we can organize some engi- on this matter after the enemy has invaded,

neer units. After working for a period and and there is time to do that. There is also time (Source: The Diplomatic History Research completing fortifications, they can be dis- to mobilize troops. At present, we can begin Office of the People's Republic of China missed. Troops engaged in agricultural pro- the organization of the militia....(the rest of Foreign Ministry, comp., Zhou Enlai waijiao duction and divisions on semi war alert the speech is about how to organize the huodong dashiji, 1949-1975 (Chronology should also construct fortifications. Produc- militia). of Zhou Enlai's Major Diplomatic Activi- tion troops are busy with agricultural work, ties, 1949-1975) (Beijing: World Knowl- but during slack seasons they should spend (Source: Dangde wenxian 3 (1995), 40.] edge Press, 1993), 445.)

most of their time building fortifications.
This means that they can work on fortifica-

tions for half a year in North China and for Document 6: Mao's Conversation with Document 5: Liu Shaoqi's Speech to the four to five months in the Yangtze valley. If the Party and Government Delegation of Central Military Commission war plan- war begins and we have to expand troops, we the Democratic Republic of Vietnam110, ning meeting on 19 May 1965.

just need a mobilization. This matter will be 20 October 1965.

easy. At the moment, we need to do a good The enemy has many contradictions, job in organizing militia forces.

You are fighting an excellent war. Both weaknesses, and difficulties. Its problems What we cannot have time to prepare the South and the North are fighting well. are no less than ours. If our preparations are when war begins includes fortification con- The people of the whole world, including faster and better, war can be delayed. The struction, third fronts, bases as well as com- those who have already awakened and those enemy will find it difficult to invade. If we munications, a reconnaissance network, and who have not awakened, are supporting you. make excellent preparations, the enemy may new technology. We must pay attention to The current world is not a peaceful one. It is even dare not to invade. If it does not invade, these issues. We should start work on the big not you Vietnamese who are invading the we will not fight out. Such a prospect is not Third Front, the small Third Front, material United States, neither are the Chinese who impossible. But we must work hard to storage, state-of-the-art technology, scien- are waging an aggressive war against the achieve this goal. We must build the big tific investigation, and research on new weap- United States. Third Front and the small Third Front and do ons. If we delay work on these matters, we Not long ago the Japanese Asahi a good job on every front, including the will find ourselves unprepared later. To do Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun published atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb, and long- these things needs time.

several reports filed by Japanese correspondistance missiles. Under such circumstances, As to the issues of the size of troops, the dents from South Vietnam. U.S. newspaeven if the United States has bases in Japan, number of military regions, and a unified pers described these reports as unfair, thus Taiwan, and the Philippines, its ships are big leadership between the local civilian gov- provoking a debate. I am not referring to the targets out on the sea and are easy for us to ernment and the military, we can have time Japanese Communist newspaper, Akahata. strike. We should develop as early as pos- to deal with them when war begins. Some of Iam talking about Japanese bourgeois newssible new technology to attack aircraft and the issues will be dealt with only after the papers. This shows that the direction of the warships so that we can knock out one en- enemy has invaded our country. In case that media is not favorable to the United States. emy ship with a single missile. Our Red Flag the enemy occupies the Longhai Railroad, 106 Recently the demonstration by the Ameri1 and Red Flag 2105 can shoot down the or the Yangtze valley, or the Jinghan Rail- can people against the American enemy's high-altitude airplanes. If we have road 107, or the Jinpu Railroad 108, our coun- government's Vietnam policy has develassurance to shoot down high-altitude air- try will then be divided into sections. If that oped. At the moment it is primarily Ameriplanes, we can have more assurance to knock happens, we have to practice a unified lead- can intellectuals who are making trouble. down low-altitude ones. The enemy's ership of the party, the government and the But all this are external conditions. In strength lies in its navy, air force, atomic army. But this will be decided at that time, fact what will solve the problem is the war bombs, and missiles, but the strength in navy not now. With trains and airplanes at its you are fighting. Of course you can conduct and air force has its limits. If the enemy disposal, the enemy will not do things ac- negotiations. In the past you held negotiasends ground troops to invade China, we are cording to our methods. Only when that tions in Geneva. But the American did not not afraid. Therefore, on the one hand we time comes will our leadership go to moun- honor their promise after the negotiations. should be prepared for the enemy to come tains. At present, the leadership must live in We have had negotiations with both Chiang from all directions, including a joint inva- the city because it will be inconvenient if it Kai-shek and the United States. Rusk said sion against China by many countries. On does not live in the city. Only when a large that the United States has had most negotiathe other hand we should realize that the number of enemy troops invades China and tions with China. But we stick to one point:

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