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“shelling.” Mao agreed with him by sug- sovereignty, you will eventually have no gesting that we should announce an odd- place to call your home and be thrown out 1. Notation, Mao Zedong on Chen Geng's numbered-day shelling, with no shelling on into the sea.” The message announced that Report, 18 December 195722 even-numbered days. For the odd-num- we had already ordered PLA batteries on the Source: Mao Zedong junshi wenji [A Colbered-day shelling, our targets might be lim- Fujian front not to fire on the airport, har- lection of Mao Zedong's Military Papers) ited only to the harbors and airport, not the bors, ships, and beaches of Jinmen on even (Beijing: Military Science Press, 1993), defense works and residential buildings on days. On odd days, we might not bomb 6:373 the island. From now on, our shelling would either, as long as there were no ships or be limited in scope, and, moreover, the light airplanes coming to Jinmen.
Return to Comrade Peng Dehuai: shelling might not be on a regular basis. The same day the statement was issued, [What has been suggested in the report] Militarily it sounded like a joke, since such Chairman Mao sent for Tian Jiaying20 and is absolutely necessary. You should superpolicy was unknown in the history of Chi- me for a conversation. Besides asking us to vise and push the air force to go all out [to nese or world warfare. However, we were make a survey of the current condition of fulfill the task), so that we are sure that the engaged in a political battle, which was people’s communes in Henan Province, Mao invading enemy will be annihilated. Please supposed to be fought this way. Chairman talked about the bombardment of Jinmen consider the question regarding our air force's Mao said that we only had “hand grenades” and Mazu. He said that during this event moving into Fujian in 1958. right now, but no atomic bombs. “Hand both we and the Americans adopted a grenades” could be successful for us to use brinkmanship policy. America concentrated 2. Letter, Mao Zedong to Peng Dehuai in beating Jiang's troops on Jin[men)-Ma[zu), many warships which invaded our territorial and Huang Kecheng, 27 July 195823 but not a good idea to use in fighting against waters and escorted Jiang's transportation Source: Jianguo yilai Mao Zedong wengao Americans, who had nuclear weapons. Later, fleets, but never fired on us. We fired 10,000 [Mao Zedong's Manuscripts since the Forwhen everybody had nuclear weapons, very or 20,000 shells a day, or even more when- mation of the People's Republic] (Beijing: likely nobody would use them.
ever there were American escort ships. Our The Central Press of Historical Documents, Comrades [Liu] Shaoqi and [Deng] shells, however, fell only on Jiang's ships 1992), 7:326 Xiaoping wondered at the end of the meeting not on American ships. Some shells fell near whether we should issue a formal statement American ships, which frightened them and Comrades [Peng] Dehuai and [Huang] announcing future shelling on odd days only caused them to turn around. While confront- Kecheng: but not on even days. Chairman Mao be- ing each other in the Taiwan Straits, both [I] could not sleep [last night), but lieved it necessary. He also required me to sides continued talks in Warsaw. Ameri- thought about it again. It seems more approunderstand that the editorial mentioned early cans were on one side of the brink, and we on priate to hold our [plans] to attack Jinmen for in the meeting should not be published until the other. Even though both were at the several days. While holding our operations, our formal statement was issued.
brink of war, no one ever crossed the line. [we will] observe the situational developOn 25 October, the “Second Message to We used our brinkmanship policy to deal ment there. We will not attack whether or the Compatriots in Taiwan” drafted by Chair- with American brinkmanship. Mao contin- not the other side relieves a garrison. Until man Mao was issued in the name of Defense ued that there were many stories written in they launch a provocative attack, [we will] Minister Peng Dehuai. A result of the analy- Liaozhai Zhiyi (The Chinese Ghost Sto- then respond with a counterattack. The sis of Dulles's speech published by the U.S. ries)21 about people without fear of ghosts.
ries)21 about people without fear of ghosts. solution of the problem in the Middle East State Department on 23 October, the mes- One of the stories was titled “Qing Feng," takes time. Since we have time, why should sage pointed out that on the one hand Dulles which talked about a bohemian scholar we be in a big hurry? We will hold our attack finally saw a “Communist China” and was named Geng Qubing. One night, Geng was plans now, but one day we will put it into willing to make contact with it. On the other reading late in a remote village house. “A implementation. If the other side invades hand, however, this American bureaucrat ghost walks into his house with long hair and Zhang[zhou), Shan[tou], Fuzhou, and still considered the so-called “Republic of black face, and stares at the scholar. Laugh- Hangzhou, a best scenario [for us to take China” in Taiwan as a “political unit which ing, dipping his fingers into the black ink, action] would emerge. How do you
think was factually existing.” The American plan and painting his face black himself, Geng about this idea? Could you
have a discuswas first to separate Taiwan from the main- looked directly at the ghost with keen, spar- sion about this with other comrades? It is land, and second to mandate Taiwan's spe- kling eyes. The ghost felt embarrassed and extremely beneficial [for our decision-makcial status. The message read, “China's ran away." Chairman Mao told us that if we ing] with politics in command and going affairs must be handled by the Chinese them- were not afraid of ghosts, ghosts would be through repeated deliberations. To make a selves. For any problem unable to be solved unable to do anything to us. He said that our plan too quickly usually results in an unat once, we can give it further thought and experience in shelling Jinmen-Mazu was the thoughtful consideration. I did such things discuss it later between us. ... We are not case in point.
quite often and sometimes had unavoidable advising you to break up with Americans I can say that what Chairman Mao told miscalculations. What is your opinion? Even right now. These sort of ideas are not prac- us here is his summary of our management if the other side attacks us, [we still] can wait tical. We simply hope that you should not of the Jinmen-Mazu crisis of 1958.
for a couple of days for a clear calculation, yield to the pressure from Americans. If you
and then start our counterattack. Can all of live under somebody's thumb and lose your Part II. Documents
the above points be accounted as working
out splendid plans here to defeat the enemy ing.
situation for one, two, three, or four years by in battles a thousand miles away, and having
using this point. You will eventually find some certainty of success that we will be Part II
out whether the West fears the East a bit ever-victorious? We must persist in the Distribute them to the Fujian Military Dis- more, or the East fears the West a bit more.
a principle of fighting no battle we are not trict and all other military districts; the party According to my opinion, it is Dulles who sure of winning. If you agree [with the committees of all provinces, metropolises, fears us more. Britain, America, Germany, above points), telegraph this letter to Ye Fei and regions; all departments of the Central France, and other western countries fear us a and ask him to think about it very carefully. Military Commission and all special forces lot more. Why do they have more fears? Let me know his opinion.
headquarters; all members of the Politburo This is an issue of strength, and an issue of Have a peaceful morning!
and the Secretariat of the Central Commit- popularity. Public attitude is indeed strength.
tee; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Lu There are more people on our side, and fewer Mao Zedong Dingyi;29 and Wu Lengxi.
on their side. Among the three doctrines [in 10 A.M., 27 July24
today's world]—communism, nationalism, 5. Speech, Mao Zedong at the Fifteenth and imperialism, communism and national3. Instruction, Mao Zedong to Peng Meeting of the Supreme State Council, 5 ism are relatively closer. Nationalism domiDehuai, 18 August 1958, 1:00 a.m.25 September 1958 (Excerpt)
nates a large part of the world, including the Source: Jianguo yilai Mao Zedong wengao, Source: Mao Zedong waijiao wenxuan [Se- three continents: Asia, Africa, and Latin 7:348
lected Diplomatic Papers of Mao Zedong] America. Even though the ruling groups of
(Beijing: The Central Press of Historical some countries in these continents are proComrade [Peng] Dehuai: Documents, 1994), 341-348
West, such as those in Thailand, Pakistan, [We are] preparing to shell Jinmen,
the Philippines, Japan, Turkey, and Iran, dealing with Jiang (Jieshi] directly and the As far as the international situation is among the people in these countries many, Americans indirectly. Therefore, do not concerned, our view has always been opti- probably quite a few, are pro-East. Only the conduct military maneuvers in Guangdong mistic, which can be summarized as "the monopoly-capitalists and a few people who and Shengzhen, so that the British would East Wind prevails over the West Wind.” have been totally poisoned by the monopolynot be scared.
At present, America commits itself to an capitalists want a war. Except for them, the
"all-round contract” policy along our coast. rest of the people, or the majority of the Mao Zedong
It seems to me that the Americans will only people (not all of them) do not want a war. In 1 A.M., 18 August
feel comfortable if they take complete re- northern European countries, for example,
sponsibility for Jinmen and Mazu, or even the ruling classes, though belonging to the P.S.: Please call air force headquarters for such small islands as Dadan, Erdan, and capitalists, do not want a war. The balance attention to the possibility that the Taiwan Dongding. America gets into our noose. of strength is like this. The truth is in the side might counterattack us by dispatching Thereby, America's neck is hanging in hands of the majority of the people, not in the large groups of air force (such as dozens, or China's iron noose. Although Taiwan is [for hands of Dulles. As a result, while they feel even over one hundred, airplanes) to try to the Americans) another noose, it is a bit rather diffident, we are solid and dependable
] take back air control over Jin[men] and farther from [the mainland). America now inside. We depend on the people, while they Ma[zu). If this happens, we should prepare moves its head closer to us, since it wants to support those reactionary rulers. This is to use large groups of air force to defeat take responsibility for Jinmen and other is- what Dulles is doing right now. He specialthem immediately. However, in chasing lands. Someday we will kick America, and izes in such people as “Generalissimo Jiang," them, [our planes) should not cross the it cannot run away, because it is tied up by [South Korean leader] Syngman Rhee, and space line over Jinmen and Mazu.26 our noose.
[South Vietnam leader] Ngo Dinh Diem.
I would like to present some viewpoints, My viewpoint is that both sides are afraid [of 4. Instruction, Mao Zedong to Huang offering some ideas for the participants at each other], but they fear us a bit more. Kecheng, 3 September 195827
this meeting. Do not treat them as a decision, Thus, it is impossible for a war to break out. Source: Jianguo yilai Mao Zedong wengao, or some kind of law. As law, they might not The second question is what is the na7:376
be changed; as opinions, they are alive and ture of the international military alliances
flexible. Let us use these points to review organized by the Americans and the other Part I
and analyze the current international situa- imperialists, such as the North Atlantic Comrade [Huang] Kecheng: tion.
[Treaty Organization), the Baghdad [Treaty Both the instruction and the appendix28 The first question is who fears whom a Organization), and the Manila [Treaty Orgaare well written. Please send them to Com- bit more. I believe that the Americans are nization].30 We say that they are of an agrade Peng Dehuai immediately for his read- afraid of fighting a war. So are we. But the gressive nature. It is absolutely true that ing. Then, they should be approved by the question is which side actually fears the other these military organizations are of an agCentral Military Commission's meeting and a bit more. This is my point, as well as my gressive nature. However, against which issued thereafter. Please give a detailed observation. I would like to invite every- side do these organizations direct their spearexplanation of the reasons (for these docu- body here to apply this point to your observa- head? Are they attacking socialism, or naments) at the Military Commission's meet- tion from now on. You can observe the tionalism? It seems to me that they are currently attacking the nationalist countries, in the world. Probably the Philippines can trouble with Britain and America. Domestisuch as Egypt, Lebanon, and the other weak be added to the list, but it offers only “con- cally, he would become a necessary teacher countries in the Middle East. But they will ditional support.” It is a tense situation, for who can educate the French proletarians, attack the socialist countries until, say, when example, that caused the Iraqi revolution, is just like “Generalissimo Jiang” in China. Hungary completely has failed, Poland has it not? The current tense situation is caused Without “Generalissimo Jiang,” it would collapsed, Czechoslovakia and East Ger- by the imperialists themselves, not by us. In not be enough for the Chinese Communist many have fallen down, and even the Soviet the final analysis, however, the tense situa- Party's positive education alone to educate Union and us have encountered troubles. tion is more harmful for the imperialists. [China's] 600 million people. Currently, de They will attack us when we are shaking and Lenin once introduced this point in his dis- Gaulle is still enjoying his reputation. If you crumbling. Why should they fail to attack cussions about war. Lenin said that a war defeat him now, people are still missing him you when you are falling down? Stable and could motivate people's spiritual condition, as he is still alive. Let him come to power, strong, we are not falling down now, and making it tense. Although there is no war he will run no more than five, six, seven, they are unable to bite the hard bone. So they right now, a tense situation caused by the eight, or ten years. He will be finished turn to those more bitable countries, gnaw- current military confrontation can also bring sooner or later. After he is finished, no ing at Indonesia, India, Burma, and Ceylon. every positive factor into play, while at the
every positive factor into play, while at the second de Gaulle will be there and his poison They have attempted to overthrow [Gamal same time stimulating groups of backward will be completely released. You must alAbdul] Nasser,31 undermine Iraq, and sub- people to think.
low his poison to be released, just like that jugate Algeria. By now Latin America has The fourth point is about the issue of we did to our Rightists.32 You have to let made a significant progress. As [U.S.) vice withdrawing armed forces from the Middle him release the poison. If not, he always has president, [Richard] Nixon was not wel- East. American and British troops of ag- the poison. You can eliminate the poison comed in eight countries, where people spat gression must withdraw. The imperialists only after he releases it. and stoned him. When the political repre- now refuse to withdraw and intend to stay The sixth point is the embargo, that is, sentative of America was treated with saliva there. This is disadvantageous for the people, no trade with us. Is this advantageous or and rocks there, it means contempt for but it will at the same time educate the disadvantageous to us? I believe that the America's "dignity,” and an unwillingness people. In order to fight against aggressors, embargo benefits us a lot. We do not feel it to treat it “politely.” Because you are our you need to have a target; without a target, it [to be] disadvantageous at all. It will have enemy, we therefore treat you with saliva is difficult for you to fight against the ag- tremendous beneficial impact on our [hanand rocks. Thus, we should not take the gressors. The imperialists now come up dling of] clothing, food, housing, and transthree military organizations too seriously. there themselves to become the target, and portation, as well as on our reconstruction [We] need to analyze them. Even though refuse to leave. This arouses the people of (including the production of steel and iron). aggressive, they are not steady.
the entire world to fight against the Ameri- The embargo forces us to work out all the The third point is about the tension in can aggressors. After all, it seems to me that solutions ourselves. My appreciation goes the international situation. We are calling it is not so harmful for the people when the to He Yingqin33 all the time. In 1937 when every day for relaxing international tensions
aggressors put off their withdrawal. Thereby our Red Army was re-organized into the because it will benefit the people of the the people will yell at the aggressors every- Eighth Route Army under the Nationalist world. So, can we say that it must be harmful day: why do you not leave [our country]? Revolution Army, we received 400,000 yuan for us whenever there is a tense situation? I The fifth question is whether it is a good of fabi every month. After we were paid the do not think it necessarily so. A tense thing or bad thing to have [Charles] de money, we became dependent on it. In 1940, situation is not necessarily harmful for us in Gaulle in power. At present, the French however, the anti-Communist movement every circumstance; it has an advantageous Communist Party and the French people reached its peak, and the payment stopped. side. Why do I think this way? It is because should firmly oppose de Gaulle coming to No more money was paid [to us]. We had to besides its disadvantageous side, a tense power, and veto his constitution. Mean- find out our own means [to support oursituation can mobilize the population, can while, they should also be prepared for the selves] from then on. What did we find out? particularly mobilize the backward people, struggle after he takes office in case they Weissued an order that as there was no more can mobilize the people in the middle, and cannot stop him. Once in power, de Gaulle fabi, each regiment had to find out its own can therefore promote the Great Leap For- will oppress the French Communist Party way of self-support. Thereafter, all [of our] ward in economic construction. Afraid of and the French people. His taking office, base areas launched a production movefighting a nuclear war? You have to think it however, may also have advantageous ef- ment. The value yielded from the producover. Look, we have fired a few shells on fects in both domestic and foreign affairs. tion reached not 400,000, not 4 million, even Jinmen and Mazu, and I did not expect that Internationally, this person likes to make not 40 million yuan, but about 100 or possithe entire world would be so deeply shocked, trouble for Britain and America. He likes to bly 200 million yuan, if we combined the and the smoke and mist is shading the sky. argue. He had some miserable experiences production of all the base areas together. We This is because people are afraid of war. in the past. In his memoirs, de Gaulle have since relied on our own efforts. Who is They are afraid that the Americans will blamed Britain and America all the time, but today's He Yingqin? It is Dulles, a different make trouble everywhere in the world. Ex- said some nice words about the Soviet Union. name. Currently, they are carrying out an cept for Syngman Rhee, no second country It seems to me that he will make trouble embargo. We are going own way. We have supports America among so many countries again. It is advantageous when France has initiated the Great Leap Forward, throwing
away dependence and breaking down blind universe, I do not see any reason to be pessi- have talked about before. About the noose faith. The result is good.
mistic about the future. I had a debate with issue we discussed at the last meeting, did The seventh is the non-recognition is- Premier [Jawarharlal] Nehru34 over this is- we not? Now I want to say that we need to sue. Is [imperialist countries'] recognition sue. He said that (as the result of a nuclear place nooses on Dulles, Eisenhower, and
[ [of the PRC] or non-recognition relatively war]no government could remain and every- other warmongers. There are many places more advantageous to us? Same as on the thing would be destroyed. Even though where the nooses can be used on the Ameriembargo issue, imperialist countries' non- someone might want to seek peace, no gov- cans. In my opinion, wherever an (Amerirecognition of us is more advantageous to us ernment would be there. I told him that it can] military base is located, [America) is than their recognition of us. So far there are would never be like that. If your government tied up by a noose. [This happens), for exabout forty some countries which refuse to would be eliminated by atomic bombs, the
atomic bombs, the ample, in the East, in South Korea, Japan,
, recognize us. The main reason lies in people would form another one which could the Philippines, and Taiwan; in the West, in America. For instance, France intends to work out a peace. If you fail to think about West Germany, France, Italy, and Britain; in recognize China, but it does not dare to do it things in such extreme terms, how can you the Middle East, in Turkey and Iran; and in because of America's opposition. Many ever sleep? This is no more than a matter of Africa, in Morocco and other places. In each other countries in Central and South people being killed, and [what is reflected of these countries, America has many miliAmerica, Asia, Africa, and Europe, and here) is the fear of fighting a war. But if the tary bases. For instance, in Turkey there are
, Canada, dare not to recognize us because of imperialists definitely want to fight a war more than twenty American military bases, , America. There are only nineteen capitalist and attack us first, using atomic bombs, it and it is said that in Japan there are about countries which recognize us now, plus an- does not matter whether you fear fighting a 800. In some other countries, although there other eleven countries in the socialist camp, war or not; in any case they will attack you. is no [American] military base, they are plus Yugoslavia, totaling thirty-one coun- If that were the case, what should be our occupied by the troops [of the imperialists). tries. It seems to me that we can live with attitude? Is it better to fear or not to fear? It For example, American troops in Lebanon this small number. Non-recognition [of us), is extremely dangerous [for us] to fear this and British troops in Jordan. in my opinion, is not a bad thing. Rather, it and fear that every day, which will make our Here I am focusing on two of these is relatively good. Let us produce more cadres and people feel discouraged. So I nooses: one is Lebanon, the other is Taiwan. steel. When we can produce 600 or 700 believe that [we) should be case-hardened Taiwan is an old noose since America has
] million tons of steel, they will recognize us toward fighting a war. We will fight it if we occupied it for several years. Who ties at last. They may still refuse to recognize us have to. We will rebuild our country after the America there? The People's Republic of by then, but who cares?
war. Therefore, we are now mobilizing the China ties it there. 600 million Chinese have The last issue is about preparations for militias. All people's communes should a noose in their hands. This is a steel noose an anti-aggression war. I said in my first organize their militias. Everyone in our and it ties America's neck. Who tied point that as both sides are afraid of war, war country is a soldier. We should arm the America? The noose was made by America should not break out. Everything in the people. We can distribute several million itself and tied by itself, and it throws the world, however, needs a safety factor. Since guns at the beginning. Later on we will other end of the noose to mainland China, there exists a monopoly-capitalist class in
distribute several dozen million guns among letting us grasp it. [America] was tied in the world, I am afraid that it will make the people. All provinces should be able to Lebanon only recently, but the noose was trouble recklessly and abruptly. We must construct light weapons, including rifles, also made by America itself, tied by itself, therefore be prepared to fight a war. This machine guns, hand grenades, small mortars, and the other end of the noose was thrown point needs to be explained clearly to our and light mortars. Each people's commune into the hands of Arab nations. Not only so, cadres. First, we do not want a war, and we should have a military office to supervise America also throws the (other end of the]
[ oppose any war. So does the Soviet Union. [combat] training. Some of our participants noose into the hands of the majority of the If war comes, it will be started by the other here today are intellectuals. You need to people in the world. Everyone condemns side and we will be forced to enter the make a call for holding a pen in one hand and America, and no one gives it any sympathy. fighting. Second, however, we do not fear gripping a gun in the other. You cannot only The noose is held by the people and governfighting a war. We must fight it if we have have pens in your hands. You should be
ments in many countries. In the Middle to. We have only grenades and potatoes in culturalized as well as militarized.
East, for example, the UN held meetings [on our hands right now. A war of atomic and These eight points are my opinions. I the Lebanon issue), but [America's] main hydrogen bombs is of course terrible since offer them to you for your observation of the problem is that it has been tied by the Arab many people will die. That is why we international situation.
people and cannot escape. At present, oppose a war. Unfortunately, the decision
America is caught in a dilemma—is it better will not be made by us. If the imperialists 6. Speech, Mao Zedong at the Fifteenth to withdraw earlier or later? If an early decide to fight a war, we have to be prepared Meeting of the Supreme State Council, 8 withdrawal, why did it come in the first for everything. We must fight a war if we September 1958 (Excerpt)
place? If a late withdrawal, [the noose) will have to. I am saying that it is not so terrify- Source: Mao Zedong waijiao wenxuan, 348- be getting tighter and tighter, and will being even if half of our population perishes. 352
come an encased knot. How can this be This is certainly talk in extreme terms.
handled? Lebanon is different from Taiwan Thinking about the history of the entire I am going to discuss something we with which America has signed a treaty. The
situation in Lebanon is more flexible as no make the decision in accordance with the cans) are noosed here. You may be able to treaty is involved there. It is said that one situation after the Communists landed there? get away if you take the initiative to leave issued the invitation, and the other came, and The problem lies in the 110,000 Guomindang slowly and quietly. Is there not a policy for [the noose) is hitched up. As far as Taiwan troops, 95,000 men on Jinmen and 15,000 on getting away? In my view, you had a policy is concerned, this is an encased knot since a Mazu. America has to pay attention to them for getting away from Korea, and now a treaty was signed. There is no difference as long as these two large garrisons are on policy for getting away from Jinmen-Mazu between the Democrats and Republicans in the islands. This concerns the interest and is being shaped. As a matter of fact, those in this case. Eisenhower agreed on the treaty feelings of their class. Why do the British your group really want to get away, and the and [Harry] Truman sent the Seventh Fleet and Americans treat the governments in public opinion also asks you to do so. To get there. Truman could come and go at will some countries so nicely? They cannot fold away is to extricate yourself from the noose. since there was no treaty during his time. their hands and see these governments col- How can this be done? That is, the 110,000 Eisenhower signed the treaty. America is lapse. Today the Americans and Jiang are troops should leave. Taiwan is ours, and we tied up [in Taiwan] because of the having a joint military exercise under the will never compromise on this issue, which Guomindang's panic and request, and also command of [Vice Admiral Wallace M.] is an issue of internal affairs. The dealing because America was willing [to be tied up Beakley, commander of the Seventh Fleet. between us and you [the Americans] is an there].
Also is there is [Roland] Smoot,35 the person international issue. These are two different Is it [America) tied up at Jinmen and who ordered the firing, which made the issues. Although you Americans have been Mazu? I think that it has also been tied up at [U.S.] State Department and Defense De- associated with Jiang Jieshi, it is possible to Jinmen and Mazu. Why do I think so? Did partment unhappy. He is there, together dissolve this chemical combination. This is not the Americans say that they had not with Beakley, to take the command. just like electrolytic aluminum or electromade any decision yet, and that they would To make a long story short, you [Ameri- lytic copper, the combination will be dis
Khrushchev's Nuclear Promise of China (PRC) would result in Soviet nuclear lishment of the PRC the previous fall, stated To Beijing During the 1958 Crisis retaliation. Researchers have assumed for that, “in the event of one of the Contracting
some time that Soviet leaders were unhappy Parties being attacked by Japan or any state introduction by Vladislav M. Zubok with the new Sino-American confrontation allied with her and thus being involved in a
and considered the Chinese brinkmanship as state of war, the other Contracting Party The history of the “second” Taiwan a dangerous development that interfered with shall immediately render military and other Straits crisis (August-October 1958) has Kremlin plans for “detente” with the West. assistance by all means at its disposal.”4 gotten a second wind lately, due to the emer- In their memoirs, Khrushchev and, more (The United States was not mentioned by gence of new Chinese evidence.1 While this recently, Gromyko both described how name in the text, but the implication was research has greatly illuminated Chinese puzzled and alarmed they were by Mao's clear enough.) decision-making, scholars still have been seemingly reckless attitude toward nuclear What emerged from the Gromyko-Chiunable to ascertain precisely what transpired war as not only possible, but actually desir- nese talks in early September 1958 and what between the Chinese and Soviet leaderships able for the communist camp.2 However, appeared to have worried the Kremlin leadafter the outbreak of the crisis. The docu- Khrushchev’s September 7 public declara- ership was not that the Chinese might proment printed below, a previously secret 27 tion to Eisenhower—stating that “An attack voke a general war with the United States. September 1958 communication from the on the Chinese People's Republic, which is Rather, as the text of the Soviet letter below Central Committee of the Communist Party a great friend, ally and neighbor of our implies, it was the general assumption of the of the Soviet Union (CC CPSU) to the Cen- country, is an attack on the Soviet Union”3 Chinese Politburo that if the United States tral Committee of the Chinese Communist seems to contradict this general thesis. “should start a war against the People's Party (CC CPC), an internally circulated The secret letter from the CC CPSU to Republic of China” and used tactical nuclear version of which is now declassified and the CC CPC printed below links the two weapons against the PRC (in response to available to researchers at the Russian For- puzzling events noted above, and helps point Chinese attacks against the offshore islands eign Ministry archives in Moscow, adds one toward possible answers to the questions or Taiwan), the Soviet Union should remain more piece of evidence to this puzzling they raise. It attests to the fact that, in spite passively on the sidelines, as a strategic story.
of the genuine tension between the two com- reserve in case the Americans decided to Two episodes relating to Soviet-Chi- munist giants, the Khrushchev leadership at broaden the war by using high-yield (e.g., nese interactions during the 1958 crisis have that time still was determined to stand with thermonuclear) weapons. This interpretaattracted particular attention: the secret visit Beijing at a moment of crisis, and took tion of the Soviet commitments diverged of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko additional steps to prove that it remained significantly from Article I of the Treaty to Beijing and his talks with Chinese leaders loyal to the spirit and letter of the Sino- signed in Moscow eight years earlier. on September 6-7; and the letter of Soviet Soviet Treaty of February 1950.
In a forthcoming book, Constantine Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev to President The first article of that treaty, concluded Pleshakov and I argue that many in the Dwight D. Eisenhower on September 7 warn- at the end of Mao Zedong's summit meet- Soviet leadership were unhappy to see the ing that an attack on the People's Republic ings in Moscow with Stalin after the estab
continued on page 226