You have spoken about truth as well as mentioned fairness. So
what are you still afraid of? Why are you afraid of displeasing
the Soviets, and what about China? I want to tell you frankly
what I now feel: Vietnamese comrades have some other thoughts
about our methods of assistance, but you have not yet told us.
Comrade Mao criticizing us-the Chinese officials attending the
talk between Comrade Mao Zedong and Comrade Le Duan in Beidaihe
(2) -of having "too much enthusiasm"
in the Vietnam question. Now we see that Comrade Mao is farsighted.
Le Duan: Now,
when you talk about it again, it is clear for me. At that time
I didn't understand what Comrade Mao said because of poor interpretation.
Deng: We understand
that Comrade Mao criticized us, that is Comrade Zhou Enlai, me
and others. Of course, it doesn't mean that Comrade Mao doesn't
do his best to help Vietnam. It is clear to all of you that we
respond to all your requests since they are within our abilities.
Now, it seems that Comrade Mao Zedong is farsighted in this matter.
In recent years, we have had experiences in the relations between
socialist countries. Is it true that our overenthusiasm has caused
suspicion from Vietnamese comrades? Now we have 130 thousand people
in your country. The military construction in the Northeast as
well as the railway construction are projects that we proposed,
and moreover, we have sent tens of thousands of military men to
the border. We have also discussed the possibility of joint fighting
whenever a war breaks out. Are you suspicious of us because we
have so much enthusiasm? Do the Chinese want to take control over
Vietnam? We would like to tell you frankly that we don't have
any such intention. Here, we don't need any diplomatic talks.
If we have made a mistake thus making you suspicious, it means
that Comrade Mao is really farsighted. Moreover, at present many
hold China to be disreputable: Khrushchev is revisionist, and
China is dogmatic and adventurous. So, we hope that in this matter,
if you have any problem, please tell us straightforwardly. Our
attitude so far has been and from now on will be: you are on the
front line and we are in the rear. We respond to all your requests
within our abilities. But we shouldn't have too much enthusiasm.
in the northeast islands has been completed. The two sides have
discussed that the construction along the coast will be done by
our military men. Recently, Comrade Van Tien Dung (3)
proposed that after completing the construction in the northeast,
our military men help you build artillery sites in the central
delta.. We haven't answered yet. Now I pose a question for you
to consider: Do you need our military men to do it or not?
[The proposal is about] the construction of 45 artillery sites
close to the Soviet missile positions.
Deng: We don't
know whether it is good for the relations between two parties
and two countries or not when we sent 100,000 people to Vietnam.
Personally, I think it's better for our military men to come back
home right after they finish their work. In this matter, we don't
have any ill intention, but the results are not what we both want.
Not long ago,
one thing happened, which we think not incidental: On its way
to Hon Gai for coal, a Chinese ship was not allowed to enter the
port. It had to stay offshore for 4 days. A request to make a
call from ashore was refused. This ship was on duty under a trade
agreement, it was not a warship.
Le Duan: We
did not know about [this].
foreign ministry has sent a memorandum to yours, but the Vietnamese
government has not yet replied. Nothing like this has occurred
for the last 10 years.
Even a request made by the Chinese ship to enter the Vietnamese
port to hide from US planes, for getting supplies of fresh water
and making telephone calls, was refused. One of our cadres, who
is in charge of foreign trade, later had to come for discussions
with the port authorities several times, and then the ship could
enter your port. The comrade who is in charge of Cam Pha port
even said: It is our sovereignty, you can only come when you are
allowed to. Meanwhile, we are saying that all the ships and planes
of Vietnam can have access to the ports and airports of China
at any time if they are pursued by US planes. Deng: Now, I want
to talk about another aspect of the relations between the two
parties and two countries. Among 100 thousand Chinese military
men, who are now in your country, there may be someone who committed
wrongdoing, and on your side there also may be some others who
want to make use of these incidents to sow division between two
parties and two countries. We should, in a straightforward manner,
talk about it now as there is not only the shadow but some damages
in our relations as well. It is not only the matters concerning
our judgment on the Soviet aid. Are you suspicious that China
helps Vietnam for our own intentions? We hope that you can tell
us directly if you want us to help. The problem will easily be
solved. We will withdraw our military men at once. We have a lot
of things to do in China. And the military men stationed along
the border will be ordered back to the mainland. (4)
Le Duan: I
would like to express some opinions. The difficulty is that our
judgments are different from each other. As the experience in
our Party shows, it takes time to make different opinions come
We don't speak
publicly [about] the different opinions between us. We hold that
the Soviet assistance to Vietnam is partly sincere, so neither
do we ask whether the Soviets [will] sell Vietnam out nor [do
we] say the Soviets slander China in the matter of transportation
of Soviet aid. Because we know that if we say this, the problem
will become more complicated. It is due to our circumstances.
The main problem is how to judge the Soviet Union. You are saying
that the Soviets are selling out Vietnam, but we don't say so.
All other problems are rooted in this judgment. Concerning China's
assistance to Vietnam, we are very clear and we don't have any
concern about it. Now, there are more than a hundred thousand
Chinese military men in Vietnam, but we think that whenever there
is something serious happening, there should be more than 500,000
needed. This is assistance from a fraternal country. We think
that as a fraternal socialist country, you can do that, you can
help us like this. I have had an argument with Khrushchev on a
similar problem. Khrushchev said the Vietnamese supported China's
possession of the atomic bomb so China could attack the Soviet
Union. I said it was not true, China would never attack the Soviet
Union. Today, I am saying that the judgment by a socialist country
on another socialist country should be based on internationalism,
especially in the context of relations between Vietnam and China.
In our anti-French resistance, had the Chinese revolution not
succeeded, the Vietnamese revolution could hardly have been successful.
We need the assistance from all socialist countries. But we hold
that Chinese assistance is the most direct and extensive.
As you have
said, each nation should defend themselves but they also should
rely on international assistance. So, we never think that your
enthusiasm can be harmful in any way. To the contrary, the more
enthusiasm you have, the more beneficial it is for us. Your enthusiastic
assistance can help us to save the lives of 2 or 3 million people.
This is an important matter. We highly value your enthusiasm.
A small country like Vietnam badly needs international assistance.
This assistance saves so much of our blood. The relations between
Vietnam and China will exist not only during the struggle against
the US but also in the long future ahead. Even if China does not
help us as much, we still want to maintain close relations with
China, as this is a guarantee for our nation's survival. With
regard to the Soviets, we still maintain good relations with them.
But we also criticize the Soviets if they are receptive to our
In the relations between our two parties, the more agreement we
have the better we feel, the less agreement we have, the more
we are concerned. We are concerned not only about your assistance
but also about a more important matter, that is the relations
between the two nations. Our Party Central Committee is always
thinking of how to strengthen the friendly relationship between
the two parties and two countries.
On the incident
of the Chinese ship having difficulties to enter a Vietnamese
port, I don't know about it. We are not concerned about your 130
thousand military men in our country, why should we be concerned
about one ship? If it is the mistake of the person in charge of
the port, this person may well be a negative agent trying to provoke.
Or a mistake by this person can be used by other agent provocateurs.
It is a personal mistake. The way we think about China has never
We think that
we should have a moral obligation before you and before the international
Communist movement. We keep on struggling against America until
the final victory. We still maintain the spirit of proletarian
internationalism. For the sake of the international Communist
movement and international spirit, it doesn't matter if the process
of socialist development in the south of Vietnam is delayed for
30 or 40 years.
I would like
to add some of my personal opinions. At present, there is a relatively
strong reformist movement in the world, not only in Western Europe
but also in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union. Many nationalist
countries adopt either the path of reformism or that of fascism,
as those countries are ruled by the bourgeoisie. So I think that
there should be some revolutionary countries like China to deal
with the reformist countries, criticizing them, and at the same
time, cooperating with them, thus leading them to the revolutionary
path. They are reformist, so on the one hand, they are counter-revolutionary,
that is why we should criticize them. But on the other hand, they
are anti- imperialists, that is why we can cooperate with them.
In the history of the Chinese revolution, you did the same thing.
Comrade Mao Zedong established the anti-Japanese United Front
with Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek]. So my personal opinion is
that China, while upholding the revolutionary banner, should cooperate
with reformist countries to help them make revolution. It is our
judgment as well as our policy line. This is not necessarily right,
but it is out of our sincere commitment to revolution. Of course,
this matter is very complicated. As you have said, even in one
party there are three parts: rightist, centrist and leftist, so
is the situation in a big [Communist] movement.
in judgment bring about difficulties which need time to be solved.
It is necessary to have more contacts in order to reach agreement
in perception. It is not our concern that China is trying to take
control over Vietnam. If China were not a socialist country then
we [would be] really concerned. [We believe that] Chinese comrades
came to help us out of proletarian internationalism.
Deng: On the question of "enthusiasm," please have more
understanding for Chairman Mao's wish to refer to the fact that
relations between two countries [and] parties are not simple.
[Neither] is the relationship among comrades [simple].
1. Kang Sheng was then an alternate member of
the CCP Politburo and a member of the CCP Central Secretariat.
He would soon, during the early stage of the Cultural Revolution,
become a member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee and an
advisor to the "Cultural Revolution Group," the leading
authority during the Cultural Revolution.
Beidaihe is a coastal sightseeing site northeast of Beijing where
CCP leaders frequently vacation and have important meetings during
Van Tien Dung (1917-) was second to Vo Nguyen Giap in the DRV
military leadership. Chief of PAVN General Staff 1953-78, commanded
the Ho Chi Minh offensive 1974-75. He was a VWP politburo member
from 1972-86, vice minister until he became defense minister of
the Socialist Republic of Vietnam sometime between 1978 and 1980.
Retired in 1986.
In a separate conversation on the same day, Zhou Enlai said: "After
Kosygin visited Vietnam and promised to assist Vietnam, we have
new disagreements with the Soviets over their demand to use two
of our airports and their proposal to create an airlift for transportation
of weapons to Vietnam. It is OK that you praise the Soviets [for
giving] great aid. But that you mention it together with Chinese
aid is an insult to us." Deng Xiaoping added, "So, from
now on, you should not mention Chinese aid at the same time as