961.61/9–2050: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State


773. Soviet press brief summaries of speeches September 25 Mao Tze Tung and Chu Teh clearly indicate that these leaders now assert foremost task Chinese Communists is to build up strong army. We assume full texts speeches will be published here shortly.

If Soviet press has not distorted their statements, new CPG line presumably is result events since June 25, as Mao spoke in opposite vein June 6. We believe highly significant abandonment by CPG of economic development, industrialization, and reconstruction as first priority objectives government, in favor “creation of mighty army for defense frontiers.” In view critical economic problems facing CPG, new preoccupation with army suggests CPG conviction world situation so serious Chinese Communist survival requires immediate establishment [Page 780] powerful army. Factors contributing to such momentous decision probably include following:

Soviet pressure, resulting from Soviet concern over speedup in arming of West, and free world unity, in face KPDR aggression.
Unpalatable awareness of CPG that US neutralization Formosa effectively stymied Red plans to seize island.
Awareness that air and sea power exposed industrial targets and communications far behind fighting lines in Korea to destruction, regardless of overwhelming superiority in numbers of North Korean Ground forces in early weeks of war.
Object lesson derived from Korean war: Soviet quite capable of sacrificing Asian Communists. Crushing defeat being now administered to North Korean forces while white Communist elder brothers sit on sidelines undoubtedly will result in some stock-taking by all Asian Communists. Another aspect of this object lesson is that Soviets were guilty of grossly underestimating free world reaction to KPDR aggression, and that this reaction has contributed to anti-Communist solidarity and strength.

Effects within China of CPG emphasis on army will be complex and far-reaching. Support of large, modernized army will place tremendous burden on country, which as usual will have to be borne largely by farmers. Diversion of funds to army, instead of utilization all possible resources for economic development will retard industrialization and establishment of powerful proletariat, upon which CCP hopes to depend for support. Equipment of Army could consume entire existing credits extended by USSR, and much more besides. Fundamental longing of Chinese people for peaceful existence, which contributed significantly to bringing civil war to swift conclusion, must be ignored by Communists, who will have to deluge Chinese people with alarmist war propaganda to justify army. Fact that CPG must continue to clearly align Chinese with USSR against non-Communist world will not be received favorably by Chinese people, who would prefer improvement in economic conditions and absence militarism and threat involvement in war against proven power of US, UK and other free nations.

Whether stress on Chinese army is indicative of any fundamental alteration in Soviet global war plans is difficult to estimate in absence further information, however, it strongly suggests that Kremlin feels it can no longer afford to leave China without a first class modern army, and that international situation requires heavy subsidization Chinese military machine without delay. Together with Soviet policy build up GDR army, pattern of increase Communist military strength in most significant satellite is clear.