229. Memorandum From the Secretary’s Special Assistant for Intelligence (Armstrong) to the Secretary of State1


  • Intelligence Note: Chou’s Visit to Moscow

The timing of Chou En-lai’s trip to Moscow, Warsaw, and Budapest2 suggests considerable urgency in his mission, and apparently reflects the concern with which Peiping views events in Eastern Europe. The Chinese Communist premier abruptly cut short his stay in India and postponed his visit to Nepal and Afghanistan in order to be able to stop over briefly in Peiping en route to Moscow. Some light is shed on Chinese Communist policies and possibly on Chou’s trip by the release on December 28, less than a week before Chou’s return to Peiping, of the first Chinese Communist commentary on Tito’s dispute with the Kremlin.

The December 28 commentary contained nothing designed to assuage Asian concern at Soviet policies in Eastern Europe. On the contrary, it elaborately rationalized Soviet actions against Hungary and the Soviet position in the Tito dispute. Peiping stated that it sympathized with parts of Tito’s argument, but that “comradely criticism” of Communist leaders must be subordinated to the struggle of Communism against the West. Peiping restated its criticism of “great national chauvinism” (for the first time attributed specifically to Stalin) and its insistence that Communist regimes should maintain their “independence.” However, the Chinese Communists made it clear that bloc members should subordinate themselves in the struggle against the West to Soviet leadership and that the USSR should continue to constitute the prime model for revolutionary regimes. Peiping reiterated its primary concern with the necessity of restoring and maintaining bloc solidarity.

The reservations concerning Soviet policy suggest that on some points the Chinese Communists may attempt tactfully to mediate between Moscow and certain Eastern European leaders. However, the main impact of Peiping’s policy and of Chou’s trip more likely will be to support the USSR and to cut short Eastern European hopes that Peiping’s sympathy for more flexible bloc relationships may extend to the point of supporting “national Communism” against Moscow.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.9361/1–957. Limited Official Use.
  2. Premier Chou En-lai arrived in Moscow on January 7 for discussions with the Soviet leaders. He later visited Warsaw, January 11–16, moved on to Budapest, January 16–17, and returned to Moscow, January 17–18.