thumbnail of China today; Morton Halperin and Kenneth Young, part one
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The national educational radio network and the University of Chicago present China today a series of five programs devoted to exploring the significance of events in communist China and the interaction between the Chinese People's Republic and the United States of America. The talks in this series were recorded during a year long study of China held by the University of Chicago Center for Policy Study in 1966 and 1967. On today's program you will hear first from Morton h helper and assistant to the assistant secretary of defense Mr. Halperin will discuss recent trends in Chinese foreign policy. When one begins to talk about the foreign policy of China it's important to begin by emphasizing the relative unimportance of this subject to the leaders in Peking when we look at China we tend to see what it does externally. We tend to focus on its foreign policy. But I think it's important for us to realize that the leaders in Peking while they have some concern about the world have their major concerns about China or about the
economic development of China or about the political the ideological development of China and foreign policy occupies only a small fraction of the time and only a small fraction of their resources. In fact if one looks at their foreign policy objectives it is possible to argue that the dominant foreign policy objective with Peking has had is to be left alone. That is to defend itself to be secure against an American attack and to posture its military forces and its political policy in such a way that reduces the likelihood of an American attack which would destroy the communist regime in China. So that I think when I now spend the remainder of the talk on Chinese foreign policy and on their aspirations beyond the borders of China it's important to keep in mind that this is a regime which spends most of its time on its domestic affairs and about who's concerned with the issues that I'm going to discuss is
not their major preoccupation even though it's a major preoccupation in dealing with China. And I think if one asked what are the basic objectives of the Peking regime it is possible for certain analytic purposes to separate out what one might call the Chinese interests. That is the interest which any strong central regime in China would have from the interests which the regime has because it is an ideologically motivated Marxist Leninist regime. I think it's clear that any strong government would be concerned with the recovery of lost territories that is with Tibet and now with Taiwan than any strong regime would be concerned with the elimination of rival regimes. In this case of course with the Chinese nationalist regime on Taiwan and finally any strong central regime in China would be concerned to establish Chinese dominance over the countries around the borders
of China and through South and Southeast Asia. But it's clear that the Peking regime has objectives which go beyond these traditional objectives of a strong Chinese regime. They're interested in spreading the area which is under communist control although nowadays one has to say in parentheses after that Marxist Leninist since they're only interested in the communist parties which are genuine Marxist Leninist communist parties they're interested in supporting in power those communist regimes which take a correct line in the international movement number which is dwindling and which includes only clearly firmly Albania but also to some extent the North Korean and North Vietnamese regimes. They're also concerned and clearly very concerned with promoting a correct line for the International Communist movement for making sure that international communism does not follow the path of Soviet revisionism. So that I think these additional motivations come from the strong
ideological component. Moreover the way Peking pursues all of these objectives the establishment of itself as an Asian and a world power as a leader of an ideological movement. All of these are influenced by the way Peking looks at the world by ideology in the sense of an image of how the world works what political strategies are effective and what can be accomplished by pursuing various policies. Now the Chinese have had a very consistent Marxist Leninist Maoist ideology of how in general the world functions of the inevitable movement towards communist regimes. But if the Chinese themselves point out history moves by ebbs and flows and one must in every period determine what are the concrete historical. What is the concrete is stark the situation. What are the opportunities. What are the dangers in any particular period and in coming to talk about their current appreciation of the world situation. I think
it's useful to contrast it with a very different outlook which the Chinese had in 1963 and up to very recently just about a year ago in 1963 and slightly earlier than that the Chinese accepted an open public split with the Soviet Union. They began to watch polemics pacifically naming the Soviet Union. They began a major and open effort to compete with the Soviet Union for the leadership of the International Communist movement. And beyond that Peking began the effort to establish a third force in the world which would be opposed to the United States and the Soviet Union and which would consist of not only communist states but also emerging nations as the in the like to call them and also advanced developed nations in the so-called second intermediate zone countries such as France and Japan and ultimately others that would accept Chinese leadership in an anti-American anti-Soviet
coalition. And the Chinese began to devote considerable part of the time of leaders such as enjoying my considerable resources to foreign aid programs and so on. And a major effort to establish this third force in the world and they began to point in their propaganda both internally and externally to this world revolution against American imperialism and Soviet revisionism as the model of current and future optimism. The world was going in a favorable direction because the forces of anti-Americanism was sweeping the world and this was an anti-Americanism which was not necessarily Marxist Leninist communists that it was simply all of the forces in the world that were against the United States and the Chinese began to proclaim that the most important contradiction in the world the most important contradiction in the world and conflict in the world was between those groups that were opposed to the American leadership and those groups that supported the American leadership. Whether
or not the those in the first group were communists or not. And I think the Chinese in 1983 saw this trend as a woman run trend one that would develop and accelerate over Tom. But they expected some very early gains from this policy and they expected growing and accelerating signs that in fact it would be possible to put together an effective third world and developed world coalition based on anti-Americanism. And as you recall they scored some astonishing successes in the first year or two of this policy successes which added to the American desire to see China as somehow 10 feet tall and capable of doing things that nobody else could do within the international communist movement the Chinese collected an impressive series of lives the Vietnamese the Koreans the Albanians the Japanese the Indonesians a significant part of the Indian party and even a human party
which for example resisted the Soviet effort to have the test ban signed by all nations. Moreover the communist parties of Europe seem to be drifting away from the Soviet Union. The Italian party and the French party more and more proclaim their independence and the prospect appeared to be of a tight Chinese Communist Bloc centered in Asia and other countries scattered around with very limited Soviet influence. In Viet Nam also Chinese policy and Chinese aspirations seem to be great successes. It appears that the United States would withdraw and that there would be a Communist victory. The Communist victory would have three values to them. First it would demonstrate the validity of the Chinese communist model of revolutionary war. Second it would demonstrate that the United States was in fact a paper tiger that even though it had the strength and the capability to defeat the enemy in the field it lacked the
will to do so and if resisted would ultimately cave in because of political pressures. Exactly what Mao meant when he said that the United States was a paper tiger. And third it would demonstrate that revolutions could succeed without Soviet because Khrushchev and washed his hands of Viet Nam. Yet it appears that the revolution was nevertheless going to be successful. More generally in the third world the Chinese also see favorable developments taking place. The events in Indonesia Algeria Egypt and other countries seem to suggest that it would be possible to put together a coalition of very left wing groups which while not Marxist Leninist were nevertheless sufficiently opposed to American imperialism to count as part of this Chinese coalition. The Chinese look forward to the Afro-Asian conference as a place in which the Soviets would be formally excluded from the Afro-Asian world in which the United States would be strongly condemned for its policy
in Vietnam and elsewhere and where they might form a revolutionary group A new United Nations a rival United Nations of the new emerging forces. Finally one thousand sixty three thousand nine hundred sixty four. The Chinese I think look forward with great expectations to their mission to the United Nations at this point they refrain from the statements that they've made since which has made it harder for them to get in. And they made an intensive lobbying effort in 1064 to be admitted to the UN and I think they expected to come into the U.N. and to immediately become the leader of this third bloc within the UN as well as outside of it. And even in the intermediate zone of developed nations things look favorable France moved to recognition of China and the Chinese may well believe that this would lead to a more active French Chinese coalition in opposition to the United States and to the Soviet Union and Japan the new government to come to
power that it wanted to develop a new China policy which many in Japan took to mean a new policy friendly to the Peking government and perhaps leading to recognition. Moreover the Chinese have exploded a nuclear device and were beginning to recover from the military consequences of the restoril of Soviet aid in 1960 so that all in all the outlook in Peking in one thousand sixty three thousand nine hundred sixty four was for a number of short run gains particularly in Vietnam but also at the Algiers conference and elsewhere which would lead to the formation of a revolutionary bloc led by China and strong enough to oppose the Soviet Union and the United States. Well as a result of a series of what from Peking been described as unfortunate events beginning with the Algerian coup which threw out the envelop on one Kief of June and followed by a whole series of other
events including the coup de time the Chinese have suffered a series of setbacks which have completely changed. Their outlook on the nature of the current international scene these setbacks have now become well-known and I'll only refer to them very briefly. First of all within the international communist movement the new Soviet leadership move to correct the harebrained schemes of Nikita Khrushchev and succeeded in re-establishing Soviet influence in power. A number of countries that China had counted firmly in her camp moved back to a neutral position and neutrality which has become pro Soviet as exemplified by the fact that Viet Nam and Korea both attended the recent Soviet party congress the Cubans who appeared to be in the Chinese camp now have gone all the way to becoming the most bitter opponents of China. The Indonesian party has ceased to exist. The Japanese party barely refrained
from attending a Moscow conference that took great pressure on the part of the Chinese to keep them from attending. And it seems fairly clear that even the Japanese will soon move into a neutral position and in fact I've already done so on proclaiming the need for united action against the United States. The exact opposite of the Chinese line so that the Chinese are left now with the Albanian party. The New Zealand party and the Belgian party and the situation is exactly the reverse of what it appeared in one thousand sixty three in one thousand sixty four namely China is firstly virtually isolated and there exists a movement centered around the Soviet Union. The setbacks in the Third World have been no less dramatic the Afro-Asian conference was cancelled. Indonesia moved from the leader of the new emerging forces to the establishment of a moderate genuinely new truest and probably to some extent pro-Western government.
Then melon was removed and the situation in Guyana changed in a way unfavorable to the Chinese. Even the Pakistanis who the Chinese now count on as their last remaining friends of major significance in the world have not quite acted as the Chinese hold during the Indo-Pakistani war the Pakistanis accepted the U.N. demand for a cease fire. They went to Tashkent with the revisionist Russians and accepted that the agreement which was proposed and finally most recently during a visit. The Pakistanis refused to mention the word Vietnam in the communique signed by Pakistan and China although they did of course allow the Chinese to indorse their position on Kashmir but it's clear that from Peking Pakistan is not the most firm friend and anti-American country although it's all that they have left. There was Well things did not turn out quite as the Chinese had expected. The United States
did not withdraw. In fact it began bombing the North which created a Vietnamese perception of the need for and for Soviet assistance which demonstrated Chinese impotence in the face of American military action which forced the Chinese to accept that if the United States was indeed a paper tiger it was a paper tiger which took longer to fade from the scene than Mao hoped. The situation in which the prospect is for a long struggle and not a quick victory in the intermediate zone French recognition much to the Sigrid of the Gaul as well as Mao seems to have led absolutely nowhere and they always now turn to the Russians something that much give the Chinese great pause. Moreover in Japan it turned out that there was not going to be any new China policy. In fact the Japanese fams of supporting American policy in Viet Nam and most recently engaged also in a rapprochement with the Soviet Union. So the Chinese have had to face the fact that nations in the developed world
which break from the United States move towards Russia and not towards China and that even when they don't break with the United States they face the possibility of a rapprochement with Russia but not with China. Moreover Chinese the limits of Chinese power were brought home to Peking by their input into Viet Nam by the relatively limited reaction to their atomic bomb test and finally by the very massive build up of American military power in the Far East by the large commitment of forces to Viet Nam by the build up of American nuclear strength from the Far East and finally the American forcing through of the Korean Japanese treaty which creates the possibility of a Korean Japanese possibly Taiwan military alliance which again underscores for the Chinese their isolation and their military weakness in the Far East. Now all of this is not escaped the notice of Peking and we in the West have been gloating over the setbacks the Chinese have been faced with the
problem of what to do. And it's clear that there are a number of signs that they are undergoing right now and have for the past several months been going to go in a re-evaluation of their policy they've called home their ambassador is there a number of signs of high level conferences. And it's clear that the leaders in the attentive elites are quite concerned about the setbacks. What they mean for China's policy what they mean for China's role in the world. And I think the Chinese have not yet set out on a firm path. They've begun a number of policies in reaction to the setbacks. But there is not yet a single dominant. And I think there will emerge a single dominant line but otherwise will continue it's characteristic of Chinese policy that they have a main line which dominates most of the policy but that they have some winds which continue in the background and which continue to influence some of their policies. So I think the Chinese are considering a whole range of alternatives but I think it may be useful to identify four kinds of
policy lines which Peking May 10th. The first would be to continue along the same line to continue to try to forge a bloc and tie American nations which would come on the Chinese control and simply to work harder at this to make fewer mistakes and the Chinese have now confessed that even the leadership in Peking occasionally makes certain errors and to just try this policy for some further time in the same way it seems to me that this is very unlikely. The setbacks have been so overwhelming and so cumulative and so upset Chinese calculations of where the world is going that they are almost certain to be under enormous pressure to discover a new line to come out with some new way of dealing with a very new world situation. One alternative that I think is getting serious consideration is the notion of returning to the policy of abandoning spirit as a policy the five principles of peaceful coexistence friendly relations with all nations not only those nations which
are prepared to take a firm anti-American stand and to try to simply get along with everyone even if they're not ideologically committed in the right direction a policy which they followed from 1954 to 1957 1058 the third party the one that I think they're going to end up with. I want to come to talk about now is the policy of turning in on themselves even more concentrating even more on the domestic concerns and the domestic opportunities of China. I think there is the danger that they will in some desperate way come back to that towards the end. Now as I suggested at the beginning we're dealing with a regime which is very largely turned in already which has always been much more concerned than I think the popular image would suggest. On China and on the Chinese Revolution so that a turning in would mean a simply of acceleration of already existing trends in their policy.
I think it may be useful to set out the sort of limits of a turning in of how far they might go and the limit toys which I think they're beginning to move and will move even further over the next several months. Now in terms of economic resources the stress has always been on the internal development of China. And we have over the last two or three years the Chinese did begin rather extensive aid programs given their limited resources. They also seem to be giving more emphasis to the nuclear program and perhaps a greater emphasis on attaining a quick capability against the United States. And I think they will now focus on so that we may see a Chinese nuclear development which leads to medium range missiles over the next 10 or 15 years and ICBMs in the 1980s and 1990s rather tend to have a submarine capability in the very short run. Moreover I think the attention of top leaders may turn more and more to domestic concerns less to foreign
policy issues and foreign policy activities. Moreover turning in an extreme form would involve urging of it to slow down and to work for a victory in the long run rather than a quick victory in the short run which would have important payoffs within the international Communist movement. It would involve putting on I say outstanding international disputes such as the Sino-Indian border dispute or perhaps even trying to settle these so that they can be left alone and ignored from then on. It would involve less effort to win over ops your communist parties in order to put them on the roster and say that now indeed there is an Australian Marxist Leninist party which supports our policy. It would involve less interest in membership in the United Nations than the Chinese had in one thousand sixty three thousand nine hundred sixty four would involve an end to their effort to form an Afro Asian bloc and to be on good terms with left wing leaders who might come within such a bloc
and would involve a stress on domestic concerns of the Chinese revolution on the domestic opportunities of the Chinese revolution and appointing with both pride and with alarm to developments in China rather than in the world at large to emphasize that the Chinese Revolution was carrying forward the great task which we don't and we spread to the world at large. And finally perhaps somewhat paradoxically an intensification of polemics against the United States against the Soviet Union and against leaders of the Third World because with a growing lack of concern about short run gains in the world involved the Chinese would be free to express their pure ideological position of opposition to revisionism imperialism and reactionary forces in the world. Now the question which arises is why might the Chinese do this why might they choose the line of turning in on themselves and stressing the wrong rhyme. Well the most obvious
reason I've already suggested is that the previous policy which they've tried has suffered a number of setbacks. The world is not as they thought it was the Chinese thought they were living in a world in which as they put it 90 percent of the people and most of the governments were anti-American were pro revolutionary and anxious to combat revisionism and imperialism. Well the Chinese have discovered that most of the people in the world are concerned with very different things. Then the fermenting of a world anti-American revolution. Moreover the situation in China. It is becoming increasingly less satisfactory from the perspective of the Peking regime. They have managed to survive the great setbacks of 958 in 1960 but they now have to accept the fact that there is no magic key to industrialisation that China is going to have to develop slowly and painfully over the next 20 or 30 or perhaps longer period of time.
And that during this period there is the great danger that revisionism will seize control in China as it is already can seize control in the Soviet Union and the Maoist leadership is showing more and more concern with the dangers of revisionism with the danger that the third and fourth generation will lose the genuine revolutionary spirit and they've become concerned with the re-education of the youth in China and making sure that the revolution at least survives in China even if it becomes extinguished in the rest of the world. As I suggested I think the Chinese have not yet firmly set on this long line of turning in. And if they did sit on it it would be in terms of keeping the revolution in China in a time of setbacks in the world. But I think there's growing evidence that they have fact gone that begun to move down this path. And in fact in an accelerating way and I would take is one of the first signs of a turning in China.
A speech that others have taken is showing that the Chinese were very aggressive but they were very expansionist and they were time that they were trying to take over the world namely the now famous if not infamous speech by Marshall which according to Dean Rusk is the mind of the Chinese Communists of the one most and that was the old Dean Rusk who thought that the capital of China was paid big. It's not clear what he now thinks of when be al but perhaps revisionism will seep into this issue as well. Well. The NBL statement was a curious combination in a way that it was very belligerent and expansionist in that it restated. What my colleague Ben Schwartz calls the optimum Chinese model of revolution. That is it restated the notion that revolution would sweep the world in the same way that it came to power in China. Namely that a group of people would form a
Marxist Leninist Communist Party. They would establish a rule base they would establish themselves with the peasants they would form a people's army and they would gradually come to power first in the countryside and then take over the cities of the country involved. And the NBA article claims that this is the only way a revolution can succeed. That one can only have Marxist-Leninism with with a Communist Party not. Move towards one as the Algerians try to without a Communist Party and that in fact one must go back to the early beliefs of the Peking regime the bullies proclaim for example by who shout she in 1949 with. This was the model which all countries had to follow in revolutionary groups coming to power. Now this expresses a kind of long run optimism the notion that this is the way it will go in every part of the world and that the Chinese model will in fact be the model for all. But it also involves a short run pessimism because as one looks around the
world one finds a singular axis of Marxist Leninist communist parties out in the rule areas establishing a base and forming a people's army. In fact except for Viet Nam it's hard to find any such group. Even with the microscope of Pete King and hence the NBL speech I think you say not only that in the war in Iran it will go the way we always thought but in the short run nothing very good will happen in the short run we must face the fact that until the conditions are right in each individual country revolutions cannot take place and will not take place.
China today
Morton Halperin and Kenneth Young, part one
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National Association of Educational Broadcasters
University of Chicago
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the first part of a lecture by Morton Halperin.
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A series focused on current events in China, as well as the interactions between the governments of China and the United States.
Global Affairs
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Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Halperin, Morton H.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-Sp.13-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:28:53
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Chicago: “China today; Morton Halperin and Kenneth Young, part one,” 1967-08-31, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “China today; Morton Halperin and Kenneth Young, part one.” 1967-08-31. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: China today; Morton Halperin and Kenneth Young, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from