thumbnail of Asia Society presents; 40
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The Asia Society presenting. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is the noted author on the ward winning broadcaster league Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. Although Russia and China have never been at war many of us are concerned these days with the fact that such a walk might take place if not immediately perhaps in the near future. Now this is the heart of what we'd like to discuss on this program one of the possibilities of a war between these two great powers. What business is this of the United States is there anything we can do to prevent it. What might our policy be. And these are all the kinds of questions that could be addressed I think to very few men with the reputation and knowledge of our guest and I am delighted that he is here to help us with this. He is Harrison Solsbury who is the assistant managing editor of The New York Times a man who was not just a China watcher but a
man who really knows about China who's traveled far and wide not on mainland China itself. That's very difficult to do. But all around the rim and his knowledge you will agree is formidable. Mr. Bray I think was well described in a recent review of his book a book Cold War between Russia and China and that book is really the basis for this interview. He was described as a political writer in the best sense of the word. He is engaged in the talents he has put so energetically to work all considerable. And I know by now that Bush will have to face Mrs Salzberg But the fact is that many people seem to be writing about Russia China etc. and so few of them seem to have the grasp but you have now is that not only because of your intelligence and experience but is it because they don't travel. Go to the lengths of travel that you do. Well I don't think there's any substitute for going there yourself. I have always followed that
rule and can see in accordance with that I this year went out again to an area that I had travelled to four times in the last 10 years and that's the Sino-Soviet frontier and specifically to the front tiers in in Eastern Siberia and the frontiers also between Mongolia and China. I spent some time in Mongolia this time is just exactly 10 years since my first visit there. And I think that when you go there and speak to the people on the spot and see the actual preparations are being made in this case of a military nature that you get much more of a feel of the situation and if you try to do it at some remove before going to the front tears in Siberia in Mongolia. I went first to to Hong Kong to consult with a magnificent group of China watchers so call there and get their feel of the situation. I did the same
thing in Japan where they study this very naturally very very closely because it's right on their doorstep as it was and also in Moscow so that it's a combination ice I would say of study and personal observation in the field that enables you to get the grasp of the situation. You study it you was served as a Moscow correspondent for The New York Times in Russia I think was 1949 through 54. And yet sometime after that you were barred from Russia for about five years. You seem to come and go in their favor. What do they base their Whoa on what is your reputation based as far as they can soon. Well I tell you it's it's an interesting thing and I've I've made a sort of a study of it nationally because it affects my movements in the Soviet Union. I think that basically. A correspondent who works in the Soviet Union compiles a record in there in the Hey Little Black Book that they keep of correspondence and generally speaking and there nothing good is ever recorded there just the bad deeds and.
In my case the list is quite long by this time because I've been going in and out of rushes over so many different years. I was it a correspondent in the Soviet Union for five years and then came out and wrote a series of articles which won me a Pulitzer Prize in this country and it won me the banning from Russia on the part of Moscow because they objected violently to and many of the things I said in this article. These articles about their country now actually. A great deal of what I said was revealing the crimes of the style and there are things which later on they made much of themselves but I was a little premature in that. Now you might suppose that after they got around to denouncing down themselves that I would look pretty good in their eyes but it doesn't work that way with the bureaucrats they keep the record in and a new series of bureaucrats never go back to see what it was you got the black marks for they just see that they count them up and are 17 and your particular record so you must be pretty bad.
And so that they didn't lift the ban on me when Stalin was denounced In fact I only got it lifted when Mr Mc came over to this country and I met him and covered him and his visit over here and I persuaded him to intercede on my behalf. And you might think that then everything would be all straightened out but it wasn't at all. They just got me in worse with the bureaucrats when I appeared over in Russia over there their veto why then I was really in trouble. And so it's gone year after year. I often managed to get into the country but so far as the officials are concerned. I never get back in their good graces. Well I ask that because you have managed to cover most of Russia especially the Asian part of the Soviet Union to the degree that I don't suppose any other correspondent I don't care what his nationality has done. How did you do it you just use you what now. How does that work. Well I am rather rather ingenious. I would know that in getting in two countries. But the secret here really has
nothing to do with the Russians It has a great deal to do with Mongolia in 159. Just on the chance and because it was a hard place to go to. I sent a telegram out to Mr. Seiden Bol whose appeal was then the premier of mine going he still is and asked if he would permit me to come out and visit his country that he hadn't. There had been no Western correspondents there for many many years. Practically none since before World War Two and very few at that time. To my surprise and I still don't know why it was. I got a positive reply he said Come on out and so on actually I did and I spent about three weeks traveling all over Mongolia and getting to chance to meet with him and interview him and. And I wrote quite a series of stories about Mongolia in fact at that time. I first saw with my own eyes the visible evidence of the split between the Russians and the Chinese because it was already apparent there are low to the rest of the world and indeed the Western world they gave every evidence of being firmest kind of
friends it was and no propaganda nothing in Moscow or like he ever said this is 1959. But out there in Mongolia they were not on speaking terms in fact they were fighting each other like cats and dogs and I reported that and made a fascinating story and I felt at that time that they had embarked on a path that was going to lead them into more and more bitterness. People were somewhat skeptical of my reports because they ran counter to everything else that was being reported but within two or three years the lid blew off and the Russians and the Chinese started hurling a pots at each other and worse and it became evident that indeed they were on very bad terms. Welp. That trip out to Mongolia proved to be a foundation to future trips and I've been back now four times. And when you go to Mongolia the only way of getting there is through Russia. And the Russians. Do a base certain international conventions which are to provide you with a trance it Leeza if you're going to someplace that can only be reached through their territory
so happens that Mongolia can only be reached by going out to outer eastern Siberia so that each time I go to Mongolia I get a very good look at the situation in Eastern Siberia. Sometimes I travel the Trans-Siberian Railroad and come out through the hood can go down to Japan and saying it's it's very interesting a very revealing trip and each time I write about the experience I usually am denounced by the Russian press and I was this last time. Well this this book which is your latest one one between Russia and China contains much I think for many of us it's revealing. Your analysis of various situations seems original and most fresh. And one of the things that you do say which is slightly comforting is the fact that I walk between Russia and China. Of course it's possible but not in evidence. And then you hasten to qualify that. First of all why is it possible. There hasn't been a wall before there's supposedly
following a similar idiology. We think it's kind of a game they're playing to fool us that they're pretending to be enemies but they secretly love each other. Why is it possible then for them to get into a war. Well the reasons are fairly complex and it's taken a whole book to put them all down but some of them are simple enough. In the first place. Their relations have not been very close or very warm either historically between the two countries or historically between the two communist parties Mao never got along with style and vice versa. He followed the course that was direct opposite of the one that Stalin thought should be followed in China. There's plenty of evidence to show that Alan felt much more comfortable in dealing with chunky shack than he did with Mao even during World War Two he sent his aid and supplies to Chong and not to now and so that in other words when you look at the reality of the relationship there you see that. That
there are two there are two levels of it one was the surface. Which always seemed to be quite friendly and then beneath it terribly bitter quarrel and of course quarrels between communists are like quarrels between members of a religious sect and they're the worst kind of quarrels because each side regards the other as an apostate to the true belief. And this is the stage that's been reached between the Russians and the Chinese. And it relieves them of any ideological barriers against attacking the other because the Russians for example don't regard Ma was a communist. They say he's nothing but a venture. Another Hitler a Chinese Hitler a dictator a man who's driven all the real communists out of the country and embarked his country on a wild and erratic and very dangerous course. They believe that and they equate him with Hitler and the Russian people believe this and they equate the the Red Guards to the Hitler Youth Movement and they talk to Russian and they say
we we've had enough experience with this kind of people we remember Hitler very well and those Nazis we're not going to put up with the same kind of thing from the Chinese. And you know that they mean it so that they don't feel any compunction about about going to war against the Chinese because they don't regard them as being communists at all. And on the other side the Chinese side you have exactly the same sort of process. In that the Chinese don't regard the Russians as being communists that is to say the Russian leadership they say are. The Russians they've they've gone capitalist. There aren't any real communists in Russia anymore. They're hand in glove with Wall Street this always gets a great laugh from my friends down Wall Street. And I suppose if there were any men with a sense of here in the Kremlin they'd laugh at this. But the Chinese literally believe that. And they say that the Russians are simply engaged in a conspiracy with their fellow capitalists in the United States directed against the Chinese so naturally they have no compunction about war against another capitalist country. So that where as
we go along blithely think well they're all communists they must be the same thing they don't regard themselves in the same light at all and they see no reason why they shouldn't make war against such deadly enemies as the capitalists in Russia or the wild eyed Hitler rights in China. The thing that is also surprising to many of us is the fact that there is a tremendously long border covering fell a thousand I think 500 mile race between the Soviet Union and China and some of that is in dispute. I guess not all of it but some of it you know in other parts which are in dispute I guess have always been historically in dispute. Yes they have because of course the frontier between two such you know most countries is that evolved gradually and slowly over many many hundreds of years. And they really begin to be defined only when the Russians in the 17th century begin to push out very strongly into eastern Siberian and conquered the outposts of the far flung Chinese Empire. The dimensions of which the Russians had only the vaguest idea.
In fact one of the one of the oddest things and most revealing things about this is that when the Russians realize they were up against the Chinese empire they sent a mission out to Peking to try and negotiate some sort of an arrangement. Along the frontier their ambassador who had a devil of a time getting to see anybody of info already in Peking because he didn't bow low enough and refused to go through all of various nuances of the Chinese court etiquette. Spent I think seven or eight years in on this mission and then finally went back to Moscow with some papers that messages and things that had been given him in Peking. Well these were all in Chinese and there lay in the Russian archives for 80 years before somebody came along who knew the language and translated them and discovered it was a message from the Chinese emperor. I should unlaid forgotten frantically slightly I might have and probably want to do planned just as well they didn't know and I may well be but this is always
better. Would you say that there are important pieces of land with important resources along the border which are worth fighting over. Well there are of course because in the process of moving eastward the Russians are absorbed by one means or another usually by a sort of gunpoint treaties about I think it's about four. And a half a million square miles of territory which had originally been under the suzerainty of the Chinese emperor. Now some of these areas were obviously very. Much on the perimeter and places where Chinese authority wasn't too well established and things of that kind. But other areas were quite close to the seat of Chinese power and represent today very valuable pieces of property. This is true for example of what of the Maritime Provinces of eastern Russia all of which originally were part of China. These are not only large an extent
but they are they are very useful agricultural lands they're not they're not very well cultivated hardly cultivated at all by the Russians but the Chinese would like to have them because they need farmland. All the areas up along the Amur River which even today and Russia are proud to be and developed the Chinese would like to take over and put under intensive cultivation. Some of the areas in says what the Russians call Soviet Central Asia which the Chinese call Chinese Turkistan while it's mostly desert there's some very valuable away seas which could be made to yield very high crops. Under intensive Chinese cultivation and then there is the area in Mongolia itself which while it is a it's a and independent country is as a matter of fact something of a Chinese or Soviet protectorate the Russians are dominant in that country. The Chinese in the historical past who were the dominant power and they'd like to be the dominant power again and and or undertake the general direction of things in Mongolia and most importantly
use the land in which to settle their surplus surplus population and turn it into a base for raising food resources so that there is there are two factors involved on the Chinese side of this thing one is that the Russians do possess a great deal of territory that once belonged to them and secondly the Chinese need this territory for purposes of raising food and settling their population. But as you pointed out. Communists when they have a disagreement with one another don't speak to concretely but rather cloak these things in the a logical philosophical discussions. What would you say that the difference is between Russia and China that could possibly lead to war. Then are those of a black and they are those of a material nature and that whether the Russians are the true communists of the Chinese or the too common is that all incidental all a smokescreen. Well it's not a smokescreen know it. It's very important on either side. And it isn't incidental either because it has become a major factor in the quarrel.
But the core would exist even if the ideological factor weren't there. So far as ideology is concerned this is where you do get this sort of quasar religious aspect of it in which each side sees the other as having deviated from the true faith and that it has its practical aspect in that. Each of them regards itself as the center of the world communist movement and there are after all a great many other communist movements and communist countries in the world and each one wants to be at the head of this very sizable. And powerful force. Now at the present time the Russians quite clearly are the head of the largest group of these communist countries and communist movements. The Chinese however are active in every part of the world trying to undermine the Russians so that you get a real straight out power struggle between the two. For the leadership in the Communist movement and this is not an in consequential part of the quarrel because as they fight each other and compete against each other
they generate more and more ill will because they are forever pulling dirty tricks against each other and then the very next day they get more and more angry and the issue more and more angry statements and you get to the point in a quarrel of this kind between. Two countries regardless of their ideology where the quarrel begins to have a life of its own and feed on itself and feed on the bad rhetoric that is used back and forth and the Chinese pick up something that the Russians have said and vice versa and first thing you know you find them acting in a really a very bizarre way for example you find today that the Chinese are carrying on propaganda broadcasts directed against directed at liberating the Russians from the tyranny of the Communist rule. Only they don't call it the communist rule they say the dictators in the Kremlin. So they want to liberate the Russians It reminds me of the kind of broadcast that Radio Free Europe used to indulge in. And they particularly direct these broadcasts to minorities not only minorities close to their borders
in this Soviet Central Asia Kazakhstan and bags and people of that kind but they direct them to the peoples in the Baltic states. Who are for the most part of course quite anti-communist and certainly against the regime in Moscow and would be equally strong here against the regime taking but picking is giving them a hand if they can. If they're against Russia why Peking is one of them. And you find breaking emerging as a as a great friend of the liberal regime in Czechoslovakia. HARLOW We all know that if the Peking Communists had anything to do with they would have suppressed it even more vigorously than the Muscovites did. It's always such a fantastic game and the partners are always exchanging off with one another here and there. But as you've heard and I guess it's trite and probably stupid to say Well why shouldn't Russia and China have a war with each other. Well destroy each other that's what they want to do. And then
the world will be rid of this menace this force this threat of communism. Why. Why is it such a bad idea if they do fight. Well this is a this is a very normal I think reaction on the part of many Americans and there might be some merit to it if they could fight without affecting any other part of the world in ourselves in particular but this is not possible in this closely integrated world of ours. Even if it were not for nuclear weapons a war between the Russians and the Chinese would would jangle every nerve and in in Asia and I doubt if we would manage to escape being involved through the involvement of our allies or eruptions that might occur in Vietnam or Korea or in need or goodness knows where all. But the fact is that the kind of war they're talking about on either side is a nuclear war. Each of them have nuclear weapons each of them have nuclear weapons emplaced each of them talks of using their nuclear weapons against the other and I take that talk extremely seriously as indeed they do either side. And this is something which we cannot ignore
because regardless of whether the weapons are used out there in the wastes of Mongolia and Manchuria the radioactive fallout from those weapons it will come over to this continent because it enters the. Atmosphere moves with the air currents and a great deal of it would be dumped on the United States and Canada. In other words in the northern latitudes. So that we will be nearly would suffer the consequences of a nuclear war in the Asian continent and they would be very severe cut consequences because these weapons that they have out there are extremely dirty in the scientific sense of the word and and we would find our whole land polluted with radioactivity. I wish we had more time to discuss the final question which is your suggestion to the United States that it begin to become friendly with China in order to balance this dangerous situation. Do you think you see any possibility of that any trends towards that on the part of our government. We've taken a few small steps and I know there are people in Washington who are eager to take
more important steps. In order to create it to push back this danger of war and give us a possibility of negotiating some of the grievances that lay at the foundation of it and I hope those steps will be taken. Well Mr. Salisbury It's an honor and a revelation really to have you as a guest on this program because you write with such clarity and with such accuracy and the sense of prophecy guesthouses always raise a prize winning Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent of The New York Times. Now it's assisting managing editor. He is the author of many books but the one that you want to read to understand what is happening now between China and Russia is cold war between Russia and China. Thank you very much and goodbye. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham. The series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you
can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7 and make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia Society presents. This radio network.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Asia Society presents
Episode Number
Producing Organization
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-zk55kb1k).
Series Description
Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
Talk Show
Global Affairs
Race and Ethnicity
Media type
Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-40 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Asia Society presents; 40,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “Asia Society presents; 40.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Asia Society presents; 40. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from