DIRECTORATE OF INTELLIGENCE
The Situation in Communist China
APPROVED FOR RELEASE
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Directorate of1
The Situation ln Communist China
o* the Chinesethe high tension within the rulingThis was manifested early last month indecision to curtail the1 Day celebration:"
Despite the reappearan^eo? Mao Tae-tungber, the origins of the trouble are still shrouded in mystery; Its progress and outcome are equally murky, ha are, however, confident that Peking
problenu within the leadership and that these problems are critical ones. As the drama unfolds, it has seemed likely thati Sa complex set of inter-
athewctors. In particular, there has been no evidence that it has disrupted the forwrd momentum in Sino-US relations or that
ln Sino-Soviet bilateral
relations. It also does not appear related to any escalation of tensions on the border, even in the
a termath of the crashhinese transport in Mongolia.
We now believe that some sort of major leader-*niP conclave opened In PcJ-.ing the weekend of
te^r. Mongolian dent came on the nightSeptember. These
Thi* memorandum ua* prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence, the Office of Strategic Fe-eearoh^nd the Office of Soonomio Feeearch,
events are possibly connected, but it seems likely that they were an effect and not the cause of the turmoil. If this is true, developments since mid-September seem best explainedew and more critical manifestation of the behind-the-scenes power struggle which has wracked China's rulingsince it was formed in
The deep-seated personal rivalries and policy disputes that surfaced during the Culturalprobably are major ingredients of the heightened confrontation. We are less sure as to what may have served as the catalyst in the latest round and who tha primary adversaries are at this juncture. One possibility isuccession struggle has been precipitatedramatic change in the physical or political status of Mao's heir-designate, Defense Minister Lin Piao. It does, however, seem that Chou
ble repercussions on "the nation's economy,ms to be operatingelatively pragmatic fashion.
The Question of Timing
1. There is good evidence that the rulingmembers who are based in Peking wenteep huddle oneptember. Premier Chou En-laiessionisiting Japanese delega-
fyfc*ndic untilh. With two exceptions, the remainingactive politburo members were out of thefor the same period. Thus, the event or events which triggered the current upheaval probably occurred on or beforeeptember. The date assumes added importance because it rules out the possibility that the still unexplained crashhinese aircraft oyer Mongolia on the nighteptemberthe turmoil in Peking. The flight of thehowever, may well be connected with the
2. The most obvious result of the corrlavoecision to cancel the mamothnDay which has traditionallyull-
?? !L dershipheaded byo-tung and Lin Piao. Since illness or purge has nc 'er before caused an alteration of the scenario, fe decision to cancel implied thatither Mao or Lin was seri-
w.thin the politburo was in the process ofaltered. The omiasionankedshow on National Day, Premier Choutoeception or give hisspeech on the eve of the holiday, andof the customary National Daypointed in the same direction. Maoctober, and cleared up one aspectrem*in" that Lin, three rink-
J t ^eand one regional cormandar--all politburonot aopeared publicly sinceeptember. The political futures of some, or just possibly all, of these five may well be at the root of the current problems.
what Tricqered the Trouble?
3. The circumstances surrounding Mao'shave not thus far shed any light on the role he played last month. According to tha press Mao looked well when he greeted the emperor, but Mao will ben December, and the possibility cannot be excluded that his physical condition may in aome way have inhibited him temporarily fron acting as an effective arbiteraralyzing quarrel between some of his powerful colleagues. Even if his vitality isuestion, it iathat he may have run into some difficulty in copinguccession problem arisingecline in the physical or political status of Lin Piao. It is also conceivable that Mao's political authority has suffered during the course of the divisive campaign against tha ultraleftist "Mayroup" which was kicked off, possibly by Chou En-lai, in Chen Po-ta, Mao's long-time personal secretary, has been purged during this campaign. Another of the radical ideologues In Mao's inner circle,heng, had reportedly been stripped of all his party posts by late
4. The Chinese, who repeatedly denied that Mao was ill, have been far more circumspect about the conditionLin Piao, who has not appearedune.
Though references to Lin continue ln local domestic propaganda broadcaats, these have been formaliatlc and shed no light on nil status. The regime's sensitivity on this score has been affirmedecent traveler's report that three people have been arrested in Canton for spreading rumors that Lin is ill.
Lin has oeen seriously ill ror tne ig_cgjid^tion_becarne critical in early
3 suggest!ince it coincides with the remarks by Wangenior Chinesewho ls thought to be close to Chou En-lai. Wang reportedly said that, as recently as latethe leadership was discussing "group" orleadership after Mao dies.
6. e clear implication of Wang's remarks was that Lin's physical or political capacity badajor question in Peking. Because of the lack of cohesion within the politburo and the fact that there is no clear line of succession to Mao which extends beyond Lin, his inability to carry on wouldufficient cause of the present Furthermore, even if Lin is not ill, it may beerious challenge haso Vs authority by some of his colleague* Ixtl'uro. Ther* have beenn vacantthat some forces ha-re nar.bis designation as Mao's sucta*>so> . Lin's czr.-jc-or extreme po'icies ir, _ic taltiiCau Rj/o'.ution suggests that he probably hasew enemies among mill'iwer holders cf conservative orientation. Zt seems safe to assume that Lin, lacking Mao's charisma, would not be iMe to rule China successfullyestablishing effective working relationships with both Premier Chou En-lal and the principal central and regional military figures on the Lin could have made some seriousfor example, trying to purge suspected opponents within thethis could have precipitated the showdown in Peking.
The Military Hierarchy
7. China'a top military men are involved and may even be pivotal figures in the current
difficulties. Army chief of ateff Huangheng air force commander Wu Fa-hsien, and navycommissar Liave not appeared insinceeptember. Huang ranks immedlately below Lin Piao and wouldogical candidate to play the role of "kingmaker- if Lin is out of the picture, or, conversely, to lead the oppositiontruggle between Lin and the more conservative military leaders. The records of Wu Fa-hsien and Li Tsc-peng during the Cultural Revolution suggest that they support radical forces in the leadership and that their positions would be seriouslyif Lin haa lost authority.
8. All of this is highly conjectural, but key provincial party and military appointmentsha past year have favored officers who supportedforces during the Cultural Revolution. Ine process has not gone unchallenged, and some steps may have been taken in recent months tothe imbaU-tceappointments in at least the crucial Peking o^n. Also, the current status oi the v, -ilitary boas in East China,ak hih-yu, is in doubt. Accordingroadcast last week, Hsu, whosr out ot public view since June, has been
eplaced as commander of the Nanking Military We donow whether he has been given another important post or purged.
9. Huang Yung-aheng may be active behind the scenes despite the lapse in his personalirective was issued over his signature as recently aseptember, The position of Wu Fa-hsien is less certain
questions about Lin Piao'a future, the absence of
several top military figures, and signs ofdivisions within the military hierarchy suggest that the current phase of tiie powercenters on the fortunes of ranking militaryLin Piao himself.
Chou En-lai and the Mayroup
10. ey role in the ultimate denouement is likely to be played by Premier Chou En-lai. Chou gives every appearance of operating agovernment. Moreover, he hasrime mover in the behind-the-scenes jockeying for position between moderate and radical forces over the past two years. This has been carried on under cover of the so-called investigation of the ultraleftist -Mayroup." They Chen Po-ta, Kang Sheng, and Madameto undercut Chou's power during the Cultural Revolution. Theinvestigation, which may have been initiated by Chou, began9 and has resulted in the purge or Chen and the political sidelining of Kang. Although it hasivisive affair, claiming victims of both radical andpersuasion, Chou's own position appeara to have been considerably strengthened.
11. The move against the radicals developed gradually, and it was noteptember that the Mayroup was openly criticized. Theon radical leaders, including Madame Mao, hasheme common to nearly all recent clandestine reports which try to explain thescene in political terms. The prolonged controversy over the Maynvestigation is probably inhibiting an early rasolution of tha leadership tangle. The Mayffair also haa raised serious questions about Mao's authority
ong time, and it seems unlikely that it triggered the present troubles.
12. There is no doubt that in China, as elsewhere, there is an interaction between events affecting domestic and foreign affairs. In China, however, it is usually domestic considerations that affect foreign policy, rather than the other way around. Only two foreign factors would appear to be of sufficient importance to have had aon developments of the present magnitude. Neither really seems to fit the bill. The first is the President's prospective visit to China. This initiative has clearly been implemented by Chou En-lai. He and his more pragmatic orassociates, both military and civilian, are most unlikely to have oroblems with it. Mao's own prestige is thoroughly bound up with the visit; there is probably no event inultural Revolution China which more clearly has received his blessing. In these circumstances, it is very hard to believe that more radical elements who have suffered setbacks in recent months woulda comeback on auch an issue.
13. The other factor is relations with the Soviets. Thisolatile issue, but we see. signsrisis with Moscow at this point.
up; an< routine fashion.
nave noc DeenPeking are going on in To be sure, aome of the populace
has been warned about Russiannd numerous "war preparations" instructions have been issued since mid-September. This theme, however, seems to have been seized on by gene toopular rationale for developments The measures involved seem primarily related to maintaining troop control and to tightening internal security.
The tireat Air Standdevn
is verylitical difficulties
16. Both Mongolian and Soviet press reports claim that the crashed aircraftet and sug
idents (British planes similar to Boeing's tained from Pakistan. They are under mili-ntrol for VIP use "
The Chineae have explained that theivil liner that had navigationthink we have, however, been able to account
high-performance civilian airliners (except Trident) since the crash date. Moreover, there <nown domestic civil flights along China's /ith Mongolia, and the only civil Chinese
to the Soviet Union which pass near theednesdays, during the day. (The crash was jnday.)
If the aircraft that crashed in Monqoliarident out of Peking, the flight may 'Olved an attempted defection, but thisertain.!
Chou resumes normal schedule ofother civilian politburosenior general Yeh Chian-ying also appear regularly.
Newsmen in Peking report that thefor the National Day parade that had been under way since late August weresometime during the weekeptember.
Spokesmen cf the Ministry cf Foreign Affair: in Peking inform diplomatic community that changes in National Day scenarioreform."
Army Logistics Chief Chiu Hui-tso shews up at diplomatic reception; first activeleader to appear sinceeptember; Li Te-sheng, director of the GPD, shows up oneptembej
Provincial radiobroadcast from Anhweia new man in the post of Nanking Military Region commander, raising questions about the current status of Hsu Shih-yu; Hsu -an r.e 6 June.
Vice Premier Li Hsien-nien leads government economic delegation to North Vietnam.
Pecsle'a Daily article lashes out against unidentified members of "Confuciusints that on tha one hand the Soviets have been trying to utilize this group while threatening "nuclear blackmail" on the other.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman in Peking informs diplomatic community that Chou's traditional banquet on theeptember) of National Day will be replacedeception sponsored by the KPA.
announces on the morninghinese aircraft craahed in Mongolia on the nighteptember; Soviets claim that itilitary plane;
Chineae dipi-mats in Mgsccw acknowledge thai Charerasi: but insist that itivil aircraft that hadrror.
Peking fails to publish usual editorial or the eve of N
report from France claims that foreign trade minister Pai Hsiang-kuo,our of the provinces, was awakened in the middle of the nightctober by Chineseofficials whoileom Paris.
trade delegation presently visiting Denmark Informed Copenhagen Foreign Office0 hours in the morning that they had "just received" instructions from Peking requiring their return onctober, one day earlier thanrder to attendeeting."
Washington and Peking announcethat Dr. Kissinger will visitin the latter part of October to make
"concrete arrangements" for the President'a trip; Peking announcement released0ctober, Washington time.
Mao Tse-tung received visiting Echicpian Emperor Halle Selassie, according to press sources close to tha Ethiopian delegation. Mao reportedly looked well.Original document.