Pol Pot details Khmer Rouge killing enemies in the party to Chinese premier Hua Guofeng in 1977, warns him war with Vietnam is neccessary and looming
Beijing, 29 September 1977
By Nate Thayer
The day before Pol Pot arrived for a state visit in Beijing in September 1977, he made a speech in Phnom Penh in which he publicly revealed for the first time the existence of the Cambodian Communist Party and that he himself was its General Secretary. Neither the Cambodian people nor the world was aware of this even after they had been in power for over two years.
Five days earlier, on September 24, Khmer Rouge forces launched attacks against a number of villages inside Vietnam.
He arrived in Beijing 28 September and departed for Pyongyang on October 4, returning China a week later and returning to Cambodia on 22 October 1977.
It was Pol Pot’s only official visit outside Cambodia while in power as the leader of the Khmer Rouge government, to China and North Korea.
In China, he met with the chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese premier Hua Guofeng, who was Mao’s hand-picked successor, as well as soon to be top leader Deng Xiapeng.
Pol Pot departed China for a state visit to North Korea in early October where he was given a high profile state welcome by Kim Il Sung, before returning for more talks in China.
He signed agreements for increased military aid, training, and other assistance with both countries during this trip.
Reticent concerning the harsh Khmer Rouge rule and rapid march towards war with Vietnam, China nevertheless gave its full and complete support to Democratic Kampuchea when the then undeclared war with Vietnam erupted two years later.
Deng in discussions with Pol Pot tried to convince the Khmer Rouge to be cautious and delay war with Vietnam, but Pol Pot dismissed China’s advice, worsening already strained relations between Beijng and Hanoi.
China nevertheless gave its full and complete support to Democratic Kampuchea in its then undeclared war with Vietnam.
In this working meeting with Hua Guafeng, according to these recently surfaced Chinese transcripts, Pol Pot spells out clearly the purges underway in Cambodia and that war with Vietnam was looming, two years before the rest of the world became aware of the massacres taking place in Cambodia. ” We think that they have prepared intelligence personnel inside our forces. At the central level, they have 5 agents; at the division level, they have between 4 and 10; and in addition, they have some in the provinces,” he said, detailing enemy agents within the core of thee inner party power circle and senior commanding military officers. Pol Pot starkly outlined, in no uncertain terms, his centrally directed sweep of killing enemies at the highest level of his regime on down, would continue, and proclaimed the inevitability of war with Vietnam to the Chinese premier.
Hua Guofeng responds:”Your strategy regarding the neighboring countries is correct.”
Pol Pot: The Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Cuba are cooperating in order to fight us in the border areas. We think that they have prepared intelligence personnel inside our forces. At the central level, they have 5 agents; at the division level, they have between 4 and 10; and in addition, they have some in the provinces. Since September 1975, they have been preparing to attack Phnom Penh, Prey Veng, and the border areas. They are also preparing to assassinate our leadership with high-accuracy guns and poison. They have several times poisoned food that we by chance did not eat. Thailand, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam are cooperating to do so. We also have documents to show that the US and Vietnam also cooperate on this issue. In 1976, we started to solve the problem of the Vietnamese agents and by June 1977, the job was basically completed. We have placed carefully selected cadres to be in charge of Phnom Penh and the border areas, especially on the Eastern border [with Vietnam] where there are many CIA agents. We understand that the nature of the Vietnamese armed forces has changed. They can no longer bear hardship. They now rely on heavy weaponry, tanks, and aircraft. At the same time, the nature of their infantry forces has also changed. Their troops do not want to fight. Many of their troops from the North have taken additional wives in the South and they cannot fight. We are not concerned about fighting, but about the constant threat from Vietnam. Not only does Vietnam want to annex Cambodia and Laos. It also wants to occupy the whole of Southeast Asia. We have conducted negotiations with them many times, but to no avail. To solve the problem by military means will lead to a decrease in our forces.
POL POT: The strategic orientation, therefore, should be to develop revolution in Southeast Asia. Otherwise, it will take centuries to solve the problem between Vietnam and Cambodia. Laos, to our knowledge, will play an important role in the strategy of Vietnam. The Vietnamese-Lao Treaty of 13 July 1977 is a treaty under which Vietnam annexes Lao territory. Laos’ population is three million. Yet, the number of Vietnamese in Laos alone—not to mention the Vietnamese Laotians—is three million. The Vietnamese population is increasing by between one and two million every year. After five years, the Laotians will be a minority. Vietnam, however, is not able to control Laos because it has insufficient human, financial, and food resources. If the revolution in Southeast Asia advances strongly, exploiting the opportunities, then the situation will be better and we shall solve our problem. We have conversed with our Burmese, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Thai friends and reached agreement with them. This is a big political victory even though it will be more complicated when we go into details. We rely on our Chinese friends in the North. Southeast Asia is united. This situation encourages us strategically. As far as our foreign policy is concerned, we try to unite the Southeast Asian forces. Our Central Committee considers this an important task. We spend time working with parties in Southeast Asia. That Cambodia can defend itself is contributing to the defense of Southeast Asia. As before, we feel safe having the Chinese as friends. The recent 11th CCP Congress encourages us and promises us and the Southeast Asian revolution a bright future.
Hua Guofeng: Your strategy regarding the neighboring countries is correct.
On October 4, Pol Pot and his delegation, which included Nuon Chea, who was in charge of the security services and the political commander of the Khmer Rouge killing apparatus, brother-in-law foreign minister Ieng Sary, Defence Minister Son Sen, and sister-in-law Ieng Thirith–the top Politburo members of the Cambodian party– arrived in Pyongyang , where they were met with signature North Korean pomp and choreographed enthusiastic welcome.
Pol Pot was given full state honors in a high profile show of support by Kim Il Sung, The Pol Pot delegation merited no less than 26 separate stories in official North Korean media, non stop radio and TV coverage, innumerable photographs above the fold on the party organs, and at least 6 separate meeting with the Great leader Kim Il Sung, who met Pol Pot at the airport, bringing along a crowd of hundreds of thousands cheering and waving flowers. who lined the road to Pyongyang.
Upon his arrival, “The great leader Comrade Kim Il-song firmly shook hands with Comrade Pol Pot at Pyongyang Airport” where “The great leader Comrade Kim Il-song posed for a commemorative photo with the party and government delegation of Democratic Cambodia headed by Comrade Pol Pot”
Then “Comrade Pol Pot inspected an honor guard of the three services of the Korean People’s Army” was feted by “College coeds (who) courteously presented fragrant bunches of flowers to the great leader Comrade Kim Il-song and Comrade Pol Pot.”
They continued to Pyongyang where the “chairman of the Pyongyang Administrative Committee, together with heroes of the republic and model workers, presented a statue of an anti-imperialist fighter to Comrade Pol Pot On 4 Oct 77″ after which “Singing and dancing, circular ranks of boy and girl students and artists enthusiastically welcomed the goodwill envoy of the Cambodian people with Kim Il-song in attendance at Kim Il-song square.”
The next two days, October 5 and October 6, were much more secretive as the Khmer Rouge delegation members held working meeting with their Korean counterparts. “Talks were held between the great leader Comrade Kim Il-song and Comrade Pol Pot” said official Pyongyang media, followed by high profile festivities the evening of October 5th, where “Comrade Pol Pot, together with the great leader Comrade Kim Il-song, mounted the stage at Mansudae Theater and presented the performers with a basket of flowers to congratulate them on their successful performance, posing for a commemorative photo with them.”
On October 6, 1977, “The great leader Comrade Kim Il-song paid a return courtesy call on Comrade Pol Pot” and later “Talks were held between the great leader Comrade Kim Il-song and Comrade Pol Pot.”
North Korea, along with China, were the only two countries in Phnom Penh during Khmer Rouge rule whose diplomats were permitted to leave their embassy compound without prior permission. Several thousand North Korean technicians and advisors were living in Cambodia. North Korea provided steel, damn materials and engineers to assist construction, and training to the military and security services.
In another telling public show of support by Pyongyang to Pol Pot in 1977, as Pol Pot’ escalated the mass internal purges of perceived enemies, North Korean media broadcast a message congratulating the Cambodian comrades on the 17th anniversary of the founding of the Communist party of Kampuchea. The official media report said Kim Il Sung congratulated the Cambodian people for having “wiped out [the] counterrevolutionary group of spies who had committed subversive activities and sabotage”
After negotiating increased trade and assistance from Pyongyang, on October 7 Pol Pot was welcomed by hundreds of thousands at the national stadium where “The great leader Comrade Kim Il-song and Comrade Pol Pot raised high their tightly clasped hands in acknowledgement of the crowd’s enthusiastic welcome at Moranbong Stadium ” where the Khmer Rouge delegation were honored by seating on “The presidential platform of the Pyongyang mass rally welcoming, with the great leader Comrade Kim Il-song in attendance, the party and government delegation of Democratic Cambodia headed by Comrade Pol Pot.”
The gathering was trumpeted by North Korean media who displayed photos of “Kim Il-song delivering a speech at the 7 October mass rally welcoming Pol Pot.”
In front of the high profile assembly of thousands prominently trumpeted by state media, “The Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-song conferred the title of Hero of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Comrade Pol Pot.”
The next day, October 8 morning, “The Great leader Comrade Kim Il-song and Comrade Pol Pot signed the joint communique between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Democratic Cambodia” and “In congratulation of the 32nd anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers Party, Comrade Pol Pot presented the great leader Comrade Kim Il-song with a basket of flowers and prayed for the long life of the great leader.”
“The great leader Comrade Kim Il-song cordially bade farewell to Comrade Pol Pot upon his departure from Pyongyang after successful completion of his visit to our nation” and, a separate story detailed “The great leader Comrade Kim Il-song firmly shook hands with Comrade Pol Pot on his departure from Pyongyang.”