Tuesday, October 19, 2004
CIA releases declassified papers on Mao’s China
The Central Intelligence Agency has made public 71 previously classified documents on China, including the National Intelligence Estimates issued over the 30-year period of Mao Zedong's rule.
The collection is available on the agency's web site and will be released by the US Government Printing Office on compact disc.
In his introduction to the documents, Robert L. Suettinger, a career intelligence analyst, described the collection as "an impressive one" in which "the fundamentals are consistently right."
Among the most important judgments, Mr. Suettinger wrote, was a consistently accurate assessment that the Communist Party in China was never challenged from 1948 on its predominance of power on the Chinese mainland. Other assessments contained in the documents include:
- one written in 1950, on the eve of the Peoples Republic of China's entry into the Korean War, correctly stating that that Communist Chinese forces were capable of either halting the northward path of United Nations forces or of "forcing U.N. withdrawal further south through a powerful assault."
- a Special National Intelligence Estimate issued in 1966, stating, "At present levels of American action [in North Vietnam], we continue to believe that China will not commit its ground or air forces to sustained combat against the U.S."
- a 1967 intelligence estimate correctly predicting the demise of Red Guard politics after Mao: “As long as Mao is capable of political command, China's situation will probably be tense and inherently unstable" … a "disorderly and contentious" struggle would follow and eventually a move away from "discredited" policies to "secure modest economic growth”.