This is the main part of Mao Zedong’s talk with a visiting Syrian goodwill delegation.
All revolutionaries and political parties in Asia should unite against imperialism. The strength of one or two countries is insufficient, but they can become a formidable force by uniting together. The entire Arab world is confronting imperialism. We hope the Arab countries will unite.
The hands of the Americans stretch very far, committing aggression everywhere. In 1958 they landed in Lebanon and British troops landed in Jordan, thus creating a tense situation. They were compelled to withdraw only under the pressure of world public opinion. Subsequently, civil war broke out in Lebanon. The U.S. Sixth Fleet is in the Mediterranean Sea and its Seventh Fleet surrounds us. The U.S. has four fleets altogether: The Seventh Fleet is the biggest, then the Sixth Fleet; the Second Fleet is scattered along the U.S. West Coast, and it is the reserve force of the Seventh Fleet; the First Fleet is on the U.S. East Coast, as the reserve force of the Sixth Fleet. Moreover, the U.S. has military bases in Morocco, Libya and other places, while the U.K. also has such bases in Aden and the Persian Gulf.
In resisting Japanese imperialism we stood together with the U.S., U.K. and France. After the surrender of Japan the U.S. helped Chiang Kai-shek launch the civil war to attack us. The U.K. and France were at that time powerless to bother about our affairs. The United States didn’t directly participate in the war, only stationed some troops in harbors along the Chinese coast. They withdrew after we had annihilated Chiang Kai-shek’s several million troops and when we were about to liberate those harbors. We later encountered them again on the Korean battlefield and fought for three years. The Vietnamese people have also met them now. It seems that the United States is fond of making war. Korea and Vietnam are so distant from the U.S., yet it still sent troops there.
Both our countries were subjected to colonial oppression. You were under French domination, while we were under the domination of several imperialist powers. They divided China into spheres of influence, one for France, one for Britain and another for Japan. They were all expelled by us afterward. We fought against Japanese imperialism in the northeast for 14 years and in other places for eight years. Japanese imperialism helped us by causing China to unite against it, thus promoting the Chinese revolution. American troops are now occupying our Taiwan, South Korea and many places in Japan, as well as waging war in Vietnam. In fact, such behavior by the U.S. is teaching the Asian people they must unite and carry on a resolute struggle. For example, the Vietnamese people didn’t know how to fight a war before, but they are able to do so now. This is the advantage rendered us by imperialism. Imperialism also has its good side, don’t you agree?
Sometimes imperialism educates the people through its running dogs, such as China’s Chiang Kai-shek, who taught us how to fight by launching the civil war. A person like me was unable to fight, having never even thought of such a thing in the past. However, the running dogs of imperialism forced us to take up arms. There are now wars in Africa: in the Congo, Angola, Portuguese Guinea and elsewhere. Algeria obtained independence after fighting for eight years. War also broke out around the Suez Canal. You won independence when the French were forced to evacuate during the Second World War. Is that right?
We are different in appearance and in religious beliefs. I should say I have no religion, but this by no means hampers our cooperation. I believed in polytheism when I was a child and abandoned it as I grew up. China also has a God, but one different from yours; our god wears Chinese clothes. We help each other, support each other, and do not harm the other party. We won’t subvert you, nor you us. We are friendly countries and share a common objective: first, to oppose imperialism and, second, to build up our own country.
We support revolution wherever it takes place. Imperialism hates us very much, calling us bellicose. In fact, the problems of any country can be solved only by the revolution of the local people. External support, though necessary, is only secondary. For example, there are only 14 million people in South Vietnam, yet they are putting up a good fight.
The Arab people are very militant. If you unite, the imperialist conspiracy won’t succeed. It should be put this way, that every nation is militant, and victory can be obtained through unity and struggle. It’s only a matter of time. The victory of the revolution in China was obtained by undergoing 22 years of fighting: first against the domestic enemy, conducting the Long March, then against Japanese imperialism, and finally against the Chiang Kai-shek reactionaries supported by the U.S. We also committed mistakes during this period, such as Rightist and “Leftist” opportunism. We won after our mistakes were corrected. A man invariably commits mistakes. A political party is like a man. It is impossible not to commit any mistakes at all.
Many examples have proved that imperialism can be defeated, and revolution will be triumphant.
(From the verbatim record)