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Newly Declassified CIA Documents on China Now Available


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As reported in the NY Times, for those in need of some light bedtime reading, the US Government/CIA has just declassified a collection of Intelligence Estimates covering China from 1948-1976. OK, I'll save everyone the effort: "CIA? Intelligence? Oxymoron? Nevertheless, an interesting new resource for all those history junkies out there.

A "selection" (greatest hits?) is available here:


The motherlode is here:


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I just checked the "motherlode"; none of the good bits about Tibet are included in the public release of documents. The Sino-Indian relations document hints at the "ruthless" rebellion, but there's no mention of US support for Tibetan opposition. I guess the CIA decided not to publish those reports as it would certainly provoke an immediate condemnation from Beijing. You can read about the US pondering support of communist resistance elements in northwest China and even in Guangdong, but these ideas were dismissed for logistical and political reasons.

In the "Cultural Revolution" document part of a sentence about China's society with regard to students and lost educational opportunities is concealed: "This will add to the frustrations of this group..." One wonders how the sentence might finish so as to arouse such caution.

I like the report in 1961 that says in order to fill their empty rice bowls China might invade Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Yet even that speculation is noted as being unlikely. Overall I thought the intelligence was fairly good, but like a bikini what it shows is interesting but what remains hidden is vital.

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is a bit of a crock. As far as I can tell most of these NIE's (National Intelligence Estimates) have long been available in the various volumes of the Foreign Relations of the United States series, although I'm not sure the more recent installments (ie from the 1970s) have been printed yet. Certainly much of this from Truman through Johnson is already out there (check FRUS out the office of the historian at the State Dept's website, if you haven't had your fix of bureaucrat-speak after reading these; some of it's online, some of it not)

Still, good of the CIA to put all of these in one, easily accessible, place.

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