• Short Summary

    VERGIL BERGER, REUTER'S CORRESPONDENT IN PEKING, HAS LEFT THE CAPITAL AFTER TWO-AND-A-HALF YEARS. THERE ARE?

  • Description


    INTERVIEW WITH VERGIL BERGER IN HONG KONG.



    TRANSCRIPT: BERGER: "I THINK THE DOUBLE IS EXTREMELY UNLIKELY. I THINK IT'S VERY HARD TO DECEIVE SO MANY PEOPLE AND THEY'RE THE KIND OF PEOPLE YOU CAN'T EASILY DECEIVE AND WHO PROBABLY WOULDN'T IT LET GO. HE LOOKS - AS FAR AS ONE CAN JUDGE - HE LOOKS FAIRLY HEALTHY. HE LOOKS CHUBBY AND ROSY-CHEEKED. HE MOVES SLOWLY, BUT HE MOVES. HE DOESN'T SPEAK MUCH IN PUBLIC. BUT, ON THE WHOLE, HIS HEALTH LOOKS REASONABLE FOR A MAN OF SEVENTY (YEARS). THERE'S NO SPECIFIC ILLNESS THAT ONE CAN NOTICE. BUT THERE'S ALWAYS A DOCTOR OR A NURSE HOVERING WITHIN A FEW FEET (METRES) OF HIS ELBOW WHEN HE DOES APPEAR IN PUBLIC. BUT I'VE NEVER YET ACTUALLY SEEN THEM HAVE TO GO INTO ACTION".



    REPORTER: "THERE HAVE BEEN REPORTS OF LIN PIAO ALSO BEING IN ILL HEALTH. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?"



    BERGER: "WHEN YOU SEE HIM AND MAO TOGETHER AT A PUBLIC APPEARANCE HE ALWAYS LOOKS THE PALER AND MORE DRAWN OF THE TWO. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND HE SPEAKS AND MOVES WITH MUCH GREATER EASE THAN MAO, IT SEEMS. HE IS AFTER ALL FIFTEEN YEARS YOUNGER - OR FOURTEEN YEARS YOUNGER".



    REPORTER: "IS THE ARMY BEHIND MAO?"



    BERGER: "AS FAR AS ONE CAN TELL, IN THE PUBLIC IMAGE, YES, BUT I THINK IN FACT IN SOME OF THE OUTLYING PROVINCES, THE ARMY FOLLOWS ITS OWN COMMANDER - ITS OWN LOCAL COMMANDER. IN PLACES LIKE SINKIANG AND TIBET, WHERE THE LOCAL ARMY COMMANDER IS ALSO THE PARTY CHIEF, HE IS TORN IN HIS LOYALTIES: ONE TOWARDS THE PARTY APPARATUS, SECONDLY TOWARDS THE HIGH ARMY COMMAND. AND ALTHOUGH HE SHOWS HIS GENERAL LOYALTY TO THE COMMUNIST LEADERSHIP IN PEKING, THE LOCAL ARMY COMMANDER MAY NOT ALWAYS FOLLOW TO THE LETTER, IN THE MORE OUTLYING POSTS, THE LATEST DIRECTIVES OF THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION".



    REPORTER: "THE DEMONSTRATION OUTSIDE THE SOVIET EMBASSY WERE SERIOUS - IT WOULD APPEAR SO HERE. HOW DID THEY APPEAR TO YOU AS AN EYE-WITNESS?"



    BERGER: "THERE WERE VERY, VERY TOUGH. AND YET ALWAYS STOPPING SHORT OF EXTREME PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. THE RUSSIANS WHO VENTURED OUT OF THE EMBASSY DURING THE TWO-WEEK SIEGE TENDED TO GET SURROUNDED, OFTEN SPAT AT, HARANGUED FOR HOURS ON END - SOMETIMES SIX OR SEVEN HOURS IN FREEZING COLD. BUT NEVER ACTUALLY BEATEN UP. THEIR CARS WERE POUNDED. THE FLAGS WERE RIPPED OFF CARS. BUT THEY THEMSELVES ALWAYS STOPPED SHORT OF ACTUAL PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AGAINST RUSSIAN PEOPLE. THERE WERE WILD SCENES. IT WAS OFTEN VERY UNPLEASANT FOR CORRESPONDENTS DOWN THERE, OR ANYONE GOING ANYWHERE NEAR THE EMBASSY. YOU HAD TO SHOUT ABOVE THE HUBBUB THAT YOU WEREN'T RUSSIAN SO AS TO SAVE YOURSELF FROM BEING SURROUNDED YOURSELF FOR SIX OR SEVEN HOURS. IT WAS A TUMULTUOUS TIME, BUT AGAIN, JUST WITH A MINIMUM OF CONTROL - THE MINIMUM NECESSARY."



    REPORTER: THE MASS ACTIVITY OF THE RED GUARDS IN RECENT MONTHS HAS BEEN CALLED OFF. IS THERE ANY LIKELIHOOD OF THIS BEING RESUMED IN THE NEAR FUTURE?"



    BERGER: "THERE WERE SIGNS, JUST AS I WAS LEAVING, EARLIER THIS MONTH, THAT THERE WAS A SLIGHT STEPPING UP. THERE WERE POSTERS - AGAIN I DON'T KNOW HOW RELIABLE - QUOTING THE LEADERS AS SAYING YOU SHOULD GIVE THE MASSES THEIR HEAD MORE AND THE ARMY'S BEEN GOING TOO FAR IN EXERCISING CONTROL. THERE HAVE BEEN ONE OR TWO INDICATIONS OF THAT AND THIS HAS COME AT A TIME WHEN THE DEMONSTRATIONS HAVE RESUMED AGAINST SOME LEADERS - NOTABLY LIU SHAO CHI, ALSO THE PARTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TENG HSIAO PING AND A COUPLE OF VICE-PREMIERS. AND AS THESE DEMONSTRATIONS RESUMED THERE WAS A LITTLE MORE - WHAT SHALL I SAY - THE MAOIST RED GUARDS AND RED REVOLUTIONARY REBELS, WHO ARE THE ADULT EQUIVALENT OF THE RED GUARDS, WERE GIVEN HEAD A LITTLE MORE, STILL UNDER MUCH MORE CONTROL THAN IN THE EARLY STAGES. DIFFICULT TO KNOW. THEY MAY COME BACK IN THE SUMMER AFTER THE HARVEST. AT THE MOMENT I THINK THEIR CHIEF ATTENTION IS TOWARDS THE HARVEST."




    Initials AA/V/BH/PC



    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: VERGIL BERGER, REUTER'S CORRESPONDENT IN PEKING, HAS LEFT THE CAPITAL AFTER TWO-AND-A-HALF YEARS. THERE ARE ONLY TWO WESTERN CORRESPONDENTS IN PEKING, AND BERGER, AS ONE OF THEM, WAS IN AN EXCELLENT POSITION TO SEE THE CHANGES IN THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA DURING THE TIME HE WAS THERE. WHEN HE ARRIVED, IN OCTOBER 1964, THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA WAS IN A BUOYANT MOOD. PRIME MINISTER CHOU EN LAI'S TOUR OF AFRICA AND ASIA A FEW MONTHS EARLIER HAD BOOSTED CHINESE PRESTIGE ABROAD. ON OCTOBER 14TH THE SOVIET PRIME MINISTER MR. KHRUSHCHEV HAD SUDDENLY RESIGNED, AND THERE WERE PROSPECTS OF HEALING THE SINO-SOVIET RIFT IN THE COMMUNIST IDEOLOGY OF THE TWO GREAT STATES. AND AT HOME, ON OCTOBER 16TH, CHINA EXPLODED ITS FIRST NUCLEAR DEVICE. BUT IN THE MONTHS THAT FOLLOWED CHINESE PRESTIGE ABROAD WANED, HARVESTS FAILED TO MEET EXPECTATIONS, THE SINO-SOVIET RIFT WIDENED AND THE RED GUARDS SPRUNG OUT OF THE TURMOIL IN CHINA DURING THE LAST FEW MONTHS OF BERGER'S TERM. CHANGES IN THE NATION'S LEADERSHIP LED TO DEFENCE MINISTER LIN PIAO EMERGING AS THE MAN TO SUCCEED CHAIRMAN MAO TSE TUNG. ALTHOUGH CHAIRMAN MAO'S POSITION WAS SELDOM IN DOUBT, RUMOURS OF HIS ILL-HEALTH SWEPT THE WORLD AS HIS PUBLIC APPEARANCES BECAME MORE RARE.

    OUT REPORTER IN HONG KONG ASKED BERGER ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF CHAIRMAN MAO HAVING A DOUBLE.......

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVADCIQJ4TN1GDE70MIEFB9Y2BCQ
    Media URN:
    VLVADCIQJ4TN1GDE70MIEFB9Y2BCQ
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    14/04/1967
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Black & White
    Duration:
    00:04:00:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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