Below is the complete text of Chou En-lai’s letter to Sirimavo Bandaranaike, dated April 26 1971 and officially published by the Ceylonese Government a month later. The text has not been readily accessible internationally, thus giving rise to uncertainty as to the letter’s existence or authenticity. For these reasons, nlr is printing it in full and as a document. The Chinese Government has not questioned the version released in Colombo. There can be no doubt as to its accuracy.

‘I am grateful to Your Excellency and the Ceylon Government for your trust in the Chinese Government and your friendly sentiments towards the Chinese people. The friendship between China and Ceylon is in the fundamental interests of the two peoples and can stand tests. The Chinese Government and people highly treasure the friendship between our two countries and no one with ulterior motives will ever succeed in trying to sow discord and sabotage our friendly relations.

Following Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s teaching the Chinese people have all along opposed ultra ‘left’ and right opportunism in their protracted revolutionary struggles. We are glad to see that thanks to the efforts of Your Excellency and the Ceylon Government, the chaotic situation created by a handful of persons who style themselves ‘Guevarists’ and into whose ranks foreign spies have sneaked has been brought under control. We believe that as a result of Your Excellency’s leadership and the co-operation and support of the Ceylonese people these acts of rebellion plotted by reactionaries at home and abroad for the purpose of undermining the interests of the Ceylonese people are bound to fail.

We fully agree to the correct position of defending state sovereignty and guarding against foreign interference as referred to by Your Excellency. The Chinese Government and people admire this and firmly support Ceylon in her just struggle towards this end. As Your Excellency is deeply aware the Chinese Government has consistently abided by the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, has never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries, and is also firmly opposed to any country interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, and particularly to foreign reactionaries taking advantage of the opportunity to carry out armed intervention. I would like once again to reaffirm this unshakable stand of the Chinese Government.

In the interests of the friendship between China and Ceylon and in consideration of the needs of the Ceylon Government, the Chinese Government in compliance with the request of the Ceylon Government, agrees to provide it with a long-term interest free loan of 150 million rupees in convertible foreign exchange. We would like to hear any views which Your Excellency might have on this matter. We are prepared to deliver a portion of the loan in May and sign a document on it. As for other material assistance, please let us know if it is needed.’