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Qian Yiu-tong

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Qián Yào-tōng
ㄑㄧㄚㄋ ㄩㄠㄊㄛㄍ
Official Portrait in 1968
Emblem of the Manchu People's Republic.svg
First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Manchuria
In office
17th May 1954 – 8th January 1981
Preceded by Xu Xiaobao
Succeeded by Tao Shiyou
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
In office
3rd May 1946 – 17th May 1954
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Zhou Yuxiang
Chairman of the People's Revolutionary Command
In office
5th June 1937 – 8th January 1981
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Qing Hongshu
Personal details
Born 12th April 1898
Flag of the Qing dynasty.png Mukden, Qing dynasty
Died 26th May 1981 (aged 83)
Communist Manchuria flag.png Harbin, Manchuria
Nationality Manchurian
Political party MRNC logo (1934-2011).png Manzuxiehui (1927-32)
CPM logo .png CPM (1932-81)
Spouse(s) Yi Xiaolin
Children 4
Alma mater KUTV
Religion Atheist
Military service
Allegiance Communist Manchuria flag.png Manchuria
Branch/service Communist Party of Manchuria flag (1932-54).png Northeastern People's Revolutionary Army
Flag of the MPDF.png Manchu People's Revolutionary Army
Years of service 1937 - 1981
Rank Yuan shuai
Battles/wars Pacification of Manchukuo, Manchu Revolution, Korean War
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Qian

Qian Yiu-tong (Zhuyin: ㄑㄧㄚㄋ ㄩㄠㄊㄛㄍ; pinyin: Qián Yào-tōng; 12th April 1898 - 26th May 1981, aged 83) was a Manchurian Marxist-Leninist revolutionary who served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Manchuria and by extension the de facto leader of the Manchu People's Republic from 1954 to his death in 1981. Prior to that he also served as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 1946 to 1954 as well as holding posts within the politburo, central committee, standing committee and secretariat. He was also Chairman of the People's Revolutionary Command from it creation in 1937 to his death in 1981. Qian also served as an OGPU/NKVD agent for the Soviet Union.

Born in the city of Mukden in 1898 Qian joined the Manzuxiehui during the 1920's before moving to the Soviet Union to study at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East during the 1920's. Following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria he joined the Northeastern People's Revolutionary Army where he subsequently became a member of the Communist Party of Manchuria, quickly ascending to the CPM's central committee and politburo. Qian established himself as an efficient revolutionary bureaucrat becoming the de facto deputy to CPM leader Xu Xiaobao. He helped lead the Manchu Revolution and subsequently negotiated Manchuria's independence from the Soviet Union. After the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and creation of the Manchu People's Republic Qian became the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Aligned with the Stalinist wing of the party Qian supported Xu Xiaobao throughout the late 1940's and in the early 1950's during the Korean War. The failure of the war and the subsequent Tianjin Agreement saw Xu's position in the party weakened to the point where in 1954 Qian ousted him and became leader of the Party and by extension of Manchuria. However, during the first phase of his rule he ruled in a troika with Premier Rao Shaozheng and Chairman of the Standing Committee Wan Shuangjiang.

As leader of Manchuria he enforced the Black River Protocol, as series of policies and doctrines which aimed to make Manchuria a regional power within the communist world. Power was delegated to lower levels of the party whilst Qian remained pre-eminent which led to institutionalised party factionalism. Qian also dismantled the cult of personality transferring such focus to the party as a whole rather then a single leader. The military was also modernised and Manchuria began a policy of pursuing weapons of mass destruction. In 1967 Qian moderated his policies as a reaction to the Cultural Revolution in China and led the Zhongshan Movement which saw a slight thaw in cultural activities and limited economic reforms were made which placed more focus on consumer goods and light industry. Under Qian Manchuria became more actively involved in foreign affairs intervening in Vietnam, Portuguese Africa, Lan Na, Mozambique and Ethiopia. In 1976 the Zhongshan Movement was ended as a purge known as the Anti-Reactionary Campaign was launched which helped re-establish communist dominance over culture. As Qian's rule lengthened strict adherence to the Black River Protocol led to steady economic, social and political stagnation as party factionalism and growing regionalism paralysed national politics. During Qian's rule Manchuria became a gerontocracy as power was centralised to an elderly elite.

In 1976 Japanese spy Ōtsubo Katsumoto defected to Manchuria and revealed that China was spying on Manchuria with plans being made to annex the country if needed. This lead to the deployment of military forces to the China–Manchuria border which led to the threat of military action and the October Crisis. Qian would lead Manchuria during this standoff and would sign the Moscow Peace Agreement to end the crisis. While he was initially praised for his actions during the crisis, the crisis ended with the loss of Manchu influence over Korea and dependency on the United Commonwealth for diplomatic support. This saw a loss of support within the party with many favoring Chairman of the Standing Committee, reformist Tao Shiyou to replace him. In the last years of his life Qian became increasingly incapacitated as his health dramatically worsened, leading to his influence to wane as he was slowly replaced by Tao as leader. In 1981 he was removed from the post of First Secretary due to health issues dying of kidney failure shortly afterwards.

Qian today is a controversial figure within Manchuria. Supporters maintain that under Qian Manchuria saw stability and steady economic growth with the standard of living rising dramatically as Manchuria became more respected on an international scale thanks to its nuclear weapon programme. Qian also saw extensive economic and social modernisation. Critics contend that Qian oversaw stagnation as well as increasing nepotism and corruption within Manchuria whilst failing to reform the single party police state being responsible for numerous human right abuses. Qian's role in the October Crisis also is a common source of contention amongst his supporters and detractors. Qian and his Black River Protocol remains an influential figure on the Manchurian left.


Qian Yiu-tong was the birth name of Qian and the one he used for the majority of his life. His courtesy name was Shuqing which he adopted on his eighteenth birthday in 1916, and used as a pseudonym until 1946 when he reverted back to permanently using Yiu-tong. When he lived in exile in the Soviet Union he adopted the Russian name Vladimirovich Yasnov (Влади́мирович Яснов), which was also the name he used when posing as a OGPU/NKVD agent.

Early life

Qian Yiu-Tong was born in an ethnic Manchu family just outside the city of Mukden on the 12th April 1898. Qian had around four siblings - two brothers (Shaoji and Jialiang) and two sisters (Ruhan and Ziyi) with Qian being the second son and third child. Qian's father was a Mandarin who worked as a local official in Northeast China. Qian was from a young age chosen by his parents to follow in his fathers lead and become a Mandarin within the Qing dynasty being set to undergo the imperial examinations. Subsequently at a young age Qian was taught to write Chinese characters and learn Neo-Confucianism. At the age of 5 Qian was sent to a private school where he was more ably taught in preparation to become a Mandarin Chinese classics such as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Qian continued to study even after the Imperial Examination were announced to be abolished in 1905. Qian was mainly brought up by his grandfather and his mother, having little contact with his father who was often conducting official business. His family where Manchu shamanists, leading Qian to develop a distinct Manchu identify for himself at a young age.

Following the Xinhai Revolution Qian's family moved north into the province of Heilongjiang which came under the control of Manchu warlord Zhao Guangping due to intense anti-Manchu sentiment. Qian largely supported the ideals of the revolutionaries cutting off his queue which caused friction amongst him and his family. In 1916 following the death of Chinese president Yuan Shikai Zhao created a provisional government and after the failed Manchu Restoration in 1917 declared the Manchu Republic. Within the new republic power was monopolised in a military clique that ruled via the Manzuxiehui. By 1917 Qian had completed his studies and become a member of the newly formed Manchu National Army which was the only reliable way of attaining power and influence within the new state. Qian also became a member of the Manzuxiehui and thus identified with the Manchu nationalist cause.

Qian Yiu-tong after joining the NKVD
In the aftermath of the October Revolution the newly formed Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic recognised the fledging Manchu state, with Zhao allowing for Bolshevik troops to stage attacks from within Manchuria. As such the Manzuxiehui became increasingly influenced by Bolshevik revolutionaries with many of its members (nicknamed the "Old Left") becoming associated with socialist economic ideas. Qian joined the Military Academy of Zhao Guangping in 1921 where he studied for two years. Within the Military Academy he became increasingly influenced by the left-wing of the Manzuxiehui as well as being taught Marxist and Leninist ideology, forming the Socialist Revolutionary Group in 1922 which consisted of several left wing students, including Rao Shaozheng. It was at the Military Academy that Qian learnt of Marxist literature, becoming according to his then colleague Jiang Zhengxiang a committed Leninist. Qian's academic background resulted in him often hosting speeches outlining Marxist theory and principles at the Academy. In 1923 he travelled to Tashkent within the Turkestan ASSR to study in the Communist University of the Toilers of the East at the behest of Soviet agents within the Manzuxiehui. Qian was one of the few Manchu students at the university and studied revolutionary works alongside Marxism-Leninism. Qian travelled back to Manchuria in 1925, where he remained a leftist activist within the Manzuxiehui. Qian wrote several articles many of which called for the overthrow of the feudal peasant landlords to be replaced with a communist state that would join the Soviet Union in furthering the cause of world communism.

By 1928 relations between Zhao and the Soviet Union had reached a nadir. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had that year consolidated his position after a protracted power struggle, and supported the revolutionary Guomindang party which aimed to reunify China. As such when GMD leader Chiang Kai-Shek launched the Northern Expedition Zhao mobilised the Manchu National Army in a vain attempt to preserve Manchu sovereignty. The subsequent Manchu-Chinese War was a disaster for Manchuria with Chiang Kai-Shek with the support of warlord Zhang Xueliang reconquering Manchuria. Qian who had served in the Manchu National Army subsequently crossed into the USSR with other Manzuxiehui figures into the city of Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East. Whilst in Russia he was known by the name of Vladimirovich Yasnov, and attempted to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He was turned down, but instead became a member of the OGPU, the Soviet secret police as a member of the Chinese division. Qian was trained in subversion, spywork and torture by the OGPU.

Guerilla fighter

In 1931 the Mukden Incident occurred which spurred the Japan to launch an invasion of Manchuria. The puppet state of Manzhouguo was created with the last Qing emperor, Puyi, being declared head of state. This prompted a wave of resistance within the new state to break out with Japan making numerous attempts to pacify Manzhouguo. Prominent opposition groups included the GMD, the remnants of the MRNC, Northeast People's Anti-Japanese Volunteer Army, Chinese People's National Salvation Army and Northeastern People's Revolutionary Army. The latter was controlled by the Communist Party of China whose presence in Manchuria was less pronounced then other territories.
Yi Xiaolin, Qian's wife.
Qian joined the People's Revolutionary Army in 1931 on the behest of the OGPU, acting as a spy for the USSR for the anti-Japanese movement. Qian was appointed as a workers' commissar for the PRA where he gained a reputation for his tough, Chekaist methods of enforcing discipline amongst the PRA. In 1933 a Manchu nationalist and CPC regional boss Li Qingquan held a party conference where he announced the creation of the Communist Party of Manchuria which soon cooperated with the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army. Qian was a founding member of the CPM being inaugurated into its first Central Committee and quickly became a protégé of deputy leader Xu Xiaobao enabling him to fraternise with senior levels of the party, likely at the behest of the OGPU. When the NAJUA lost contact with the CPC's leadership in Yan'an the CPM increasingly started to take a larger role in controlling the NAJUA. Since 1933 Qian had first met fellow guerilla fighter Yi Xiaolin, a former peasant girl who had joined the communists to avoid an arranged marriage. The two became romantically engaged, and in 1934 married in a secret marriage ceremony. The same year he was promoted to become a member of the CPM's politburo, the highest decision making body within the party. Qian was now in direct contact with the NKVD (the replacement of the OGPU) relaying information about the Manchu communist movement to Moscow.

Qian as part of the CPM continued to engage in resistance activities against the Japanese during the 1930's. With the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 Manzhouguo became an important staging post in which Japan launched invasions into other parts of China creating both the state of Mengjiang and later the Reorganized National Government of the Republic of China. The same year CPM leader Li Qingquan was killed by Japanese forces resulting in Xu Xiaobao to become leader of the CPM. Xu promoted Qian to the position of Deputy Secretary of the Central Committee whilst co-currently creating the People's Revolutionary Command within the party appointing Qian as its first Chairman. As the Chairman of the People's Revolutionary Command Qian effectively held control over the NAJUA, leading offensives against the Manzhouguo Imperial Army and the Japanese Kwantung Army. Qian had control over the Workers' and Peasant Brigades, units within the NAJUA directly under the control of the CPM, whom he ordered to purge the NAJUA of GMD and rightist members. In 1941 following Operation Barbarossa, the attack on Pearl Habour and subsequent American declaration of war against Japan Xu and Qian created the Anti-Fascist Front of Liberation, a body designed to advocate for Manchurian independence and liberation from Japan with Qian serving on its Coordinating Committee. Links were established with the former Premier of Manchuria Zhao Guanping in Khabarovsk who subsequently lobbied with the Soviet government for Soviet support of a Manchu state. At the behest of Stalin the CPM joined Comintern in 1942 - a symbolic gesture as the body was dissolved the following year. Nevertheless the CPM started to receive covert support from the USSR as a result against the Japanese. At both the Tehran and later Yalta conferences the topic of what would happen to Manchuria after the war were dismissed by Stalin, with only a Soviet occupation being assured.

Communist revolutionaries in the Manchu Revolution
During 1942-3 the NAJUA were able to successfully take territory within Manchuria setting up several People's Governments, mainly on the Russo-Manchu border. In 1944 Zhao Guanping alongside several regiments of the former Manchu National Army officials entered Manchuria where they and the NAJUA captured the city of Harbin in northern Manzhouguo, starting the so-called Manchu Revolution. A new republican government which was a coalition of primarily the Manzuxiehui and the CPM was declared in Harbin with Zhao inaugurated as Premier and Xu as Vice-Premier. The new republic was surrounded on all sides by Japanese forces in Manzhouguo aside from the "Khabarovsk-Harbin corridor", a loosely connected supply line running from the USSR that served as a lifeline for the new republic. Qian who had built a record for himself as a shrewd tactician was the de facto intermediary between Harbin and Moscow, being instrumental in negotiating with the Soviets for extra military supplies and diplomatic support. In his dealings with the Soviets Qian stated that the CPM would not resist the Red Army if it entered Manchuria in return for the Soviets recognising Manchu sovereignty under a CPM government. This deal was done without the knowledge of the Manzuxiehui and was only only known to the Soviets and the highest levels of the CPM - nevertheless the "Haishenwai Agreement" (negotiated in Vladivostok, the capital of the Primorsky Krai) assured Soviet recognition of a Manchu communist state.

The Manchu republican government in Harbin meanwhile only made very limited military gains thanks to political instability. Zhao Guanping had died in January 1945 being replaced by Qian Wanyong, a staunch anti-communist who wished to evict the CPM from government. However due to the Manchu Republic's dependence on the USSR Qian Wanyong was unable to conduct an open purge and instead attempted to marginalise the CPM's role within government. This created tension between the CPM and the Manzuxiehui leading to political and military paralysis and constant infighting between the two sides. In republican held territory there was open violence between the two sides with only mutual hatred of the Japanese sustaining the alliance in any way. Qian Wanyong attempted to replace Qian Yiu-tong in his role as ambassador with a Manzuxiehui, but was unsuccessful in his efforts. In April the CPM had effectively taken over the Republican government, forcing Qian Wanyong's resignation and placing communist commissars in the Manchu National Army, an idea proposed and implemented by Qian. Song Yixin was named the new premier, but by now Xu and Qian as leaders of the Northeastern People's Revolutionary Army held effective power over the republican government. In August 1945 Qian and Xu ordered the Northeastern People's Revolutionary Army to cooperate with the Red Army after the USSR launched an invasion of Manchuria, destroying Japanese, Manzhouguo and Manzuxiehui forces. Qian and Xu were both thought to have played a part in the Gegenmiao massacre which saw 1,800 Japanese citizens murdered in Manchuria. Soviet general Rodion Malinovsky headed a military occupation of Manchuria whilst the CPM made the preparations to create a Marxist-Leninist state. However, it was deemed necessary that the new Manchu state must officially have a national government to give Manchuria international legitimacy meaning the former Manzuxiehui Premier, Song Yixin, retained his position in the provisional government.

Foreign Secretary

Qian Yiu-tong in 1947.
On the 3rd May 1946 the Manchu People's Republic was officially declared. A constitutional assembly was elected with was dominated by the Communist Party, who were enshrined as leading party of state. Although Song was Premier, real power lay in the hands of Xu and the CPM's politburo. Qian was named as the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and as Chairman of the People's Revolutionary Command was the de facto commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Qian alongside Xu oversaw the creation of the Manchu People's Revolutionary Army which was mainly formed from the NAJUA and Manchu National Army. As Foreign Secretary, Qian made it his priority to gain international recognition of the MPR. The day the MPR was declared also saw the signing of the Manchu-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, largely a joint creation of Qian and Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov, whom Qian cultivated an excellent relationship with the two men being friends. The Treaty was overwhelmingly balanced to favour the Soviet Union with a large amount of Manchuria's resources being diverted to the Soviet Union. Soviet military and economic advisers also held a large degree of influence in the new Manchu state, and numerous Soviet troops were still deployed around the country. Nevertheless Manchuria was guaranteed military protection from the Soviet Union, and was able to gain bilateral relations with Mongolia, Albania, Bulgaria, Poland and Yugoslavia. Other Eastern Bloc states such as East Germany, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary soon followed. In 1948 following the Yugoslav-Soviet split Manchuria ceased effective relations with Yugoslavia, although their embassy remained open in Belgrade. During this period the CPM was further consolidating its power within Manchuria. Whilst Qian was officially the Foreign Secretary his close relationship with Xu enabled him to wield a significant degree of power within Manchuria. Qian was regarded as a loyal Stalinist within the CPM largely implementing Xu's policies without complaint, albeit acting as a moderating influence compared to the more radical Chen Qinggang who headed economic planning. Qian alongside other members of the Politburo played an active role in the Red Terror spearheaded by the Shūjìchù.

Sino-Manchu relations

Qian saw cooperation with the Communist Party of China as key to ensure the MPR's continued survival.
Qian Yiu-tong and Rao Shaozheng with Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong
The CPM's leadership secretly harboured hopes for the Guomindang to win the Chinese Civil War, thus forcing the Soviets to ensure the MPR's continued survival as a satellite in East Asia. However, the CPM allowed CPC forces commanded by Lin Biao to attack from Manchuria into China proper after facing pressure from the Soviets, due to the GMD still occupying the city of Jinzhou which was officially within Manchurian borders. Qian kept up a dialogue between the CPC and the CPM, communicating mainly with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. Whilst both wanted to unify China under CPC rule, Qian was successful in building a working relationship with Zhou, whose pragmatist outlook enabled him to persuade Mao that with Soviet support the MPR may remain an independent state. Between 1948 to 1949 Qian travelled extensively from Russia to China to gain assurances from the Soviets for continued support and to persuade Chinese leaders that Manchuria would remain an independent country. When it became clear the CPC would retake the entirety of China after taking over Jinzhou in 1949, Qian stepped up his efforts to come to a deal with Mao. Qian visited Moscow where he personally met with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, lobbying with him to ensure Manchuria's independence in the case for a CPC victory, with Qian point out that Xu was a more loyal Stalinist then Mao - the Soviets officially stepped up their military presence in Manchuria as a result.

Following the creation of the People's Republic of China Qian travelled to Beijing to personally congratulate Mao on his victory in the Chinese Civil War, with the pair signing the Manchu-Chinese Treaty in which China recognised Manchuria's independence transferring Jinzhou to Manchuria - nevertheless such a treaty was mainly a Soviet creation, with Soviet presence in China being the only thing standing in the way of war between the two nations. The victory of the Chinese Communists in the civil war and retreat of the Nationalists to Taiwan prompted the CPM began to explore ways to guarantee Manchu sovereignty. When North Korean (DPRK) leader Kim Il-Sung and Stalin expressed a desire to reunify the Korean peninsula under communist rule Qian lobbied for Manchuria to support the campaign so to show the "loyalty of Manchuria towards the worldwide communist movement". Xu and Qian signed an agreement that would see them fully support the Korean People's Army if they faced military difficulty against South Korea (ROK).

Korean War

In June 1950 the DPRK invaded the ROK initiating the Korean War on the behest of Stalin. Units from the KPA and the MPRA were deployed to combat southern forces. Qian and Xu were supportive of the action with the CPM officially decreeing the invasion would result in the "establishment of an all-Korea democratic people's republic". Throughout the Manchurian government poured its resources into the war leading to the 1950 Manchurian Famine as food was requisitioned from collective farms (known as Socialist Agricultural Co-operatives or SAC's). As a response to the Manchu-DPRK invasion the United Nations under an initiative led by the United Sates authorised a task force to be deployed to prop up the ROK with most troops coming from the US and Britain. By September the KPA-MPRA had pushed the UN-ROK forces to the city of Pusan. With communist victory appearing imminent Qian refused to engage in any form of diplomacy that would result in the ROK's survival.

In September UN commander Douglas MacArthur conducted a two pronged amphibious attack on Incheon and the Liaodong Peninsula.UN forces advanced both into Manchuria and the DPRK cornering the Pyongyang regime to Ranson and almost the entirety of Liaoning province. Qian immediately was dispatched to Beijing where he successfully persuaded Chinese Chairman Mao to send in the People's Liberation Army to aid the DPRK/Manchuria. China occupied a large chunk of western Manchuria whilst pushing UN forces to the 38th parallel. From then on the war entered a state of stalemate.

First Secretary





Awards and decorations

Domestic decorations

  • Communist Manchuria flag.png Order of Xu Xiaobao (twice; 1952 and 1958)
  • Communist Manchuria flag.png Hero of the Manchu People's Republic (1956)
  • Communist Manchuria flag.png Hero of Socialist Labour (1967)
  • Communist Manchuria flag.png Popular Hero of the Manchu People (1968)
  • Communist Manchuria flag.png Order of National Communism (1972)
  • Communist Manchuria flag.png Order of the Manchu People's Revolution (1976)
  • Communist Manchuria flag.png Order of the Red Star (1977)

Foreign decorations

State visits

Qian Yiu-Tong map.png
Country City Date Host
Template:Country data USSR Moscow 13-25 December 1954 Nikita Khrushchev
 China Beijing 3-17 June 1955 Mao Zedong
File:Flag of Egypt (1952 - 1958).png Egypt Cairo 21-29 September 1957 Gamal Abdel Nasser
Template:Country data USSR Moscow 12-19 August 1959 Nikita Khrushchev
 Cuba Havana 27 March-9 April 1962 Fidel Castro
File:Flag of socialist Burma/Myanmar.png Myanmar Yangon 13-18 December 1964 Ne Win
Flag of Vietnam.svg North Vietnam Hanoi 19-26 November 1967 Ho Chi Minh
File:Flag of Qatif (1961-1972).png Qatif Al-Qatif 27 June - 6 July 1968 Mustafa al-Karim
File:Flag of Mongolian PR.png Mongolia Ulaanbaatar 12-22 August 1970 Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal
File:900px-Flag of Romania (1965-1989).svg.png Romania Bucharest 11-20 November 1970 Nicolae Ceaușescu
Flag of Poland.svg Poland Warsaw 20-29 November 1970 Władysław Gomułka
 China Beijing 15-21 July 1971 Mao Zedong
File:Flag of Libya (1977-2011).svg.png Libya Tripoli 22-26 April 1972 Muammar Gaddafi
 North Korea Pyongyang 3-8 May 1972 Kim Il-Sung
 Chile Santiago 4-7 June 1972 Salvador Allende
Template:Country data USSR Moscow 13-18 July 1974 Leonid Brezhnev
File:Flag of Mozambique (1975-1983).png Mozambique Maputo 6-13 July 1975 Samora Machel
Flag of Somalia.svg Somalia Mogadishu 22-26 May 1977 Siad Barre
Template:Country data East Germany East Berlin 23-28 January 1978 Erich Honecker
Template:Country data USSR Moscow 21-29 October 1978 Leonid Brezhnev