At a symposium held from March 5 to October 18, 1969, an "International Studies Group" (hereinafter referred to as “the Group”) composed of Marshals Chen Yi, Ye Jianying, Xu Qianqian and Nie Rongzhen, upon entrustment by the then Chairman Mao Zedong, discussed and analyzed the international situation and put forward strategic suggestions to the Central Government of China on major international issues. Meanwhile, Mr.Xiong Xianghui, Mr.Yao Guang and other experts who had an in-depth understanding of international issues, upon appointment by the then Premier Zhou Enlai, attended the above symposium, being responsible for carrying out specific work for the Group.
At that time, Premier Zhou made thoughtful and meticulous arrangements on how to implement Mao Zedong's instructions. In particular, regarding the study of international situation, he said to Marshal Chen et al.: All of you are marshals, and have a strategic vision. You can offer suggestions to help the Chairman better master strategic trends. When guiding the work of the Group, Premier Zhou said: "Chairman Mao always advocates that we should strive to make our subjective cognition always adapted to the objective reality as the objective reality changes constantly. Also, he stresses that original views and conclusions should be partially or even fully revised in a timely manner. Therefore, free your mind please."
The Group successively held 23 symposiums, at which the international situation and pattern, particularly the changes in the international strategic pattern and the Great-Triangle Relations, and the impacts of such changes on China's foreign policies, as well as other strategic issues including the changes in the US policy towards China after President Richard Nixon came to power, were deeply discussed and analyzed. In succession, the Group submitted two reports to Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou, namely, the Preliminary Estimation of the War Situation and the Views on the Current Situation.
After prudently studying the international strategic situation at that time and listening to the opinions of the expert group, the four marshals submitted a final research report to the Central Government. They held that the United States and the Soviet Union were very unlikely to launch a war against China alone or jointly, the contradiction between China and the Soviet Union was more serious than the Sino-US contradiction, and the contradiction between the United States and the Soviet Union was more serious than the Sino-US contradiction. This judgment provided a reference basis for Chairman Mao and the Central Government to make strategic adjustments of foreign policies and major decisions on improving Sino-US relations in a proper, scientific manner.