History: Cold War - Sino-Soviet Relations

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Ideological

  • Khrushchev and Mao: Mao called him a revisionist - he was was heavily critical of Khrushchev's improved relationswith the USA. He felt that peaceful co-existence was showing weakness against capitalists. Mao thought Khrushchev was abdandoning millions of comrades who were trying to free themselves. Khrushchev's secret speech disturbed/disgusted him - felt it was a personal attack.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis: Mao considered Khrushchev a coward over the Cuban Missile Crisis. Peacefully co-exisiting with non-communists went against everything he believed in - USSr was betraying the revolution. Mao seized the opportunity to expose the USSR's lack of commitment to the Communist World.
  • Conference of Communit Parties (1957): Mao called on the USSR to abandon 'revisionism'. He insisted that international revolution could not be supportted by working with class enemies. He thought they were doing this to isolate China. Mao began to see himself as the real leader of Communism as was indicated by his speech.
  • Great Leap Foward (1958): It was a rejection of the Soviet model of economic development. It was baded on the enthusiasm of the peasants as oposed to the workers. Mao felt that Khrushchev was not revolutionary and didn't care about change. Mao was consciously distancing himself from the USSR and undermining Khrushchev's leadership of communism.
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Ideological

  • Soviet criticism of GLF (1959): Khrushchev decided to withdraw their experts that were helping with the Great Leap Forward. Khrushchev publically criticised Mao's plan, they said it was faulty in design and erroneous in practise. They claimed that the methods were unthorthodox and denounced Mao.
  • Cultural Revolution (1966): Mao stated that he wanted to create a revolution on Chinese Culture. He wanted to eliminate the return of any bourgeois behaviour. The young were encouraged to denounced their elders and send them for re-education. As many as half a million people died. The Soviet embassay was stormed by the Red Guards. The Soviets denounced the revolution as total fanaticism and criticised Mao for creating a state of anarchy. Set fire to a dummy of Brezhnev outside the embassay.
  • Brezhnev Doctrine (1968): This doctrine stated that to maintain order in Eastern Europe, the satellite states had to accept Soviet leadership. Mao rejected this because he had already began to think of himself as a leader and had his own type of communism. It was reported back to Mao that Brezhnev was continuing Khrushchevism without Khrushchev.
  • Invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968): They attempted to assert some independence, so Soviet tanks were sent to crush the period of liberalisation known as the 'Prague Spring'. This underminded the Soviets standing with other states and damaged its attempt to isolate China. Mao condemned this as he said they weren't acting in a socialist manner.
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National Rivalry - Strategic/Military

  • Taiwan Crisis (1958): Mao wanted to test the United States resolve again. Without discussing it with the Soviets, he ordered to a build up of troop manoevres in the region, making it seem like that they were getting ready for full on war, as the USA prepared for war. However, he never launched the attack as he didn't have Soviet backing.
  • Sino-Indonesian Conflict (1959-62): Khrushchev backed Indonesia during the Sino-Indonesian disputes, spending massive Soviet military aid to China's enemy.
  • Sino-Indian Conflict (1962): Rather than back his commuinst ally, Khrushchev publically criticised China's war involvement, claiming that the dispute should be settled peacefully. He sent $800 million to India.
  • Nuclear Rivalry: In 1957, it seemed like the USSR had gained superiority over the USA with the launch of the Sputnik satellite. Mao did not fear nuclear war and believed that it was now an unavoidable part of the revolutionary struggle. Khrushchev didn't agree, he wanted to use this superiority as leverage to convince the USA to pursue co-existence. Their disagreement intensified over the Test Ban Treaty which was an agreement to stop testing atmospheric atomic weapons. Mao felt that this was the USSR abadonding its role as a revolutionary leader.
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National Rivalry - Strategic/Military

  • Nuclear Rivalry: Mao was angered that the Soviets wouldn't give them nuclear plans. If the PRC wanted helpt from the USSR in nuclear development then they would have to allow the Soviets to control its defence policy.Mao thought this was patronozing and didn't see Mao as his equal. In 1960, Soviet scientists had a complete withdrawl from China, but they continued with their own research programs from reconstructed shredded documents left by the Soviets. In 1964, China detonated its first atomic bomb. In 1967, China detonated a hydrogen bomb. In 1970, China ;aunched its first space satellite. This was a huge achievement for China, it meant they would be taken seriously as an international power, that they didn't need Soviet support.
  • Increase in Soviet troops (1962): Border disputes increased to a new level along the Xinjiang frontier and the Amur and Ussuri; both sides inreased their numbers.
  • War in Damansky (1969): On 2nd March, Soviet forces suffered 31 dead and 14 wounded. On 15th March when the Chinese once again attaked Damansky. The Soviet troops withdrew from the island, thus encouraging Chinese troops to increase. The Soviets then attacked on a long front of several kilometres, exposing the Chinese weakness. The Chinese lost 800 soldiers comapred to around 60 Soviets. Both sides accused the other of starting the conflict, but it is suggested that it was the Chinese who intiated the clash.
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National Rivalry: Strategic/Military

  • War in Damansky Island (1969): There had always been arguments over the Sino-Soviet border, it usually flooded which meant that the land changed. In 1964, the Soviets were going to hand Damansky, but when Mao boasted about this being another gain, so Khrushchev withdrew the offer. The Soviets invasion of Czechoslovakia produced a real fear of Chinese invasion from the USSR.
  • Consequences of Ussuri River Dispute: Damansky island remained in Soviet hands, and it was left unresolved. There was a serious clash on 13th August 1969 that occured at the Xinjiang border. It led to Mao deciding to change foreign policy especially with the USA, which changed the dynamics of the Cold War.
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Personalities

  • Meetings in 1958 & 1959: During Khrushchev's first visit to China, Mao set out to deliberately humiliate the Soviet leader. He organised a photo-op at his personal swimming pool, knowing that Khrushchev could not swim. Mao swam confidently in front of the cameras while Khrushchev flounded in a rubber ring. At his second visit, in 1959 and was intended to celebrate the 10th anniversary of China's revolution. No guard of honor met Khrushchev and he had no microphone. They openly insulted each other and Khrushchev mocked Chinese names.
  • Competition for Allies: China still had no major allies by 1958 and therefore still had to depend on the USSR for aid. Russia still hoped that China would give it the upper hand as they still had two very powerful armies.
  • Albania - Moscow Conference: China got its opportunity to attack USSR and to support a dissenting Communist state. In 1961, USSR withdrew aid from Albania. Khrushchev made a speech attacking the Albanian regime for its 'Stalinist' doctrines and backward ways. The PRC observer at Congress walked at Congress walked out in protest, as China felt that this was an attack to their system as well. China offered to replace Soviet money and technology assistance whic made thing more hostile with USSR.
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Personalities

  • Brezhnev and Mao: In 1964, Khrushchev was replaced by Brezhnev. The Chinese Primer Minister Zhou Enlai visited the USSR and came back claiming that they were practising "Khrushchevism without Khrushchev". In 1966, Mao started the Cultural Revolution which was seen with hostility. This meant that even with Khrushchev gone, things stayed hostile between the two countries.
  • Significance of split for superpower relations: It weakened the USSR, providing an opportunity for the USA. It indicated that there were different interpretations of applying communism, they could choose to follow China instead of the USSR, so it lost its moral authority over the Communist world. US President Nixon began to consider developing a Sino-US relationship, to make things harder for the USSR.
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How successful were Sino-Soviet relations?

Success

  • Sino Soviet Treaty of Friendship: Formal alliance between the two countries; $300 million of economic aid given; soviet military assistance and soviet promise to restore Chinese sovereignty to Manchuria.
  • Both gave resources to the Korean War - working in the Korean War made a feeling of comradely co-operation between countries.
  • Khrushchev was willing to support China in the war for the Taiwan Straits crisis.
  • It was an opportunity to tie the USSR to the defence of China by highlighting the US threat.
  • USSR felt that the forces of Communism needed to stand together against the USA.
  • Khrushchev's first visit to Beijing in 1954.
  • 60% of China's trade with USSR by 1956.
  • Higher loans for the Chinese First Five Year Plan.
  • Both countries were communist - Mao looked up to Stalin and respected him.
  • Mao wanted Soviet experts to help him with brining Communism to China.
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How successful were Sino-Soviet relations?

Failures

  • Chinese resenment at unequal treaty.
  • Mongolia remained a Soviet sphere of influence and Stalin refused to give aid to help the Chinese to conquer Taiwan. 
  • No joint revolutionary strategy devised for Eastern Asia.
  • Differences between Soviet and Chinese military advisors made working together hard.
  • Stalin's actions were driven by self interest which made Mao distrust him.
  • Tension over when Chna would pay back for the military support it was given.
  • Mao felt an equality and moral superiority with the USSR as he felt that the USSR wasn't willing to help fellow communist comrades.
  • USSR had serious misgivings over Chinese tatics.
  • Khrushchev refused to lessen Soviet ties in Mongolia or allow China to expand its control into North Korea.
  • Stalin didn't help Mao in the Chinese Civil War and refused to share plans for nuclear weapons.
  • Stalin saw Mao as a rival, so kept him at arms length.
  • Key ideological differences - Stalin looked down on Mao because he adapted Communism.
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Ideology - main factor?

Yes

  • Mao believed that the peasants were the key to Communism whereas Stalin believed it was the workers. Stalin believed that Russia was therefore the only true interpreter of communism.
  • Differences over the meaning of Marxism and how it should be applied to China was a constant conflict. Mao believed that Stalin wanted a divided China, which woul leave the USSR as the dominant force in Asia, so he was very wary.
  • Mao believed that self interest was what motivated the USSR, not Communism.

No

  • If conflict between the two countries was completely due to ideology, then we would have expected Mao and Khrushchev to be able to work together, just as he and Stalin had.
  • Their common enemy (the US) united them and forced them to work together.
  • Mao respected Stalin and his hard line approach, showing that ideology wasn't a issue.
  • Mao and Stalin's relationship was particularly strained.
  • Mao believed he could learn from Stalin.
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National Rivalry - main factor?

Yes

  • In 1945, Manchuria was finally given back to China, but only after the USSR had stripped it of its industrial resources, depriving China of ove $2 billion.
  • The Korean War showed how unwilling the USSR was to help the Chinese, which made Mao more suspicious of Stalin.
  • It was suggested that Stalin took so long to bring peace in the Korean War because he wanted to exhaust the Chinese first, making them weaker.
  • "Stalin acted more like arms merchants than genuine communist internationalists".

No

  • There had always been border disputes between the two countries, so why would their suddenly be so much conflict if this was the main factor of the split?
  • The USSR did actually give back Manchuria; they did help to end the Korean War which led to comradely co-operation.
  • After the Korean War, China benefited majorly from it - got more aid. No one pushed Mao into the war - he wanted to show how strong China was.
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China's Dependance on S.U - main factor?

Yes

  • Aftr the Civil War, the Chinese needed all the aid they could get, so they had to get the USSR to sign the Treaty of Friendship. They became dependant on the aid, so for the time being they had to keept things calm between them.
  • Mao did not tell Khrushchev he was going to shell the Islands in the Tawian crisis.
  • Privately, Khrushchev said he would helpt Moa and criticised Mao's ill judged foreign policy.
  • China had to give a bulk of its bullion reserves.

No

  • It helped to cemment the relationship between them.
  • USSR gave a $300 million loan, 10,000 Soviet military and economic advisers.
  • The USSR was a big helpt in improving China's economy.
  • Khrushchev did publically back Mao, which was what really mattered, and this helped Mao out.
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Personalities - main factor?

Yes

  • Mao was offended by the superior air adopted by the Russians and by Stalin's offhand treatment of the Chinese delegation.
  • Mao complained that he had been dumped in a poor quality villa outside Moscow with a wonky table-tennis table as the sole means of recreation. His hosts made no attempt to entertain him.
  • They conflicted because they were so familiar in type - both thought they were better than the other. Stalin belittled Mao and ignored him often.

No 

  • Mao did have a great respect for Stalin and his hard line policies - this was shown by how upset he was at Stalin's funeral. Mao was happy enough to deal with Stalin's attitude.
  • It is unlikely that either leaders would have broken the treaty only because they didn't like each other.
  • Mao and Khrushchev were less strained until after 1956 (the Secret speech) which suggests that ideology was actually the factor that mainly strained their relationship.
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