Sino-Soviet relations


Sino-Soviet Treaty 1950

In 1950, when Mao had just come into power in 1949 and Stalin was leader of the USSR, the Treaty of Friendship, Allience and Mutual Assistance was created; the terms were:

  • Economic aid given to China- worth $300 million and was spent on military defences and equipment needed for creating defence industries.
  • Soviet military assistance incase of attack from Japan/USA- military aid helped develop China's air force.
  • Soviet promise to restore Chinese sovereignty over the provincance of Manchuria; USSR agreed to transfer rail controls there to China.
  • Ban on all non-Soviet foreigners from Manchuria, as requested by USSR.
  • Mongolia remained in the Soviets' control (BAD FOR CHINA).
  • Stalin refused to give aid to conquer Taiwan, North Korea or North Vietnam (BAD FOR CHINA).
  • Stalin forced Mao to drop plans to help the Vietnamese in their fight against the French in Indochina (BAD FOR CHINA).
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The Taiwan Straights crisis 1958

The Nationalists (Guomindang) fled to the islands of Matsu and Quemoy as well as Taiwan after Mao gained power. The Nationalists retained control of these islands but tension surfaced in 1958, when Mao announced that he would be shelling Quemoy for several reasons:

  • Frustration over Taiwan's lack of concessions at negotiations after 1954.
  • Mao wanted to test the American commitment to Taiwan.
  • Part of Mao's attemp to stir up 'revolutionary enthusiasm'- highlight the struggle between capitalist/imperialist forces and preparation for the Great Leap Foward.
  • Opportunity to tie the USSR to the defence of China by highlighting the threat of the USA.
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The Sino-Soviet Split after 1953

It occured because of ideological differences:

  • Krushchev persued a policy of reconciliation with Tito, the Yugoslav leader- he had been unwilling to impose Stalin's policies so Mao regarded this as revisionism.
  • Mao was very critical of the USSR's pursuit of improved relations of the USA- Mao disliked Peaceful Coexistance as he saw it as showing weakness to the capitalists and regarded it as revisionism too.
  • Krushchev's speech made in 1965 at the Party Congress made critisisms about Stalin's policies- Mao admired Stalin and many of his policies were based on Stalin's, and he considered 'De-Stalinisation' as very offensive, and he had not been consulted before Krushchev delivered the speech which was also offensive to him.
  • Krushchev was highly critical of Mao's Great Leap Foward in 1958.
  • Krushchev also critisised Mao of splitting the communist movement and therefore helping the capitalists.
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The Sino-Soviet Split after 1953

It occured because of national interests:

  • Arguements arose over the USSR's refusal to loosen it's ties with Mongolia- China considered Mongolia to be in it's sphere of influence more than the USSR's.
  • USSR constantly refused China permission to expand it's control to North Korea.
  • Border disputes were constantly running.
  • The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 by USSR was to bring in a more independant communist government back into line with Moscow's direction- this scared China as the USSR could do the same elsewhere (even in China).
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The Ussuri River Dispute 1969

Chinese troops attacked Soviet border guards when trying to regain control of Damansky Island, on the Ussuri river, which was in the control of the USSR. The Chinese believed the island was rightly theirs- the Chinese lost about 800 soldiers whilst the Soviets only lost 60 troops; the battle nearly escalated into war.

Some consequences of the dispute follow:

  • Damansky island remained under Soviet control.
  • The dispute was left unresolved.
  • Tensions increased along the border- border guards kept getting into fights.
  • When the Soviet Prime minister met Zhou Enlai, relations remained cold.
  • China's foreign policy was changed by Mao- he changed China's approach to the USA which meant improved relations with America and hostilities with the USSR. 
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The Sino-American rapprochement

China's reasons:

  • Esclating Vietnam war threatened to increase US involvement in the reigon.
  • Conflict with Taiwan.
  • Hostile neighbours e.g. Japan, South Korea and India.
  • Tension over border with India- short war in 1962 and tensions remained high.
  • Can't be hostile with both superpowers.

America's reasons:

  • Allie with other communist power- split communism movement in half.
  • Weaken the USSR massively.
  • Get out of Vietnam- China could isolate Soviet ships going to North Vietnam with weapons so US control could be handed over to South Vietnamese.
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The Sino-American rapprochement continued

What was achieved by China and the USA:

  • Ping-pong diplomacy: 1971 American table-tennis team invited to play in China which improved friendship between the two superpowers.
  • Trade and travel restrictions were relaxed.
  • In 1971 Kissinger visited- him and Enlai built a good working relationship.
  • In 1972 Nixon visited- a comminique was produced to allow both sides to stress differences and common ground. Nixon also listened to Mao's teachings for 2 hours and Mao regarded this as a success as they were listning to him and not vice versa.
  • In 1975, Ford the new president also visited China.
  • Chinese visited Eastern European countries to strengthen ties with them- Yugoslavia and Romania were the most successful as they became more independant from USSR.
  • Trade between China and USA increased from $5 million to $500 million a year.
  • America's allies such as Japan and Taiwan were shocked about America's new relationship with China.
  • US support for Taiwan deterriorated- they were expelled off the UN security council.
  • China's allies were also shocked by it's new relations with the USA. 
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The Sino-American rapprochement continued

  • Mao and his government gained prestige and popularity- this made up for the damage done in the Cultural Revolution and Mao's rival, Lin Bao, came to his downfall. Zhou Enlai's power was also enhanced and that would help him open up China to the rest of the world for relations.
  • Opportunities provided to undermine the USSR. After the communique was established it said that 'each (China and USA) is opposed to any other country or group of countries to establish hegemony'- this meant that neither wanted the USSR to have control in Eastern Europe so was a direct attack on the USSR.
  • USA could put pressure on the USSR- the USSR then gave more concessions at the Detente talks ( SALT treaties and talks).
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Implications for US-Soviet relations

US-Soviet relations came across implications from the rapprochement by the USA and China:

  • USSR had to change their way of thinking about world relations- it had to do a triangular diplomacy because Chinese support for the Soviets was no longer guarenteed, and if the USSR didn't offer concessions to the US it could be pushed towards a closer frienship with China.
  • The Soviet position was massively weakened by the Sino-American relations.
  • The Soviet Union was brought to the negotiating table and made concessions to the USA- Nixon's visit to China made the USSR more amenable to US wishes.
  • All the pressures on the USSR led to Detente in the 1970s- there was a permenant relaxation in superpower relations that gave arguements on trade, arms limitations and human rights.
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