Sino-Soviet Relations 1949-1976


An Unequal Friendship (1949-1950)

People's Republic of Chine (1949)

  • the USSR first state to recognise the PRC, and signed a Treaty of Friendship with Mao
  • the US were terrified that Communism had triumphed in China

Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance (February 1950)

  • the PRC needed idealogical support, and USSR needed economic support following WW2
  • Friendship: loan of $300mil and equipment for 50 major construction projects given to PRC
  • Alliance: military alliance against 'Japanese militarism', which guaranteed military help against any capitalist conflict
  • Mutual assistance: joint stock company set up to mine in Xingjiang, USSR experts helped set up and run 141 PRC business enterprises, USSR returned Manchurian railway to PRC
  • all of the policies allowed PRC to begin economic modernisation

Creation of the 'China Lobby' in the US

  • US politicians believed Truman hadn't done enough to secure a pro-Western China
  • military/financial support for the Western Taiwan, Phillipines, South Korea, French in Vietnam and NSC-68 followed
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The Consolidation of Sino-Soviet Friendship (1950-

Stalin's aims for the Korean War

  • wanted PRC to do most of the fighting so USSR soldiers didn't meet with UN soldiers and risk nuclear attack
  • didn't want to be forced to fight in Korea under the terms of the Treaty of Friendship
  • didn't want to give military aid to PRC due it being expensive
  • wanted to consolidate communist control of Korea so US couldn't try and take control

Korean War and its significance on Sino-Soviet relations (1950)

  • UN troops were held off by PRC, and ended after 3 years with the reassertion of communist and capitalist Korean nations
  • the cost of war reinforced PRC's dependence on USSR, and turned to them for aid
  • proved PRC's worth as an ally, and trade and technology increased in PRC as a reward
  • for the USA it demonstrated the potential power of a Sino-Soviet alliance

Confrontation over Taiwan

  • There was dispute between the independent Taiwan w/US backing and a PRC controlled Taiwan with backing from the USSR
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Deterioration of Sino-Soviet Relations (1954-1958)

The Great Leap Forward (1958)

  • rejection of the USSR model of economic development, based on the enthusiasm of peasants instead of the role of expertise and the working class in developing the economy
  • Mao believed Khrushchev was not a real revolutionary, and so distanced himself while undermining his leadership of the communist world

PRC's national and military interests (1958)

  • Khrushchev propose joint Sino-Soviet control over the PRC's nuclear programme but Mao believed this to be patronising
  • Mao and the PRC began trying to take Taiwan again, but Khrushchev refused to support them

Personality conflict

  • during Khrushchev's first visit to PRC, Mao set out to humiliate him, creating a photo opportunity at a swimming pool, knowing Khrushchev couldn't swim
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Sino-Soviet Confrontation (1959-1964)

Personal differences and political rivalries

  • Mao snubbed Khrushchev in public on his 2nd visit to PRC, beat the USSR to the top of Mount Everest and published Khrushchev's backdown over the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Khrushchev withdrew Soviet experts who were helping with the Great Leap Forward

Idealogical division

  • Khrushchev publicly criticised the Great Leap Forward and introduced new doctrines supporting all Russians, not just working classes
  • Mao called Khrushchev a revisionist and described his communism as 'phoney'

Strategic and military issues

  • Khrushchev backed India in the Sino-Indian border conflict (1962) and Indonesia in the Sino-Indonesian disputes (1959-1962)
  • Khrushchev was dismayed at PRC's first successful nuclear weapons test (1964)
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Sino-Soviet Confrontation II (1964-1969)

Relations after Khrushchev (1964)

  • the new USSR leader, Brezhnev, wanted to establish a working relationship with Mao
  • Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, which criticised the USA and USSR as bureaucrats
  • March 1966 USSR and PRC ended diplomatic and trading relations

Full-scale confrontation (1968-1969)

  • conflict between Red Guards and Soviet soldiers on the Sino-Soviet border
  • small-scale fighting on the independent island of Zhen Bao following occupation by Red Guards

Significance of the Sino-Soviet split for superpower relations

  • weakened the USSR, thus providing an opportunity for the US
  • indicated there were differences in interpretations of applying communism
  • Nixon considered developing a Sino-US relationship to exploit the difficulties between the PRC and the USSR
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'Ping-Pong' Diplomacy (1969-1971)

Motives for Sino-US rapproachment

  • PRC motives: worries about a pre-emptive USSR nuclear strike, lack of allies, expansion of Chinese borders
  • US motives: wanted PRC to put pressure on Viet Cong to negotiate peace, wanted to put pressure on the USSR, a new strategic alliance, didn't want PRC to become a Soviet sattelite state, wanted to focus US' entire nuclear capability on USSR

Events in 'ping-pong' diplomacy

  • (July '69) Nixon relaxed trade and travel restrictions with PRC and initiated secret talks with Mao through Pakistan, US recognised PRC
  • (April '71) Mao invited US ping-pong team to play an international match in PRC
  • (July '71) Kissinger, Nixon's security advisor, visited PRC to arrange a Presidential visit
  • (October '71) US backed the PRC's entry into the UN
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Sino-US Relations (1972-1976)

Triangular Diplomacy - continued by President Ford after Nixon's resignation

  • wanted a three-way relationship between the US, USSR and PRC
  • anticipation that the USSR would be worried by a potential Sino-US alliance and so would maintain friendly relations with the US
  • reasoned that an independent PRC was better for the US than a Soviet satellite

Nixon's Trip to the PRC (1972)

  • Mao and Nixon established a good working relationship, and acknowledged disagreements over Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan, made a relationship based on peaceful co-existence, hoped to form formal diplomatic links by 1976, pledged to work together to resist any country attempting invasion in South-East Asia (i.e. USSR), and tried to increase trade
  • this caused great anxiety for USSR, but Nixon's 'Triangular Diplomacy' brought the most successful US-USSR summit of the Cold War

Sino-US relations after Nixon

  • No agreements were made due to Ford's weaker position for diplomacy due to his unpopularity with the US public
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