Sino-Soviet Relations and Detente

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1949 Creation of communist government in China

1950 Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance signed. Chinese resentful at USSR’s terms over Mongolia.

1950-53 Korean War. First test of new alliance.

1953 Stalin dies. Replaced by Khrushchev.

1954 China begins bombing of Taiwan. Khrushchev refuses to support this

1954 Oct Khrushchev’s first visit to Beijing. Refusal to lessen soviet ties in Mongolia or let China expand control in North Korea.

1956 Khrushchev’s criticising speech of Stalin at Twentieth Congress of SCP. De-Stalinisation begins. Mao calls Khrush a ‘revisionist’.

1958 Great Leap Forward introduced in China.

1958 Aug Taiwan crisis. Mao beings bombarding Quemoy and Matsu to step up pressure on US. Khrushchev refuses involvement, fears nuclear war with USA.

1960 USSR pulls out economic aid and advisers from China

1961 China gives economic support to Albania after split with USSR. Encourages Romania to become independent of USSR

1963 meeting between party leaders fails to resolve anything. Open Letter from USSR argues China not on path to true communism. Mao retaliates calling them ‘soviet revisionists’ and claims they are re-establishing capitalism.

1964 Moscow Meeting. Khrushchev ousted.

1965 USSR strengthens relations with Mongolia, North Korea and North Vietnam to isolate China

1969 Sino-Soviet border crisis. Fighting at Damansky Island.



-          Mao respected Stalin, but frustrated by Stalin’s failure to support communists during Chinese civil war.

-          Competing desire to be leaders of Asia

-          Respected Khrushchev less especially after his secret speech ’56 at twentieth congress of SCP.

-          China signed treaty to gain an ally but unhappy with terms:

-          China had to accept Soviet leadership of communist world.

-          USSR still had rights over outer Mongolia, but China’s sovereignty in Manchuria was restored.

-          Economic and technical aid to help developing an air force. However, terms of agreement said air was to be repaid at high rate of interest.


Stalin wanted to avoid direct military confrontation between superpowers. Happy that Mao willing to send 270,000 to defend North Korea.

Conflict significant because:

-          Drained China’s financial resources making them more dependent on Soviet Union

-          Demonstrated courage and expertise of Chinese troops

-          Persuaded Stalin China was a useful ally


Relations had improved following Stalin’s death in ’53:

-          SU increased amount of technical support offered China. 116 fully equipped industrial plants constructed. 8000 Chinese students educated in USSR’s universities.

-          Khrush agreed to give up Soviet territory in Lushun. Geneva conference of ’54 showed positive relationship


-          Khrush’s speech denouncing Stalin

-          Photo opportunity planned by Mao in swimming pool knowing Khrushchev could not swim

-          Mao made public Khrush’s failure in Cuban missile crisis

-          Mao wanted to lead Soviet world


Mao bombarded Quemoy and Matsu to put pressure on US who had provided matador missiles to defend Taiwan. Khrush refused to support China


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