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A Chinese exploration of Sino-Soviet relations since the death of Stalin, 1953-1989.

Zhu, Jiaming (1991) A Chinese exploration of Sino-Soviet relations since the death of Stalin, 1953-1989. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The dramatic phenomenon which appeared soon after Stalin's death in March 1953 in the Communist world was the strengthening of friendship and co-operation between the two largest socialist countries - the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. The most important reason was that the Soviet leaders wanted to make use of the Chinese Communist Party to maintain their leading position in the socialist camp and the world Communist movement. For the Chinese, the main reason was economic rather than political. They wanted to obtain as much aid as possible from the Soviet side, while implementing their first five-year-plan (1953-1957). Only two and a half months after the death of Stalin, an important agreement was signed in Moscow for assistance to China in the construction and reconstruction of 141 industrial sites. By the end of 1953, China's share of the USSR's total external trade turnover amounted to 20 per cent, while the Soviet Union's share of China's trade was 55.6 per cent. From mid-1958 the Chinese method of building socialism began to take shape: the grouping of agricultural co-operatives into large People's Communes combining small-scale industry with agriculture, the Great Leap Forward. In the eyes of the Soviet leaders this was a great challenge not only to orthodox Marxist thinking, but also to the leading position of the CPSU. What is more, it was in 1958 that it first became apparent that China and the Soviet Union shared different views on a number of foreign policy issues which brought the conflict to a state of high tension. First it was the bombing of Jinmen (Quemoy) and Mazu (Matsu) . Then came the Sino-Indian border clash. On 9 September, in spite of a Chinese request, the Soviet Foreign Ministry issued a `neutral' statement, providing the first public indication that relations were deteriorating rapidly. Khrushchev's China policy appeared to have two elements. 1) To increase the scale of Soviet economic aid to China, thus reassuring it of friendship while increasing Soviet penetration of its economy. 2) To oust Mao Zedong and anti-Soviet elements from the Chinese leadership. The period from 1960 to 1969 was characterised by the Sino-Soviet `cold war', beginning with polemics in ideology and expanding to economic, political and military confrontation. Until the end of 1962 both sides refrained from attacking each other directly. The Chinese directed their attacks against `revisionism' in general and the Yugoslavs in particular; the Russians directed their attacks against `dogmatism' in general and the Albanians in particular. The first major ideological confrontation took place at the Third Congress of the Romanian Workers' Party in Bucharest from 20-25 June 1960. Then on 16 July the Soviet government informed the Chinese government of its decision to withdraw all Soviet technicians working in China. This unilateral decision, which aroused greater resentment in China than any other action, struck a crushing blow at China's economy at a time when the country was suffering from the failure of the Great Leap and a series of natural disasters. The Chinese government replied with charges of revisionism. But as the economic links between the two countries deteriorated, the Chinese leaders eventually published their well-known nine comments, from 15 August 1963 to 14 July 1964, strongly criticising both Soviet internal and external policies. Sino-Sovient relations deteriorated after Khrushchev's fall in October 1964. There were at least two events contributing to this. One was a quarrel about taking `unity of action' to aid North Vietnam, suggested by the Soviet leaders. The other was a dispute about holding an international conference of all Communist parties in 1965. Party relations were broken, although no-one at the time thought that this break could continue for the next 23 years. 1966-1969 witnessed the high-tide of the `Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, and this put the PRC in full confrontation with the USSR for two decades. There is no doubt that the struggle against `Soviet revisionism' which dominated Mao's mind in his later years was one of his main motives for starting the Revolution. Kiu Shaoqi whom he regarded as China's Khrushchev and the representative of the revisionist line inside the Chinese Party, had to be denounced. Smashing revisionists at home meant smashing them abroad and therefore the necessity of ending the few remaining contacts between the Russians and their last Chinese informants. Simultaneously, the first frontier confrontations took place. The boundary question between the PRC and the USSR has occupied an important position in the evolution of Sino-Soviet relations. However, it only led to fighting when relations between the two countries deteriorated for other reasons. Armed clashes occurred on 2 and 15 March 1969, on the Island in the Wusulijang (River Ussuri) called Zhen Bao, just a few weeks before the Ninth Congress of the CCP. Mao concluded that the USSR was behaving like a young imperialist power on the offensive and found ample evidence in the behaviour of Brezhnev. The Soviet Union's policy towards China in the 1970s seemed to want to knock together an `Asian collective security system', aimed at isolating China; to build up its armed forces in the Far East to put pressure on China and Japan in order to compete with the United States in the Pacific Ocean; to use the `Cuba of Asia', Vietnam, as its agent, to seize the whole of Indochina and dominate Southeast Asia, edging the United States out of the continent. The USSR's invasion of Afghanistan seemed to be bent on controlling that country, but also on furthering its long-term strategic objective of expanding its power in South Asia and the Middle East. The Chinese response was inevitably hostile, to try to: a) reduce or eliminate the threat of a `two front war' involving China with more than one major enemy; b) more generally deflect any political and military pressure against the PRC by seeking to prevent `encirclement' by the PRC's enemies; c) form the broadest possible international united front against hegemonism; d) gain stable, diversified foreign trade partners and sources of advanced technology for the PRC, thereby enabling China to modernize its economy. Under Mao's guidance the theory of the Three Worlds was put into practice. China established diplomatic relations with many capitalist countries; and in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a limited Chinese-American alliance against the Soviet Union. Mao's death and Deng Ziaoping's succession led to a fundamental change in China's internal economic policy and its accompanying ideology, and gradually also to a change in its attitude to the Soviet Union. With Gorbachev's succession in the Soviet Union in 1985 there were corresponding changes, making an eventual rapprochement possible. The evolution of Soviet policy towards China began on 24 March 1982 when Brezhnev made his speech in Tashkent, developed through 28 July 1986 when Gorbachev made his speech in Vladivostok, and culminated in May 1989 when Gorbachev came to Beijing to have the first Sino-Soviet summit. The process of normalization of Sino-Soviet relations was complex and full of difficulties. China identified the three major obstacles as both a barrier to positive change and as a genuine test. The year 1988 saw a breakthrough in eliminating the three obstacles as the Soviet Union promised to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and reduce its forces

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Slavonic Studies
Supervisor's Name: Wallace, Prof. W.V.
Date of Award: 1991
Depositing User: Geraldine Coyle
Unique ID: glathesis:1991-979
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:29
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/979

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