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10-08-2015, 17:20

The Sino-Soviet Dispute

Nikita Khrushchev had launched his slogan of peaceful coexistence as a means of improving relations with the capitalist powers; ironically, one result of the campaign was to undermine Moscow’s ties with its close ally China. During the lifetime of Joseph Stalin, Beijing had accepted the Soviet Union as the official leader of the socialist camp. After Stalin’s death, however, relations began to deteriorate. Part of the reason may have been Mao Zedong’s contention that he, as the most experienced Marxist leader, should now be acknowledged as the most authoritative voice within the socialist community. But another determining factor was that just as Soviet policies were moving toward moderation, China’s were becoming more radical. Several other issues were involved, including territorial disputes and China’s unhappiness with limited Soviet economic assistance. But the key sources of disagreement involved ideology and the Cold War. Chinese leaders were convinced that the successes of the Soviet space program confirmed that the socialists were now technologically superior to the capitalists (the East wind, trumpeted the Chinese official press, had now triumphed over the West wind), and they urged Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to go on the offensive to promote world revolution. Specifically, China wanted Soviet assistance in retaking Taiwan from Chiang Kai-shek. But Khrushchev was trying to improve relations with the West and rejected Chinese demands for support against Taiwan (see the box above). By the end of the 1950s, the Soviet Union had begun to remove its advisers from China, and in 1961, the dispute broke into the open. Increasingly isolated, China voiced its hostility to what Mao described as the “urban industrialized countries” (which included the Soviet Union) and portrayed itself as the leader of the “rural underdeveloped countries” of Asia, Africa, and Latin America in a global struggle against imperialist oppression. In effect, China had applied Mao’s famous concept of people’s war in an international framework.