Question by Tim: Why were China and USSR rivals during the Cold War?
Since both China and USSR were both communist why did they distrust each other so much. For example during the Afghan War as well as the constant Chinese criticisms towards USSR. Also, studying the Cold War it seemed like Mao had a lot of authority over Khrushchev. Why is this?
Answers and Views:
Answer by Will
Back in the 1950s commentators in the west used to speak of the so-called “Communist Monolith” as though to be communist meant that everything else ceased to matter, and everyone fell into a lockstep gait.
In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth. Historically, China and Russia had deep seated animosities and centuries of distrust. Communism did nothing to offset this. Nationalism proved to be a far more potent force than ideology ever could.
It wasn’t that Mao had special power over Khrushchev, it was that Mao wasn’t going to be dictated to by both a westerner, AND a Russian. Whatever else he was, Mao WAS Chinese, and was determined to steer an independent course
Answer by Chow Man Mal
The Sino- Soviet split began in the late 1950’s and became a major diplomatic conflict between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) whose leader was Mao Zedong and the USSR whose leader at that time was Joseph Stalin. During the 1950’s China worked with a large number of Soviet advisers who encouraged the Chinese leaders to follow the Russian model of development with an emphasis on heavy industry funded by taxes and levies from the peasantry whilst making consumer goods a low priority.
When Stalin died in 1953, Mao felt he was now the senior leader and was resentful when the new Soviet leaders Malenkov and Khrushchev did not recognise this. Mao had ignored many of Stalin’s requests but he had respected him as a world leader. In 1956 Khrushchev denounced Stalin during his Secret Speech and although Mao didn’t react publicly he was infuriated.
In 1959, Khrushchev held a summit meeting with US President Dwight Eisenhower. The Soviets were alarmed by developments within China and sought to appease the West. They also refused to honour their earlier commitment to help China develop nuclear weapons and support Mao in his border dispute with India. Mao was offended by these actions he felt Khrushchev was being to accommodating to Western demands. However, the Soviet leadership were well aware that the Americans could match their nuclear power and so sought to engage them in dialogue and negotiations that would avoid the outbreak of war and were determined not to give Mao nuclear weapons. By June 1960 the spilt between Russia and China became public when Khrushchev and Peng Zhen (China) openly clashed.
Extract from – http://www.nationalcoldwarexhibition.org/learn/detente/sino-soviet-split.cfm – at which you will find more details.
Answer by Yun
There are numerous reasons for the differences there, and I’ll try to give a brief explanation of them.
1. Russia and China were old enemies.
Parts of Siberia had been taken from China in the previous century by the Russians. The Russians maintained that those lands were theirs by right of conquest, which made the Chinese angry.
There had been wars between the two nations before they became Communist, and the anger from that didn’t just vanish away.
2. Different approaches to Communism.
Both the USSR and China went through phases where their leadership created “cults of personality” in which it wasn’t merely Communism that was expected, but unquestioned following of the words of that leader. Both Stalin and Mao killed those who were Communists but opposed their particular policies.
Whether it be the practical worship at the tomb of Stalin or the mass of Chinese leaders carrying around the “Little Red Book” of Mao, both countries had different contradictory approaches.
3. Euro-Centric vs Sino-Centric.
This one really comes down more to the Chinese perspective and the response of the Soviets to it. The Chinese have been noted for centuries as having a “Middle Kingdom mentality.” What that means is that they think China is the most important nation on Earth and that everyone else should come to them for the things they need. There is an element of arrogance and idea of superiority over everyone else.
The Soviets had a view of the world as a European centered Communist power, which was entirely wrong to the Chinese, since they are the superior nation. Communism to the Chinese would be properly focused with China as the global ruler.
So, there were a lot of reasons the two nations didn’t get along.
Answer by Totally
After the death of Stalin, Khrushchev denounced him in the secret speech of 1956. Subsequently, he brought in very anti-communist ideas in the USSR. Notable among them were the theory of peaceful co-existence of the socialist and communist camp. He also directed many communist movements to a peaceful, legal road, which subsequently liquidated their power. After the withdrawal of direct imperialism and the beginning of the neo-colonial era, he also stated that the work of national liberation had been reduced to the economic question only. In China, Mao identified this as a capitalist line and opened debate with the USSR. Confirming Mao’s deductions, Khrushchev and his followers started a series of capitalist reforms in the USSR which reversed socialism there. The USSR also started militarizing its border with China.
Internationally, by the late 60s, the communist camp divided into pro-Soviet and pro-China groups. In Cuba, Che openly upheld Stalin, and took Mao’s position that the USSR and USA were cooperating in keeping the imperialist system alive. He tried to personally initiate armed struggles in two more countries. In many Asian, African and Latin American countries, the communist parties split, and the pro-China communist parties initiated armed struggles. The conflict between USSR and China was actually a conflict between capitalist and communist ideologies. Today, we find that all the communist parties that sided with the USSR have become replicas of the other ruling class parties. They go to the parliament in the name of ‘reaching out’ to the masses, but their practical programme remains the same as that of capitalist parties. They use Marxism only in words. Of course, most pro-China parties and China itself have also taken the capitalist path, but all the parties that are advancing the communist armed struggles today are descended from the pro-China parties during the Sino-Soviet split.
Answer by Walle
clash of ideology, Maoism prevailed in the end.
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