What have been China’s changing relationships with neighbouring states?

What have been China’s changing relationships with neighbouring states?

Chairman Mao had a good relationship with Stalin. The Soviet Union offered military and economic assistance in the Civil War and in the period afterwards. Many Chinese policies, such as the Five Year Plans, were based on Soviet Models. This changed following the death of Stalin. Mao was not impressed by the de-Stalinisation programme and there were border disputes and increased tension between the Chinese and the Soviet Union in the late 1960’s.

Chinese borders

One of the key issues in Mao’s thinking was Chinese sovereignty. Foreign powers had controlled large parts of China for a long time. The Japanese had just been forced out of China. Before them, the British had control of large parts of the economy. America had influence economically. The Chinese had simply not had control of their own land for some time. Mao’s policies in relation to his neighbours were aimed at ensuring that China remained independent of these foreign powers.

In 1950, Chinese troops were deployed in the Korean War. In part to support the Communist North Koreans. Also to limit the spread of American influence in the area. Tibet had declared her independence from China in 1912. Mao annexed the small country, reclaiming it for China. This was a signal to powers on China’s Western borders not to intervene in Chinese affairs.

The long border between China and the Soviet Union was a cause for concern at times. Mao admired Stalin and his vision for a socialist state. The two countries enjoyed very good relations during Stalin’s lifetime. Changes in Soviet policy, notably the denunciation of Stalin in Khruschev’s Secret Speech, led to a relationship of mistrust. Both the Chinese and Soviets had historic claims to territory along their border. At times these claims were pressed, leading to clashes. Both sides militarized long stretches of the border.


Source: Telegram to the USSR upon Stalin’s death

Comrade Shvernik:

It was with boundless grief that the Chinese people, the Chinese government, and I myself learned the news of the passing away of the Chinese people’s closest friend and great teacher, Comrade Stalin. This is an inestimable loss, not only for the people of the Soviet Union, but for the Chinese people, for the entire camp of peace and democracy, and for peace-loving people throughout the world. On behalf of the Chinese people, the Chinese government, and on my own behalf, I extend to you and to the people and government of the Soviet Union our deepest condolences.

The victory of the Chinese people’s revolution is absolutely in separable from Comrade Stalin’s unceasing care, leadership, and support of over thirty years. Since the victory of the Chinese people’s revolution, Comrade Stalin and the people and government of the Soviet Union, under his leadership have rendered generous and selfless assistance to the Chinese people’s cause of construction. Such a great and profound friendship as that which comrade Stalin had for the Chinese people will be forever remembered with gratitude by the Chinese people. The immortal beacon of Comrade Stalin will forever illuminate the path on which the Chinese people march forward.

Source: The Soviet Leading Clique is a Mere Dust Heap, a letter to the Albanian Party of Labour. October 1966

The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and all those counties where the modern revisionist clique is in power have either changed colour or are in the process of doing so. Capitalism has been or is being restored there, and the dictatorship of the proletariat has been or is being transformed into the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Against this adverse current of counter-revolutionary revisionism, heroic socialist Albania has stood firm. Persevering in the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary line, you have adopted a series of measures of revolutionization and consolidated the dictatorship of the proletariat. Taking the path of socialism, you are building your country independently and have won brilliant victories. You have contributed precious experience to the history of the dictatorship of the proletariat.


Reuters – timeline of Chinese relations with the Soviet Union.

The Sino – Soviet split – a timeline.

Sino-Soviet relations – a detailed account.

Article – looking at the relationships between the US, USSR and China.

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