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The Alliance Between China And The Soviet Union

1594 words - 6 pages

The alliance between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union was formed as a result of mutual interests and the desire of both states to pursue their respective national and geopolitical imperatives. Although Chinese historical experience and Marxist ideology played a role in constructing these interests, the actions of the Chinese Community Party (CCP) reflect an overarching proclivity toward solidifying their power and securing the nascent republic. This essay will examine the multifarious factors that influenced the Soviet alliance, including relations between the PRC, United States (US) and Soviet Union in addition to PRC foreign policy and its strategic objectives.

Historical conceptions of China’s culture and global position shaped the PRC’s perspective. Central to this is Sino-centrism and its edict from heaven for dynastic China to spread civilisation (Xinning 2001: 70). Imperial China’s tribute system represented a “Pax Sinica” and the physical manifestation of Sino-centrism, with its success affirming Chinese cultural superiority (Y. Zhang 2001: 52). Instructive in this is Sino-centrism’s similarity to, and conflict with American Manifest Destiny, itself an articulation that Anglo-Saxon American’s are God’s chosen people, with a superior culture and who are pre-ordained to spread civilisation to inferior peoples (Hollander 2009: 169). The PRC’s nationalism can be seen in part as a rejection of this competing celestial mandate, linking China’s decline to foreign intervention and the acceding to unequal treaties that saw the loss of peripheral territories considered intrinsic to historic China (Kissinger 2011: 112). In this way, the PRC’s formation as a modern nation state is the recrudescence of Sino-centrism, acting as a bulwark to foreign intervention. It then follows that the Soviet alliance derives from a rejection of the imperialist powers and their centrality in the prevailing international order.

Yet, a resurgence of Sino-centrism doesn’t ipso facto account for the Soviet alliance. Until the very final stages of the Chinese Civil War, Moscow maintained close relations with the Kuomintang, even as the Comintern supported the CCP. In fact, the CCP’s status in Soviet policy was often subordinate to the Kuomintang, as the recognised government of China (Guillermaz 1972: 36). By adopting a hedging strategy, the Soviets were able to compel the Kuomintang into agreements on advantageous terms. These include the non-aggression treaty in 1937 (Garver 1987: 302) and the 1945 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance (Heinzig 2004: 194) which legitimated the Soviet presence in Chinese territory. This infuriated the CCP who were already dissatisfied with Stalin’s vacillating support. Moreover, the CCP’s response perpetuated Soviet apprehension, as Mao was seen to be placing nationalist interests above those of the Comintern (Zagoria 1974: 141). A key Soviet justification for hedging was scepticism in the CCP’s...

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