The Sino-Soviet Conflict, 1968-1989



The Chinese Communist Party rejected the Soviet policy of Destalinization pursued since 1956. An open rift between the USSR and the PRC broke out after the Chinese CULTURAL REVOLUTION in 1966, in which Mao and rising star LIN PIAO seemed to claim to have reinvented communism. In 1968, border shootouts between Soviet and PRC troops occurred.

The PRC publicly distanvced itself from the USSR, criticized the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. ALBANIA was the first socialist nation to openly side with the PRC.
Now, a Cold War situation unfolded with the USSR and the PRC being the opposite poles : both sides tried to form alliances directed against the other. China succeeded in gaining Pakistan and Pol Pot's Cambodia (1975-1979) as ally; Russia concluded an alliance with India and drew Vietnam into its camp; the latter joined COMECON in 1978. North Korea played both sides against each other, avoiding having to commit itself to either side.
In 1979 Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia and toppled the murderous regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge. China, disregarding the human rights abuses committed by the Khmer Rouge, stood by its ally by attacking Vietnam at its northern border. The war resulted in little territorial change and was in essence an act of punishment.

In 1971 China entered in the PING-PONG-DIPLOMACY with the US; China liberalized its economy, which began to export to the markets of the USA and Europe. Relations between the PRC and the west improved, intended by both sides to strengthen the anti-Soviet camp.
After 1968, the Chinese and Soviets avoided open conflicts. China expressed its support for the Afghani Mujahiddin. The PRC boycotted the Olympic Games held in Moscow and participated in the Games held in Los Angeles in 1984.


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This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on July 19th 2001, last revised on November 15th 2004

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