THE SOVIET UNION AND COMMUNIST CHINA, 1945-1950: The Arduous Road to an Alliance

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THE SOVIET UNION AND COMMUNIST CHINA, 1945-1950: The Arduous Road to an Alliance, Dieter Heinzig, M.E. Sharpe Publishers, London, 2003,552 pages, $99.95.

In January 1950, the U.S. Government announced a state of neutrality in the Chinese civil war being waged between the anticommunists under Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist (Kuomintang) government on the offshore island of Taiwan and the communist regime of Mao Tse-tung, who had been recently inaugurated in Beijing. The United States leaned toward the opinion that, communist or not, Mao was likely to follow the path of Marshall Josip Broz Tito's Yugoslavia; that is, military and political independence from the Soviet Union ruled by Joseph Stalin. Then came the Korean War.

In October, when the North Koreans were falling back onto their border with China, Stalin beseeched Mao to intervene and save Stalin's disciples who had governed Pyongyang. On 26 November, Chinese communist forces unleashed a savage attack on U.S. and UN forces pursuing the North Koreans up to the YaIu River. U.S. President Harry S. Truman promptly concluded that the Beijing regime was "Russian and nothing else." secretary of Defense George C. Marshall concurred that the Chinese communists "regarded the Russians as co-religionists." For all intents and purposes, this announced the end of reaching out to China against the Kremlin until Richard Nixon became president in 1969.

America's policy of neutrality, as of January 1950, was not misconceived. There were numerous points of mistrust between Beijing and Moscow, Marxist or not. The broad story is not new. Stalin, since the birth of Chinese communism in the 1920s, repetitively sacrificed their interests to Russian reasons of state. For example, he directed Mao and his troops to subordinate to the Kuomintang when Chiang was at odds with Stalin's opponents-Great Britain and Imperial Japan. …