The Prospects for Communist China

By W. W. Rostow. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
SINO-SOVIET RELATIONS: THE PRESENT STRUCTURE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS

I. THE SINO-SOVIET TREATY OF 1950

In view of their historical background, the first postwar arrangements between Russia and China (negotiated at Yalta by the Big Three with China absent and confirmed in the 1945 Sino-Soviet treaty) must have seemed in Chinese eyes a formal international confirmation of advantages Russia had only tentatively achieved at the peak of her imperialist power and when China had been at a nadir of weakness, in the last days of the Manchu dynasty. Nationalist China had to accept this humiliation: Soviet troops were in Manchuria; the overriding purpose of the allies was to erect a structure of organized peace based on major power agreement, including Moscow; and Chiang Kaishek's only hope in 1945 was that the Soviet Union could be negotiated into a denial of assistance to the Chinese Communists. At this cost, the Nationalists hoped to clear the way to national unity and to confirm the major-power diplomatic status they had been granted, at United States insistence, during the war years.

When Mao Tse-tung came to power in 1949 it was extremely desirable for him to be able to present to the Chinese people a pattern of Sino-Soviet relations more favorable to China than those negotiated by the Nationalists. The Soviet leaders recognized this need, and in the period December 1949-February 1950 the thirty-year SinoSoviet treaty of friendship, alliance, and mutual assistance was negotiated. This treaty laid the foundation of contemporary Sino-Soviet relations and provides us the best clues to their general structure.

In terms of historic Sino-Russian issues, the 1950 treaty made two concessions to China: transfer of the Chinese Eastern Railway to China

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