The Sino-Soviet Conflict: A Global Perspective

The Sino-Soviet Conflict: A Global Perspective

The Sino-Soviet Conflict: A Global Perspective

The Sino-Soviet Conflict: A Global Perspective

Excerpt

Few developments have had greater impact on the international politics of our era than the Sino-Soviet conflict. From modest beginnings in the 1950s, it has steadily broadened in scope and importance. Intitially affecting mainly the partners to the dispute, its influence soon extended to the world communist movement, to diplomatic relations of the two states in developing countries, and finally to global politics, where it became a central issue in the confrontation of the superpowers in the 1970s and 1980s. A conflict that seemed at the start to be based on minor and manageable irritations has become a tense diplomatic military confrontation, a major foreign policy concern of both countries, and the central concern for China. It is the purpose of the present volume to explore the complexities of the conflict, and its international repercussions, within the rapidly changing international scene of the 1970s, and to project the likely trends of the 1980s.

From its earliest beginnings, the Sino-Soviet conflict revealed a mix of national interests and communist ideology. Since the participants were leaders of communist parties, the dispute inevitably found expression in ideological language, though the real significance of ideological concerns has diminished over time. And beneath the polemics lay not only the special concerns and perspectives of historic nations but the competing claims of their communist party leaders within an international movement. During the 1950s and 1960s, when the dispute developed rapidly into an open break, a central issue implied in the Chinese attacks on Soviet foreign policy was strategic: how is communist revolution to be pursued? This was hardly a new question in the history of communism. Nor was the second major issue, this one the basis of Chinese criticisms of Soviet domestic policy:

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