The East Wind Subsides: Chinese Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cultural Revolution

The East Wind Subsides: Chinese Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cultural Revolution

The East Wind Subsides: Chinese Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cultural Revolution

The East Wind Subsides: Chinese Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cultural Revolution

Excerpt

While the Chinese were preoccupied with the danger of a Sino-American confrontation over Vietnam, the Soviets were moving quickly to contain and isolate China internationally. In a series of complicated moves on China's geographic and diplomatic flanks, the Soviets destroyed a number of friendships the Chinese had carefully nurtured during the early 1960s, leaving China with few foreign supporters.

Within the communist bloc, the Soviet Union enjoyed the advantage from the start because of its military and economic power. Few Eastern European states or parties could side with China against the Soviet Union. Albania was the only exception. In Asia, however, the situation was different. China, because of its location, was in a position to influence the Asian communist states. As a result, Sino-Soviet competition took place throughout Asia during the early 1960s. By the mid- 1960s China appeared to have come out on top. In April and May 1965, however, the Soviet Union rapidly improved its relations with Mongolia and North Korea and Chinese influence in those two countries declined dramatically. Moreover, the Chinese suffered additional setbacks in the Afro-Asian world later in the summer.

The Afro-Asian world, composed primarily of former colonies, had been the scene of increasingly fierce Sino-Soviet competition in the early 1960s. As the colonies gained independence, both the Chinese and the Soviets hoped to increase their influence at the expense of the West and, after 1958, each other. During the summer of 1965 the level of competition rose dramatically. By September, China and the Soviet Union had reached the brink of open conflict.

P'eng Chen, Ch'en I's rival, laid out the Afro-Asian world's importance to Chinese strategy very clearly in a May 28, 1965 speech to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

The general crisis of capitalism has greatly deepened. The international balance of forces is very favorable to the socialist countries and the revolutionary peoples of the world and very unfavorable to imperialism and all reactionaries. The international balance between the forces of . . .

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