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Where should one look for the springs of Chinese foreign policy, 1949-85.

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Chinese foreign policy from the formal establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in October 1949 until 1985 can be broadly examined as being motivated by two general factors; i) Reaction to the actions and rhetoric of foreign powers; chiefly the two superpowers, the USSR and the USA, and the resulting security concerns. ii) Aspects of domestic politics principally stemming from the requirements of communist ideology and the resulting revolutionary goals, as well as the influence of individual actors, chiefly Mao. It is possible to identify three distinct trends within Chinese foreign policy within the period 1949-85, with an initial move towards close Sino-Soviet relations, which was followed by a shift towards closer Sino-American relations and a corresponding distancing from the Soviets, and finally, more independent foreign relations. In this presentation I shall examine what I consider to be the principal causes of the three eras in looking at both the state and international spheres. 'Leaning to one side' (1949-c.1971) In June 1949 Mao announced the intention of China to 'lean to one side', in fostering good relations with the Soviet bloc. He formalised this decision through the signature of the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance six months later. ...read more.


The Partial Test Ban Treaty the following year seemingly encapsulated Moscow's failure to support Chinese interests, as it courted the US. The 1958 Straits crisis over Taiwan represented a further security threat as the US assembled what Chang called 'the most powerful armada the world had ever seen' off the coast of China, and deployed nuclear-tipped surface-to-surface missiles on the island. Moscow gave limited support to Beijing, fearful of direct conflict between them and the US, representing a that their priorities now rested with maintaining decent relations with the USA, as the dominant nuclear force outside Russia. Stalin's death in 1953 can be seen as a potential turning-point in Sino-Soviet relations, as Khrushchev's de-Stalinisation and courtship of the US through 'peaceful coexistence' was extremely troubling for Mao. Khrushchev's softening of communist rhetoric represented a loss of the revolutionary momentum that Mao deemed crucial to the success of Chinese communism, and the spread of their ideology throughout the world. During the late Fifties and early Sixties, Mao also began to interpret Russian involvement in China as harbouring the potential for three negative factors: psychological dependence, the importation of harmful ideas and Soviet influence over Chinese domestic politics. Thus the Chinese administration became increasingly suspicious of Soviet aid, seeing it as fostering dependence. ...read more.


However, these modernisations prompted fears of ideological contamination from the West, which forced a withdrawal, and a more independent foreign policy. An independent foreign policy meant that Deng could pursue his policy of internal reforms without being accused of 'selling-out' to the USA or other Western powers. Conclusion Chinese foreign policy from 1949-85 can be seen as motivated primarily by either external security fears or the demands of domestic policy. The shifts either towards the USSR or the USA can clearly be seen as a reaction to concerns over the other sides' aggression or stance towards the PRC. Equally important was the need to preserve the momentum of the revolution, and later, the purity of ideas within Chinese communism. The shift away from her natural ally, the USSR, can be seen as a result of a combination of the deterioration in Sino-soviet relations due to increased animosity between both sides, and perceived ideological weakness from the Soviet leadership. The cause of the shift towards the USA can be seen as a result of the perception that the PRC needed to court one of the superpowers to maintain security, and the more friendly overtures from the US administration. Finally, the move away from either power resulted primarily from the neexbnf T.O.R. Morgan IR in the Era of the Cold War, Week VI ...read more.

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