How Far was the Sino-soviet split of the late 1960s the result of ideological differences between two communist powers?
How Far was the Sino-soviet spilt of the late 1960’s the result of ideological differences between two communist powers?
In the 1960’s the once close communist nations of the USSR and China began drifting apart. On the one hand this is due to ideological differences which split ideals of the communist nations; with differing ideas and beliefs towards the direction of their socialist republics it is clear that the USSR and China could not persist to negotiate. However, this is not the only factor responsible for the split as national interest and personality play a major role.
Firstly, ideological differences were responsible for splitting the two communist powers. Ideological differences were a major factor as without a collective agreement both nations would repel and fail to accept any actions by their neighbour. Mao’s was heavily critical of Khrushchev’s policy of peaceful coexistence as it sought better relations with the USA. To china, this was the natural enemy. This demonstrates how differences on both foreign policy and political ideas would cause a larger split between the two nations, Mao was adamant at this point in the 1960’s not to work with the USA; it went against the million of comrades he viewed as ‘struggling ‘ to free themselves from capitalist oppression. A distance between the nations seemed imminent. Similarly, ideological differences regarding domestic policy created a rift between the two nations. The USSR criticised of the ‘great leap forward’ and the Chinese plans to trigger the change from agriculture to ‘back yard steel furnaces’ meaning that the Chinese saw the USSR as limiting their ability to prosper- this was reinforced through the feeling that soviet economic and military aid would be limited. Khrushchev in his speech in 1956 had condemned the domestic policies of Stalin. Yet, Mao’s own domestic policies had been moulded on that of his idol, Stalin, it was clear that neither nations agreed on the direction of a communist nation. This would mean that a split was inevitable; they were not striving for the same goal.
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However, ideological differences were not fully responsible for this deterioration in relations. Personality was responsible for reinforcing the rift in Sino-soviet relations in the 1960’s. With a clash of leaders and dominant personality the nations could not continue to engage in mutual agreement; their simple ‘playground’ hate for one another would interrupt the true objective. Mao as a strongly ambitious character wanted to provoke a ‘revolution’ highlighting the strengths of China. However, Khrushchev not trusting Mao was not prepared for China to rise in Dominance. This can be as early as the Korean war were Mao was treated almost as a junior partner to Khrushchev- he had ‘divine’ control over their actions. The USSR’s strongly negative opinion of Mao, they spent years ‘waiting for him to die’ and Mao’s strongly negative opinions of the soviets would reinforce the gap between the communist nations. Neither leader, nor nation would trust or chose to back the actions of the other. They’re negative perceptions of each other would worsen the split of Sino- Soviet relations.
National interests were responsible for triggering and thus cementing the split between the two communist nations in the 1960’s. The foundations for disagreement lying in ideological differences were spurred on by personality; yet, this alone was not enough to grant the end of Sino-soviet relations. It took the competition to satisfy national interest to trigger the full deterioration. The two nations who share a large proportion of their borders, were conflicted over the very borders themselves and who should be able to expand their spheres of influence. A prime example of this that would see the end of Sino-Soviet relations is the Ussuri river dispute. The battle over this border would lead to the revision of the Chinese foreign policy; the result was a more friendly approach to the USA. There separation from the USSR was confirmed. Similarly, when the USSR sent tanks into Czechoslovakia in 1967 as a symbol of dominance and force the Chinese feared they might use the same tactics with them. This once again explains why China drifts from the USSR and closer to the USA, the USSR see themselves as the dominant power that can command control. This realisation by the Chinese due to actions at Ussuri river and Czechoslovakia confirm their need to distance from the USSR. This is also confirmed by the fact that the soviets did not want to let china have greater control over North Korea. To the USSR china was a junior partner, China did not accept this and fought back through a change in policy.
In conclusion, ideological differences lay the foundations for disagreement between the two communist nations; they no longer agree on foreign or domestic policies, the communist nations no longer have a united front. This is reinforced through the differences of personality, this heightens the sense of mistrust confirming a reason for distance; neither want to work together. Yet, it takes the results of national interest to fully trigger the split, the actions of the USSR and china cement the need for distance. They may be two nations fighting for the future of ‘communism’ but their ideas on its direction and how gain this differ thus demonstrating how they simply cannot work together.