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Beijing were present, at least in some fash- omissions in Zimyanin's assessment, which during all the high-level Sino-Soviet meet
ion, as early as 1950-53.
are worth briefly explicating here because ings in 1949-1950.14 Although Fedorenko Second, while giving due emphasis to they provide a better context for understand- and Shi acknowledged that several points of problems that arose during the Stalin era, ing the document:
contention had surfaced between Stalin and Zimyanin also underscored the detrimental • Stalin's relationship with Mao. Al- Mao, they both emphasized that the relationimpact of criticism unleashed by the 20th though Zimyanin discussed problems in ship overall was amicable. Fedorenko speSoviet Party Congress and by the "Hundred Sino-Soviet relations that arose during the cifically took issue with Khrushchev's acFlowers" campaign in China. Zimyanin Stalin era, he did not explicitly refer to the count: claimed that the Chinese leadership had “fully way Stalin behaved when Mao visited the supported the CPSU's measures to elimi- Soviet Union for nearly two-and-a-half Later on it was claimed that Stalin nate the cult of personality and its conse- months beginning in December 1949. This had not received Mao Zedong for quences” after the 20th Party Congress, but omission is unfortunate because even a few nearly a month, and in general had he conceded that Beijing's assessment of brief comments might have helped clarify not displayed appropriate courtesy Stalin was considerably "different from our what has been a matter of great confusion. toward the Chinese leader. These own” and that the Congress had prompted First-hand accounts of the Stalin-Mao rela- reports created a false impression of “the Chinese friends ... to express critical tionship by former Soviet and Chinese offi- the host and his guest. In actual fact, comments about Soviet organizations, the cials offer sharply conflicting interpreta- everything happened quite differwork of Soviet specialists, and other issues tions. One of the most jaundiced descrip- ently. Judging from what I saw in Soviet-Chinese relations.” Even more tions of the way Stalin treated Mao can be first-hand, the behavior of the two damaging, according to Zimyanin, was the found in Nikita Khrushchev's memoirs:
leaders and the overall atmosphere effect of the Hundred Flowers campaign.
were totally different from subseHecited a wide range of “hostile statements” Stalin would sometimes not lay eyes
quent depictions.... From the very and “denunciations of the Soviet Union and on [the Chinese leader] for days at a
first meeting, Stalin invariably disSoviet-Chinese friendship” that had surfaced time—and since Stalin neither saw
played the utmost courtesy toward in China. “The airing of these types of Mao nor ordered anyone else to
his Chinese counterpart.. statements," he wrote, “can in no way be entertain him, no one dared to go
Throughout the talks with Mao justified." The report expressed particular see him. We began hearing rumors
Zedong, Stalin was equable, reconcern about a number of territorial de- that Mao was very unhappy be
strained, and attentive to his guest. mands that had been raised against the So- cause he was being kept under lock
His thoughts never wandered and viet Union.11
and key and everyone was ignoring
were always completely focused on Third, as one might expect, Zimyanin him. Mao let it be known that if the
the conversation. devoted considerable attention to the Sino- situation continued, he would leave. Soviet ideological quarrels that began to ... In this way, Stalin sowed the Likewise, Shi Zhe noted that “Stalin was surface during the Great Leap Forward. In seeds of hostility and anti-Soviet, visibly moved [when he met the Chinese 1958 and 1959 the emerging rift between anti-Russian sentiment in China. 12 leader and continuously dispensed compliMoscow and Beijing had primarily taken the
ments to Chairman Mao.” Shi dismissed form of disagreements about the establish- A similar appraisal of Stalin's demeanor rumors in the West that "Stalin had put ment of “people's communes,” the role of was offered by Andrei Gromyko, who Chairman Mao under house arrest” during a material versus ideological incentives, the claimed in his memoirs that when Stalin particularly tense stage in the negotiations nature of the transition to socialism and hosted a special dinner for Mao in February leading up to the Sino-Soviet treaty of alli
Communism, and other aspects of Marx- 1950, the atmosphere was "oppressive” and ance. ism-Leninism. In subsequent years, bitter the two leaders “seemed personally to have Even with the benefit of new evidence, disputes erupted over territorial demands nothing in common that would enable them it is difficult to sort out the discrepancies and questions of global strategy (not to men- to establish the necessary rapport.”13 Be- between these accounts. So far, transcripts tion a clash of personalities between cause Khrushchev's and Gromyko's obser- of only the first two private meetings beKhrushchev and Mao), but those issues had vations fit so well with everything that is tween Mao and Stalin-on 16 December not yet come to dominate the relationship in known about Stalin's general behavior, their 1949 and 22 January 1950—are available.15 September 1959. Hence, it is not surprising accounts have been widely accepted in the Both transcripts shed a good deal of light on that Zimyanin would concentrate on ideo- West.
the Stalin-Mao relationship (not least by logical differences that were particularly More recently, though, a very different confirming how long the interval was besalient at the time. His report provides picture of the Stalin-Mao relationship has tween meetings), but they do not, and indeed further evidence that ideological aspects of emerged from testimony by Nikolai cannot, convey a full sense of Stalin's be
a the conflict must be taken seriously on their Fedorenko, a former diplomat at the Soviet havior toward Mao. Gestures, facial expresown merits, rather than being seen as a mere embassy in China who served as an inter- sions, and even some unflattering comments smokescreen for geopolitical or other con- preter for Stalin, and by Shi Zhe, a former are apt to be omitted from these stenographic cerns.
official in the Chinese foreign ministry who reports either deliberately or inadvertently, Finally, there are a few conspicuous interpreted for Mao. Both men were present just as there are crucial gaps in numerous other East-bloc documents. 16 The two tran- Kovalev, a distinguished Soviet military of- nary discussions with Stalin: scripts also do not reveal anything about ficer who served as Stalin's personal envoy unpleasant incidents that may have occurred to China from 1948 until the early 1950s. In From then on, Stalin sought to avoid outside the formal talks. Although retro- a lengthy interview in 1992, Kovalev re- me. I tried, for my part, to phone spective accounts by aides to Stalin and counted the tribulations and rudeness that Stalin's apartment, but was told that Mao who took part in the meetings can be Mao had experienced during his visit:
he was not home and that I should helpful in filling in gaps, these memoirs
meet with Mikoyan instead. I was must be used with extreme caution, espe- Mao was met son 16 December] by
offended by all this, and so I decially when they are published long after the Bulganin and Molotov, who
cided that I would not do anything events they describe. Khrushchev’s recol- brusquely turned down his invita
more and would simply spend my lections were compiled more than 15 years tion to join him for a meal, saying
time resting at the dacha. Then I after the Stalin-Mao talks; and Gromyko's, that it would be contrary to proto
had an unpleasant conversation with Fedorenko's, and Shi's accounts were writ- col. For the same reason, they de
Kovalev and Fedorenko, who sugten nearly 40 years after the talks. Even if clined Mao's invitation to ride with
gested that I go for a trip around the one assumes (perhaps tenuously) that all the him to his assigned dacha. ... Mao
country. I flatly rejected this promemoir-writers relied on notes and docu- was clearly upset by the cool recep
posal and said that I might as well ments from the period they were discussing tion. That same day, Stalin received
just go on sleeping at my dacha."22 and depicted events as faithfully as they Mao Zedong, but they held no concould, the passage of so many years is bound fidential talks of the sort that Mao Mao revealed these problems and difficulto cause certain failings of memory.17
had wanted. After that, Mao spent ties” to his Chinese colleagues as well, albeit Two important factors might lead one numerous boring days at the dacha. somewhat more discreetly. In a secret speech to ascribe greater credibility to Fedorenko's Molotov, Bulganin, and Mikoyan at the CCP's Chengdu conference in March version of the Stalin-Mao relationship than stopped by to see him, but had only 1958, Mao averred that he had been forced to Khrushchev's. First, Fedorenko and Shi very brief official conversations. I into humiliating concessions by Stalin eight participated in all the private talks between was in touch with Mao and saw him
years earlier: Stalin and Mao, whereas Khrushchev and every day, and I was aware that he Gromyko were present at only the public was upset and apprehensive.20
In 1950, Stalin and I argued with meetings. 18 Second, it is conceivable that
each other in Moscow for two Khrushchev was inclined to depict Stalin's Kovalev also noted that in late December, months about our mutual defense behavior in an unduly negative light. Mao asked him to convey a formal request to treaty, about the Chungchang rail(Khrushchev may have done this sub-con- Stalin for another private meeting, indicating road, about joint economic ventures, sciously, or he may have been seeking to lay that “the resolution of all matters, including and about our boundary lines. Our the “blame” on Stalin for the subsequent the question of (Mao's] spare time and medi- attitudes were such that when he rupture with China.) By contrast, Fedorenko cal treatment, (would) be left entirely to your offered a proposal which was unachad no obvious reason by 1989 (the height [i.e., Stalin's) discretion."21 According to ceptable to me, I would resist it; but of the Gorbachev era) to want to defend Kovalev, this appeal went unheeded, and “as when he insisted on it, I would give Stalin. One could therefore make a prima before, Mao remained practically in isola- in. I did so for the sake of socialfacie case on behalf of Fedorenko's ac- tion.” Even when Mao “retaliated by refus
ing to meet with Roshchin, our ambassador On the other hand, most of the latest to China," it had no effect on Stalin. Kovalev Mao noted with particular distaste that he evidence tends to support Khrushchev’s and emphasized that it was “not until Zhou Enlai had allowed Stalin to get away with treating Gromyko's versions, rather than arrived in Moscow at the end of January Manchuria and Xinjiang as mere "colonies" Fedorenko's. One of the most trusted aides 1950 that the talks finally proceeded more of the Soviet Union—a point mentioned by to Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, who re- successfully.” All this amply corroborates Zimyanin as well.24 At Chengdu and in mained a staunch defender of the Soviet what Khrushchev wrote.
numerous other speeches before closed CCP dictator even after being ousted by Khrushchev's depiction of the Stalin- gatherings, Mao repeatedly condemned Khrushchev in June 1957, later recalled that Mao relationship is also borne out by newly Stalin's “serious mistakes” and “shortcomwhen the Chinese delegation came to Mos- declassified testimony from another key ings," a practice that suggests long pent-up cow in December 1949, Mao had to wait source, namely Mao himself. In a private feelings of animosity toward the late Soviet many days or even weeks after his initial meeting with the Soviet ambassador to China dictator.25 perfunctory meeting with Stalin until the in late March 1956, Mao spoke bitterly about Furthermore, even some of the comSoviet leader finally agreed to receive him the "ugly atmosphere" he had confronted in ments in Fedorenko's and Shi's own articles again. 19 This corresponds precisely to what Moscow in 1950 and about the "profound imply-if only inadvertently—that the relaKhrushchev said, and it is confirmed by the distrust and suspicion” that Stalin had shown tionship between Stalin and Mao was not sequence of the transcripts, as noted above. toward the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) really so cordial after all. Both Fedorenko Khrushchev's account is further strength- leadership. Mao also recalled the “insulting” and Shi acknowledged that a residue of ened by the recollections of General Ivan treatment he had suffered after his prelimi- tension still plagued Sino-Soviet relations in
the early 1950s because of Stalin's refusal Wladyslaw Gomulka, and urged the Sovietcally warned that local Third World conduring the Chinese civil war to provide Union to forgo military intervention in Po
Union to forgo military intervention in Po- flicts could escalate to a highly destructive greater support for the Communist rebels. 26 land. Ultimately, Khrushchev did accept a global war if the superpowers directly interThis tension inevitably caused personal peaceful settlement with Gomulka. Senior vened on opposing sides. strains between the two leaders, as Mao Chinese officials also initially counseled In terms of actual policy, however, the himself observed during his March 1956 against an invasion of Hungary when they difference between Soviet and Chinese apmeeting with the Soviet ambassador and in traveled to Moscow on October 30 for emer- proaches was relatively small.31 If only for one of his secret speeches two years later at gency consultations. By that point,
By that point, logistical reasons, it was the Soviet Union, the Chengdu conference:
Khrushchev and his colleagues were no not China, that had been the primary arms
longer confident that “the Hungarian work- supplier to Communist insurgents in numerThe victory of the Chinese revolu- ing class” could "regain control of the situ- ous Third World countries (e.g., Indonesia, tion was against Stalin's wishes.... ation and suppress the uprising on its own,” Malaya, South Vietnam, Guatemala, the PhilWhen our revolution succeeded, but they agreed for the time being to desistippines, and Cuba).32 Moreover, Chinese Stalin said it was a fake. We made from further intervention in Hungary.28 Less leaders, for all their seeming belligerence, no protest.27
than 24 hours later, however, the Soviet were often hesitant about translating rheto
authorities reversed their decision and voted ric into concrete policy. In private discusShi also recalled how Stalin would lapse into in favor of a large-scale invasion.29 When sions with Soviet officials, senior Chinese a “sullen” mood during the 1949-50 meet- Mao Zedong was informed of this last-minute representatives argued that “reasonable cauings whenever Mao was being deliberately change, he immediately and strongly en- tion” was needed even when “conditions “evasive.” This was particularly evident, dorsed the Soviet decision, not least because were ripe for the spread of progressive ideas according to Shi, when negotiations on the Imre Nagy had announced on November 1 in certain (Third World) countries."33 treaty of alliance bogged down and Stalin (the day after the Soviet Presidium decided Despite the underlying similarities berepeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to “gauge to invade) that Hungary was pulling out of tween Chinese and Soviet policies, the two Chairman Mao's intentions.” Shi added that the Warsaw Pact and establishing itself as a Communist states were bound to disagree at the testy exchanges between the two leaders neutral state.
times. This was evident in July 1958 when prompted Mao at one point to remark sarcas- China subsequently became the most a leftist coup against Iraq's pro-Western tically that Stalin was wont to "blame the vocal supporter of the invasion and even government sparked a brief but intense crisis Chinese for all the mistakes" in bilateral publicly welcomed the execution of Imre in the Middle East, leading to U.S. and relations. Similarly, Fedorenko alluded to Nagy in June 1958, but the whole episode, as British troop landings in Lebanon and JorStalin's extreme suspiciousness during the Chinese officials later confirmed, had a jar- dan. Both publicly and privately, Chinese talks, as reflected in the Soviet dictator's ring effect in Beijing. Zimyanin promi- officials urged the Soviet Union to take a incessant complaints about “conspiracies,” nently cited the Soviet declaration of 30 firm stand against “American imperialist “plots,” and “illegal murmurs.” This behav- October 1956 in his report, but he made no aggression" in the Middle East, a task that ior, too, suggests that Stalin may not have mention of the turmoil that had given rise to China itself could not perform because of its been quite as hospitable as Fedorenko ini- the declaration or of the actions that fol- lack of power-projection capabilities. Contially implied. lowed.
trary to Beijing's wishes, however, Soviet Despite the wealth of new evidence, Sino-Soviet policies in the Third World. leaders quickly decided there was little to be there are still many unresolved questions In the late 1950s, Chinese leaders began gained by risking a direct East-West conabout the nature of Stalin's relationship with vigorously championing-and, where pos- frontation. 34 Rather than sending "volun
“ Mao. Further scrutiny of the emerging docu- sible, actively promoting—"wars of national teers” to the Middle East or extending an mentation and first-hand accounts will be liberation” and “anti-imperialist struggles” overt military guarantee to the new Iraqi essential to set the record straight in the developing world. 30 This strategy regime (as urged by Beijing), the Soviet Khrushchev's and Gromyko's recollections mirrored the growing radicalization of Union relied mainly on diplomacy and called seem to be corroborated by the latest disclo- China's domestic politics at the time. It also for a special UN-sponsored meeting to resures, but Fedorenko's and Shi's accounts flowed naturally from Mao's view, first enun- solve the situation. Although the peak of the must be taken seriously, at least for now. ciated in November 1957, that “the East crisis had subsided (and Sino-Soviet differZimyanin's analysis, with its strong criti- Wind is now stronger than the West Wind.” ences on this score had seemingly waned) by cism of Soviet policy during the early 1950s, Recent Soviet breakthroughs with long-range
Recent Soviet breakthroughs with long-range the time Khrushchev arrived in China at the is more compatible with Khrushchev's ver- nuclear missiles, according to Mao, would end of July 1958, the ongoing tensions in the sion than with Fedorenko's, but the report deter Western countries from responding to Middle East were a prominent topic of disprovides no conclusive evidence one way or Communist-backed guerrilla movements. cussion during his visit.35 The resulting the other.
Soviet leaders tended to be more cautious— exchanges may have been partly responsible • The crises in Poland and Hungary in at least rhetorically—than their Chinese for the bolder stance that the Soviet Union October-November 1956. During the stand- counterparts, not least because they were took during the Quemoy Islands crisis a few off between the Soviet Union and Poland in aware that the East-West military balance weeks later (see below). October 1956, Chinese officials generally had not improved as much as most Chinese Judging from numerous documents presupported the defiant Polish leader, officials assumed. Soviet leaders periodi- pared by the Soviet Foreign Ministry's Far
Eastern department in 1958 and early 1959, the United States responded by deploying a buke the “many people both inside and outthere is no doubt Zimyanin was aware that huge naval contingent to the Taiwan Straits. side the Party who do not understand the Chinese leaders had been disappointed by Simultaneously, top U.S. officials, including paper tiger problem."46 Soviet policy during the first ten days of the President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Soviet leaders, for their part, were con1958 Middle Eastern crisis, when it still John Foster Dulles, publicly reaffirmed their vinced until late September that the PRC's appeared that U.S. and British forces might commitment to protect Taiwan against Chi- effort to get rid of Jiang Jieshi was still on try to restore a pro-Western government in nese incursions and to counter any naval track. When Soviet Foreign Minister Iraq. The initial phase of the crisis marked threats in the Taiwan Straits.40 The strongest Gromyko flew secretly to Beijing shortly one of the first times that Soviet and Chinese warning to this effect came on September 4, after the crisis began, he found that Mao was policies in the Third World had diverged, three days before heavily armed U.S. ships
three days before heavily armed U.S. ships still expressing hope of “responding with albeit only temporarily.36 It is odd, there began escorting Taiwanese vessels on resup- force against force. "47 After hearing back fore, that Zimyanin's briefing report for ply missions to Quemoy. U.S. naval aircraft from Gromyko, Khrushchev followed up on Khrushchev barely mentioned the crisis and also were called into action to support the his earlier pledge to support the Chinese gave no intimation that Beijing and Mos- Taiwanese air force as it established control operation. On September 7, while U.S.
7 cow had been at odds about the best way to of the region's airspace. In a rapid series of ships were embarking on their first escort handle it.
air battles, Taiwanese pilots flying U.S.- missions, the Soviet leader issued a public • Lessons derived from the 1958 Tai- made fighters routed their Chinese oppo- warning that any attack against mainland wan Straits crisis. Shortly before .
nents, casting serious doubt on the quality of China would be deemed an attack against the Khrushchev's trip to Beijing in July-August China's air crews and Soviet-made MiGs.41 Soviet Union as well.48 This warning was 1958, the Chinese Communist Party's Mili- These humiliating defeats forced Mao and followed two weeks later by a declaration tary Affairs Committee (which had been several of his top military commanders onto that any use of nuclear weapons against meeting in an extraordinary two-month ses- the defensive during subsequent intra-party China would be grounds for a Soviet nuclear sion since 27 May 1958) approved Mao's debates.42
attack against the United States. Many plans for a major operation in late August to The unexpectedly forceful U.S. response Western analysts have claimed that these recapture China's small offshore islands. posed a dilemma for Chinese and Soviet two Soviet statements were largely cosmetic, The aim of the operation was to weaken or leaders.43 On September 5, Mao privately and that Khrushchev toughened his rhetoric even undermine the Guomintang (Chinese acknowledged to the PRC's Supreme State only when he believed there was no longer Nationalist) government in Taiwan by ex- Conference that he “simply had not antici- any danger of war. New evidence does not posing its inability to defend against an pated how roiled and turbulent the world bear out this long-standing view. A week attack from the mainland. 37 Khrushchev would become” if China “fired a few rounds after Khrushchev issued his initial warning, was not explicitly informed of the proposed of artillery at Quemoy and Matsu. "44 Con- he met secretly with the Chinese ambassaundertaking during his visit to Beijing, but fronted by the threat of U.S. military retalia- dor, Liu Xiao, and gave every indication that he was told in general terms that a military tion, Mao abandoned any hopes he may have he still expected and hoped that China would
, operation was being planned to "bring Tai- had at the time of seizing the offshore islands proceed with its "decisive" military action
“ wan back under China's jurisdiction."38 The or, perhaps, attacking Taiwan.45 Although against Taiwan.49 Although Khrushchev Soviet leader welcomed the news and of- Chinese artillery units continued in Septem- clearly wanted to avoid a war with the United fered both political and military backing for ber and early October to shell U.S.-escorted States, the failure of U.S. aircraft carriers to China's efforts. In the first few weeks of convoys as they landed with resupplies in attack mainland China after Chinese artilAugust the Soviet Union transferred long- Quemoy, these actions were coupled with lery units resumed their bombardment of range artillery, amphibious equipment, air- efforts to defuse the crisis by diplomatic Quemoy gave the Soviet leader reason to to-air missiles, and combat aircraft to China means. Most notably, on September 6, Zhou believe (or at least hope) that U.S. forces in the expectation that those weapons would Enlai proposed a resumption of Sino-Ameri- would not follow through on their commitfacilitate a "decisive move against the Jiang can ambassadorial talks, and on October 6 ment to defend Taiwan. Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek) regime."39 Soviet the Chinese government announced a provi- Khrushchev acknowledged that he had felt military advisers also were sent to China to sional cease-fire, effectively bringing the betrayed when he finally realized in late help supervise—and, if necessary, take part crisis to an end. The continued bombard- September/early October that Mao had dein-the upcoming operation. ment of Quemoy had posed some risk that cided to bail out of the operation."
50 Although Chinese and Soviet leaders wider hostilities would break out, but Chi- To that extent, the Quemoy crisis ended assumed (or at least hoped) that the action nese leaders were careful throughout the up sparking discord between Soviet and would not provoke a direct military re- crisis to avoid a direct confrontation with Chinese officials, but for a much different sponse from the United States, this assump- U.S. forces. Mao's retreat came as a disap- reason from what has usually been sugtion proved erroneous from the very start. pointment to some of his colleagues because gested. Most Western analysts have argued After the Chinese army launched a heavy of his earlier claims that the United States that Chinese leaders were dismayed when artillery bombardment of the Quemoy Is- was merely a “paper tiger.” At a meeting of the Soviet Union allegedly provided only lands on August 23 and Chinese patrol boats senior Chinese officials in late November lukewarm military backing for the probe were sent to blockade Quemoy and Matsu (several weeks after the crisis had been de- against Taiwan.51 New evidence suggests against Chinese Nationalist resupply efforts, fused), Mao even found it necessary to re- that, on the contrary, the Soviet Union did
everything it had promised to do in support submarine-launched ballistic missiles • Differences about Soviet efforts to of the Chinese operation, and that it was (SLBMs), the naval version of the SS-1B.56 seek improved ties with the United States. China, not the USSR, that was unwilling to Although the R-11FM had a maximum range Starting in the mid-1950s the Soviet Union
follow through.52 This outcome explains of just 162 kilometers and could be fired
of just 162 kilometers and could be fired pursued a line of "peaceful coexistence" why Khrushchev, feeling he had been burned only from the surface, it was the most ad- with the United States. Chinese leaders, by once, was determined not to let it happen vanced Soviet SLBM at the time.
contrast, wanted to step up the confrontation again. From then on he emphasized the need Despite the initial success of these ef- between the Communist world and the capifor a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan prob- forts, Soviet leaders decided by early 1958 talist world and to avoid any hint of comprolem, a lesson that Mao was unwilling to that it would be inadvisable, in light of mise. Chinese leaders even claimed that draw, for fear it would expose the magnitude Beijing's territorial claims against the So- they were willing, in extremis, to risk a of his failure in the Quemoy crisis. These viet Union, to fulfill the pledge undertaken global nuclear war in the “struggle against different views became a sore point in Sino- in the NDTA to supply a prototype nuclear imperialism.” To be sure, the connection Soviet relations, as was evident during bomb to the PRC.57 Chinese officials were between rhetoric and concrete policy was Khrushchev's visit to Beijing in the autumn not informed of this decision until nearly a often tenuous; in 1958, China quickly backed of 1959.53 Zimyanin's brief discussion of year and a half later, and in the meantime down when confronted by a massive U.S. Soviet policy during the Quemoy crisis does mutual recriminations occurred behind the naval force in the Taiwan Straits. Neverthenot mention the frustration that Soviet lead- scenes when the promised shipment repeat- less, even after that humiliating retreat, offiers felt and the lasting impact this had on edly failed to materialize. Khrushchev tried cials in Beijing continued to insist that if the Khrushchev's approach to the Taiwan issue. to alleviate the burgeoning tension when he imperialists launch an all-out war," it inevi• Soviet assistance to China's nuclear traveled to Beijing at the end of July 1958, tably would result in “victory" for the Com
” weapons program. When Chinese leaders
but his trip proved of little avail in this munist states and “inspire hundreds of milformally decided in January 1955 to pursue respect and tensions continued to increase. lions of people to turn to socialism.” Mao's an independent nuclear weapons program, Finally, in a secret letter dated 20 June 1959, seeming indifference to the potential consethey did so in the expectation that they Soviet leaders formally notified their Chi- quences of nuclear war chastened Soviet would receive elaborate advice and backing nese counterparts that no prototype bombs leaders, who were concerned that the Soviet from Moscow. Between January 1955 and or detailed technical blueprints would be Union might be drawn into a large-scale December 1956 the Soviet Union and China provided. The letter infuriated the Chinese, conflict against its will.60 Soviet officials concluded four preliminary agreements on but Khrushchev and his colleagues were like Zimyanin were fully cognizant of these bilateral cooperation in uranium mining, willing to pay that price at a time when, in divergent outlooks (and the high-level connuclear research, and uranium enrichment, their view, Sino-Soviet “relations were cern they had provoked in Moscow), so it is and these were followed in October 1957 by steadily deteriorating” and the NDTA was odd that he made no more than an oblique the signing of a New Defense Technology “already coming unraveled."58 Curiously, reference to the matter. Agreement (NDTA), which provided for the letter did not yet cause officials in Beijing Nor did Zimyanin mention the disagreebroad Soviet assistance to China in the de- to give up all hope of obtaining further ments between Moscow and Beijing about velopment of nuclear warheads and delivery assistance from Moscow on nuclear arms. the value of East-West arms control. Chivehicles. 54 Soon thereafter, Soviet nuclear At the summit in October 1959, Chinese nese officials were deeply suspicious of the weapons scientists and engineers were dis- prime minister Zhou Enlai formally requested U.S.-Soviet negotiations in the late 1950s patched to China, sensitive information was Soviet aid in the development and produc- aimed at achieving a comprehensive nuclear transferred, equipment was sold for uranium tion of nuclear-powered strategic subma- test ban. Chinese leaders feared that their processing and enrichment, and prepara- rines and longer-range, solid-fueled SLBMs. country, too, would come under pressure to tions were made to ship a prototype nuclear Khrushchev immediately turned down both sign a test ban treaty (even though they had bomb to the Beijing Nuclear Weapons Re- proposals, thus dashing any lingering ex- taken no part in the negotiations), and that search Institute for training and instruction pectations that Mao and Zhou still had of this would effectively end China's hopes of purposes. In addition, a group of high- pursuing new forms of nuclear-weapons co- becoming a nuclear power.61 The inception ranking Soviet military specialists were sent operation or of at least reviving the NDTA.59 of a U.S.-Soviet test moratorium in the spring to help the Chinese establish new regiments The Soviet Foreign Ministry had not of 1958, coupled with the Soviet letter of 20 for nuclear-capable SS-1 (8411) and SS-2 been involved in the implementation of the June 1959 (which explicitly cited the test (8Zh38) tactical missiles.55 The Soviet of- NDTA, but senior ministry officials most ban negotiations as a reason not to supply a ficers not only gave detailed advice on the likely were aware that nuclear assistance prototype nuclear bomb to China), intensitechnology and operational uses of the mis- was being provided to China. (After all, the fied Beijing's concerns that arms control siles, but also helped find suitable locations Foreign Ministry had been the initial contact talks were antithetical to China's nuclear for SS-1/SS-2 test ranges and deployment point for Chinese leaders in mid-1957 when ambitions.62 Zimyanin was well aware of fields. Similar cooperative arrangements they sought to open negotiations for the these differences, but chose not to bring were established for naval delivery vehicles. agreement.) Hence, it is surprising that The Soviet Union provided China with tech- Zimyanin did not bring up this matter at all, • China's deepening confrontation with nical data, designs, components, and pro- apart from two oblique references to “ques- India. Sino-Indian relations had been harduction equipment for liquid-fueled R-11FM tions of defense cooperation."
monious for several years after the Commu