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particular. The two leaders also discussed order to strengthen the Chinese-North Ko- Shi Zhe also confuses some important dates the agenda of Zhou's visit, which included rean position at the negotiating table, Stalin in his memoirs. For example, Liu Shaoqi, the issues of Luda, Soviet support of China's agreed to send five Soviet anti-aircraft artil- the Chinese Communist Party's second most first Five-year Plan, Soviet technologicallery regiments to Korea. However, he warned important person, visited the Soviet Union support to China in establishing rubber tree the Chinese not to send their air force across from 28 June to 14 August 1949, but Shi Zhe plantations in southern China, and the con- the 38th parallel. He believed that the Ameri- mistakenly states in his memoirs that Liu's struction of a railway from Ji'nin, a city on cans were not in a position to continue a visit started on 8 July 1949. Access to the Sino-Mongolian border, to Ulan-Bator. prolonged war in Korea. If the Chinese- original Russian documents will certainly The two leaders then had a long discussion North Korean side remained patient in nego- help scholars to establish a more compreon the Korean armistice issue. Zhou Enlai tiations while at the same time maintaining hensive and accurate understanding of the told Stalin that China would be willing to a powerful position on the battlefield, the historical past. end the war on acceptable conditions but Americans would sooner or later yield to one But even the original Russian docuwould not yield to unreasonable American of the aforementioned three Communist de- ments could also contain important omisterms. In Mao's view, Zhou informed Stalin, signs. (Shi Zhe, Zai lishi juren shenbian, pp. sions. In describing Mao Zedong's first if the Communists could demonstrate a more 510-511, 520-522.)
meeting with Stalin on 16 December 1949, enduring patience than the Americans, the Again, if one compares Shi Zhe's de- for example, Shi Zhe consistently recalls enemy would sooner or later make addi- scription of the meeting with the Russian that when Stalin asked Mao about the goals tional concessions. Zhou particularly em- minutes, they are compatible even in some he hoped to achieve through the visit, Mao phasized that it was Mao's belief that a firm small details. For example, in both records, replied, according to Shi Zhe, that “For this Communist stand in the armistice negotia- Stalin said that the Soviets would assist the
Stalin said that the Soviets would assist the trip we hope to bring about something that tions might prolong the war in Korea but Chinese in establishing a 20 to 9 superiority not only looks nice but also tastes delicious." would not trigger a third world war. Rather, in artillery pieces on the Korean battlefield.
in artillery pieces on the Korean battlefield. (Shi Zhe, Zai lishi juren shenbian, p.436.) in Mao's opinion, the conflict in Korea had Yet these Russian documents do raise Indeed, this was the single most important exposed the weakness of the United States, questions about existing Chinese sources in message Mao tried to deliver to Stalin at and delayed the coming of a new world war. several aspects. While these Russian docu- their first meeting. The Russian minutes, Zhou also mentioned that the Chinese did ments are declassified by the Presidential however, do not include this statement. Why have difficulties in continuing war opera- Archives in their original format, existing not? A possible answer could lie in the tions under the current conditions, espe- Chinese sources are usually released on a cultural differences between Chinese and cially as the Americans held a 9 to 1 superi- selective basis, and published in compila- Russian interpreters. In Shi Zhe's memoirs, ority in artillery pieces over the Communist tions rather than made available in their he mentioned that Mao made the statement forces. Stalin expressed his full agreement original form to scholars working in ar- at the beginning of the meeting, and that the with Mao Zedong's assessment of the situa- chives. As a result, serious omissions exist Soviets did not quite understand Mao's meantion, offering to increase Soviet military in the Chinese sources. In the Russian min- ing. Shi Zhe recalled that Lavrenti Beria, a equipment delivery to China so that the utes on the meeting between Zhou Enlai and Soviet Politburo member, even laughed at Chinese troops would hold a 20 to 9 superi- Stalin on 20 August 1952, for example, the Mao's expression. Is it possible that N.T. ority in artillery fire power against the Ameri- two leaders discussed the differences be- Fedorenko, who took the Russian minutes, cans. Stalin also advised that the Chinese- tween Chinese and North Korean leaders missed the importance Mao attached to this North Korean side should take three steps in over the Korean armistice issue. In Shi statement and treated it only as a part of dealing with the Americans on the prisoner Zhe's memoirs, although he implied that “greetings" or an insignificant discussion issue. First, if the enemy insisted on holding problems existed between Beijing and of general topics”? (See the first paragraph thirty percent of Chinese-North Korean pris- Pyongyang, he does not explain what the of the Russian minutes.) oners, Beijing and Pyongyang could suggest problems were and why and how they This discrepancy or omission reminds holding a comparable proportion of the emerged. Further, the accuracy of the infor- scholars that the post-Cold War access to enemy's prisoners in exchange. The pur- mation provided by memoirs is subject to
mation provided by memoirs is subject to previously unavailable Communist docupose of this suggestion was to force the the limits of human memory. In the case of mentary sources do not offer automatic anAmericans to change their position. Second, Shi Zhe's memoirs, even with his marvelous swers to all remaining scholarly questions. if the first design failed to work, the Chinese- memory of historical events (enhanced by They provide us with new research opportuNorth Korean side could propose a ceasefire his experience of writing “confessions” sev- nities, but they also require us to be more to be followed by an exchange of prisoners. eral hundred times during the Cultural Revo- careful in treating our sources and more Third, if the second proposal was unaccept
lution and assisted by his privileged access creative in establishing our perspectives. In able to the Americans, the Chinese-North to archival sources), ambiguities exist and this sense, this is a new point of departure in Korean side could make the following pro- mistakes occur. For example, comparing the study of the Cold War history. posal: if some prisoners did not want to be Shi Zhe's account of Mao Zedong's meeting returned, they might be temporarily main- with Stalin on 16 December 1949 with both tained by a neutral third country, and then, the Russian records and Mao's own teleafter their intentions were ascertained, they gram summarizing the meeting, one finds it
From Consensus to Strains would either be released or returned. In too general and ambiguous in some places. in the Sino-Soviet Alliance
A Palpable Deterioration
agreement indispensable to safeguard Soviet failed, Mao had learned the bitter lesson of
territorial acquisitions in the Far East, by Stalin's reneging on his promise to provide by Vojtech Mastny
January 22 he was ready to send Yalta “to Soviet air cover for the Chinese intervention
hell” and dispense with the treaty on the force, and the botched war had reached a The two sets of documents about high- ostensible grounds that it had merely been a stalemate. Its burden was weighing ever level Sino-Soviet conversations, separated temporary expedient required by the war more heavily on the Chinese and North in time by less than three years, illustrate the against Japan. He proved amenable to Mao's Koreans, though not on Stalin, who could palpable deterioration of relations between insistence that the new pact must be stronger, relish the sight of the United States being the two communist powers under the strain including the obligation for the two signato- pinned down on the Far Eastern battlefieldof the Korean war. Yet the nature of the ries to consult with each other on all impor- unless, to be sure, Washington would decide deterioration, as well as its extent—not to tant international matters.
to expand hostilities in trying to force a mention the personalities of the principles- This proposed provision is one of the decision. appear quite different from these contempo- few possible hints in the record at the im- The kind of underlying consensus perrary Russian records than they do from the pending communist aggression in Korea, meating Stalin's conversations with Mao is retrospective Chinese accounts which have whose preparation also provides the most no longer evident in the record of his talks so far been the main source of information compelling reason for Stalin's reversal on with Zhou. These are businesslike talks, on the subject and which project the later the Sino-Soviet treaty. During their Decem- where bargaining takes place, though within Sino-Soviet rift into a period when a funda- ber meeting, the two chieftains still gave no the limits of propriety, and conflict of intermental conflict of interest was neither present inkling of plotting the Korean adventure, est matters, even if it is not allowed to come nor anticipated
despite North Korea's Kim Il Sung's persis- into the open. Considering Stalin's rapidly Even with the allowance made for a tent entreaties to obtain Moscow's support deteriorating physical and mental condition, tendency of the Russian note taker to embel- for his plan for a forcible reunification of the he still shows an impressive command of lish the atmosphere prevailing at the meet- country. If in December they knew of the economic and military facts; only in the later ings, there cannot be a doubt that Mao plan but did not yet consider it topical, the sessions does his reasoning get muddled Zedong on his first visit to Moscow treated thrust of their January conversation suggests when he tackles the larger questions of diStalin as the supreme authority of world that by then they had begun changing their plomacy and war. For his part, Zhou lives up communism, with a reverence that was not minds. Their assessment, in view of recent to his reputation of a cool and deft negotiamerely pretended but rooted in a perception U.S. public statements and behavior imply- tor, never losing sight of what he wants to of common interests, to which the Chinese ing a diminished likelihood of effective accomplish, his deliberate obfuscations notleader repeatedly and cogently alluded. The American opposition, offers the most plau- withstanding. same perception determined Stalin's un- sible explanation of the change.
Zhou's dual aim was the achievement characteristically considerate, even gener- Besides the decision to proceed toward of an armistice in Korea as quickly as posous, attitude toward his junior partner, so a tighter Sino-Soviet alliance, the subject of sible while maximizing Soviet economic much in contrast with the condescension he the January conversation most relevant to the and military assistance to his ravaged counusually displayed in dealing with his eastern prospective North Korean action was the try. Yet he never states these goals so clearly European lieutenants. The Russian docu- presence of Soviet forces at the naval base of and sometimes even seems to be contradictments hardly bear out the self-serving Chi- Port Arthur on the Chinese mainland. Unani- ing them. He affirms China's refusal to nese descriptions of his stinginess and boor- mous in their view that the forces should entertain any concessions to the Americans. ishness, an image that Mao himself—no remain there as a deterrent to any possible Indeed, the two conversation partners outdo doubt retrospectively embarrassed by the American military move against China, Stalin each other in their professions of intransiextent of subordination he had once been and Mao anticipate keeping the place under gence toward the “imperialists" although willing to accept in regard to Moscow- Soviet control until the conclusion of what not all that they say is to be taken at face later tried to disseminate.
they look forward to as a satisfactory peace value. Of course not everything was sweet settlement with Japan; in the final agreement Stalin lectures the Chinese visitor—as and smooth between the two ruthless and signed three weeks later, the transfer to Chi- if both did not know better—about the supdevious dictators; still, their ability to dis- nese sovereignty was to be fixed to take place posed military flabbiness of the Americans pose of potentially contentious issues was in two years' time. It is difficult to avoid the and their inability to subdue even little Koremarkable. Of these, none was more im- conclusion that the only reason why they rea. He expresses his expectation that evenportant than the question of whether the could possibly expect to achieve a Japanese tually the United States would be compelled treaty Moscow had concluded with China's peace treaty to their liking was the crushing to end the war on terms agreeable to the previous government should remain in ef- effect that a successful unification of Korea communists; accordingly, as a deterrent to fect or be replaced by a new one. During the by the communists, presumably within that any American attempt to expand the war, he month that elapsed between his two meet- particular time span, would have on the United complies with the Chinese request to keep ings with Mao, Stalin reversed himself, and States.
Soviet forces in Port Arthur beyond the on both occasions Mao readily followed
previously agreed time limit. It is difficult to suit. Whereas in mid-December Stalin con- By the time Zhou Enlai came to Mos- tell whether Stalin's expectation was ansidered the treaty an outgrowth of the Yalta cow in August 1952, the Korean gamble had other example of his frequent wishful think
ing, rooted in the ideologically motivated tends are merely "suggestions."
cow, Mao and Zhou Enlai guarded thembelief that sooner or later “objective" forces Not even Zhou's diplomatic skills suf- selves well against bringing up regional probwould compel the capitalist enemies to be- ficed to overcome the disparity of power lems unless invited to do so by their hosts. have that way he wanted them to behave. It between China and its Soviet protector. The most interesting part of the converis also possible, and not mutually exclusive, When later in 1952 he publicly signaled sations concerns Sino-Soviet relations. Stalin that he was making a disingenuous argu- Chinese interest in the option of transferring initially turned down Mao's wish for a new ment to persuade the Chinese to go on fight- the prisoners to India, the Soviet delegation treaty between the two countries, and ining, thus perpetuating their dependence on at the United Nations preventively torpe- stead proposed limited changes to the 1945 him while keeping the United States en- doed the idea. The Korean War was eventu- treaty, using U.S. and British complicity at gaged. He is certainly not helpful in advanc- ally ended in July 1953 by applying Zhou Yalta in wrestling Soviet concessions from ing any practical proposals to induce an Enlai's other formula—but only after Stalin's Jiang Jieshi's (Chiang Kai-shek's] regime armistice, insisting instead on demands that death in March removed the major obstacle as his main reason to leave the main part of he knew were unacceptable to the U.S. side. on the road to an armistice.
that treaty intact. Only after Mao's long and Playing a weak hand as a demandeur,
idle wait in Moscow over the New Year Zhou has the difficult task of convincing the
holidays and the Chairman's increasingly Soviet ruler to provide enough material as
desperate conversations thereafter with varisistance for both the prosecution of the war Unwrapping the Stalin-Mao Talks: ous Soviet officials—Molotov, Vyshinski, and China's economic development while Setting the Record Straight Mikoyan, and ambassador Roshchin—did dissuading him from blocking a compro
Stalin relent. mise that alone could lead to the termination
by Odd Arne Westad
The January 22 conversation, held just of hostilities. By dwelling on China's deter
after Zhou Enlai had arrived in Moscow and mination to fight on for several more years, The records of the 1949/50 Stalin-Mao talks on a new treaty had started, showed if necessary, rather than to make any conces- conversations—the only face-to-face meet- Stalin at his magnanimous best. "To hell sions, Zhou secures Stalin's promises of ing between the two dictators—have topped with” the Yalta treaty, Stalin said. He was huge military and economic assistance. He the secret documents wish-list of many a willing to restore to China some of the conmakes good use of the Soviet leader's fasci- Cold War historian. As often happens in cessions Chiang had given him five years nation with turning China into the “arsenal such cases, when the parcel is finally un- earlier, even if the imperialists undoubtedly of Asia” and his support for the Chinese wrapped the contents prove to be somewhat would protest such an altruistic acton Stalin's conquest of Tibet, though he sidetracks disappointing. one is the high drama of behalf. (It would have been interesting to Stalin's unsolicited advice to expel the Por- various memoirs, according to which the know how this absurd line of argument struck tuguese “scum” from the enclave of Macau. monologues of the two giants circled each the Chinese on that winter's night 45 years At the same time, they both agree not to other but never touched, each too preoccu- ago.) We can still only guess about Stalin's provoke the Americans by acceding to the pied with his own agenda to address the real motives. A wish to keep the advantaNorth Korean request for the bombing of concerns of the other. On the contrary, these geous provisions of the 1945 treaty? Very South Korea-an escalation Stalin refuses conversations are rather businesslike, not likely. An unwillingness to proclaim the to authorize with the priceless explanation unlike discussions recorded when the head Sino-Soviet alliance to the world (and espethat the air force belongs to the state and of the new subsidiary is visiting the com- cially to the United States)? Quite possibly, could therefore not be used by the Chinese pany president.
although Stalin's fears of a confrontation "volunteers."
But the transcripts help us to set the with the Americans seem to have been at an Zhou Enlai fares less well in trying to record straight. They show the Soviet leader ebb that winter. break the deadlock in the armistice negotia- in the role of the cautious statesman, whose The rest of the conversation really tions caused by the disputes about the dispo- experience in international relations and the formed the start of the detailed negotiations sition of the Chinese and North Korean building of socialism enabled him to dis- of a new treaty which Zhou Enlai and Andrei prisoners of war unwilling to be repatriated. pense “advice” to his Chinese friends. On Vyshinski continued and which ended in the While professing China's insistence on the foreign affairs, Stalin told the Chinese not to
foreign affairs, Stalin told the Chinese not to Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual complete repatriation of all prisoners, he engage the United States or other imperial- Assistance and other agreements signed on nevertheless outlines to Stalin his plan for ists in armed conflict, not on Taiwan nor February 14. Throughout these negotiations the transfer of the unwilling ones to a neutral anywhere else. The reference here goes the Soviets held to a hard bargain, insisting country, such as India; noting the inconsis- back to Stalin's unfortunate remarks to Chi- on getting new advantages in return for their tency, Stalin demurs. Nor does Zhou suc- nese communist emissary Liu Shaoqi the economic and military assistance and their ceed any better with his alternative proposal previous summer on the Chinese taking up relinquishing of old prerogatives. The Sothat the armistice be concluded first and the "the leading position" in making revolution viet negotiating strategy both offended and question of the captives be settled later. The in the East. When Mao took Stalin on his puzzled the Chinese—on the one hand they inconclusive outcome of the discussion about word, and in October-November 1949 had were treated like “a vassal, not an ally,” on this key issue was a victory for Stalin, which presented plans for a Chinese intervention in the other hand they just could not make Zhou papers over by gratefully accepting his Indochina, he had had his fingers slapped by economic sense of many of the Soviet de“instructions,” which the Soviet leader pre- the vozhd (supreme leader). While in Mos- mands. What really hurt Mao and his colleagues were Soviet references to Xinjiang, Far East. Many other issues involving Chi- changes" to the treaty, or(without announceMongolia, and (to a lesser extent) Manchu- nese and Soviet interests were also on the ment) to proceed with changes “right now.” ria: in Mao's image six years later these table.
In other words, Stalin had flatly reneged on areas were “turned into spheres of influence But the delicate and complicated ques- his commitment-relayed to Mao via of the USSR.” (See Mao's conversation tion of establishing a personal relationship Mikoyan the previous February4—to diswith Yudin, 31 March 1956, reprinted else- between Stalin and Mao also mattered greatly, card what the Chinese regarded as an "unwhere in this issue of the Bulletin.)
and the tacit struggle between the two great equal” treaty. Stalin reminded Mao that the The centerpiece of Stalin's conversa- revolutionary personalities is as important in 1945 treaty "was concluded between the tions with Zhou Enlai in Moscow in the understanding the talks between them in USSR and China as a result of the Yalta summer of 1952 is the search for an armi- Moscow as their substance. At first, Stalin Agreement which provided for the main stice in Korea, a solution which at this stage seems to have succeeded in impressing Mao points of the treaty (the question of the both allies wanted, but which was held up by with his posture as world leader and mag- Kurile Islands, South Sakhalin, Port Arthur, Stalin's ceaseless maneuvering on the is- nanimous emperor. Shi Zhe, Mao's inter- etc.). That is, the given treaty was consue. The Soviet leader most likely wanted preter, recalls that at the welcoming banquet cluded, so to speak, with the consent of the Chinese to go firmly on record in re- Stalin seemed strongly interested in devel- America and England. Keeping in mind this questing a ceasefire (possibly to be arranged oping a new relationship with China. "The circumstance, we, within our inner circle, by Moscow) and to back away from their victory of the Chinese revolution will change have decided not to modify any of the points position from the previous summer, when the balance of the whole world,” he quoted of this treaty for now, since a change in even Stalin had wanted an end to the war and Mao Stalin as saying. "More weight will be added one point could give America and England had turned him down. In his conversations to the side of international revolution.”l the legal grounds to put forward a proposal with Zhou, Stalin paid lip-service to Mao's According to the official Soviet record of the to raise questions about modifying also the previous position, while underlining that 16 December 1949 conversation, Mao asked treaty's provisions concerning the Kurile the Chinese and the North Koreans should what was the likelihood that a peaceful Islands, South Sakhalin, etc.” ". not undertake further offensives and could "breathing spell” would last for the next 3-5 Why this sudden change of mind? One postpone the contentious POW issues until years. Stalin seemed to sound even more plausible explanation is that the cautious after an armistice had been signed. But optimistic than the previous July, when Liu Soviet leader still wanted to know more neither Stalin nor Zhou would admit to the Shaoqi had asked a similar question. There about the American reaction to the creation other that they were looking for a way out of was no immediate threat to China, he said, of the People's Republic of China and to the the war against the United States and its because “Japan has yet to stand up on its feet Sino-Soviet talks. While the Truman Adallies.
and is thus not ready for war, America, ministration and the U.S. Congress coped
though it screams war, is actually afraid of with the “loss of China" and nervously moni* *
war more than anything; Europe is afraid of tored the news from Moscow, Stalin pre
war; essentially, there is nobody to fight with ferred to wait. However, his last argument “To hell with Yalta!"
China....” In the most significant breach with shows that there were not only immediate Stalin Opts for a New Status Quo the framework of Yalta, Stalin suggested concerns at play. Even in late 1949, after the
that "peace depends" on the alliance between Cold War had unmistakably broken out, by Vladislav Zubok
the two communist powers. “If we continue Stalin still found it pyschologically difficult
to be friendly, peace can last not only 5-10 to part decisively with the Yalta agreements, The two transcripts of conversations years, but 20-25 years and perhaps even which had represented a cornerstone of Soduring the Stalin-Mao talks in December longer."
viet diplomacy. He understood that the issue 1949-February 1950 provide a unique in- Shi Zhe recalls that the conversation of new Soviet borders in the Far East and the sight into Stalin's doubts and second became uneasy, because Mao avoided speak- existence of Soviet outposts in Manchuria thoughts about the creation of the Sino- ing about the terms of a future Sino-Soviet constituted one facet of an indivisible forSoviet alliance. Although the groundwork treaty, waiting for Soviet initiative. Mao eign policy package, linked to the peace for holding the summit meeting had been presented a different version to the USSR treaty with Japan. To destroy this package, laid during an exchange of secret high-level ambassador to the PRC, Pavel Yudin, six which was the crowning achievement of missions over the previous year (Anastas years later: “During my first meeting with Stalin as a statesman and a foundation of the Mikoyan's visit to China in February 1949 Stalin I submitted a proposal to conclude a USSR's international legitimacy, was not an and Liu Shaoqi's trip to Moscow in July- [new] state treaty, but Stalin evaded a re- easy thing to do. For decades after Stalin's August), there were still unresolved issues sponse. Subsequently, Stalin avoided any death, Soviet leaders from Molotov and and obstacles on the path to the new alli- meetings with me."2 The official Soviet Khrushchev to Brezhnev and Gromyko conance. One issue was the matter of Soviet record of the meeting provides a much more sidered themselves duty-bound to safeguard interests in Northeast China. Another was vivid picture of this episode.3
and confirm “the results of Yalta” which the invisible presence of the Americans at When Mao asked about the treaty, Stalin signified international recognition and acthe Sino-Soviet negotiating table and the immediately presented him with three op
immediately presented him with three op- ceptance of Soviet legitimacy and the boundpossible consequences of the alliance for
tions: to announce the preservation of the aries of its "external empire." vital Soviet broad interests, not only in the 1945 treaty, to announce “impending The Soviet leader must have known
from previous months of contacts and corre- vene.” At the same time, Stalin encouraged Beijing: "Comrade Stalin has agreed to Comspondence that it would be hard for the the Chinese to "frighten the imperialists a rade Zhou Enlai's arrival here and to the Chinese, and Mao in particular, to retain the bit” by probing the positions of the British signing of a new Sino-Soviet Treaty of old treaty which Stalin had concluded with and French in Hong Kong, Burma, and Friendship and Alliance, as well as agreethe Guomindang (GMD). Therefore, he Indochina, i.e. in the South and far from the ments on credit, trade, civil aviation, and tried to sweeten the bitter pill by telling Mao Soviet security perimeter.
others."7 that it would be possible to preserve the Eventually, in their initial conversation, In Mao's estimate, the crucial factor existing treaty only“formally,” while chang- both leaders decided to drop the issue of the was that Great Britain and India recognized ing it “in effect,” that is, "formally maintain- treaty, and moved to discuss other issues. the PRC in January. In fact, a more imporing the Soviet Union's right to station its When Mao inquired whether Zhou Enlai tant development was the conclusion of the troops in Port Arthur while, at the request of should travel to Moscow concerning the Truman Administration's reassessment of the Chinese government, actually withdraw- treaty, Stalin replied benignly and crypti- its Far Eastern strategy. Washington deing the Soviet Armed forces currently sta- cally that this was a question that "you cided to keep a hands-off policy toward tioned there.” (He quickly added, however, should decide for yourselves. Zhou may be Taiwan and to focus instead on the defense that if the Chinese desired the Soviet troops needed in regard to other matters.” The of its essential interests in other Pacific areas to remain, they could do so “by request of the ambiguity of this response, perhaps aggra- it deemed critical, particularly Japan and Chinese government” for the next 2,5, 10, or vated by translation, may well have contrib- Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Maeven 20 years.) Stalin also expressed will- uted to Mao's impression that Stalin did not laya, and Indonesia. The new American ingness to alter some points concerning the want to discuss a new treaty. The meeting policy was enshrined secretly on 30 Decemownership and exploitation of the Chinese- ended without any specific proposals from ber 1949 in a classified document, NSC-48/ Changchun railroad.
either side, and in the coming weeks Stalin 2, announced by Truman in a press conferStalin's new position must have struck and Mao engaged in a tacit war of nerves. ence on 5 January 1950, and spelled out Mao like a bolt of lightning (the final proof, Some other factors intervened as well, par- publicly a week later by Secretary of State though, will come only in the Chinese ticularly a report from Soviet advisor I.V. Dean G. Acheson in his “defense perimeter" leader's correspondence surrounding the Kovalev (who had been a Stalin emissary to speech at the National Press Club.8 One meeting). But Mao did not explicitly object. Mao) stating that Mao was neither a real may speculate that Stalin learned about the Instead, he humbly admitted that during the “Marxist” nor strong enough to resist pres- essence of this new policy before these offidiscussions in Beijing of a future Sino-So- sure from “the right-wing of the Chinese] cial pronouncements, from various leaks viet treaty the Chinese Communist Party national bourgeoisie, which has pro-Ameri- and intelligence sources in Washington and (CCP) leadership had “not taken into ac- can inclinations.”:5
London. It is even possible that, as with his count the American and English positions For whatever reason, Stalin decided to reversal of the initial Soviet response to the regarding the Yalta agreement. We must act let Mao cool down (and cool his heels), and Marshall Plan in the spring of 1947,9 an in a way that is best for the common cause,” to gain more time himself to gauge the intelligence coup might have been a pivotal Mao said, according to the Soviet record. international response to their meeting, and factor in prompting Stalin to reassess his Far “This question merits further consideration. suggested resuming talks only on 2 January Eastern strategy. However, it is already becoming clear that 1950, more than two weeks later. Before From Stalin's perspective, all this apthe treaty should not be modified at the calling Mao, however, Stalin sent Molotov peared as a new American doctrine for the present time.” Mao also admitted that So- and Mikoyan for a reconnaissance to his Far East, a crucial change in the internaviet control over Port Arthur (Lushun) and Blizhnita dacha where Mao was quartered. tional situation which seemed to signify a the Chinese-Changchun railroad "corre- Molotov recalled that “Stalin hadn't received U.S. retreat from the Asian mainland and sponds to the interests of China.”
him (Mao) for some days after he arrived. implicit acceptance of the Sino-Soviet alliNo language, however, could conceal Stalin told me, “Go and see what sort of ance as a new geopolitical fait accompli. the divergent priorities of the two leaders. fellow he is.”” Molotov returned and alleg. Stalin might also have suspected that he no When Mao indirectly asked the Soviet leader edly reported that it would be a good idea to longer had anything to lose if he openly "to send volunteer pilots or secret military receive Mao for another meeting. "He was rejected a now-outmoded "spirit of Yalta." detachments to speed up the conquest of a clever man, a peasant leader, a kind of On the other hand, Stalin knew from many Formosa (Taiwan),” Stalin promised only Chinese Pugachev [a Russian peasant revo- sources (Kovalev among them) that other "to consider” such assistance and advised lutionary). He was far from a Marxist, of
lutionary). He was far from a Marxist, of members of the CCP leadership, such as Mao to “organize an uprising” on the GMD- course....'
."6 The concerns about Mao's po- Zhou Enlai, had been enthusiastic about the controlled island as a possible alternative to litical and ideological face played, however, prospect of balancing Soviet influence in a military assault. Stalin was careful not to a secondary role in Stalin's change of mind China with an American presence. By stickindicate that he wished to curb the national- the international situation was far more im- ing to the old treaty, Stalin could only play ist ambitions of the Chinese revolutionaries, portant. Finally, as Molotov informed Mao into the hands of the British and of Acheson, yet in essence that was what his words im- on January 2, Stalin decided to jettison the who eagerly sought to discover an opening plied. Again and again, Stalin repeated that old Sino-Soviet treaty and with it his com- through which to drive a wedge between the “most important" thing was to avoid mitment to the Yalta arrangements in the Far Stalin and his most promising and signifigiving the Americans a "pretext to inter- East. Mao jubilantly reported the news to cant potential ally in the Far East.