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THE USSR FOREIGN MINISTRY'S parts. The first part will discuss the content Moscow's part between 1950 and 1953 that
APPRAISAL OF SINO-SOVIET of the Foreign Ministry's report, highlight- had “impeded the successful development RELATIONS ON THE EVE OF THE ing items of particular interest as well as of Soviet-Chinese relations on the basis of SPLIT, SEPTEMBER 1959 several important lacunae. The second part full equality, mutuality, and trust.”6
will consider how Zimyanin's assessment His views on this matter, interestingly by Mark Kramer
contributed to, and was affected by, changes enough, were very similar to conclusions
under way in Soviet policy-making toward reached by U.S. intelligence sources in the In early September 1959, Soviet For- China. Those changes, as explained below, early 1950s. Despite efforts by Moscow and eign Minister Andrei Gromyko instructed temporarily enhanced the role of the Foreign Beijing to project an image of monolithic the head of the ign Ministry's Far East- Ministry and therefore gave increased promi- unity (an image, incidentally, that was not ern department, Mikhail Zimyanin, to pre- nence to Zimyanin's report.
far from the reality), U.S. officials at the time pare a detailed background report on China
could sense that negotiations leading to the for Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev had Tensions in Sino-Soviet Relations
Sino-Soviet alliance treaty of 14 February recently agreed to visit Beijing at the end of
1950 had generated a modicum of ill will September and early October to take part in In both substance and tone, Zimyanin's between the two countries. According to a ceremonies marking the tenth anniversary analysis of Soviet relations with China re- secret background report, Mao was “highly of the Communist victory in China. The flected the burgeoning unease among Soviet dissatisfied with (Moscow's) attempted exSoviet leader's trip, as Gromyko was well officials. Although his view of the relation- actions on China,” and Zhou Enlai said he aware, was also intended to alleviate a grow ship was still distinctly favorable overall, he “would rather resign than accede to [Soviet] ing rift between Moscow and Beijing-a was quick to point out many areas of incipi- demands as presented.”? Although Soviet rift that had not yet flared up in public. ent conflict between the two countries. His and Chinese officials did their best to conInitially, Khrushchev had been reluctant to report suggested that a full-fledged rift could ceal any further hints of bilateral discord travel to China because he had numerous be avoided, but he also implied that recurrent over the next few years, word continued to other commitments at around the same time; differences were bound to cause growing filter into Washington about “strain and difbut after discussing the matter with his col- acrimony and recriminations unless appro- ficulties between Communist China and Rusleagues on the CPSU Presidium, he decided priate steps were taken. In citing a litany of sia”—the same strain and difficulties that that face-to-face negotiations with Mao disagreements about key ideological and Zimyanin noted. 8 Zedong and other top Chinese officials practical questions, the report drew a causal By tracing the origins of the Sino-Sowould be the only way to “clear the atmo- link between internal political conditions in viet conflict back to the Stalin period, sphere” and restore a “sense of friendship China and the tenor of Chinese foreign policy,
China and the tenor of Chinese foreign policy, Zimyanin’s report was quite different from between our peoples.”
a theme emphasized by many Western ana- the public statements made later on by offiZimyanin completed a top-secret, 30- lysts as well. Although Zimyanin con- cials in both Moscow and Beijing, who page survey of “The Political, Economic, cluded the document on an upbeat note- averred that the split had begun when the and International Standing of the PRC”(Re- claiming that “relations of fraternal amity two sides disagreed about Khrushchev’s seport No. 860-dv) on 15 September 1959, the and fruitful cooperation have been estab- cret speech at the 20th Soviet Party Congress same day that Khrushchev began a highly lished on a lasting basis and are growing in February 1956.9 Until recently, the large publicized visit to the United States. The wider and stronger with every passing year”, majority of Western (and Russian) scholars Soviet leader returned to Moscow on 28 his analysis left little doubt that existing had accepted 1956 or 1958 as the best year in September, just a day before he was due to tensions between Moscow and Beijing could which to pinpoint the origins of the disleave for China. On his way back from the eventually take a sharp turn for the worse. pute. 10 It is now clear, both from Zimyanin's United States, he was given a copy of Four specific points about the document report and from other new evidence (see Zimyanin's report. That copy is now housed are worth highlighting.
below), that tensions actually had begun in the former CPSU Central Committee First, the report acknowledged that fric- emerging much earlier. archive in Moscow (known since 1992 as tion between the two Communist states had This is not to say that the whole Sinothe Center for Storage of Contemporary been present, to some degree, since the very Soviet rift, especially the bitter confrontaDocumentation, or TsKhSD).2 The final start of the relationship. Although Zimyanin tion of the mid- to late 1960s, was inevitable. section of Zimyanin's report, which focuses did not imply that China had been merely a Most events seem inevitable in retrospect, on Sino-Soviet relations and is by far the “reluctant and suspicious ally” of Moscow in but the reality is usually more complex. Far most interesting portion of the document, is the early 1950s, he emphasized that the So- from being a “reluctant and suspicious ally” translated here in full except for a few extra- viet Union under Stalin had “violated the of the Soviet Union during the first half of neous passages at the beginning and end.3 sovereign rights and interests of the Chinese the 1950s, Mao was eager to copy Soviet
Zimyanin's appraisal of Sino-Soviet People's Republic” and had “kept the PRC in experience and to forge close, comprehenrelations is intriguing not only because of its a subordinate position vis-a-vis the USSR.”5 sive ties with Moscow in the name of socialsubstance, but also because of the light it No doubt, these criticisms were motivated in ist internationalism. Even so, the latest sheds on Soviet policy-making at the time. part by the then-prevailing line of de- memoirs and archival revelations, including Both points will be briefly taken up in this Stalinization, but Zimyanin provided con- Zimyanin's report, leave little doubt that the introduction, which is divided into two main crete examples of “negative” actions on seeds of a conflict between Moscow and
Beijing were present, at least in some fash- omissions in Zimyanin's assessment, which during all the high-level Sino-Soviet meetion, 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
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 alliCommunism, 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 bethe 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 intera
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 [on 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 refuscount.
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 Soviet cally warned that local Third World conduring the Chinese civil war to provide 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, 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 con
a about the nature of Stalin's relationship with vigorously championing—and, where pos- frontation.34 Rather than sending “volunMao. 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 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 the United States responded by deploying a buke the “many people both inside and out
“ there 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 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. 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
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
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
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. Later on, 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
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
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