Mao and the Sino-Soviet Partnership, 1945-1959.

Author:Arens, Olavi
Position:ASIA - Book review

Shen, Zhihua, and Yafeng Xia. Mao and the Sino-Soviet Partnership, 1945-1959. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015.

The authors provide a well-researched volume on a crucial decade-and-half period in Chinese history that centers on the relationship of Mao Zedong and the Peoples' Republic of China with the Soviet Union. Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia, who previously have written extensively on the subject matter, have used both Chinese and Russian archival material for the study and have critically assessed existing western literature on the topic. At Yalta, Stalin obtained concessions from Roosevelt at the expense of China as the price for the Soviets entering the war against Japan. Among the concessions were the Chinese Changchun Railway (Chinese Eastern Railway), Dalian (Dairen), and Liishun (Port Arthur). As a result of joint US and Soviet pressure, the Chinese Nationalist government of Jiang Jieshi was forced to agree to the concessions when it signed the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance (1945).

Shortly after the proclamation of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949, Mao visited Moscow, where he was able to renegotiate with Stalin a new Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance in which Stalin renounced Russia's traditional points of interest in Manchuria. In return, Stalin gained Chinese recognition for the independence of Outer Mongolia. In an interpretation that I have not encountered previously, the authors suggest that Stalin's interest in Korea and his authorization of Kim Il-sung's plan to attack South Korea played a role in Stalin's decision to concede control of Manchuria to China. During the Korean War, Chinese intervention was supported by massive Soviet aid in the forms of military equipment and Soviet air force units to provide air cover for Chinese forces. The war cemented the Sino-Soviet alliance. However, the figures the authors cite (that the Soviet air force shot down 1,097 enemy planes and that Soviet anti-aircraft downed 212, while Soviet losses amounted to 335 airplanes and 120 pilots) are questionable (p. 87).

The heyday of Sino-Soviet cooperation occurred during the early years of Nikita Khrushchev, who was willing in 1954-1958 to aid Chinese economic development in a major way. Soviet aid in credits amounted to $1.3 billion (other sources say $2.65 billion). A major part of the aid was military--through advisers and equipment, the Soviets enabled China to build a navy and an air...

To continue reading