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Mao Tse-tung (Mao Ze-dong) and the Sino-Soviet Dispute

A memorandum that summarizes the history of tension between China and the Soviet Union. A part of President Ford's briefing book for meeting with Chairman Mao in December of 1975.
December 1, 1975

Evidence of a serious breakdown in China's alliance with the Soviet Union began to accumulate in the early 1960s; and in 1969 a series of armed clashes on the Sino-Soviet border brought the two major powers of the "socialist camp" to the verge of open warfare. China's current openness to the United States, coming as it does in the context of this military confrontation with the Russians--and in the wake of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Cezchoslovakia--implies that fear of a Russian invasion is a major element motivating the present "thaw in Sino-American relations. There is thus an important contemporary point of convergence in Chinese and American views of the world in the concern (long held in the United States) with the Soviet Union as an "imperialist" power. Indeed, since 1969 Chinese polemics have described the Soviet Union as a "social imperialist" state--that is, a socialist country that has taken the road of imperialist aggression.

This memorandum summarizes the long history of tension between the Chinese and Soviet Communist Parties, and presents the recent historical evidence--derived from Cultural Revolution documents --that Mao Tse-tung himself was responsible for the worsening of relations between China and the Soviet Union beginning in the late 1950s.

Click here to read the document.