The Alliance Between China and the Soviet Union

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The alliance between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union was formed as a result of mutual interests and the desire of both states to pursue their respective national and geopolitical imperatives. Although Chinese historical experience and Marxist ideology played a role in constructing these interests, the actions of the Chinese Community Party (CCP) reflect an overarching proclivity toward solidifying their power and securing the nascent republic. This essay will examine the multifarious factors that influenced the Soviet alliance, including relations between the PRC, United States (US) and Soviet Union in addition to PRC foreign policy and its strategic objectives.

Historical conceptions of China’s culture and global position shaped the PRC’s perspective. Central to this is Sino-centrism and its edict from heaven for dynastic China to spread civilisation (Xinning 2001: 70). Imperial China’s tribute system represented a “Pax Sinica” and the physical manifestation of Sino-centrism, with its success affirming Chinese cultural superiority (Y. Zhang 2001: 52). Instructive in this is Sino-centrism’s similarity to, and conflict with American Manifest Destiny, itself an articulation that Anglo-Saxon American’s are God’s chosen people, with a superior culture and who are pre-ordained to spread civilisation to inferior peoples (Hollander 2009: 169). The PRC’s nationalism can be seen in part as a rejection of this competing celestial mandate, linking China’s decline to foreign intervention and the acceding to unequal treaties that saw the loss of peripheral territories considered intrinsic to historic China (Kissinger 2011: 112). In this way, the PRC’s formation as a modern nation state is the recrudescence of Sino-...

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... bloc (Goldstein 1995: 50). Hence, in allying with the Soviets the PRC were able to ameliorate the core issues that posed an existential threat to their republic.

It is difficult to conclude anything other than that the alliance between the PRC and the Soviet Union was chiefly born out of necessity. Certainly, the common ideology and revolutionary nature of the CCP allowed for a collective understanding that sometimes amalgamated into shared objectives. Even so, PRC actions suggest an appeasement rather than a genuine alignment with the Soviet Union. Accordingly, Beijing and Moscow appear reluctant allies, with a hint of the Prisoner’s Dilemma to their alliance – each, though particularly the PRC, facing deleterious consequences by pursuing an independent path.In cooperating, the PRC were able to build their state and counterbalancing the perceived US threat.

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