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Trust, but VerifyThe Politics of Uncertainty and the Transformation of the Cold War Order, 1969-1991$
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Martin Klimke, Reinhild Kreis, and Christian F. Ostermann

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804798099

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804798099.001.0001

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Untrusting and Untrusted: Mao’s China at a Crossroads, 1969

Untrusting and Untrusted: Mao’s China at a Crossroads, 1969

Chapter:
(p.17) 1. Untrusting and Untrusted: Mao’s China at a Crossroads, 1969
Source:
Trust, but Verify
Author(s):

Sergey Radchenko

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804798099.003.0002

This chapter analyzes the border clashes between the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union in March 1969. It details the development of Chinese leader Mao Zedong's perception of the Soviet Union as a challenge to China's autonomy and the (cultural) revolution, underscoring Mao's failure to understand how the Soviet Union interpreted his actions as a credible threat. Employing his own frame of reference, Mao failed to grasp that the Soviet Union did not see the border conflict as a catalyst for internal mobilization and political control at home and in its satellite states, but as yet another manifestation of the seeming irrationality of Chinese foreign policy. Mao's surprise and feeling of hostile encirclement, as well as the deepening of Soviet distrust, paved the way in turn for China's famous rapprochement with the United States under President Richard Nixon.

Keywords:   border conflict, China, Soviet Union, Mao Zedong, Chinese foreign policy, rapprochement, United States

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