Xi’s the Boss
Some believe that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow was intended to lend legitimacy to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime. But it is more likely that Xi made the trip to show not just Putin but also the West who is in charge.
MOSCOW – Despite their shared communist ideology, China and the Soviet Union were hardly close friends and committed partners during the Cold War. Petulant competitiveness defined the irrelationship, as they squabbled over Mongolia and Manchuria and jostled for leadership of the communist world. A similar dynamic was reflected in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow, with one crucial difference.
Of course, there was plenty of collaboration between the USSR and China. Both backed Kim Il-sung’s communists in the Korean War, and the Chinese helped to uphold the Kremlin’s East European sphere of influence. (Albania was loyal to China, while Josip Broz Tito’s Yugoslavia used China as leverage to extract concessions and support from the Kremlin.) Moreover, Soviet scientists and engineers worked in China, with the Soviets agreeing in 1957 to help the People’s Republic acquire atomic capabilities.
But China and the USSR were not quite equal partners. Though Mao Zedong viewed himself as Joseph Stalin’s peer, leading the world’s peasant communists as Stalin led its proletarians, behind closed doors Stalin reportedly called Mao a “caveman Marxist” and a “talentless partisan.” When Mao visited Moscow for Stalin’s birthday celebrations in 1949, he was treated as just another guest.
To continue reading, register now.
Already have an account? Log in