Europe and China in the Cold War: Exchanges Beyond the Bloc Logic and the Sino-Soviet Split

In: Europe and China in the Cold War

Once the Cold War dynamics had thoroughly engulfed the nascent People’s Republic of China (prc) with the military intervention in Korea in October 1950, China’s relations with divided Europe were cast in a new light. These relations, which evolved outside of the main international power nexus, have for a long time been summarised as a story of Eastern bloc versus Western bloc confrontation. Only very recently has a new generation of historians begun to re-examine past assumptions meticulously and integrate the history of Sino-European relations in the Cold War within a global framework.1 This fresh scholarship demonstrates that relations between the prc and European countries were much more intense than was previously thought.

In the wake of the Sino-Soviet alliance treaty, Eastern Europe followed Moscow’s lead and rapidly established close relations with Beijing. Yet what was supposed to be an unbreakable and eternal partnership between the ussr and the prc was marked by frictions from the beginning. Following the death of Stalin in 1953 and the rise of Nikita Khrushchev, this partnership rapidly disintegrated on largely ideological and political grounds. By the early 1960s, the Sino-Soviet split was complete, and the two Communist behemoths entered into a period of increasingly open hostility.2 This dramatically and adversely affected China’s relations with Eastern Europe, notably because most Soviet ‘satellites’ believed they had no other choice than to side with Moscow. This book shows, however, that the impact of the Sino-Soviet split needs to be qualified in relation not only to Eastern, but also Western Europe. Whereas the Soviet bloc countries did not always imitate Moscow’s relations with Beijing, the Sino-Soviet split provided a springboard for closer relations between Western Europe and China.

The Chinese authorities did not only try to retain a foothold in Eastern Europe, but also to transcend the Iron Curtain and expand their reach into Western Europe.3 It was indeed in the first half of the 1960s that China began to import technology and grain from Western European countries.4 This short-lived period was favoured by the lessening of tensions in Europe, transatlantic – especially Franco-American – disagreements, and culminated in the establishment of diplomatic relations between France and China. While China’s opening to Western imports was indeed necessary to remedy the tragic consequences of the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), it also led to a new approach towards the West that had its origins in earlier exchanges. This rapprochement temporarily halted during the chaotic and violent years of the Cultural Revolution. But thereafter, it not only continued, but also received an additional boost through the decisive liberalization agenda advanced by Deng Xiaoping in 1978.5 The increasingly close relations between Europe and China were in tune with the thaw in Sino-US relations following President Richard Nixon’s visit to the prc, and remained driven by China’s hostility towards the Soviet Union, which in 1969 had led to the Sino-Soviet border conflict.

Yet the United States and Western Europe did not always see eye to eye when it came to the prc, and China’s foreign relations were not solely determined by its relationship with the Soviet Union. New research has shown that even before the Sino-Soviet split broke out into the open, the prc did not strictly follow in the footsteps of Moscow, and neither were European policies on both sides of the Iron Curtain modelled on the US-dominated or Soviet dogmas.6 Therefore, already in the early Cold War there was room for innovative contacts in the political, cultural, technological and economic spheres of Sino-European interactions. In the case of Western Europe, this was notably facilitated by the Korean armistice (1953) and the PRC’s participation in the 1954 Geneva Conference.

This book delves further into these realities by looking at Sino-European relations over the whole Cold War period. The collected chapters focus on new questions, on less explored bilateral paths and extra-diplomatic exchanges, and especially on the essential role played by non-state actors in these relations.7 By disregarding the traditional separation in Cold War historiography between Eastern and Western Europe, the authors of this volume render a more global picture of Sino-European interactions, and thereby provide the basis for a comparative analysis that transcends the Iron Curtain.8 They draw on a multitude of international archival sources, including collections of governmental papers, political parties, associations, as well as biographies of political leaders and other influential personalities. The only limitation is the small number of Chinese sources, which, however, is mainly due to currently restricted access to Chinese archives. The chapters examine three distinct problems dealt with in three different sections: firstly, the unexplored relations between Western Europe and China; secondly, the questions of ideology, propaganda and people-to-people relations; and thirdly, China’s role in the European Soviet bloc.

1 Unexplored Relations between Western Europe and China

During the four decades following the Communist revolution, Western Europe was greatly influenced by three different international dynamics that superimposed themselves over Cold War developments. Firstly, the imperial past and the process of decolonisation deeply affected Cold War relations between the prc and Britain, France and to a lesser extent West Germany as recent research has shown.9 As has been pointed out by Martin Albers, all three nations had acted as imperialist powers in China in the nineteenth century, with Britain at the forefront of the economic and financial offensive and maintaining its imperial role until the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.10 Smaller Western European powers followed in the backwaters of the French and British incursions to engage in exchanges with China. This imperial legacy explained the important involvement of European businesspeople, immigrants and churches in China at the time of the Communist revolution in 1949. These close-interest ties were undoubtedly a driving factor for early diplomatic recognition of the new People’s Republic by Britain, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, and their refusal to follow Washington’s policy of non-recognition despite their being closely integrated into the Western orbit.

As Ariane Knüsel argues in her chapter, this early recognition of the prc by Switzerland, together with the fact that it was not actually perceived as an imperial power by Beijing, helped it become probably the most important hub for New China’s diplomatic and business networks in Western Europe during the 1950s and of Maoist networks during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). This unique role was also made possible by the country’s official neutrality and the fact that many international organizations, such as the United Nations (UN), had their world-wide or European headquarters in Geneva. Consequently, the Chinese embassy and trade office in Bern as well as the Consulate in Geneva were of strategic importance to Beijing’s efforts of improving political and economic relations with other Western European powers, as well as with African and Latin American diplomats. Moreover, Switzerland was at the heart of the global diffusion of Maoist propaganda and of China’s Western European spy network, serving notably to gather intelligence on Taiwanese nationals.

The interest in Switzerland as a facilitator of Sino-European connections was shared by Western European governments, as Knüsel shows. As is mentioned in Dionysios Chourchoulis’ chapter on Sino-Greek relations after official recognition in 1972, the Greek military junta’s first secret efforts to establish official relations with communist China also took place in Bern, as well as in Paris. As a matter of fact, with the establishment of diplomatic relations between France and the prc in 1964, the Chinese embassy in Paris began to play an important role in Sino-European exchanges, and the subsequent wave of official recognitions of Maoist China by Western European countries after the former’s admission to the United Nations in 1971 mostly put an end to Switzerland’s importance as a hub for Sino-European contacts.

Another international dynamic that determined Sino-Western European relations were several regional alliances Western European countries entered, among which figured not only the North Atlantic Treaty signed in 1949, but also the different agreements resulting from European integration. The process of European integration was arguably accelerated by China’s participation in the Korean War in 1950 and went on to change the institutional configuration in Sino-European interactions. Thus, the European Economic Community (eec) established in 1958 entered into official diplomatic relations with the prc in 1975, in the context of Détente, and a major Sino-eec trade agreement was concluded three years later.11 The chapters in this first part of the book shed light on the role of three countries that did not belong to the eec during the major part of the Cold War – Switzerland, Austria and Greece (which joined in 1981) – and whose relations with Beijing were thus established in alternative institutional frameworks. Since Switzerland and Austria were not North Atlantic Treaty Organization (nato) members either, their ties to the prc allow for further understanding of the role neutral European countries played in the Cold War.12

In this regard, it is interesting to note that Austria did not follow Switzerland’s lead in early recognition of communist China, as Maximilian Graf and Wolfgang Mueller demonstrate in their chapter, despite Beijing’s acclaim of the Austrian State Treaty of May 1955 and its wish to take up official relations. The reasons the Austrian government decided against recognition until 1971 were mainly linked to its fear of endangering relations with the United States and the Republic of China (roc), notably in view of its interest in becoming host to the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, as Graf and Mueller argue, the lack of official relations did not prevent different types of other Sino-Austrian exchanges from taking place, notably between Communist party members, journalists and businessmen.

The case of Sino-Greek relations after the establishment of official relations in 1972, analysed by Chourchoulis, takes a new approach to Beijing’s attitude towards nato and the eec. While the motivation of the Greek military dictatorship in establishing official relations with Maoist China was primarily due to a growing sense of Greek isolation from Western Europe, Beijing was acting out of concern about increased Soviet military presence in the Mediterranean. The wish to establish a bulwark against Moscow in South-eastern Europe furthermore led the Chinese authorities to support a strengthening of nato in the region and later to encourage Greece’s efforts to join the eec. It also accounted for Beijing’s avoidance of taking any official position in the conflict between Greece and Turkey after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the fall of the Greek military junta.

A third international development affecting Sino-Western European relations during the Cold War was the phenomenal economic growth in Western Europe after the post-war reconstruction. The prc underwent a parallel surge in economic development, despite some reversals during the 1960s, transforming it into an economic superpower by the end of the Cold War. As recent research has demonstrated, most Western European countries were highly interested in the Chinese market from 1950 onwards, with the Federal Republic of Germany (frg) establishing particularly intense trade dealings despite the absence of diplomatic relations,13 closely followed by Britain, while other major economic powers such as France and Italy joined in this scramble for participation in the Chinese commercial expansion.14 In this regard, it is also significant that from the beginning most Western European countries were reticent to participate in the US-led trade embargo on China, embodied by the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCoM) section called the China Committee (ChinCom) that controlled the export of strategic goods and goods on the encompassing ‘China differential list’. Privileging trade interests over political considerations, Britain took the lead among Western European countries in abolishing the differential restrictions in 1957.15

The ambition of gaining (or maintaining) access to the Chinese market also played a determinant role for Switzerland, Austria and Greece in their decision to recognize Beijing. Corporate leaders were at the forefront of these contacts with China, in Austria in particular the State-owned Iron and Steel company, and in Greece the powerful shipping lobby, which by 1971 was handling more than a fifth of Chinese cargoes. As in Sino-Italian relations in 1964,16 the opening of a Chinese trade office in Vienna in 1965 and its counterpart in Beijing a year later played an important role in business dealings before the establishment of diplomatic ties.

However, the Austrian, Swiss and Greek hopes of greatly expanding economic relations with China did not materialize, as general trade remained relatively modest. In the case of Austria, despite the Austrian government’s reliance on soft-power instruments such as cultural exchange and tourism to further economic relations, overall trade only improved slightly after recognition. Between Greece and the post-Mao Chinese leadership political and economic ties also remained relatively modest for different reasons, although they were friendly in general, until they deteriorated substantially with the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Further research into other aspects of these economic exchanges, such as direct investments and financial relations, is needed to draw any general conclusions, but it can safely be assumed that it was in the framework of these diverse exchanges between the prc and the Western European powers that the seeds were planted for the later surge in Sino-European economic relations.17

2 Transnational Networks, Propaganda, and People-to-People Relations

Recent scholarship has shown that because of the tight political constraints proper to the Cold War framework, non-governmental relations played a very important role in East-West interactions.18 Through these ties, it was possible for Communist sympathizers, as well as for artists, intellectuals and businessmen, to build protected spaces in which they could develop dialogues. Scholars have revealed how such non-official relations in reality were given directions by governmental actors of Socialist countries, while at the same time non-official actors from the West were also integrated with political currents and leaders. By far and large, such relations were substantially more organized on the Socialist side, where they were systematically sought after. It has been highlighted elsewhere that the main architects of such strategies were Zhou Enlai, the long-time Chinese Premier and Foreign Affairs Minister, and Liao Chengzhi, the top policy expert on Japan, as well as a leader of the Chinese Communist Party (ccp) youth organization and Vice-Chairman of China’s Peace Committee.19 While there have been pioneering analyses on Sino-Japanese interactions, the study of non-official relations between China and Europe has still yielded limited results.20 This further enhances the value of the four chapters introduced in this section, which address these ties in terms of ideological dialogue, political propaganda, transnational networks and ‘people to people diplomacy’.

This section analyses four European countries: Britain, France, Switzerland and Italy; and an Asian territory, Hong Kong, at the time a British colony, and now an integral part of China. As mentioned above, two countries – Britain and Switzerland – had recognized the prc very early on in 1950, France would do so in 1964, and Italy in 1972. As a matter of fact, neither the Swiss nor the British decision were the result of a process of political rapprochement. Bern’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with the prc was not only supposed to be in line with official neutrality and the related maxim of universality, but also to protect Switzerland’s business interests. More generally, the Swiss were, as illustrated by their secret dealings with the United States and other leading nato countries, clearly western neutrals.21 London’s recognition of the prc was decided early on, mainly to secure control over Hong Kong and to safeguard commercial primacy in East Asia. In fact, Sino-British relations remained problematic for more than twenty years and the two countries only exchanged ambassadors in 1972 after Nixon’s opening.22 The chapters by Cyril Cordoba and Liu Kaixuan, and Chi-kwan Mark offer new evidence and a fresh interpretation of how these two controversial situations were managed at the official and non-official levels. Conversely, France and Italy did not have official relations with China for a longer part of the Cold War. However, in comparison, their civil societies were more susceptible to succumb to the fascination of Mao’s China. This was mainly due to the strength of the Communist parties and of other leftist movements in the two countries.

The chapter by Cordoba and Liu represents the first effort to shed light on pro-Communist China friendship associations in France (Association des amitiés franco-chinoises, aafc) and Switzerland (first called ‘Knowledge of China’, then more explicitly named ‘Friendship with China’). The story of the friendship associations in the two countries reveals quite different aspects. In France, the aafc maintained that they could help to create favourable conditions for establishing diplomatic relations between France and China, whereas in Switzerland the main aim of the associations was to create a more positive attitude towards China in order to offset the strict surveillance exerted by the Swiss government on any pro-leftist activists and activities. The French Communist party (pcf) offered substantial political backing to the aafc, the board of which included members of the pcf. The Swiss ‘friends of China’ frequently consulted with French representatives because of the latter’s superior knowledge of the Chinese political situation, and their better integration into the Communist movement. The chapter thus offers new interpretations on how Revolutionary China made its way into European cultural history from the early enthusiastic years of the Socialist construction to the eccentric dogmatism of the Cultural Revolution.

Guido Samarani’s chapter conveys the picture of an Italian Communist Party (pci) greatly involved in the sub-state party-to-party diplomacy in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Drawing from personal memoirs and party archives, the chapter documents the period from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, when both the pci and the ccp harboured optimistic views about the future of the world after the end of the war in Korea, the Geneva Conference and the Bandung Conference. It was within such a context that the exchange of delegations between the two parties occurred for the first time in 1956. Friendly visits of political leaders continued until the end of the decade, providing interesting occasions for the Italians to see the new China with their own eyes. The last pci delegation visited China in 1961. However, at that point, ideological divergences had started to drive a wedge between the two parties. Soon after, as the Sino-Soviet split became irreversible, pci-ccp relations froze due to their conflicting views on some fundamental questions, such as war and peace, peaceful coexistence, or the transition from capitalism to socialism. However, even during the 1960s the pci continued and even intensified its political and parliamentary efforts towards Italy’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China.

The Italian Communists also are at the centre of Sofia Graziani’s chapter, although in a less official character as the author focuses on the transnational interactions set up by China’s Communist Youth League (cyl) in the 1950s. International youth organisations figure here as privileged channels for Sino-European cultural and political dialogue. By focusing on the cyl’s engagement with the World Federation of Democratic Youth (wfdy), Graziani argues that international ‘front’ organisations provided the newly established prc with precious opportunities to build contacts and develop exchanges with Western European youth, and to project its image as a peaceful country worldwide. The chapter reveals how relevant political figures, such as Hu Yaobang (who would become Party Secretary in the 1980s), were extremely active in establishing transnational networks at such an early stage. Moreover, it sheds light on individual experiences of lesser-known Western European participants in the wfdy.

Graziani and Mark directly engage with China’s agency in building a new international role during the Cold War. While Graziani focuses on the work of the ccp’s youth ‘front’ organization, Mark depicts in vivid colours China’s ‘everyday political propaganda’. The chapter analyses the cultural and political battle waged daily between the prc and Britain on Hong Kong’s soil, by examining two episodes in which leftist journalists were involved in riots and charged with sedition (respectively, in 1952 and 1967). During both episodes, the Hong Kong Governor refrained from suspending the main communist papers or closing down the Hong Kong branch of the New China News Agency (ncna), which served as China’s de facto embassy in the territory. The depiction of the propaganda work of leftist journalists in Hong Kong does not strike the reader for its being provocative and aggressive. Rather, the chapter illustrates it as ‘routine, repetitive, and mundane, yet imbued with symbolic meaning’. The fact that London supported toning down the clamour aroused by China-instigated propaganda is sound evidence that the British were conscious of the non-written canvas which characterized Sino-British relations and that the primary aim of the Hong Kong and British governments was to contain, not ‘roll back’ the influence of the leftist press.

In sum, the chapters not only constitute a valuable contribution to the understanding of how non-governmental relations were deployed by the Chinese, but they also document a considerably proactive attitude adopted by the prc. They bear witness to China’s evident desire to reach out to non-Socialist – especially Capitalist Western – countries in the period between the end of the Korean War (1953) to the early 1960s (soon after the Sino-Soviet ideological controversy consolidated). In this period, foreign policy choices were ingrained into New China’s strategic will to develop an international role, whereas in the second half of the 1960s China’s diplomacy was disrupted by the Cultural Revolution and to a greater degree relied on propaganda. The chapter by Cordoba and Liu documents how propaganda leaflets and other materials inundated activists and sympathizers in Switzerland and France, respectively, while Mark’s chapter considers the same aspect in Hong Kong, during the most heated years of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1968).

The chapters in this section show how Western Capitalist Communist sympathizers – be they political parties, friendship associations, front organizations or youth movements – were sensitive to New China’s appeal and closely followed the political evolution in the prc and in the international Communist movement. At the same time, they played a relevant role in integrating the European perception of Mao’s China with the development of post-World War ii European political and cultural history. The 1970s brought an easing of tensions, as well as the end of privileged ‘people-to-people’ diplomacy managed by pro-Communist activists.

3 Eastern Europe and China: National Interests and Ideology

The Communist victory in China in 1949 had a diametrically opposed effect on the Western and the Eastern bloc. Whereas it caused alarm in the former, it was welcomed as an opportunity by the latter. In these new circumstances, the Communist camp saw itself reinforced by the most populous and third largest country of the world. Stalin, who had previously only half-heartedly supported the ccp, thus rapidly agreed to a Sino-Soviet alliance treaty, which finally gave Mao the political, economic, technological, and military assistance he had sought from the Soviet Union for years. This cornerstone alliance of the Communist bloc then almost immediately showed its teeth during the Korean War, but rapidly deteriorated thereafter, and by the early 1960s the Soviet Union and China were not allies any longer but adversaries.

In light of first the Sovietization and then the Stalinization of Eastern Europe,23 it would only seem logical that the evolution of the relationship between the Soviet ‘satellites’ and the prc mirrored that of Moscow and Beijing. The chapters in this section show, however, that this was not necessarily the case. Ultimately, the prc’s relations with Western Europe on the one hand, and Eastern Europe on the other, were not as diametrically opposed as one might expect. The broad patterns of the relations between most Eastern European countries and the prc reflected the initial euphoria, temporary stabilisation, and decline of the Sino-Soviet relationship.24 But at closer inspection, notably through the chapters of Jan Adamec, Margaret Gnoinska, and Chen Tao in this volume, it transpires that Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the German Democratic Republic (gdr) did not just imitate or take orders from Moscow in their relations with the prc, and that the Sino-Soviet split did have an important, but not an all-encompassing, impact. The emerging dispute between the ussr and the prc actually increased the room for manoeuvre for Eastern European countries. Although the Chinese were not in a position to take on the Soviets in their European ‘empire’, they nevertheless offered an alternative ideological leadership and potential source of support. The Kremlin thus had to be more accommodating with its satellites to avoid frictions that would ultimately benefit Beijing or the West. The unfolding Sino-Soviet split could provide a platform for a break between the Soviet Union and its allies, such as in the case of Albania, which shifted its allegiance to China.25 But more generally, in combination with de-Stalinization, it provided the Warsaw Pact countries with still limited but increased freedom of action, as is illustrated by the cases of Poland and, especially, Romania.26

At least until the full escalation of the Sino-Soviet rivalry forced them to clearly take sides, the Communist countries could thus continue to pursue close relations with China. Thereby, and as the three chapters show, they were from the beginning driven not only by the Cold War’s bloc logic, but also by national, predominantly economic interests, and their respective ideological agendas. This helps to explain the differences in their relations with the prc, whose leaders were also motivated by political and economic as well as ideological reasons. Beijing notably wanted to gain a foothold in the Soviet empire, and to benefit from Eastern European goods and expertise for its development. This led to temporarily strong relationships and extensive exchanges between Beijing and Prague, Warsaw, and East Berlin, which were not only affected by the Cold War, but also domestic politics and, on rare occasions, even outlived the Sino-Soviet split.

The three chapters in this section show that following in the footsteps of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the gdr rapidly established extensive political, economic, cultural, and even military relations with the prc.27 Whereas the advent of a Communist China initially signalled a dramatic economic loss for Western Europe, it provided Eastern Europe with a great opportunity to compensate for the loss of western markets caused by the Cold War division of Europe. The Communist Chinese, meanwhile, saw in Eastern Europe not only an alternative market for their raw materials and foodstuffs, but also a source of industrial products and technology. In light of these mutual and complementary interests, the Eastern European countries and the prc rapidly evolved into important trade partners from the early 1950s onwards. Jan Adamec argues, however, that the economic relations with the prc were all but a straightforward affair. Despite strong common interests, the Czechoslovak government found it difficult to negotiate a more extensive, stable, and predictable trade relationship with China. It was only in early 1959 that the Czechoslovak negotiators succeeded to obtain from Beijing the commitment to enter into a long-term trade agreement, and after Prague had given in to Chinese demands on the export quota for Czechoslovak goods. In light of the seemingly unlimited economic potential of China, Prague was willing to compromise, and its optimism could not even be undermined by the turmoil caused by the onset of the Great Leap Forward, Chinese efforts to substitute Czechoslovak goods with their own, and rising transportation costs.

Transportation was indeed an issue, and Eastern-European countries, even landlocked Czechoslovakia, notably entered into shipping ventures with China.28 Yet it was Poland which, as Margaret Gnoinska forcefully demonstrates in her chapter, emerged as a key player in this domain and succeeded in establishing a lasting joint shipping venture with the prc: Chipolbrok. Set up and run from the beginning with seemingly little Soviet interference, this Sino-Polish undertaking was not only supposed to further Poland’s economic agenda, but also played a key role in helping China to circumvent the western-led UN embargo following the outbreak of the Korean War. As in the case of Sino-Czechoslovak trade relations, this endeavour was not free from tensions. Warsaw had to make compromises in the operational running of Chipolbrok to satisfy Beijing’s national pride and in response to the prc’s increasingly radical domestic and foreign policy agendas. But neither the spiralling turmoil in China itself, nor even the Sino-Soviet split, in which Warsaw officially sided with Moscow, could put an end to this shipping venture. This was not solely the result of mutual economic interests. Chipolbrok provided the Chinese with a foothold and a propaganda platform in the Soviet bloc, and the Polish with a window to peer into the Cultural Revolution. While this gave Warsaw a competitive edge over other Soviet bloc countries and thereby put it into a special position vis-à-vis the Kremlin, the government of Władysław Gomułka believed that both Poland and the Socialist camp needed China in the global struggle against the West.

In the case of Sino-East German relations, not only did ideology play a prominent role, but the impact of the Sino-Soviet split needs to be questioned too. This becomes evident from Chen Tao’s chapter, which, by building on previous German research,29 assesses the gdr’s experiment with the ccp’s Mass Line in the Nationale Volksarmee (nva) (National People’s Army) on the basis of Chinese, in addition to German, sources. Shaken by Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization agenda following the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (cpsu), the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (sed) (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) began to search for an alternative to the Soviet model. Thereby, and despite emerging tensions between Moscow and Beijing, East Berlin found ideological inspiration in China – the ccp’s Mass Line, which was supposed to connect the party cadres to the masses. In the case of the nva, this implied that officers had to serve temporarily as rank-and-file soldiers and ordinary workers in factories. Initiated in 1959, this experiment was extremely short-lived and had already been cancelled in 1961. In light of the timing, it would be tempting to explain this by the Sino-Soviet split. Chen argues, however, that this was not the sole explanatory variable, and that resistance from within the nva and the associated costs were also important reasons for the cancellation of the Mass Line experiment.

China’s confrontation with the Soviet Union had, as Odd Arne Westad has argued, a major impact on its foreign relations during the late Cold War.30 This was also the case for the preceding decades, and even before the Sino-Soviet split China’s foreign policy was heavily affected by its relations with the Soviet Union. The chapters in this section show, however, that prior, during, and after the Sino-Soviet split the relations between Eastern European countries and China were also heavily influenced by national interests, ideology, and domestic politics. Therefore, not only did the relationships between Soviet satellites and the prc differ from one another, but none of them can be considered in any way to be a mirror image of that between Moscow and Beijing.

In sum, this book offers a fresh perspective on how Europe and China viewed and interacted with each other during the Cold War. The chapters will guide readers into a variegated array of national cases and personal experiences, which will contribute to problematize and diversify the perception of Cold War constraints on both sides of divided Europe and in China. Thereby, readers will not only have the opportunity to gain insights into Cold War China through the eyes of contemporaries, but also learn that the bloc logic and the Sino-Soviet split were influential, yet not all-determining factors in the relations between Europe and the prc.


See especially Enrico Fardella, Christian F. Ostermann and Charles Kraus, eds., Sino-European Relations During the Cold War and the Rise of a Multipolar World: A Critical Oral History (Washington D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center, 2015); and Priscilla Roberts and John M. Carroll, eds., Hong Kong in the Cold War (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2017).


Odd Arne Westad, Brothers in Arms: The Rise and Fall of the Sino-Soviet Alliance, 1945–63 (Washington D.C. and Stanford CA: Woodrow Wilson Center and Stanford University Press, 1998); Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War (Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), Chapter 3. See also, for instance, Lorenz M. Lüthi, The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008); and Jeremy Friedman, Shadow Cold War: The Sino-Soviet Competition for the Third World (Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2015).


Martin Albers, Britain, France, West Germany and the People’s Republic of China, 1969–1982: The European Dimension of China’s Great Transition (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); Cold War History 17, no. 2 (2017), Special Issue edited by Martin Albers and Chen Zhongzhong: ‘Socialism, Capitalism and Sino-European Relations in the Deng Xiaoping Era, 1978–1992’.


Chad J. Mitcham, China’s Economic Relations with the West and Japan, 1949–79: Grain, Trade, and Diplomacy (London and New York: Routledge 2005); and Alexander Eckstein, China’s Economic Development: The Interplay of Scarcity and Ideology (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1975).


While the Cultural Revolution lasted until 1976 (the year of Mao’s death), it is in the years from 1966 to 1968 that most violent disruption happened, in some cases also leading to the temporary ousting of central political authority.


See Modern Asia Studies 51, no. 1 (2017), Special issue edited by Angela Romano and Valeria Zanier: ‘Circumventing the Cold War. The Parallel Diplomacy of Economic and Cultural Exchanges between Western Europe and Socialist China in the 1950s’.


Initial versions of most of the book’s chapters were presented at a conference entitled ‘The Smaller European Powers and China in the Cold War, 1949–1989’, at the University of Lausanne in November 2016, organized by Sandra Bott, Claude Hauser, Janick Marina Schaufelbuehl and Marco Wyss.


This was also the approach of the recent special issue of Cold War History. See: Albers and Chen (2017).


Cf. Robert Bickers, Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2017).


Albers, Britain, France, pp. 13–17.


Francis Snyder, The European Union and China, 1949–2008: Basic Documents and Commentary (Oxford and Portland OR: Hart Publishing, 2009).


The question of the Neutrals and Non-Aligned in the Cold War has been explored recently in a special issue of the International History Review 37, no. 5 (2015): ‘Beyond and Between the Cold War Blocs’, edited by Sandra Bott, Jussi Hanhimäki, Janick Marina Schaufelbuehl and Marco Wyss, as well as in a book by the same editors, Between or Within the Blocs? Neutrality and Neutralism in the Global Cold War (London and New York: Routledge, 2016).


See Albers, Britain, France, p. 67 and Giovanni Bernardini, ‘Principled Pragmatism: The Eastern Committee of German Economy and West German–Chinese Relations During the Early Cold War, 1949–1958’, Modern Asian Studies 51, no. 1 (2017): pp. 78–106.


On French economic relations with the prc see Thierry Robin, Le Coq face au Dragon. Deux décennies de relations économiques franco-chinoises de la fin de la Seconde guerre mondiale au milieu des années 1960 (Geneva: Droz, 2013); and Laurent Césari and Denis Varaschin, eds., Les relations franco-chinoises au vingtième siècle et leurs antécédents (Arras: Artois presses université, 2003). On the establishment of Sino-Italian trade relations see Carla Meneguzzi Rostagni, ‘The China Question in Italian Foreign Policy’, Modern Asian Studies 51, no. 1 (2017): pp. 107–132; and Enrico Fardella, ‘A Significant Periphery of the Cold War: Italy-China Bilateral Relations, 1949–1989’, Cold War History 17, no. 2 (2017): pp. 181–197.


See Zhang Shuguang, Economic Cold War. America’s Embargo against China and the Sino-Soviet Alliance, 1949–1963 (Washington D.C.: Cold War International History Project, 2002), pp. 113–173; and Frank Cain, ‘The US-Led Trade Embargo on China: The Origins of Chincom, 1947–52’, Journal of Strategic Studies 18, no. 4 (1995): pp. 33–54.


See Meneguzzi Rostagni ‘The China Question’.


On this question, see also Albers and Chen, ‘Socialism, Capitalism and Sino-European Relations’.


Romano and Zanier, ‘Circumventing the Cold War’; see also the essays published in Guido Samarani and Sofia Graziani, eds., ‘Essays from the International Symposium on Italy, Europe and China during the Cold War Years’, special section, Lengzhan guojishi yanjiu 19, no. 20 (2015).


Mayumi Itoh, The Making of China’s Peace with Japan: What Xi Jinping should learn from Zhou Enlai (Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); Wu Xuewen 吴学文. Liao Chengzhi yu Riben 廖 承志与日本 [Liao Chengzhi and Japan] (Beijing: Zhonggong dangshi chubanshe, 2007); Donald W. Klein and Anne B. Clark, Biographic Dictionary of Chinese Communism (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).


See for example Amy King, China-Japan Relations after World War Two: Empire, Industry and War, 1949–1971 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Casper Wits, ‘The Japan Group: Managing China’s People’s Diplomacy Toward Japan in the 1950s’, East Asia 33, no. 2 (March 2016): pp. 91–110.


For instance, in July 1951, the Swiss authorities passed a secret oral agreement with the US government that they would largely follow the CoCom embargo on the export of strategic and military goods to Eastern Bloc countries. See André Schaller, Schweizer Neutralität im West-Ost Handel. Das Hotz-Linder Agreement vom 23. Juli 1951 (Bern: Verlag P. Haupt, 1987).


Chi-kwan Mark, The Everyday Cold War: Britain and China, 1950–1972 (London: Bloomsbury, 2017).


See, for instance, Vojtech Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity: The Stalin Years (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996); and Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944–56 (London: Penguin, 2013).


On Sino-Eastern European relations, see Mercy Kuo, Contending with Contradictions: China’s Policy toward Soviet Eastern Europe and the Origins of the Sino-Soviet Split, 1953–1960 (Boulder CO, New York and Oxford: Lexington Books, 2001); Liu Xiaoyuan and Vojtech Mastny, eds., China and Eastern Europe, 1960s-1980s, Zürcher Beiträge zur Sicherheitspolitik und Konfliktforschung Nr. 72 (Zurich: Forschungsstelle für Sicherheitspolitik der eth Zürich, 2004); Huang Lifu, Péter Vámos and Li Rui, eds., New Archives, New Findings: The Relationships between China, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe [in Chinese] (Beijing: Shehui kexue chubanshe, 2014).


Elidor Mëhilli, From Stalin to Mao: Albania and the Socialist World (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 2017), Ch. 6. On Sino-Albanian relations, see also Ylber Marku, ‘China and Albania: The Cultural Revolution and Cold War Relations’, Cold War History 17, no. 4 (2017): pp. 367–383.


Sergey Radchenko, Two Suns in the Heavens: The Sino-Soviet Struggle for Supremacy, 1962–1967 (Washington D.C. and Stanford CA: Woodrow Wilson Center and Stanford University Press, 2009), Ch. 2. On room for manoeuvre in the Warsaw Pact, see Dennis Deletant, ‘“Taunting the Bear”: Romania and the Warsaw Pact, 1963–89’, Cold War History 7, no. 4 (2007): pp. 495–507; and Laurien Crump, The Warsaw Pact Reconsidered: International Relations in Eastern Europe, 1955–1969 (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2017).


On the Cold War relations between the prc and Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the gdr, see Lenka Dřímalová, Sino-Czechoslovak Cultural Relations after 1945 [in Czech] (Univerzit a Palackého v Olomouci, Filozofická fakulta, Katedra asijských studií, Bakalářská diplomová práce, Olomouc, 2009); Daniela Kolenovská, Between two Suns: Czechoslovakia in between Moscow and Beijing’s Quest for Dominance in the International Communist Movement (1953–1962) [in Czech], Soudobé dějiny 21 (2014); Margaret K. Gnoinska, ‘Poland’s Relations with China in Light of Sino-Soviet Interactions, 1949–1986’, Cold War International History Studies [Lengzhan guojishi yanjiu] 12 (2012): pp. 33–89 [in Chinese]; Margaret K. Gnoinska, ‘“Socialist Friends Should Help Each Other in Crises”: Sino-Polish Relations within the Cold War Dynamics, 1980–1987’, Cold War History 17, no. 2 (2017): pp. 143–159; Claude Jousse-Keller, ‘Quarante ans de relations culturelles sino-allemandes socialistes: rpc et rda’, in Essays in Honour of Marian Galik, edited by Floods Automn (Berne: Peter Lang, 1998); Claudie Gardet, Les relations de la République Populaire de Chine et de la République Démocratique Allemande: 1949–1989 (Berne: Peter Lang, 2000); Joachim Kruger, ed., Beiträge zur Geschichte der Beziehungen der ddr und der VR China (Münster: lit Verlag, 2002); Werner Meißner, Die ddr und China, 1949 bis 1990. Politik-Wirtschaft-Kultur. Eine Quellensammlung (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995).


Lenka Krátká, A History of the Czechoslovak Ocean Shipping Company, 1948–1989: How a Small, Landlocked Country Ran Maritime Business during the Cold War (Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag, 2015), passim.


See, for instance, Klaus Storkmann, Das chinesische Prinzip in der nva: Vom Umgang der sed mit den Generalen und Offizieren in der frühen nva – Eine Dokumentation (Berlin: Verlag Dr Köster, 2001).


Odd Arne Westad, ‘China and the End of the Cold War in Europe’, Cold War History 17, no. 2 (2017): p. 112.

Europe and China in the Cold War

Exchanges Beyond the Bloc Logic and the Sino-Soviet Split



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