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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Economic aspects of the Sino-Soviet Alliance, 1949-1964 Wan, Chi Shun


The characteristics of the Sino-Soviet Alliance have been analyzed extensively for more than three decades. However, the economic aspects of this Alliance remain unclear. A number of factors, such as statistical discrepancies, complexity of interpretation, and the quality and reliability of the Chinese and Soviet sources , are accountable for this obscurity. A more narrowly focused study examining the role Sino-Soviet economic relations played in shaping the Alliance is useful to better our understanding. After a chronological, review of the Sino-Soviet economic relationship, its significance in shaping the Alliance is examined through the reappraisal of three major areas. Firstly, the relative costs and benefits for each partner are assessed in an objective and detached way. The Soviet Union made a decisive contribution to China's industrialization. Soviet financial aid , though modest in figure, was provided in a timely way. Together with the provision of scientific and technological knowledge, the value of Soviet aid must be regarded as considerable. The benefits to the Soviet Union were less impressive; but since the imported Chinese consumer goods were largely consumed in the Soviet Far East, the benefits should not be underestimated. The cost for both sides remains obscure; though it is obvious that the questions of "Soviet exploitation", concerning the joint-stock companies, the overvaluation of the rouble and the pricing in Sino-Soviet trade are highly complex and should be interpreted with greater care. Secondly, the effect of Sino-Soviet economic cooperation on the Alliance — whether it strengthened or weakened it — is explored. Undoubtedly, the economic relationship had both unifying and divisive effects. It was a unifying factor because the Soviets had provided China with support and assistance that would have been difficult to obtain elsewhere . Another factor which had tied China to the USSR was the strong Soviet influences resulting from the implementation of the Soviet model and the close cooperation in the fields of education and sciences. On the other hand, these Soviet influences proved to be a divisive factor as well, because they produced a domestic political and social situation that Mao found profoundly distasteful. Different economic interests and competition in foreign aid programs also created tensions and frictions. The independent outlook of China's leaders made them resentful of their role as a junior partner in the early 1950's, and prevented them from entering a long-term trade agreement with the USSR or joining the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance, as the Soviets had wished. Finally, the impact of Sino-Soviet economic relations upon China's policy-making is discussed, albeit speculatively. In the early 1950's, China's economic and military dependence on the USSR made its leaders exercise greater caution in their claim of "Mao's Road " as the model for other Asian countries. As China gained strength, however, Soviet influence declined. While the discontinuation of Soviet financial aid can reasonably be regarded as one of the major factors contributing to China's decision to abandon the Soviet model in 1958, the economic pressure applied by Khrushchev failed to change China's policy, and proved counterproductive.

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