Home Issues Past Issues MCS 2015 Issue 1 China and East Europe, 1956-1960
China and East Europe, 1956-1960
Abstract: The Soviet Union played an important hinge function in the relationship between the PRC and the Communist East Europe during the 1950s. In the Stalin period, relations however remained mostly nominal; mutual visits at the highest party or governmental level did not occur until early 1953. Only after the Soviet dictator’s death, bilateral links developed, with East European leaders visiting the PRC and Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai travelling the other direction. Moscow’s reduced political grip after Stalin’s death in fact provided a framework for the development of relations. De-Stalinization not only led to a Soviet rapprochement with Yugoslavia but also to the Chinese recognition of the Balkan country. Yet, the increasing East European economic support still occurred within, not outside of, Soviet development aid plans to the PRC. The political turmoil following the official start of De-Stalinization in the Soviet Union in February 1956 engulfed almost the entire socialist world. In its wake, the PRC followed its own policies towards Eastern European, largely for the purpose of promoting its own interests vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. In turn, East European socialist states, Poland in 1957 and Albania in 1960, tried to play up their own relationships with Communist China in order to contain Soviet influence. Yet, the domestic radicalization in China led to a break with Yugoslavia in 1957-58 (in parallel to Soviet policies) and eventually to a cooling down of relations with all other East European countries, except Albania, in the context of the emerging Sino-Soviet split since 1958.