This paper seeks to provide an understanding of how this ideal partnership collapsed and how the second Taiwan crisis of 1958 not only highlighted the tensions between China and the Soviet Union, but contributed to its demise.
By the 1960s, the Sino-Soviet Alliance was practically shattered as their respective ideologies and polices were increasingly at odds. The office of the US Central Intelligence Agency reported to the US’s administrators in February 1962 that:
Sino-Soviet relations are in a critical phase just short of an acknowledged and definitive split. There is no longer much of a fundamental resolution of differences. In our view, the chances that such a split can be avoided in 1962 are no better than ever.2
There are a number of theories put forth by historians and political scientists attempting to understand the driving force splitting the union between the world’s two largest Communist states. Athwal argues that the US’ “nuclear superiority” put increasing pressures on Sino-Soviet relations and policies by first influencing China to obtain nuclear weapons and by forcing the Soviets to look to the West in a more amicable way. Moreover, both China and the Soviet Union had different perceptions of the US threat which created additional tensions between the USSR and China. In addition, the US policies toward the Chinese Communist Party and the US sponsorship of CENTO and SEATO and its presence in South Asia placed continuing pressure on Sino-Soviet relations contributing to the split.3
Haas submits that at the heart of the matter was a growing discord between the USSR and China over China’s policies toward Taiwan. Significantly, Khrushchev had been entirely supportive of China’s “most important foreign policy objective: the reunification with Taiwan”.4 It was widely believed that one of the greatest bones of contention between the USSR and China contributing to the Sino-Soviet split was a