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The Origin Of The Split: Differences In Communist Activities

Question:

Discuss About The Schism Between The Ussr And China Leap?

Two powerful communist nations of twentieth century were People’s Republic of China and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Amidst the anti communist nations it was expected that the two great powers would be close allies but the ‘Sino-Soviet Split’ proved that wrong.[1] There are various factors that influenced the schism between the USSR and China, but in the following discussion the focus will be on Mao Zedong’s “The Great Leap Forward” being the primary force behind it.

The origin of the split can be found in the Marxist theory of communism. The factory workers of the twentieth century were given the great importance in the Marxist theory.[2] According to Marx the proletariat are the factory workers who are capable of materializing the desired success against capitalism. In 1917 the theory was applied by some Marxist activists during Russian revolution; the participants were mainly factory workers.[3] The Russians communist leaders wanted the Chinese Communists to follow the same method during the revolution of 1930s and 40s.[4] However the social structure of China was different at that time. The factory workers of urban area were to exist in China. This originated the initial difference between both the nations’ communist activities. The Chinese communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong rejected the proposal and focused on the rural farmers as the proletariats of the revolutionary. The Soviet approach towards communist revolution has been struggling to become the dominant revolution as most other Asian nations also lacked urban workers. The Maoist communist method was getting popularity over Marxist-Leninist method in most Asian countries like Cambodia, Vietnam or North Korea.

After the death of Stalin in 1953 the conflict became stronger. Mao Zedong represented himself as the chief leader of the international communist revolution but the newly elected president of USSR Nikita Khrushchev thought differently as he was the leader of a superpower nation f that time. Immediately after coming to power, Khrushchev started the process of De-Stalinization where he condemned Stalin’s crimes and returned to Socialism and Leninist principles.[5] However at that time the world of communism was following the steps of Stalin, so it affected the reputation of the country’s image. Through the De-Stabilization process Khrushchev leads the communist movement towards a peaceful coexistence with the western capitalist world. This came as a shock of communists’ revolution against the capitalism and damaged the reputation of the nation’s contribution to communism. The newly developed desire to build a relationship with the capitalist nation fueled to the conflicts.[6] The Sino-Soviet Treaty of 1950 primarily happened because of the common purpose but the de-Stalinization by Khrushchev affected the purposes.[7]

De-Stalinization And The Beginning Of The Conflict

During 1950s china developed an economic reconstruction successfully that encouraged Mao Tse Tung and Mao Zedong, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party to consider “The Great Leap Forward” which is based on classic Leninist Marxist method and differed from Khrushchev’s reformist approach.[8] This militant approach towards economic development was developed to gain technological and economic development at fast pace. The leaders had little faith over Soviet approach towards financial, technical and economic assistance to their nation. This uncertainty was primary base for the project of “The Great Leap Forward” by the Chinese communist leaders. China had to improve its mechanization and industrialization that was far behind from most developed nations.  Khrushchev’s policies appeared to them no aligned with China’s desire and they also wanted to overcome the political dependency. “The Great Leap Forward” was mainly included the most rural and few urban areas. The project was based on two aspects one is the commune formation of the people and the ‘mass steel campaign’.

Mao Zedong wanted the People’s Republic China to become the communist super power by replacing the USSR. China has a contradictory stand against Khrushchev’s relationship with Unites States of America regarding the nuclear power. China included the nuclear power in their development plan and wanted the Soviet nation to help them to achieve it. However the USSR refused Mao to help in developing nuclear weapon. Though USSR and PCR were stills officially allies but the relationship internally deteriorated. Khrushchev concluded that Mao’s decisions are destabilizing the nation and on the other side Mao considered USSR’s diplomatic approach towards USA to be unreliable.[9] In the 1950s the USSR sent experts to China who could help the country in following the existing soviet model to centralize the country’s economic development. The method put more importance on the heavy industry and gives less importance to the consumer goods. However in the second phase of the decade started adapting different ideas to improve the communist socialism by mobilizing the Chinese workers.

Stalin had condemned Tito and the relationship with Yugoslavia which Khrushchev reestablished after coming to power. These de Stalinization policies disturbed Mao. Mao was more inclined towards the political ideologies of Stalin so the denouncement of certain policies and principles angered Mao like the Cominform was developed with the purpose of coordinating actions among the various communist parties under the guidance of USSR, but this was rejected by Khrushchev.[10] The core political theories by Marx-Lenin were deemphasized by him as well. Khrushchev’s actions to eliminate the war between socialism and capitalism in order to establish the coexistence created a great challenge for China. Mao Zedong implemented the policy after Civil War where the communist nations were expected to follow his foreign policy which he developed with the fear of American military intervention or Japanese Imperialism.[11]

Mao Zedong's 'The Great Leap Forward'

As the communist leaders of China felt that the Soviet leader is hampering the global movement of communism militarily and ideologically, the support from the USSR is no longer guaranteed. In the Communist Party of Soviet Union of 1956 Mao Zedong suggested that all other communist nations should take lessons from USSR’s activities.[12] He believed that China develop more in the socialist road than his companion in near future by taking ‘object lessons’ from the Soviet nation. However it was yet impossible for China to claim to be the leader in the socialist area. Mao was preparing the nation for a great economic development as he did want to fall behind USSR.  Mao announced that China would progress more than UK within coming 15 years.[13] During the Khrushchev era, Mao actually planned to surpass the USSR in the political and social construction. In order to achieve this goal Mao had to change his strategies and follow some other routes than the ones proposed by the USSR. The policies that Mao implemented in the process are “The Great Leap Forward”.[14] The project incorporated various changes in the domestic policies that were criticized by the Soviet Premier. The dream of great economic development has long been cherished by Mao. In 1956 Mao announced the similar plan to excel the powerful capitalist countries within few years. His aim was to establish a powerful socialist society in China through three five year plans. This plan reflected in the slogan “surpassing Britain and catching up with USA” provided great motivational strength to “The Great Leap Forward”.[15] The process was gaining ‘collectivization’ in the country’s agriculture as the first step in achieving the great leap. If the nation achieves the initial mission, Mao believed the surpassing Great Britain and catching up the USA would be materialized. It was obvious that through the economic model Mao’s China would be surpassing Khrushchev’s USSR. Mao had expressed in internal meetings that following the Soviet Union approaches blindly. The communist leader knew that the political scenario of the country was different from USSR and the manpower was stronger than USSR. However there was much criticism internally, externally regarding its future success. Mao answered them by saying that Marxism was shifting towards the eastern countries it has great potential make the proposed planes successful. Mao’s real intention was to surpass USSR politically, technologically and financially.

“The Great Leap Forward” has already initiated but the collectivism was yet to be completely implemented. The dissatisfaction was increasing among the rich farmers as they saw poor peasants and farms lacking efficiency are getting amalgamated.[16] However “The Great Leap Forward” through the communes of the people demonstrated the signs of a greater leap that can ensure China’s better position in the world of communism. The soviet embassy in China commented that “The Great Leap Forward” is conceptual assessment but when compared to the country’s existing economy the review highlighted the leadership’s ‘economic illiteracy’. The Chinese communist party in the Beidaihe meeting declared that in near future the party’s agenda of becoming supreme communist power will soon be real. Mao predicted that China would modify the production relationship and thus the economic development of the country would surpass the USSR. The collectivization was different from the existing method in USSR where collective farms were only focused on agriculture and their lack of involvement with industry didn’t help them to transit into communism completely. China’s people’s communes took the help of great leap forward and economic development of 1958 wanted to shift from socialism to communism , in other words the party aimed to shift from ‘socialist collective ownership’ to ‘ownership by the whole people’.[17]

Mao's Desire To Surpass The USSR

In 1963 after the outburst of the China USSR polemic, the USSR government officials started to oppose the activities related to Great leap forward. In September the Pravda published significant news report regarding the great leap.[18] It stated how China had been achieving great success in agriculture and overall economy due to the great leap. It also highlighted if China continues to grow at that level it will soon become the strongest industrialized nation in the world. The soviet leaders in China expressed their criticism and concern about the leap in 1958. The experts reported that Chinese are using similar method that Soviet applied in 1930s; Khrushchev stated it as “China’s stupid mistake”.[19] The experts refused any immediate economic or technological assistance as the USSR government instructed them. However a large number of young Soviet common man and cadres were influenced by the great leap. Many started to believe that great leap forward led China to explore new ways to communism which USSR had failed to explore. Khrushchev saw this as threat and publicly stated that the method was not suitable for socio-political structure of USSR.  On the other hand Mao Zedong was satisfied with the great leap results and made him believe that surpassing Soviet economic development was near. Vietnam, North Korea, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland supported China’s activities whole heartedly but USSR showed no support. The Peng Dehuainletter revealed complaints from the below level cadres against the great leap.[20] This encouraged the Soviet cadres they demonstrated this to the members as example. Mao announced that he would attack those who have been criticizing “The Great Leap Forward” experiment.  

Conclusion

 “The Great Leap Forward” was not the only reason that caused the schism; there were other reasons as well. The split began to come on the public surface when the USSR showed support to Tibet in their revolution against China in 1959. In 1960’s Romanian Party Congress Mao Zedong and Nikita Khrushchev criticized each other publicly.[21] Khrushchev accused Mao as the deviationist whose activities are not aligned with the party’s official doctrine and Mao in return accused him of being a ‘Marxist revisionist’. As a result Khrushchev withdrew most support from China. Mao’s Three red banners that are “The Great Leap Forward”, the general line and people’s communes acted as key drivers towards the schism between USSR and China.

Reference

Bernstein, Thomas P. "Mao, Chinese Communism, and the USSR." Journal of Cold War Studies 16.2 (2014)

Collectivization And The Shift Towards Communism

Cheng, Shi. China's Rural Industrialization Policy: Growing Under Orders Since 1949. Accounting, (2006)

Graziosi, Andrea. "Political Famines in the USSR and China: A Comparative Analysis." Journal of Cold War Studies (2017).

Heinzig, Dieter. The Soviet Union and communist China 1945-1950: the arduous road to the alliance. Routledge, (2015)

Hill, Christopher. Lenin and the Russian revolution. Read Books Ltd, (2016)

'Historic Lessons Of China’S Cultural Revolution, Political Manifestations' (Marxists.org, 2017) <https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-7/cwp-cr/part-2.htm> accessed 14 September 2017

Hong, Yinxing. "The Evolving Economic Thinking of the Communist Party of China." The China Path to Economic Transition and Development. Springer Singapore, (2016)

Hsiung, Ping-Chun. "Pursuing Qualitative Research From the Global South:" Investigative Research" During China's" Great Leap Forward"(1958-62)." Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research. Vol. 16. No. 3. (2015)

Jersild, Austin. Sino-Soviet Alliance: An International History. UNC Press Books, (2014)

Kaple, Deborah. "Agents of Change: Soviet Advisers and High Stalinist Management in China, 1949–1960." Journal of Cold War Studies (2016).

Khlevniuk, Oleg, and Simon Belokowsky. "The Gulag and the non-Gulag as one interrelated whole." Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History16.3 (2015)

Koenker, Diane P. Moscow Workers and the 1917 Revolution: Studies of the Russian Institute, Columbia University. Princeton University Press, (2014)

Mao, Zedong, and Stuart Schram. Mao's Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-49: v. 5: Toward the Second United Front, January 1935-July 1937: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-49. Routledge, (2017)

Mogos, Emy-Maria. "The position of the communist party of china towards the union of soviet socialist republics and the european socialist countries after the 20th congress of the soviet union communist party." Revista Romana de Studii Eurasiatice 11.1/2 (2015)

Roberts, Priscilla. "Introduction." China, Hong Kong, and the Long 1970s: Global Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, (2017)

Shen, Zhihua, and Yafeng Xia. "Leadership transfer in the Asian revolution: Mao Zedong and the Asian Cominform." Cold War History 14.2 (2014)

Shen, Zhihua, and Yafeng Xia. "“The Great Leap Forward”, the people's commune and the Sino-Soviet split." Journal of Contemporary China 20.72 (2011)

Sun, Ping. "The Functions of Mao Zedong's Enigmatic Language." Journal of Arts and Humanities 4.6 (2015)

Teiwes, Frederick C. Politics at Mao's Court: Gao Gang and Party Factionalism in the Early 1950s. Routledge, (2016)

Xiao, Ren. "Idea Change Matters: China's Practices and the East Asian Peace." Asian Perspective 40.2 (2016)

Zagoria, Donald S. Sino-Soviet Conflict, 1956-1961. Princeton University Press, (2015)

Zweig, David. Freeing China's Farmers: Rural Restructuring in the Reform Era: Rural Restructuring in the Reform Era. Routledge, (2016

[1] Jersild, Austin. Sino-Soviet Alliance: An International History. UNC Press Books, (2014)

[2] Hill, Christopher. Lenin and the Russian revolution. Read Books Ltd, (2016)

[3] Koenker, Diane P. Moscow Workers and the 1917 Revolution: Studies of the Russian Institute, Columbia University. Princeton University Press, (2014)

[4] Kaple, Deborah. "Agents of Change: Soviet Advisers and High Stalinist Management in China, 1949–1960." Journal of Cold War Studies (2016).

[5] Khlevniuk, Oleg, and Simon Belokowsky. "The Gulag and the non-Gulag as one interrelated whole." Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History16.3 (2015)

[6] Zagoria, Donald S. Sino-Soviet Conflict, 1956-1961. Princeton University Press, (2015)

[7] Xiao, Ren. "Idea Change Matters: China's Practices and the East Asian Peace." Asian Perspective 40.2 (2016)

[8] Teiwes, Frederick C. Politics at Mao's Court: Gao Gang and Party Factionalism in the Early 1950s. Routledge, (2016)

[9] Graziosi, Andrea. "Political Famines in the USSR and China: A Comparative Analysis." Journal of Cold War Studies (2017)

[10] Shen, Zhihua, and Yafeng Xia. "Leadership transfer in the Asian revolution: Mao Zedong and the Asian Cominform." Cold War History 14.2 (2014)

[11] Mao, Zedong, and Stuart Schram. Mao's Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-49: v. 5: Toward the Second United Front, January 1935-July 1937: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-49. Routledge, (2017)

[12] Bernstein, Thomas P. "Mao, Chinese Communism, and the USSR." Journal of Cold War Studies 16.2 (2014)

[13] Cheng, Shi. China's Rural Industrialization Policy: Growing Under Orders Since 1949. Springer, (2006)

[14] Hsiung, Ping-Chun. "Pursuing Qualitative Research From the Global South:" Investigative Research" During China's" Great Leap Forward"(1958-62)." Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research. Vol. 16. No. 3. (2015)

[15] Roberts, Priscilla. "Introduction." China, Hong Kong, and the Long 1970s: Global Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, (2017)

[16] Zweig, David. Freeing China's Farmers: Rural Restructuring in the Reform Era: Rural Restructuring in the Reform Era. Routledge, (2016)

[17] Hong, Yinxing. "The Evolving Economic Thinking of the Communist Party of China." The China Path to Economic Transition and Development. Springer Singapore, (2016)

[18] Shen, Zhihua, and Yafeng Xia. "“The Great Leap Forward”, the people's commune and the Sino-Soviet split." Journal of Contemporary China 20.72 (2011)

[19] 'Historic Lessons Of China’S Cultural Revolution, Political Manifestations' (Marxists.org, 2017) <https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-7/cwp-cr/part-2.htm> accessed 14 September 2017

[20] Sun, Ping. "The Functions of Mao Zedong's Enigmatic Language." Journal of Arts and Humanities 4.6 (2015)

[21] Mogos, Emy-Maria. "The position of the communist party of china towards the union of soviet socialist republics and the european socialist countries after the 20th congress of the soviet union communist party." Revista Romana de Studii Eurasiatice 11.1/2 (2015)

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