CWIHP publishes Working Paper #54, "Evolution and Revolution: Sino-Hungarian Relations and the 1956 Revolution"

Dec 15, 2006

The Cold War International History Project is pleased to announce the publication of Working Paper No. 54, Evolution and Revolution: Sino-Hungarian Relations and the 1956 Revolution, by Péter Vámos, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Drawing on newly available Hungarian and Chinese archival documents, Vámos examines a still controversial aspect of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution—China's role in the Soviet decision-making during October and November 1956. Arguing against the claim that Chinese pressure was critical in convincing Soviet leaders to intervene militarily in Hungary, Vámos notes that the commonly accepted narrative—namely that Mao Zedong realized the true "counter-revolutionary" character of the Hungarian events, and thus exerted Chinese influence in order to persuade a weak Khrushchev to intervene militarily—is not supported by the documentary record. Vámos argues that this legend only came into existence in the 1960s, with the attempt by Chinese propagandists to conceal evidence of Chinese subservience to the Soviet Union during the 1950s. Placing special attention on how the Hungarian events influenced Chinese policy-making and propaganda, Vámos concludes that Beijing's interest in the Hungarian events was primarily focused on drawing lessons for use domestically, and that in 1956, the Chinese government was not prepared for an open confrontation with Moscow over the Hungarian issue.

This publication has been made possible by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and other donors.

Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Assistant
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • Roy O. Kim // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project