Relying on newly available Chinese archival documentation, this paper challenges the conventional wisdom about the Sino-Soviet split, arguing that the conventional wisdom has underestimated China's strategic need to minimize the rift with the Soviet Union, thus misplacing the timing and origins of the split. The paper demonstrates that at least up to early 1961, Chinese leaders had repeatedly intended to repair their relationship with the Soviet Union. Contrary to the conventional argument about Mao being dogmatic and provocative in pushing Sino-Soviet relations into a downward spiral, this paper, with the help of new Chinese evidence, provides a different perspective, one which suggests that Mao and his comrades tend to be more rational and realistic than we might have thought, and far more reluctant to break with Moscow than people usually believe. It is of course not for purely ideological reasons that Beijing ardently attempted to avoid a rupture with Moscow. Rather, the new evidence shows that the Chinese leadership understood that a rupture in Sino-Soviet relations would impair China's strategic and security interests and would benefit only the United States.

Download the paper from the CWIHP webpage in the publication section.