Relations Between the Chinese Communist Regime and the USSR: their present character and probable future courses2
To estimate the present nature and state of relations between Communist China and the USSR and to estimate the probable courses of these relations over the next two years.
1. The Peiping regime accepts Moscow leadership in the world Communist movement, and is becoming increasingly dependent on the USSR economically and militarily. However, we believe that the Peiping regime retains some capability for independent action, and is in a position to influence the formulation of Communist policy in the Far East.
2. We believe that Moscow will try to extend and intensify its control over Communist China. However, we believe it unlikely that, at least during the period of this estimate, the Kremlin will be able by nonmilitary means to achieve a degree of control over Communist China comparable to that which it exercises over the European Satellites. We believe it is almost certain that the Kremlin will not attempt to achieve such control by military force.
3. Over the long run, Sino-Soviet solidarity might be weakened as a result of efforts by the USSR to intensify and extend its control [Page 98] over Communist China, disputes over Soviet economic and military assistance to Communist China, divergent views concerning the border areas, Communist Chinese efforts to control and direct Far Eastern “liberation movements,” or divergent views over the priority of Far Eastern Communist objectives in relation to other world Communist objectives.
4. We believe that during the period of this estimate these factors will be far outweighed by close ideological ties and continuing mutual involvement in the pursuit of common objectives, particularly the elimination of Western influence from the Far East.
5. Although the Peiping regime will undoubtedly continue to attempt to gain legal recognition internationally, to secure Formosa, and to resume trade and commerce with the West, we do not believe that the existing Sino-Soviet solidarity can be weakened by non-Communist concessions to Communist China. Moreover, as we have previously estimated, we believe that Western pressures against Communist China, while weakening her, would not disrupt Sino-Soviet solidarity during the period of this estimate.*
6. Communist China and the USSR present a united front to the world. Since the establishment of the Chinese Communist regime in 1949 there has been no reliable indication that either country has adopted any important course of action of joint concern without the consent of the other. In February 1950, the Chinese Communists and the USSR signed a 30-year treaty of friendship, alliance, and mutual assistance, and this treaty provides the formal basis for current relations between the two states.†[Page 99]
Current Status of Sino-Soviet Relationship
Soviet Communism and the Chinese Communist Party
7. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), unlike the Communist parties of the European Satellites, gained power with little assistance from the Soviet Army. The Chinese Communist claims of independent achievement which allow the USSR credit only for ideological and moral support until the formation of the Peiping regime in October 1949, have some basis in fact although they underestimate the assistance given by the USSR during the period from 1945 to 1949.
8. The high command of most Communist parties in the world has undergone frequent and violent changes, which are believed to have been dictated from Moscow. In contrast, the CCP has exhibited unique stability and continuity in its leadership. This leadership undoubtedly takes pride in its independent rise to power and recognizes that it possesses a capacity for independent action.
9. The Chinese Communists claim for Mao Tse-tung authority in his own right as a Communist theoretician. This claim has been accepted in part by Moscow, and the prestige accorded Mao in this respect goes far beyond that accorded any other contemporary non-Soviet Communist. However, even those Chinese who would place Mao near Stalin in authority profess allegiance to the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist doctrine held by the rulers in Moscow. The CCP leaders have repeatedly and emphatically proclaimed their adherence to Stalinism, their rejection of the “national selfishness” of Titoism, and their debt to the inspiration and example of the Russian leaders and the October Revolution. Common ideology is thus a strong force binding together the Chinese and Soviet regimes. Peiping and Moscow both aim at expelling all Western influence from Asia and at extending Communist control over the entire area. Both desire to spread the Communist world revolution.
Other Soviet Influences in Communist China
10. Soviet political and economic “advisors” are stationed in China at various governmental and party levels. We do not believe that these advisors issue direct orders, but the Chinese have been receptive to their advice, which seems to be given through Chinese intermediaries. Soviet advisors are not only attached to the government and the party and to certain economic and security organs, but are also assigned to specific engineering, industrial, and cultural projects. Neither these advisors nor the Kremlin has criticized, at least publicly, the internal policies of Communist China or the implementation of these policies.
11. The Korean war greatly increased Communist China’s economic dependence on the USSR. The adoption of more severe Western [Page 100] trade controls in July 1951 has accelerated the orientation of Communist China’s trade to the Soviet Bloc. Although Communist Chinese economic dependence on the Bloc increases Soviet influence in Communist China, the USSR does not directly control the Chinese economy or operate any of the industry of mainland China (outside of Manchuria and Sinkiang).
12. The Korean war appears to be directed from joint Sino-Soviet military headquarters. The Chinese Communists are undoubtedly strongly influenced by Soviet military advisors, and it is probable that no major decisions are made in the Korean war without Soviet approval.
13. Except for captured equipment, the Chinese Communist forces are wholly dependent on the USSR for heavy items of military equipment, and the large scale of Soviet logistic support has presumably further increased Moscow’s influence with the Chinese military. The Chinese Communist Air Force is largely a Soviet creation and is wholly dependent upon the USSR for equipment and supply.
Situation in the Border Areas
14. In Manchuria, the influence of Chinese Communist political and military leaders appears to outweigh that of the Soviet personnel in the area. Economic policies also reflect the central planning and directives of Peiping. Nevertheless, the USSR exerts great influence over economic and strategic developments in the area through its military and economic advisors, its intelligence activities, its supervision of rail lines, and its control of the Port Arthur naval base area. According to the Sino-Soviet agreements,‡ Soviet control over Port Arthur and participation in the administration of Manchurian rail lines is scheduled to be terminated in 1952;3 however, it is probable that such termination would not greatly lessen Soviet influence in Manchuria.
15. Soviet advisors and commercial enterprises in Inner Mongolia have economic and political influence, particularly in Eastern Inner Mongolia which borders on the USSR. However, Peiping has at least administrative control, and the strength of Chinese influence appears to be growing.
16. In Sinkiang, Peiping has stationed 70,000 troops and appears to exercise effective administrative control. For geographic reasons, [Page 101] however, Sinkiang’s trade is chiefly with the USSR and the Chinese need Soviet assistance to develop the resources of the area. The USSR exerts great influence through three Sino-Soviet companies and through Soviet citizens in the service of the provincial government.
17. Soviet influence in the border areas, political as well as economic, is extensive. At the same time, Chinese Communist political and territorial interests have apparently not been sacrificed in the interest of Soviet expansion. The trend since 1950 appears to be towards an increase in Chinese Communist administrative control.
The Character of Current Sino-Soviet Relations
18. From a consideration of the available evidence, we conclude that the Peiping regime—unlike the European Satellites—is not directly and completely controlled by the Kremlin. Sino-Soviet cooperation is based upon Chinese Communist acceptance of Moscow leadership in the world Communist movement, a common ideology, and the common objective of eliminating Western influence from the Far East. This relationship is further solidified by common hostility to a resurgent and non-Communist Japan and to US power in the western Pacific. It is greatly reinforced by the Kremlin’s need for an ally in the Far East, and by Communist China’s need for Soviet assistance in training and equipping its armed forces and in developing its economy.
19. We believe also that the size and potential of China, the strength and cohesion of the Chinese Communist Party, the traditional Chinese xenophobia, and the inherent difficulties encountered by foreigners in exercising control in China, have permitted the Chinese Communists to retain some capability for independent action and a capability to exert an influence upon the shaping of Communist policy in the Far East.
20. The Chinese Communist regime appears willing to subordinate, at least temporarily, those Chinese national interests which are incompatible with the interests of the USSR, to submerge any fears it may have of Soviet expansion at China’s expense, and to substitute for China’s traditional unilateral policy of playing foreign powers against one another, a joint Sino-Soviet policy of endeavoring to eliminate Western influence from Asia. Chinese Communist leaders probably estimate that close Sino-Soviet collaboration will ensure Chinese security from Western counteraction, and ensure Soviet economic and military aid without ending China’s independence.
21. The Kremlin appears to recognize that Communist China now possesses the determination and some capacity to pursue its own interests. Moreover, the Kremlin almost certainly sees in the present relationship the opportunity to use Communist China to [Page 102] weaken the Western position in Asia. On the other hand, the Kremlin probably views the relationship also as an opportunity to extend Soviet domination over Communist China by subversion, by making Communist China economically and militarily dependent upon the USSR, and by Soviet pressure upon the borderlands. Furthermore, a friendly Communist China provides the USSR with a defense in depth, constitutes a valuable potential source of manpower and other resources, and is an important political and psychological asset.
Future Course of Sino-Soviet Relations
22. We believe that the following factors will tend to ensure the continuation of Sino-Soviet solidarity during the period of this estimate:
- The cohesive force of common ideology will probably continue to bind the two regimes together.
- The military and economic dependence of Communist China upon the USSR will increase, at least for as long as the Korean war continues without settlement.
- Continued US assistance to the Nationalist Government on Taiwan, the US–Japan Security Pact, and the ever-present apprehension of US action against Communist China itself will tend to draw Communist China and the USSR together.
- Neither the USSR nor Communist China now appears capable of altering the current relationship to its advantage without jeopardizing the attainment of its own objectives. A Chinese Communist effort unilaterally to revise the relationship or to leave the Bloc would result in the cessation of Soviet economic and military aid and support and in serious dissension within the Chinese Communist Party and the armed forces. It might lead to armed conflict with the USSR. Similarly, a Kremlin effort to reduce Communist China to the status of the European Satellites might lead to armed conflict with Communist China and would divide and confuse the international Communist movement.
23. On the other hand, the following factors may, sooner or later, weaken Sino-Soviet solidarity:
- The history of Sino-Russian relations is full of conflicts over Sinkiang, Mongolia, and Manchuria. During the last century there has been almost continuous Russian encroachment on Chinese interests in those areas. The Sino-Soviet Treaty of 1950 temporarily ended such border disputes. It is difficult to believe, however, that such long-standing disputes have been permanently settled. We think that they are likely to recur, in one form or another, and that they must be considered in assessing the probable course of Sino-Soviet relations in the future.
- Having provided assistance and advice to the “liberation” movements of other countries in the Far East, Peiping may attempt to extend its own sphere of influence. China has traditional aspirations to primacy in the Far East, and there is evidence that the Chinese Communist role in other Far Eastern “liberation” [Page 103] movements has been increasing but has not been permanently defined.
- At present, the interests of China are for the most part confined to the Far East; those of the Kremlin are world-wide. Hence, the Chinese Communists may view the accomplishment of Far Eastern objectives with more urgency and impatience than do the Soviets, who might postpone action in the Far East because of situations elsewhere in the world. The Chinese Communists might make demands upon the USSR, or even take action, incompatible with long-range Soviet global interests. This is applicable to the Korean conflict which is a potential source of friction to the two regimes.
- The Chinese Communist program of industrialization and military modernization increasingly depends on Soviet material and technical assistance. Frictions might arise because of Soviet inability or disinclination to supply capital equipment. Soviet conditions for such supply might be offensive to Chinese national pride.
- We have estimated that the ultimate objective of the Kremlin is the establishment of a Communist world dominated from Moscow. We do not believe, however, that the leaders of Communist China would accept complete Soviet domination of China. Whether future leaders of China will do so is a question; if they do not, a serious clash of interests is certain.
24. We believe that Moscow will try to extend and intensify its control over Communist China. However, we believe it unlikely that, at least during the period of this estimate, the Kremlin will be able by nonmilitary means to achieve a degree of control over Communist China comparable to that which it exercises over the European Satellites. We believe it is almost certain that the Kremlin will not attempt to achieve such control by military force. The military conquest of China would be a long, difficult, and expensive process.
25. We believe that for the period of this estimate the factors tending to divide the USSR and Communist China will be far outweighed by close ideological ties and continuing mutual involvement in the pursuit of common objectives, particularly the elimination of Western influence from the Far East.
26. Although the Peiping regime will undoubtedly continue to attempt to gain legal recognition internationally, to secure Formosa, and to resume trade and commerce with the West, we do not believe that the existing Sino-Soviet solidarity can be weakened by non-Communist concessions to Communist China. Moreover, as we have previously estimated, we believe that Western pressures against Communist China, while weakening her, would not disrupt Sino-Soviet solidarity during the period of this estimated.§
- National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) were high-level interdepartmental reports presenting authoritative appraisals of vital foreign policy problems. NIEs were drafted by officers from those agencies represented on the Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC), discussed and revised by interdepartmental working groups coordinated by the Office of National Estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), approved by the IAC, and circulated under the aegis of the CIA to the President, appropriate officers of cabinet level, and the National Security Council. The Department of State provided all political and some economic sections of NIEs.↩
- A note on the source text reads: “The following member organizations of the Intelligence Advisory Committee participated with the Central Intelligence Agency in the preparation of this estimate: The intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Joint Staff. All members of the Intelligence Advisory Committee concurred in this estimate on 4 September 1952. See, however, the reservation of the Special Assistant, Intelligence, Department of State, to paragraphs 5 and 26.”↩
- The Special Assistant, Intelligence, Department of State, believes that the difficult and complex problem of the possible effect of Western actions on Sino-Soviet solidarity requires more thorough study than has been possible in the course of preparing this or earlier national intelligence estimates. He therefore reserves judgment on the validity of paragraph five, preferring to state simply that a significant weakening of Sino-Soviet solidarity is unlikely during the period of this estimate. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- The published text of the treaty is appended as Annex “A.” The more important clauses of this brief and general treaty provide that: (a) in the event one party is attacked by Japan or any state allied with it and thus is involved in a state of war, the other will immediately render military and other assistance by all means at its disposal; (b) the two parties will consult with each other in regard to all important international problems affecting their common interests; and (c) each party undertakes, in conformity with the principles of equality, mutual benefit, and mutual respect for the national sovereignty and territorial integrity and noninterference in the internal affairs of the other, to develop and consolidate economic and cultural ties. [Footnote in the source text. The text of the treaty, signed at Moscow on Feb. 14, 1950, is not printed here; it may be found in Documents on International Affairs, 1949–1950, issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (London, Oxford University Press, 1953), pp. 541–543.]↩
- See Annex “B” for the published text of the agreement between Communist China and the USSR on the Chinese-Changchun Railway, Port Arthur, and Dairen. [Footnote in the source text. The text of the agreement, signed at Moscow on Feb. 14, 1950, is not printed here; it may be found in Documents on International Affairs, 1949–1950, pp. 543–545.]↩
- A Sino-Soviet exchange of notes on September 15, 1952, extended the deadline for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Port Arthur; for text, see United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 226, p. 45.↩
- The Special Assistant, Intelligence, Department of State, believes that the difficult and complex problem of the possible effect of Western actions on Sino-Soviet solidarity requires more thorough study than has been possible in the course of preparing this or earlier national intelligence estimates. He therefore reserves judgment on the validity of paragraph twenty-six, preferring to state simply that a significant weakening of Sino-Soviet solidarity is unlikely during the period of this estimate. [Footnote in the source text.]↩