300. Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Cumming) to Secretary of State Herter 0
- Intelligence Note: Recent Reports on Sino-Soviet Disagreements
Recent reports from bloc sources allege that critical strains have emerged in the Sino-Soviet relationship. One such report from a senior Soviet official states that the Soviet Union recently rebuffed an urgent [Page 594] Peiping request for additional aid to rescue the Chinese Communists’ development program from “economic chaos.” He further stated that the Chinese Communists insisted that the Soviet Union take their advice in dealing with the Americans and also that Moscow warned the Chinese Communists not to create trouble in the Taiwan Straits area in an effort to sabotage Khrushchev’s visit. Another report from a less authoritative Chinese Communist source also claimed that Peiping had requested a large increase in Soviet economic assistance, which Moscow refused, and that the Chinese Communists warned that they might be forced to offset domestic problems with aggressive moves in Southeast Asia. There have also been a number of reports from Soviet sources regarding Soviet disapproval of Chinese Communist policy towards India and Laos.
It appears very likely that the Soviets, in the hopes of influencing the US position in the US–USSR talks, have recently embarked on a campaign to convince the US that there are serious strains in the Sino-Soviet relationship. One aspect of this campaign is the attempt to disassociate the Soviet Union from some of Peiping’s more aggressive foreign policy moves.
Despite the probability that some of these reports have been deliberately planted by the Soviets, one cannot completely discount the substance of the reports. Chinese Communist economic policy over the last year or so has led to serious dislocations, which have now forced Peiping to make major changes in its economic program. In this situation, Peiping may well have hoped that Moscow would provide increased assistance. There is also confirmatory evidence that Moscow and Peiping have different views on such important questions as the commune program and the Sino-Indian dispute. This is also true, to a lesser extent, of the exchange of visits between President Eisenhower and Khrushchev, with Peiping evidencing considerably more scepticism than Moscow regarding the benefits which might be derived from the visits or from a Soviet attempt to reach agreement with the US on major issues.
While available evidence does suggest wait the Sino-Soviet relationship at the present time may be subjected to unusual strains, it would be premature to conclude that the problems cannot be resolved at least to the extent of preventing a serious weakening of the alliance itself. It is noteworthy that the Soviet official who was the source of the first report mentioned above stated, “No one should be foolish enough to expect an open conflict between China and the Soviet Union.” Nevertheless, recent developments are indicative of the difficulties the two nations face in accommodating to each other.
- Source: Department of State, Intelligence Files: Lot 58 D 776, Intelligence Notes. Secret/Noforn.↩