In 1950 the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China signed a Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance to foster cultural and technological cooperation between the Soviet bloc and the PRC. While this treaty was intended as a break with the colonial past, Austin Jersild argues that the alliance ultimately failed because the enduring problem of Russian imperialism led to Chinese frustration with the Soviets.
Jersild zeros in on the ground-level experiences of the socialist bloc advisers in China, who were involved in everything from the development of university curricula, the exploration for oil, and railway construction to piano lessons. Their goal was to reproduce a Chinese administrative elite in their own image that could serve as a valuable ally in the Soviet bloc's struggle against the United States. Interestingly, the USSR's allies in Central Europe were as frustrated by the "great power chauvinism" of the Soviet Union as was China. By exposing this aspect of the story, Jersild shows how the alliance, and finally the split, had a true international dimension.
About the Author
Austin Jersild is associate professor of history at Old Dominion University.
“Jersild has found highly revealing documents from Chinese archives and rounded out his account of intra-bloc exchange by incorporating the Chinese perspective. The result is a truly international history of the socialist bloc advising relationship in China."
--Qiang Zhai, Auburn University at Montgomery
“Jersild takes a bottom-up approach to the Sino-Soviet alliance. By recounting the low politics of economic advisers and cultural administrators, he brings a whole new perspective to the relationship, provides a real texture to it, so that we know, for once, what happened in the 1950s beyond the facade of top-leader discussions. He also bridges the gap between social and diplomatic history to show how attitudes of advisers and practitioners at the low level were undermining this alliance even before visible cracks appeared at the political level. A superb treatment of the subject.”
--Sergey Radchenko, Reader in International Politics, Aberystwyth University