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My posting below was ignored. What happened, afraid of the truth?|
This article is ahistorical and in many areas misleading as to China’s diplomacy during the 1950s – 1970s period. Nevertheless, it also has some good points and it’s possible that the writers had entered some
falsehoods to keep in line with official post-1978 propaganda. I will discuss the good points here only when this posting appeared.
The first generation of New China’s leaders were extremely knowledgeable and experienced intellectuals who knew that China, long known as the “Sick Man of Asia”, could not preserve its independence without support of new nation states that had emerged from colonial rule. Another important factor was friendship with the Soviet Union. At least until the mid-60s, it was largely Soviet power that prevented the imperialist nations, especially the US, from invading China. However, that situation did not last as Soviet leaders, from Nikita Khrushchev onwards, were inclined towards cooperation and even collaboration with the United States. Chairman Mao Zedong knew what was coming, and understood that without nuclear weapons, China would again sink to the pre-1949 Republican period – a time when China was a semi-colony under foreign occupation with signboards at parks that barred admission from “dogs and Chinese.” Hence Mao Zedong said that “even if we were to survive on only a bowl of porridge a day, we will still make the atomic bomb.” By the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Sino-Soviet relations reached the lowest level since Dr Sun Yatsen sought Lenin’s help, China not only had the atomic bomb, but also the hydrogen bomb with missiles to lob over to the United States. The Americans, almost suddenly, seemed to think it was time to engage China.
But, as implied above, have a strong nuclear deterrent was not enough - it was also necessary to cultivate the Third World while maintaining relations with any nation, East or West, that was willing to do so on the basis of mutual respect. China therefore reached out not merely to some neighboring states in Asia, but also Latin America and especially Africa. By the early 1970s, China, still relatively much poorer than the Soviet Union, actually provided more aid to African nations than the Soviets. The international railroad (TAZARA) China built during 1970s for several East African nations remains the biggest project aid China has ever undertaken till this day.
In addition, China also sought to strengthen ties between nations through sport. For example, China promoted the Afro-Asian Games (India was another promoter during the early 1950s) and later the Afro-Asian- Latin American Games. Large numbers of Third World nations, often unqualified to enter the West-dominated Olympics, were thus able to enjoy international sports and the friendship it offered. Though, even during that period, China was a major sports power among Third World nations, competition was never prized above friendship. Indeed, China’s famous slogan was “Friendship First, Competition Second.” It was not surprising that, despite the bullying of the US and several other Western states, China obtained a clear majority of UN votes in 1971, especially from Africa and other Third World regions, to regain its rightful seat in the United Nations Security Council.
China’s pre-1978 diplomatic successes, therefore, was due NOT to a non-aligned policy, even though China was an important participant of the Bandung Conference. China always took a stance for what she saw was just and moral, and always stood on the side of the poor and oppressed nations of the world. China’s pre-1978 diplomacy was NOT low-profiled (it was very, very, high-profiled!) and friendship with the US was NOT emphasized at all, much less giving it “incomparable emphasis.” At the same time, China would never tolerate Western sabotage in its minority areas, or trade with any nation that it deems unfriendly. Indeed, diplomatic relations were established AND maintained only on the basis of mutual respect, which was why the term “friendship treaties” was used. That was the reason why, though poor, China was respected for its just and moral stance – at least until 1978.