An alliance built on interests, not friendship

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 July, 2004, 12:00am

Chinese students of their country's history discover that, apart from a dozen years of 'communist friendship', Russia has been as hostile as any of the 'imperialist' powers.

The Sino-Russian Treaties of Aigun (1858) and Peking (1860) gave Russia an enormous area of Chinese land from the Stanovoi mountain range to the Amur river and Pacific Ocean, enabling it to build its first Pacific port, Vladivostok.

Many of the men who became the leaders of communist China studied in the Soviet Union. But Joseph Stalin was more concerned about the interests of his own country than of helping China. He helped both the Communist Party and the Kuomintang and at one stage proposed a partition of China, with the communists controlling the area north of the Yangtze River and the nationalists the south, which would have kept the country weak.

When the Soviet army invaded Manchuria on August 9, 1945, its troops raped and looted with the same brutality they had shown the Germans, Romanians and Hungarians, their enemies in the war, regardless of the fact that its Chinese inhabitants had been on their side.

During Mao Zedong's eight weeks of bitter talks with Stalin, he was forced to recognise the Mongolian People's Republic, a vast area that had been part of China for more than 200 years during the Qing dynasty.

Before Kim Il-sung launched his invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950, he had received the approval of Stalin - but it was Chinese soldiers who died to save his regime, up to 700,000 of them, while the Soviet army stayed out.

The brief era of 'communist fraternity' ended in September 1960, when the Soviet Union removed its advisers. In 1969, border clashes broke out in Xinjiang and Manchuria, which left 100 Russians and up to 800 Chinese killed or wounded.

Countries have no permanent friends, only permanent interests.