• Short Summary

    A Chinese delegation, headed by Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yuping will leave Peking on Sunday (September 16) for Moscow.

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    A Chinese delegation, headed by Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yuping will leave Peking on Sunday (September 16) for Moscow. It is going to open talks aimed at easing tension and restoring normal relations between China and the Soviet Union, after 20 years of open hostility.

    SYNOPSIS: In the late 1950s, feelings between the two big Communist powers were still warm. The Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was a welcome guest in Peking. His relations with Chairman Mao Tse-tung were governed by the 30-year treaty of friendship that the two countries had signed early in 1950, a few months after the Communists had come to power in China. Mr. Khrushchev was back in Peking in 1959 for the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Chinese revolution. But the breach was soon to come.

    Chairman Mao, having gained power for himself, refused to be anyone's satellite. Khrushchev demanded payment for military aid given to China in the Korean war. China paid, at severe costs to its economy.

    At the Soviet Communist Party Congress in 1961, the Chinese Prime Minister, Chou En-lai, brought the disagreement into the open. The immediate bone of contention was Albania, which had broken its ties with Moscow. Mr. Chou was warmly applauded for his call to Communist countries to settle their differences in private; but many saw his speech as a rebuke to Mr. Khrushchev for a public attack he had made the day before on the Albanian leadership.

    Relations became even worse at the time of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. To the Red Guards and other extremists, the Soviet Union was the chief exponent of what they called "revisionism"; its embassy a favourite target for hostile demonstrations.

    The two countries came to open, if local, blows on their far eastern border, when Chinese fishermen and the crews of Soviet patrol boats on the Ussuri river fought it out with sticks and water hoses.

    After a meeting in Peking between Chou En-lai and the Soviet prime Minister, Mr. Kosygin, the two countries agreed to hold talks on their border problems. But there was no general improvement in their relations. There were stormy clashes between their spokesmen at the United Nations in 1971. Chiao Kuan-hua, speaking for China, called on the Soviet Union publicly to renounce nuclear weapons.

    Soviet refusals in the past to supply China with nuclear technology had been another underlying cause of the rift between them.

    Technology -- industrial rather than military -- will be one thing the Chinese will be looking for in the forthcoming talks. Before the breach, the Soviet Union built this steel works near Peking, but they pulled out leaving it unfinished, and according to the Chinese took away essential machinery, which the Chinese had to replace for themselves. China is now in the throes of a major programme of industrial modernisation Improved relations with the Soviet Union, and increasing trade between them, could open up useful sources of supply on a barter basis, which suits the Chinese economic structure.

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