http://www.nbr.org - NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

Sino-Soviet Relations and U.S. Policy

Allen S. Whiting

Not since 1960 has American foreign policy been confronted with a Sino-Soviet relationship relatively free of serious conflict. From the armed clashes along the border in 1969 to the Deng Xiaoping-Mikhail Gorbachev summit in Beijing in calculating how to deal with each point in the strategic triangle. During this period, Beijing and Moscow were at odds, and an objective of American policy throughout the earlier years of the Sino-Soviet alliance was achieved.

Yet dramatic as the new detente as defined during Beijing summit was, its immediate context lessened its impact. Just as Sino-Soviet relations were officially normalized, changes in Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R. introduced new problems with far-reaching implications for how the two communist neighbors deal with each other. These problems bear on U.S. policy in their bilateral military, economic, and political manifestations, as well as in their impact on situations elsewhere, such as in Korea and Japan.