PROSPECTS FOR SINO-SOVIET RAPPROCHMENT (NIC M 82-10007)

Created: 5/1/1982

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Prospects for Sino-Soviet Rapprochement (u)

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Prospects for Sino-Soviet Rapprochement (u)

Tbis pacer was produced under lhe auspices of Ihe Nanonal Inielligence Officer for East Asia, li was reviewed within ihc Nalional Imminence Conned ami Ihe OirccloraicorintcniBCncc. (u)

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Prospecls for Sino-Soviet Rapprochement (u)

A significant Sino-Soviet rapprochement is unlikely in thc near future because:

historical and geopolitical rivalry is too long, loo deep, and by now too institutionalized.

China is determined touperpower, and thc Soviet Union, on whose Asian borders China lies, will continue to try to prevent it fromone.

China's growing nuclear potential willino-Soviet warignificant Sino-Soviet rapprochement even less likely, because the Soviet Union will become more vulnerable to Chinese nuclear weapons and China will therefore have less need for better relations with the Soviet Union.

This unlikelihood will remain even though lhe near future is likely to bring some additionalespecially from the coming Soviet and Chinese successiona rapprochement, because:

Moscow and Beijing arc carryingouble encirclement of each other.

Sino-Soviet rivalry has now extended to important areas for bolh (Indochina andemains in North Korea; and is potentially rising in India (toward which China's attitude is softening).

- Other powers, notably Vietnam, India, and ihe United States, can and want loino-Soviei rapprochement.

as well as Moscow, will in principle not want lo bc so susceptible to manipulations by lhe United Slates io lhcir disadvantage.

The United Slates has policy options that would contribute, albeit probably riul decisively, loward making any Sino-Soviei rapprochcmcnl less or more likely:

is China, its policies toward ihe Soviet Union, Taiwan, and Vietnam

is rhe Soviet Union, thc exleni lo which the Uniied Slates avoids, Or moves toward, bolh total break and major rapprochement.

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Prospects Tor Sino-Soviet Rapprochement (U)

Historical and Geopolitical Factors

Ever since lhch century when (he Russian and Chinese empires came into active contact, Russo-Chinese rivalry has been endemic. Stalin doubted that Mao's viciory in all ol" China would be to Soviet advantage, and before and after it hc treated thc Chinese Communists as Soviet saiellites. to Iheir lasling rescntmeni.entury of weakness, the Korean War. and Stalin's death. China again became strong, united, and expansionist In contrast, Stalin's successors fought each other, had problems in Eastern Europe, pursued detente withMao's fury--and expected China lo continuey to follow their lead. Mao therefore broke with Moscow, and global Sino-Soviei rivalry has continued ever since.

Two major powers wiih commonRussia andas history shows, usually condemnedutual conflict. Because both have nuclearand because China's nuclear potential isan all-out war between Ihem becomes less likely. The political conflict, however, is more likely to continue because China has less need to be concerned about its own weakness.

The Sino-Soviet conflict led tocoinpeiition forin other areas, beginning in thc. Until lhche competition on the Sino-Soviet border was primarily for North Korea and North Vietnam, both of whom were strong enough to try to remain nculral and profit therefrom. North Korea is still nculral. But Vietnam, once it became engagedajor war with the United States, depended so much on Sovici arms and was historically so fearful of renewed Chinese domination thai by thcanoi was increasingly lilting toward Moscow.broke wiih China in ihcnd joined ihc Sovici encirclement of China, primarily bythe Soviet Union lo use bases on its territory.

Double Inclrelemenl

Thc Sino-Soviet conflict has nowew stage, that of double encirclement. Thc Sovici Union,it is far stronger, has been the prime mover in this process Russia historically has been addicted to dcploymeni of overwhelming miliiary force land to lack of diplomaticnhrushchev began, and Brezhnev has intensified, an enormous Soviet troop deployment on the Sino-Soviet and Sinc-Mongolian frontiers. This, plus the Soviel invasion of Czechoslovakia, drove Mao toward thc United States, the more so as Washington was beginning to discn-gage from Vietnam Moscow, which had both feared and unwittingly encouraged this, stepped up itsof Vietnam

By thehc Soviet Union had built the airiifl and scalifthad used Cuban troops--to exploit successfully cipportuaiiics of local origin in Angola, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. This drove China and the United States more rapidly toward each other. Japan drifted toward them, and away from the Soviet Union, because of Chinese initiative, the Soviet refusal to hand back to Japan lhc (our southern Kurile Islands, and US encouragement of Japan's drift.

Thus China has sud essfully began the erarc'CNient of the Soviet Union. Moscow's "preemptive breakoul" from thuy encirehng China (and thc United States in Asa) useif. has succeeded incan probably succeed in Afghanistan (aad thereby menace thc US position in the Middlend can possibly profit from the turmoil in Iran

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To ihe extent that China may feel that the L'nitedot paying enough attention to iu inlereslsis Taiwan, it may be inclined la Improve its relations wiih thc Soviet Union, or al least appear to be starting lo do so. in order to put pressure on the Uniled Stales.hinese move could welleality if (he Uniled Slates wereia Cmrtas view, to increase iU support of Taiwan.

The Communist Ideological aad Oiganlrational Factors

The fact that lhe Soviet Union and China arc also Communist powers and therefore rivals for ideological and organisational hegemony in what is left of the "international Communist and workers movement" further complicate* lhc picture Boih ihese factors, which delayed tbe Si no. Soviet split from becoming public, make compromise regarding the split more difficult, becauseivalry over ideological and organirational factors normally becomes absolute in public polemics. Since Marx ism-Leninism explicil-ly rejects ideological compromise and denies that stale interests rightly can overshadoM "proletarianCommunist ideology has hinderedcompromise.

Even so. theideofogizaiion" of post-SI to Chinese Communism. Beijing's abandonment of its previous charge that Moscow had "restorednd the cessation of Chinese aitcmpiiplit Corn(nunbt parties throughout ike world andMaoist international" have downgraded thc ideological aspect of ihc Sino-Soviet split. However. Chinese party relations wtth tfce Romanian. Yugoslav, Italian, and Spanish Communist parties, all by now independent from Moscow, have contributed to an international, anti-Soviet "independentisi" miner than an "anti-revisionisrenicnlc. Moscow will conlinuc lo consider this, and Chinese participation in it. hostile lo thc continuing Soviet claim to ideological andhegemony in ihc international Communist movement.

This double encirclement haiew.'actor in the Sino-Sovsei conll.itoth countries by allies and enemies. Thc principal global manipulator was the United States. Moscow had vainly hoped to maintain ils preferred version of detenie with Washington US prioni> for armsagreements over countering Sovici advances in lhe Third World

As Soviet-American relatioas rapidly worsened in theadecause Washingtonto accept Moscow's priorities for detenle. the Sovieis tried lo reach ilie same goal indirectly, via Western Europe, and in the process to encourage Chinese distrust of the Umied States. Thc Westthc West German -attachment lo deientc, even after thc Afghan and Polishhas ledift in US-Westrying to ciploit this by encouraging West European pressure for Sonet-US arms control negotiations and agreements. This would constrain US global responses to Soviet moves. Moscowand raise Chinese distrust of US reliabilityirm ally againsi the Soviet Union.

The United States hasower in the Pacific and is becoming one in the Indian Ocean It is committed to suppori ASEAN. China gives priority in Southeast Asia to suppori of the Khmer Rouge againsi the Vietnamese in Kampuchea. Singapore and Thailand seem to support ihis bui Malaysia and Indonesia thinkreater long-range danger than the Sovici Union To lhc extent thai us hostility lo Vietnam might decrease. ASEAN might iry to gel thc Uniied Stales to persuade China lo be less hostile to Hanoi, for example, by tacilly accepting the status quo in Kampuchea. China would probably regard such an ASEAN and US attitude as "objectively" pro-Soviet and would distrust thc United Stalesesult.

Finally, there is Taiwan Bcumg balances its need of the United Stale* to help contain lhc Soviet Union wiih its de terminal ion lo recover Taiwan, fo which lhc Uniled States is the principal obstacle Although Moscow has so far had no success in its attempts to cultivate Taiwan. China remains concerned about the

I hus, although ihc Ideological faclor is likely to remain downgraded in the Sino-Soviei conflict, the Communist organizational factor hasore important barrier to rapprochement, because it is basedragmatic, partial partnership arnong independent Communist parties that are united by opposition to hegemony, and made easier by their mutual tolerance of ideological differences.

The New Factors Vol andino-Soviet Rapprochement

Ever since the fall of Khrushchevrezhnev has been trying to bringartial Sino-Soviet rapprochcmcnl at thc state level He has consistently failed because theZhou. Hua. andalways rejected his repeated overtures.

The Internal Influence*

Moscow.year-old Soviet policy of partial rapprochement at thc state level is not likdy io change in thc near future, bul il may be interrupted. The principal impending Soviet developmenl that might, but probably will not. influence Soviet policy in this connection is the Brezhnev succession struggle. Thai it will lead, even temporarily,eturn to Khrushchev's total polilical hostility to China seems unlikely, forolicy would only push China even closer to thc United States, something Moscow has been trying for the lasl decade to prevent. Il might well, however, interrupt lhc present policy, forstruggles have historically initially limited lhe freedom of foreign and domestic policy maneuvers of the main contestants.owever,have proposed major foreign policy initiatives, a* Bern reportedly did3 on the German quesiio* That thb probably contributed to hb fill is not likdy to encourage further suchhe winner in tbe Soviet succession struggle might wdl launch new. more inviting initiative*irto Sovietprochcrncni. bul even then hi* possibilities would bc limited This would probably bc especially iruc with respect lo any miliiary initiatives. Wc know lhal (he Chinese conditionsapprochcmcnl scl forth in and after9 Sim- Soviet negotiations induded Soviel military withdrawal from Vietnam.and Mongolia, plus scaling down the deploymenl

of Sovicl iroops on (he borders of China to their levd under Khrushchev Given the influence of Ihe Soviet miliiary. and lhe possibility (hat (heir support will be important in ihe succession struggle, they mighl wdl be able to persuade any new Soviet leaders thai such concession* should noi bc made

Beijing. During Ihe past few years some Chinese intellectuals have on occasion advocated improvement of relations with Moscow. However, they have been consistently ilappcd down by Beijing. Nor has Beijing used or eaaggeratcd this opposition to try to put pressure oo the Uniied States On the contrary, iu anti-Soviet line has remained consistent for at leastears. Nevertheless, after Deng leaves lhe scene there may be such an attempt among those struggling for succession. Il seems, however, unlikely lo succeed. First, (he succession is already fairly well dclcrmined. Second, just as with (he Soviet Union, (he issues involved in any Sino-Soviei compromise have become so much more serious and so less susceptible to exclusive control by Moscow and Beijing, that the possibilityess than itecade ago

Tbe Externa! Influences

Moscow, There seems lo be no serious prospect lhal Soviet concessions will come close to (he minimal Chinese demands. On (he contrary, lhe influence on the Sovicl Union of Vietnam, which can threaten lo bar the Sovicl* from bases in that country if Moscow makes concession* of any kind io Beijing, willbc sif.nil.cjni in thc opposite direction.US condition*oviet-US rapprochement would probably also involve Soviet miliiaryof Viclnam and Afghanistan. Moscow would be even less likelyake similar concessions to Beijing, because such concessions could hardly bcby anything lessull Sino-Soviet rapprochement. But Ihis would mean de facto Chinese hegemony in Eait aad Southeast Asia. Nor would the United States in the near future be likely to make major cooccsmotlshe USSR in return for Soviel evacuation of Vietnam and Afghanistan. Thusrivalry in these areas with Washington as well

as Beijing makes compromise wiih either more dtffi-culi. because each of <hc latter Iwo would find (he danger of amusing misirusi in lhc other an additional barrieruccessful negotiation wiih Moscow, which in lurn would, by trying to play each against the oihcr. probably arouse the misirusi of both.

Will the Soviet Union move toward China in order lo make up for lhe receni worsening of Soviet relations wiih lhe Uniied Stales? Kealpoliiik would require thai Ihis occur, lhc more so because of the current US global military buildup Thc nexl five years or so will probably sec ihis factor become more important in Soviel policy considcralions. But lhc Sovicl Union has workedino-Soviet rapprochementnd all the more as Sino-US relations have improved.

The primary reason why Moscow has not succeeded has been that the Chinese have refused lo play. But there have been, and will probably coniinue to be, other reasons as well: first, the continuing geopolitical causes of hosiiliiy sei forth above; second, lhc time-(es'ed maxim, which Moscow probably shares, lhal concessions all too often only increase the appetite of one's opponent for more; third, ihe high probabilityartial rapprochement ai the slate level would not endo-Soviet struggle. On theartial rapprochcmcnl would allow China tolayer as well and therefore gain an advantageis lhc United Slates, which now enjoys lheposition of being Ihc only member of lhc stralegic triangle (ha( can profil from maneuvering wiih and against thc two others. But China would (hen also enjoy the same possibility, which bywould limit the Soviel freedom of maneuver. Given thc Soviet tradition of caution in foreignmany in Moscow will probably find this another reason for opposing even minimal concessions lo China. Fourth, and most important, thc recent,Chinese demand for concessions, scl forlhmost importantly, Vietnam and Afghanistan will discourage even smaller Soviet concessions in ihc near future. Indeed, ii is difficult tocenario in which any Soviet leader,now or whatever successor later, would meelajor pan of these Chinese demands.

Beijing. Some of the possible Chinese motivesartial rapprochcmcnl with the Soviel Union are the converse of Soviel motives: to profit from equidistant manipulation of Moscow and Washington; the decline in thc ideological aspects of the dispute, and lhe desire for greater aulonomy from the United Slates Other motives are different lhe end of the violenthostility loward the USSR of Mao and the "Gang of Four" in favor of far more pragmatic Chinese policies, the desireel Soviel as well as Western help for modernizjiion jnd thus be less dependent on thc West: increasing disappoint ment with US policy concerning Taiwan, lingering concern that ihe Uniied States may returnartial policy of collusion with the USSR on arms control negotiations, which might, for example, limit Soviet SS-TOs targeted on Europe and redirect them to Chinese targets. The most important motive is that the Sovicl involvement in Vietnam and Afghanistan, and more generally its attemptncircle Clunn, seem io have influenced China, in its new demandso insist lhat Moscow concede lo Beijing scaiegic hegemony in Easi and Southeast Asia -something Moscow is most unlikely to agree to. And the more powerful China becomes, lhe more ii will Insist upon il.

A Sino-Soviet War: Most Unlikely

A Sino-Soviet general war it most unlikely. First, the most serious Sino-Soviei border incidents,edrief, partial relaxation of tension. Second, rising Chinese nuclear capabilily makes il less likely still. Bul to lake lhc "worst-case" analysis, even ifar did occur, it would bc more likely ihai lhc Sovic( Union would bc bogged downong guerrilla war in China than (hat il wouldheap, quick victoryoviet ai(ack on China would

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cost lhc Sovici Union tremendous influence in Ihe rest of ihc world, drive Western Europe back into the US camp, and consolidate US-Japanese relations.ino-Soviet war is (I) most unlikelyy no means necessarily contrary lo US inleresls

A Sino-Soviet nuclear war is also most unlikely, because China is already capable of inflicting what Mosoow would in all probability considerdamage on Ibe Soviet Union, and will be more capable as lime goes on Moreover, it would hardly end. but rather encourage, prolonged Chineseresistance and would antagonise the rest of ihe world even moreonventional war.

Thereomewhal grcaler possibilityino-Soviet limited war. such as almost occurredecond Chinese attack on Vietnam couldimited Soviet response of lhc kind the Chinesefor inhen ihey evacuated civilians from the Sino-Soviet border region on ihe eve of thc attack on Vietnam

Tbe Impact oa thc United Stales'inialo.iet Rapprochement

A partial Sino-Soviet rapprochement would easefear of China and therefore free Moscow's hand moreis ihe Uniled Stales, especially in areas such as Western Europe, the Middle East, andAmerica, where China is noi so directly involved. It would ease Chinese pressure on Vietnam, whichcause US interests more trouble in Southeast Asia. It would make China less interested in supporting arms aid to ihe Afghaninally, ii would make the Soviet Union less likely to compromise with the United Stales, for example, in arms control negotiations On thebecause it would lower lhc Soviet estimate of Ihe Chinese threat, ii vould enable, indeed erKOvrage. Moscow to deploy more of ilsuclear and conventional, to oppose the Uniledotably in Europe and in the southern Soviet Union on lhe frontiers of the Middle East.

Consequences of US Policy Options Options Wllh China

Options open to lhe United Stales that wouldChinese rapprochement with Ihc Sovieis are:

To keep thc Taiwan issue on thc back burner, thus making it credible to Beijing that thc United States does not intend to increase Taiwan's military strength but that il abo does not intend io abandon arrm aid to Taiwan and thereby ensure iuby China. (The Unci would be disastrousASEAN' and oilier US allies, while the former would unnecessarily play into Soviet hands byBeijing back toward Moscow.)

To maintain und gradually increase USaid to China but not accept any Chinese requests for direct military assistance.

keep Beijing fearfulossible Sovici-US rapprochement but convinced that it can and must prevent it

The options thai wouldinc-Sovkt rap prochcmenl on lhc Chinese sale are generally the reverse of thc above, notably the return to priority for arms control agreements with the USSR and little resistance io Sovici expansion,S military buildup of Taiwan, or boih

Options With lhe Soricl Union To discourage the Soviets from rapprochement with Ihc Chinese, the Uniled Slates could continue LRTNF and resume SALT negotiations, and thus reassure Moscow thai lhe United Sutesdoes noi intend lo returnotal Soviet-US cold war. but consult with the Chinese bs well as wiih NATO on them, wiih the triple purpose of

to nuke lhc negotiations credible to the Soviet Union and to Western Europe

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Aiming China lhal il will noi suffer by any agreement

Publicly abjuring any desire for condominium wiih lhe .Soviets and declaring that, since Ihe USSR has consistently violated the Yalta Agreements, the United States formally denounces them and no longer considers Eastern Europe an exclusivelysphere of influence any more than it considers Latin America an exclusively US one.

Thc opposite of the above, or.otal US alliance with China against the USSR, or both, would encourage the Soviet Unionino-Soviet rapprochement.

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