The Sino-Soviet Conflict and American Security Concerns

by Jonathan D. Pollack, Richard H. Solomon

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Briefly reviews the developing Sino-Soviet conflict since the 1950s and suggests appropriate U.S. policies. The United States benefits from a situation in which it has better relations with Moscow and Peking than they have with each other. American policy must seek to avoid actions that are likely to provoke either the Chinese or Soviets into action against the other, or draw them together. The most appropriate policy is one of distance if not detachment from the Sino-Soviet rivalry. The differences between Moscow and Peking appear sufficiently profound to endure irrespective of American actions, and purposeful efforts to play on their differences are only likely to alienate us from constructive relations with either country. A diminution of Sino-Soviet hostility could occur during the 1980s in the context of major generational changes in leadership in both countries. Hence, considerable circumspection is called for in any policy recommendations based upon anticipated future trends.

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