The Sino-Soviet Border Dispute

Background, Development, and the March 1969 Clashes

by Thomas W. Robinson

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Analyzes the role of the border conflict in overall Sino-Soviet relations in particular, this study details the two military clashes at Damansky Island in March 1969, examines plausible reasons for their occurrence, and sets them in the context of Soviet and Chinese foreign policy and domestic politics. The March events began a new phase in Sino-Soviet relations in which the Russians pursued a "dual strategy" of threats of violence and offers of compromise to bring the Chinese to the negotiating table. As a result, border talks were reopened in Peking in October 1969. If these negotiations succeed in producing a document that will authoritatively delineate the border, such an agreement might set a limit below which Sino-Soviet relations cannot fall and might even symbolize a partial return to the close cooperation characteristic of the early fifties.

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