Russia Plays the China Card

Russia and China are strengthening their ties, but don’t bet on an alliance—that is, unless poor U.S. policy drives them together.

Issue: Nov-Dec 2007


THE FRICTION between China and the Soviet Union that began to mount in the spring of 1969 along the Sino-Soviet border signaled to Washington that the communist world was not monolithic. Indeed, despite their seemingly common ideological commitments, relations between the two communist giants were deteriorating to the point of confrontation. In this environment, the Nixon Administration began to make gestures toward China to improve bilateral relations. Henry Kissinger believed that "the hostility between China and the Soviet Union served our purposes best if we maintained closer relations with each side than they did with each other." In this way, the United States got the Russians to the negotiating table, pushed through the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and ushered in an era of détente with the USSR.

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