Mending Fences

The Evolution of Moscow's China Policy from Brezhnev to Yeltsin

Elizabeth Wishnick

  • Published: 2001. Paperback 2014
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Politics
  • Bibliographic information: 320 pp., notes, bibliog., index, LC 2001017476, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Mending Fences illuminates the forces driving Moscow's China policy, from the Ussuri River clashes in 1969 to the "strategic partnership" of the 1990s. Elizabeth Wishnick, noted expert on the Russia and China, analyzes the efforts of Soviet leaders simultaneously to maintain their supremacy in the international communist movement, defend their borders from a perceived China threat, and ensure the compliance of regional authorities in enforcing China policy.

Although a consensus in favor of containing China prevailed within the Moscow policy community throughout the 1970s, major shifts in China policy came with changes in the Soviet leadership, most notably in the mid-1980s. As many Russians became disenchanted with Western models of market democracy and with their country's sharply curtailed role in international affairs in the post-Soviet era, the Yeltsin administration touted a growing "strategic partnership" with China.

Wishnick outlines the successes of Russian-Chinese cooperation and analyzes the main barriers to full-scale partnership, including historical grievances, limited economic ties, tensions in regional relations. Despite ongoing efforts by Russian and Chinese leaders to resolve these issues, she concludes that the future of the Sino-Russian partnership will depend on an unpredictable interplay of forces of domestic and international change.

Mending Fences is the result of a decade of research in Moscow, Beijing, and the regions along the Russo-Chinese border. Fluent in Russian and Chinese, the author has drawn on recently declassified documents from the archives of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, the Soviet Foreign Ministry, the KGB, and the Khabarovsk Regional Communist Party; numerous interviews with influential Russian and Chinese officials and scholars; and regional and national periodicals and books from both Russia and China.

The first work in recent years to analyze Russian-Chinese relations from Moscow's perspective, Mending Fences is a necessary addition to the literature on the late Cold War era and the strategic triangle between the United States, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China.
Elizabeth Wishnick is associate professor of political science at Montclair State University and adjunct associate research scholar at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University.


Part I. Brezhnev's Containment Policy
The Soviet Union's China Strategy
The Sino-Soviet Conflict in Perspective

Part II. The Road to Beijing
Leadership Change in the USSR and Sino-Soviet Relations
Pressures for Continuity and Change in Soviet China Policy in the Early 1980s
From Rapprochment to Normalization
The Gorbachev Revolution and China Policy

Part III. Toward Sino-Russian Partnership
Sino-Russian Relations in the Yeltsin Era
Moscow and Border Regions Debate Russia's China Policy
Works Cited

"[Wishnick] brings to this important subject a mastery of Russian and Chinese sources, an impressive command of the relevant scholarship, much new material from Soviet state and party archives, and extensive interviews with Russian policy makers and with leading Russian specialists on China."
-Journal of Cold War Studies

"Wishnick provides the first detailed account of Russia's policy toward China from 1969 to 1999, based on thorough research in Russian sources and some recently released U.S. government documents. . . . A reliable reference source."

"A terrific book..Wishnick, by reason of her knowledge, perceptiveness, discernment, and linguistic skills in both Russian and Chinese, is highly qualified to narrate, conceptualize, and comment on a topic somewhat sidelined these days by more immediately dramatic international preoccupations, but on of immense importance to the evolving world order..Everyone wishing to be well informed should read this valuable work."
-Slavic Review

"A solid and fascinating analysis of Moscow's China Policy from Brezhnev to Yeltsin..From its political discussion, Mending Fences opens and new and important perspective on Soviet-Chinese relations in the 1970s-1990s, a period that has seldom attracted historians' attention."
-H-Net Reviews