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China's Response to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

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Abstract

The Sino-Soviet rift constitutes one of the great schisms of Cold War politics and it is fraught with great strategic and diplomatic implications that have had a considerable impact on the external policies of both China and the Soviet Union. The Sino-Soviet Cold War began over greater influence and power in Afro-Asian countries. China had accused the Soviet Union of working overtime to fill up the vacuum caused by the US withdrawal and the Soviets had charged China with being the chief warmonger and with creating tensions in collusion with the USA. Thus, the Cold War between the two major communist countries had exposed the myth of an international communism. The two communist giants 'were circling and being circled by each other like two heavyweight wrestlers, trying hammerlocks, footholds and feints'.1 This geopolitical grappling became more acute and tense in South Asia after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 under the Brezhnev doctrine (1968) which had proclaimed that Moscow had the right to intervene in maintaining in power Communist governments threatened by domestic upheavals-which would have been improbable for the Chinese government.2 The main theme of this article is to focus on China's efforts to foster 'an Asian and international environment antagonistic to Soviet "expansion"'. China opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by providing moral and military assistance to the Afghan mujahideen and Pakistan to counter the Soviet encirclement around China and avoid direct military confrontation with the vastly superior Soviet forces along the contested Sino-Soviet border. For this purpose, China carried on a vigorous campaign against the Soviet Union and never missed any opportunity to expose Soviet expansionist or hegemonic designs. China also stepped up its diplomatic and political offensives against the hegemony of the Soviet social imperialism by cultivating better relations with the USA.

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12SLondon: Macmillan. In fact, this area was at one time a stronghold of two Afghan mujahideen groups, the Shu'la-i-Jawed (Eternal Flame) and the Setem-i-Melli (Against Oppression of Nation)
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London: S t ought on. More details about the geographic and demographic background are available in a number of sources
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New York: Simon and Schuster. For views an the evolving dispute between Vance and Brzezinski, see Brzezinski, op cit, Ref 75, chs 6 and 11. For further description and analysis and an account heavily weighted toward the Vance position, see Garthoff
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