The Sino-Soviet Alliance

An International History

By Austin Jersild

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 14 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2983-4
    Published: August 2016
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-1159-4
    Published: February 2014
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-1160-0
    Published: February 2014

New Cold War History

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Awards & distinctions

A 2015 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Honorable Mention, 2015 Marshall Shulman Book Prize, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

In 1950 the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China signed a Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance to foster cultural and technological cooperation between the Soviet bloc and the PRC. While this treaty was intended as a break with the colonial past, Austin Jersild argues that the alliance ultimately failed because the enduring problem of Russian imperialism led to Chinese frustration with the Soviets.

Jersild zeros in on the ground-level experiences of the socialist bloc advisers in China, who were involved in everything from the development of university curricula, the exploration for oil, and railway construction to piano lessons. Their goal was to reproduce a Chinese administrative elite in their own image that could serve as a valuable ally in the Soviet bloc's struggle against the United States. Interestingly, the USSR's allies in Central Europe were as frustrated by the "great power chauvinism" of the Soviet Union as was China. By exposing this aspect of the story, Jersild shows how the alliance, and finally the split, had a true international dimension.

About the Author

Austin Jersild is professor of history at Old Dominion University.
For more information about Austin Jersild, visit the Author Page.


"A welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on Sino-Soviet relations in the 1950s."--American Historical Review

“Such a pleasure to read that even those unfamiliar with this period of history will find it hard to put down. Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”--Choice

"[An] extensively-researched and highly-revealing volume."--H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews

“An important and long overdue contribution to the literature. . . . Anyone interested in Russia, China, or Cold War history would certainly enjoy Jersild’s book and learn a great deal from it.” --Army History

“Jersild has found highly revealing documents from Chinese archives and rounded out his account of intra-bloc exchange by incorporating the Chinese perspective. The result is a truly international history of the socialist bloc advising relationship in China."--Qiang Zhai, Auburn University at Montgomery

“Jersild takes a bottom-up approach to the Sino-Soviet alliance. By recounting the low politics of economic advisers and cultural administrators, he brings a whole new perspective to the relationship, provides a real texture to it, so that we know, for once, what happened in the 1950s beyond the facade of top-leader discussions. He also bridges the gap between social and diplomatic history to show how attitudes of advisers and practitioners at the low level were undermining this alliance even before visible cracks appeared at the political level. A superb treatment of the subject.”--Sergey Radchenko, reader in international politics, Aberystwyth University