February 15

This Day in History

Cold War

Feb 15, 1950:

USSR and PRC sign mutual defense treaty

The Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, the two largest communist nations in the world, announce the signing of a mutual defense and assistance treaty.

The negotiations for the treaty were conducted in Moscow between PRC leaders Mao Zedong and Zhou En-lai, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and Foreign Minister Andrei Vishinsky. The treaty's terms called for the Soviets to provide a $300 million credit to the PRC. It also mandated that the Soviet Union return to the Chinese the control of a major railroad and the cities of Port Arthur and Dairen in Manchuria, all of which had been seized by Russian forces near the end of World War II. The mutual defense section of the agreement primarily concerned any future aggression by Japan and "any other state directly or indirectly associated" with Japan. Zhou En-lai proudly declared that the linking of the two communist nations created a force that was "impossible to defeat."

U.S. commentators viewed the treaty as proof positive that communism was a monolithic movement, being directed primarily from the Kremlin in Moscow. An article in the New York Times referred to the PRC as a Soviet "satellite." As events made clear, however, the treaty was not exactly a concrete bond between communist countries. By the late-1950s, fissures were already beginning to appear in the Soviet-PRC alliance. Publicly, the Chinese charged that the Soviets were compromising the principles of Marxism-Leninism by adopting an attitude of "peaceful coexistence" with the capitalist nations of the West. By the early-1960s, Mao Zedong was openly declaring that the Soviet Union was actually allying itself with the United States against the Chinese revolution.

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