Jie Li
1PhD in History at the University of Edinburgh in 2017 3 Floor, 21 Ferry Street, Yau Ma Tei, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong jielican2009@hotmail.com
Kitaêznavčì doslìdžennâ 2021, 2:19-40
Section: History, Philosophy, Science and Culture of China
Language: English

During the 1960s, the People’s Republic of China presented itself as the hub of world revolution. The article studies China’s engagement with Iranian revolutionary groups in the 1950s and 1960s, showing how the Sino-Soviet Split and China’s subsequent outreach to Iranian student groups in Western Europe fractured opposition to the Shah along the lines of Europe’s Cold War divisions. This article draws on digitized and translated materials obtained from the Chinese Foreign Ministry Archive (CFMA) during the period when it was accessible (2004–2012). The author has consulted memoirs of many Chinese officials in charge of Sino-Third World affairs and those engaging in Sino-Iranian relations in particular. Besides, the use of memoirs and post-2012 work in such archives as the Shanghai Municipal Archives can fill in the gaps for certain areas of post-1965 foreign policy. The research also makes use of much up-to-date western scholarship on Sino-Iranian relations under Mao, in order to contextualize the historical episode. The paper also underscores the crucial role that intermediaries such as Algeria, Albania, and Romania played in granting China a foothold into Western European milieus and Iran at a time of Beijing’s diplomatic isolation, and in the making of Sino-Iranian relations in the 1960s. South-South relations were thus mediated through Europe in spite of aspirations of an open world order that would permit formerly colonized peoples to interact directly with each other. It will be demonstrated that, as Maoist calls for the “encirclement of cities” failed and China re-established relations with the Shah’s Iran in 1971, Maoism’s legacy was perhaps more defined by its weakening of the Iranian left and retrenchment of inter-state relations, rather than socialist internationalism or an open world of people-to-people internationalism. Finally, this article also highlights the need for further research into South-South ties during the Cold War, and a particular focus on the interaction between non-state actors in the Global South. It is by remaining attentive to these specific geographies that provided a biotope for South-South encounters, and the legacies of socialist internationalism for “South- South” encounters that historians may develop the conversation about the Cold War in the Third World further still.

Keywords: China, communism, Iran, Maoism, South-South relations, Soviet Union, student movements

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