The record of China’s foreign policy during the Cold War reveals that the priorities of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) centered on the Soviet Union. Instead of prioritizing a friendly relationship with the West and adopting policies aligned with America, Europe, and their allies, the Chinese partnered with America’s foremost post–World War II adversary: the Soviet Union.
In 1950, leaders from Mao Zedong’s People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union met in Moscow to negotiate a treaty that would cement their alliance. The agreement resulted in the Soviets giving the PRC around $300 million and giving them back control of some territory that they had taken over during World War II. The deal also stipulated that they would come to each other’s defense if either communist regime was attacked by Japan or an ally of Japan. At the time, America was a key Japanese ally.
In a sense, this treaty reveals that isolation was a foreign policy priority for Mao and the PRC. They were not concerned with being a recognized part of the international community or joining the United Nations. After decades of Western exploitation and interference, Mao’s foreign policy record indicates that the Chinese wanted distance from the capitalist West so that they could govern themselves according to his iteration of communism.
In another sense, their foreign policy priorities were a reflection of their domestic policy priorities during the Cold War. The PRC would partner with foreign communist movements and would implement communist policies in their own country as well. As with Western capitalism, Mao’s brand of communism was violent and deadly.