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Defying Moscow, engaging Beijing: The German Democratic Republic’s relations with the People’s Republic of China, 1980-1989

Chen, Zhong (2014) Defying Moscow, engaging Beijing: The German Democratic Republic’s relations with the People’s Republic of China, 1980-1989. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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As Deng Xiaoping assumed China’s paramount leadership position in 1978, he first and foremost sought to bring China out of a period of economic decline and international isolation defined by the Cultural Revolution. Having already established first contacts with the US and Western European states in the early 1970s, Beijing under Deng swung open its doors further to the rest of the world in order to source foreign investment as well as technology transfers. While most existing literature has been focused on how Deng’s rise was received in the US, Western Europe and Asia, almost no literature exists on how this change was perceived in Eastern Europe. This study aims to address this lacuna by examining how the Soviet Union’s once ‘most-loyal’ client state and its bastion on the front lines of the Cold War, the GDR, increasingly defied a Moscow-imposed anti-China policy to engage China for economic and political gain during the 1980s. Chapter one will begin with a general overview of GDR-China relations before the period of analysis. It will highlight that East Germany first enjoyed amicable relations with China, only to be reined in during the Sino-Soviet Split by Moscow to conform to a general antiChina line. It will argue that as Deng rose to power in Beijing and repeated frictions beset Soviet-GDR relations, East Berlin gradually sought an independent foreign policy towards China in order to take advantage of China’s opening to the world. Chapter Two examines bilateral relations in the early 1980s. It argues that the GDR was at first motivated by potential trade ties with Beijing in order to bolster its sagging economy. Chapter Three reveals that relations continued to develop towards the middle of the decade, despite Moscow’s protestations. Honecker was duly rewarded with a state visit to Beijing in 1986 for his efforts, the first by a Soviet-bloc leader after the onset of the Sino-Soviet Split. Chapters Four and Five show that amidst Gorbachev’s Perestroika and Glasnost the GDR and the PRC increasingly found ideological commonalities in preserving the political statusquo in East Berlin and Beijing. This dogmatic resistance towards political reforms would eventually lead to very different consequences in both countries.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Zhong Zhong Chen
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Spohr, Kristina

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