Sino-Soviet border conflict

From Academic Kids

The Sino-Soviet border conflict of 1969 was a series of armed clashes between the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China, occurring at the height of the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s. An island in the Ussuri River, called Zhen Bao Island (珍宝岛) by the Chinese and Damansky Island (Остров Даманский) by the Soviets, almost led the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China to war in 1969.

Tension had built up in the late 1960s along the 4,380 km (2,738 mi) border, where 658,000 Soviet troops faced 814,000 Chinese troops. On March 2, 1969 a Soviet patrol was ambushed on Zhenbao by Chinese forces. The Soviets suffered 31 dead and 14 wounded. Soviets retaliated by bombarding Chinese troop concentrations in Manchuria and by storming the island. The Soviet forces claimed that the Chinese suffered 800 casualties while the Soviets only had 60 killed or wounded.

Soviets claimed that the Chinese Army used the tactic of advancing having surrounded themselves with civilians, farmers and their animals. After a series of further clashes in this area and in Central Asia, each side prepared for nuclear confrontation. It was only when the Soviet Premier Aleksey Kosygin visited Beijing on his way home from the funeral of Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi that a political solution cooled the situation. The border dispute was suspended, but not actually resolved. Both sides continued their military build-up along the border.

Serious border demarcation negotiations were only possible not long before the end of the Soviet Union in 1991; in particular, both sides agree that Damansky/Zhenbao Island belongs to China (Both sides claimed the island was under their control at the time of the agreement.) On October 17, 1995 an agreement over the last 54 km stretch of the border was reached, but the question of control over three islands in the Amur and Argun rivers was left to be settled. In a border agreement between Russia and China, signed on 14 October, 2004, that dispute was finally resolved. In the agreement, China was granted control over Tarabarov Island and approximately 50% of Bolshoy Ussuriysky Island near Khabarovsk. China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress ratified this agreement on April 27, 2005 with the Russian Duma following suit on May 20, 2005. The transfer was finalized on June 2, 2005, when the agreement was signed by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov.

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