Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Africa and the Cold War - Term 1 Week 9

The other Cold War: the Sino-Soviet rivalry

The breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance in the early 1960s brought a new dimension to superpower rivalry in Africa. While the Soviet Union struggled to make the impact it sought on Africa, China offered the continent’s decolonising states an alternative communism, projected as anti-imperial and Afro-Asian solidarities. What was the particular attraction of China to Africa? Were Chinese and Soviet relationships with the continent based on genuine ideological sympathies or was the language of revolution simply a plot to gain influence? Start with Friedman who situates the Sino-Soviet split in a global context, while Lal offers a local perspectives on the appeal of China and Maoism in East Africa.

Class/Essay questions
Why was the Chinese Revolution appealing to Africans?
How did the Sino-Soviet split affect the Cold War in Africa?
To what extent was China more successful than the Soviet Union in gaining influence in post-colonial Africa to 1975?

Class readings

Jeremy Friedman, ‘Soviet Policy in the Developing World and the Chinese Challenge in the 1960s’, Cold War History, 10 (2010): 247-72.  
Priya Lal, ‘Maoism in Tanzania: Material Connections and Shared Imaginaries’, in Alexander C. Cook (ed.), Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 96-116 [e-book].  

1) Zhou Enlai, ‘The Chinese Government’s Eight Principles for Economic Aid and Technical Assistance to Other Countries’, 15 January 1964 [].
2) Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, “The Arusha Declaration Teach-in” (Dar-es Salaam:Information Services, 1967), available from William H. Worger, Nancy L. Clark, Edward A. Alpers, Africa and the West: A Documentary History, Volume 2: From Colonialism to Independence, 1875 to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 163-167

Further reading

David E. Albright (ed.), Communism in Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980).

Austin Jersild, The Sino-Soviet Alliance: An International History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014) [e-book].

Austin Jersild, 'Sino-Soviet Rivalry in Guinea-Conakry, 1956-1965: The Second World in the Third World', in Austin Jersild and Patryk Babiracki (eds), Socialist Internationalism in the Cold War: Exploring the Second World (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) [e-book].

Jeremy Friedman, Shadow Cold War: The Sino-Soviet Competition for the Third World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

Sven Hamrell and Carl Gösta Widstrand (eds.), The Soviet Bloc, China and Africa (Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 1964).

Robert Legvold, ‘Soviet and Chinese Influence in Black Africa’, in Alvin Z. Rubenstein (ed.), Soviet and Chinese Influence in the Third World (New York: Praeger, 1975).

Lorenz M. Luthi, The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008) [e-book].

*Sergey Radchenko, ‘The Sino-Soviet Split’, in Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad (eds.), The Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 349-72.

Odd Arne Westad (ed.), Brothers in Arms: The Rise and Fall of the Sino-Soviet Alliance, 1945-1963 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999).


*Jessica Achberger, ‘The Dragon Has Not Just Arrived: The Historical Study of Africa’s Relations with China’, History Compass, 8 (2010), 368-76.

Chris Alden and Cristina Alves, ‘History and Identity in the Construction of China’s African Policy’, Review of African Political Economy, 35 (2008), 43-58.

G. Thomas Burgess, ‘Mao in Zanzibar: Nationalism, Discipline and the (De)Construction of Afro-Asian Solidarities’, in Christopher J. Lee (ed.), Making a World After Empire: The Bandung Moment and its Political Afterlives (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010), 196-234.

Alan Hutchison, China’s African Revolution (London: Hutchinson, 1975).

Bruce D. Larkin, China and Africa, 1949-1970: The Foreign Policy of the People’s Republic of China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971).

Jamie Monson, Africa’s Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008).

Jamie Monson, ‘Working Ahead of Time: Labor and Modernization during the Construction of the TAZARA Railway, 1968-86’, in Christopher J. Lee (ed.), Making a World After Empire: The Bandung Moment and its Political Afterlives (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010), 235-65 [e-book].

Philip Snow, The Star Raft: China’s Encounter with Africa (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1988).

Soviet Union (see also week 10 on students…)

*David C. Engerman, ‘The Second World’s Third World’, Kritika, 12 (2011), 183-211.

Nigel Gould-Davies, ‘The Logic of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy’, Diplomatic History, 27 (2003), 193-214.

William Glenn Gray, Germany’s Cold War: The Global Campaign to Isolate East Germany, 1949-1969 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003) [e-book].

Young-Sun Hong, Cold War Germany, the Third World, and the Global Humanitarian Regime (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015) [e-book].

Alessandro Iandolo, ‘Imbalance of Power: The Soviet Union and the Congo Crisis, 1960-61’, Journal of Cold War Studies, 16 (2014), 32-55.

*Maxim Matusevich, ‘Revisiting the Soviet Moment in Sub-Saharan Africa’, History Compass, 7 (2009), 1259-68.

Adam Mayer, Naija Marxisms: RevolutionaryThought in Nigeria (London: Zed, 2016).

Sergey Mazov, A Distant Front in the Cold War: The USSR in West Africa and the Congo, 1956-1964 (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2010).

O. Igho Natufe, Soviet Policy in Africa: From Lenin to Brezhnev (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011).

Oye Ogunbadejo, ‘Soviet Policies in Africa’, African Affairs, 79 (1980), 297-325.

Gareth M. Winrow, The Foreign Policy in the GDR in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) [e-book].