The Wilson Center explores an interesting era of world history: when China and the Soviet Union found cooperation in their mutual interest. And then it ended.
From the outset, Sino-Soviet nuclear cooperation was marked by political expediency on both sides. From 1949 through the late 1950s, the People’s Republic of China saw the danger of nuclear war escalate as the United States issued atomic threats against China during the Korean War and the Taiwan Strait Crisis from 1954 to 1955. Moreover, since its victory in the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese Communist Party had been fighting against the West’s refusal to accept the PRC as the legitimate representative of China at the United Nations. Mao assumed, according to Nicola Horsburgh Leveringhaus, that having nuclear weapons would raise China’s standing on the international stage and protect it against Western “imperialist bullying.”