The People’s Republic of China and North Korea: ideology and nationalism, 1949–2007
The ability of China to play an important part in international politics is not, however, a new development, for during the period of the Cold War the PRC took on a number of roles that influenced the course of the confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States. Under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the People’s Republic of China was in its early years a key ally of the Soviet Union. Over time it developed into the world’s leading revolutionary state, threatening
not just the interests of the Western liberal democracies and their clients but also Moscow’s claim to primacy within the socialist bloc. As China was significantly weaker than either of the two superpowers, this was a dangerous position to adopt for too long and finally, after deciding that Russia posed a greater danger than the United States, it leaned towards the latter, helping to create the conditions that brought about détente in the 1970s.