Organized Panel Session
The Cold War created unprecedentedly strong states, which not only pursued strategic goals in their foreign policies but also manipulated interactions between their people and the outside world. However, the “international relationships” emerging from the daily communications between different societies, as Brantly Womack argues, are often indifferent to nationalities and conflicting national interests. This contradiction was especially manifest in Communist countries that advocated an all-encompassing state.
This panel features four original projects on state intervention into “international relationships” in Asia. Dong and Tagirova examine China’s training of North Korean interns in the 1950s and 1960s and the Soviet public diplomacy campaign toward Beijing at the turn of the 1990s respectively. Their researches reveal how the Communist governments initiated interactions between their peoples to strengthen the delicate international partnerships. Wang’s study of the Mongolian People’s Republic’s military occupation over central Inner Mongolia from August 1945 to early 1946 highlights tensions between the central government and the unruly agents of the state on the ground. Yin’s examination of the smuggling networks at the Sino-Vietnamese border explains the failure of the Communist states to impede the long-existing, spontaneous transnational connections.
This panel makes two historiographical interventions. First, it takes a non-leadership focused approach to China’s relations with its neighbors during the Cold War and examines various limits on the power of the Communist state. Second, making use of multilingual archives, the panel underscores how non-Chinese sources can help scholars overcome the difficulties caused by the increasingly limited access to archival sources in China.