A controversial figure in his home country, Vsevolod Kochetov was one of the most-read Soviet writers in Mao’s China. From the 1950s to the 80s his major works were translated into Chinese every single decade, a rarity for most Soviet writers during this time of drastic changes in bilateral relations. Why was Kochetov always selected for translation? What allowed his fiction to pass rigorous Chinese censorship even when Soviet literature was defamed and almost completely banned after the Sino-Soviet split? How did Kochetov’s socialist realist novels become what Even-Zohar calls the “dynamic canon” in 1950s China, and why did some of his works that were not so well recognized at home fascinate Chinese youth coming of age during the Cultural Revolution? This paper probes into such questions by situating literary translation in China’s domestic politics and international relations, revealing the connection between Kochetov’s writings and Chinese official ideology. In the heyday of Sino-Soviet alliance his worker-themed novels were applauded to promote friendship and socialist values, and when the alliance foundered his works critical of the Soviet government after Stalin were used as “negative examples” to educate the Chinese about the danger of revisionism. Despite the manipulated interpretations, however, the paper shows that Kochetov resonated with Chinese readers who were seeking truth, freedom, and knowledge of the outside world at a time of cultural autocracy. It thus drives home the unforeseen social repercussions of translated literature in Mao’s China.