Sino-Soviet tensions did not materialize out of nowhere on 9 July, 1987. The World’s two dominant Communist powers had a long history of mutual distrust, and bitterness between them. China’s suspicions of Moscow’s intentions were deep-rooted, going back to the 1950s when Soviet words and promises regarding the People’s Republic of China did not measure up to actions. In 1969 the animosity nearly propelled the two powers into a full-blown war. Now in July 1987 the flames of a growing world war threatened to ignite Sino-Soviet mistrust into a conflagration.
Chinese leaders were adamantly opposed to the Soviet Union’s overt encouragement, and material support of the North Korean regime. Beijing viewed it as a blatant incursion of China’s sphere of influence. Added to this concern was the fact China had been determined to keep the fighting in Asia and the Western Pacific to a minimum. This desire had been communicated to Moscow even before the first shots of the war were fired. The Soviet actions regarding North Korea showed that the Kremlin had openly ignored China’s aim. Now, with war raging in Korea it appeared certain that the Soviet Union was pursuing its own agenda in the region and it was in direct conflict with China’s own.
Chinese and Soviet officials did meet in Beijing to discuss North Korea’s growing close relationship with Moscow on D+7. The negotiations went nowhere, concluding with China warning the Soviet Union not to encourage North Korea to take action against its southern neighbor. The next day Pyongyang formally invited Soviet military advisers and equipment to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Moscow eagerly accepted the invitation.
Less than two hours later, shooting incidents between Chinese and Soviet forces stationed along the border in the Far East region broke out. One of the clashes escalated dangerously through the afternoon and evening. Two companies of Chinese infantry slipped across the border and attacked a Soviet border guard outpost at Turiy Rog causing heavy casualties. The alarm went out and the nearby motor rifle battalion reacted. The Chinese troops were engaged and sustained heavy losses. The Soviet motor rifle force pursued them across the border where Chinese reinforcements joined the battle. For much of the night and following day, the better part of one Soviet, and two Chinese regiments fought a see-saw battle on the border, with both sides supported by artillery and close air support. The commanders of the Soviet Far Eastern Military District, and Chinese Shenyang MD saw clearly the direction this battle was going in, and by 2000 on D+9 all forces were back in their respective territory and the shooting came to an end.
Author’s Note: I have to stretch this to a third part unfortunately. I was away for a couple of days and couldn’t meet the schedule I had laid down for posting. So tomorrow I’ll conclude Western Pacific D+11 (Sino-Soviet section and naval) and then move forward.