During the Sino-Soviet split did China ever offer support to separatist groups within the Soviet Union in the hope that they would break away and align themselves with Beijing? I have heard some discussion, although very little, about the thought that they might have tried to court the Central Asian republics and appeal to their common Asian identity. To me it would seem to make sense for the Chinese to pursue such a policy. Did they ever do this?
Happiness is in your ability to love others. - Leo Tolstoy
As far as I know separatism wasn't a big issue in the USSR, not until late in Gorbachev's reign did separatism and nationalism rear its ugly head. Only in the Baltic states were there significant feelings of independence, so much so that there were the first three to declare independence from the USSR.
In relation to the Central Asian republics, they were one of the last to declare independence. Taking a look back at history, these areas were under Russian influence for over a century. There was no central state that czarist Russia invaded and annexed. There were only Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kirgiz peoples in territory dominated by Russia. It was not until Stalin's reign that each of these nationalities were given a homeland.
In regards to separatism in Central Asia, there were no significant traces until at least 1989. By that time Gorbachev was working on restoring ties with the Chinese. It can be said that the Central Asians did not want independence because it would surely lead to widespread poverty and instability, which it did.
The only significant concern of China's was their hope to regain control over Mongolia and outer Manchuria. Territories that it had lost with the fall of the Qing Dynasty, and a series of treaties with Russia in the 19th century, respectively.
The question would be, if there were rebels in the Central Asian republics would China be willing to help them? Most likely not, one can say that China had their own piece of Central Asia, the Xinjiang Province. Stirring up nationalism would and could spread into its own borders, something which still remains a significant danger today.
China only chose to challenge the USSR on the international stage. They had helped fund Maoist rebels or anti-Soviet rebels and states in the third world. The Khmer Rouge, the Mujahideen, and Albania.
Hostilities on Soviet land went as far as border clashes in the 1960's. No side would try to stir up a major conflict with each other.
We have beaten you to the moon, but you have beaten us in sausage making.- Nikita Khrushchev
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