Journal of Northeast Asian Studies

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 33–45 | Cite as

Changes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union: The effects on China

  • Robert G. Sutter


The rapidly changing political, economic, and security policies in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in late 1989 and 1990 have added to the complications faced by Chinese leaders since they decided to suppress the unprecedented large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in Chinese cities in spring 1989. These changes had an obvious “ripple effect” in China, encouraging prodemocracy forces and alarming Chinese leaders. They attracted strong positive attention from the developed countries of the West and Japan, and international financial institutions and businesses. This came at the indirect expense of China. And they accelerated changes in world politics (especially in U.S.-Soviet relations) and in the politics of government decision making in the West that promised to reduce China’s relative influence in world affairs in the 1990s.

The prospect of reduced influence abroad and curbed economic contacts did not appear to be sufficient cause for Beijing leaders to markedly change existing policies. Chinese leaders in mid-1990 appeared focused on issues of internal political power at a time of leadership transition. Significant changes in policy appeared most likely to await leadership changes as Deng Xiaoping and other aged leaders die or are incapacitated.


Foreign Policy World Politics Northeast ASIAN Study Chinese Leader World Affair 
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© Springer-Verlag 1991

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  • Robert G. Sutter

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