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Beyond the Steppe FrontierA History of the Sino-Russian Border$
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Sören Urbansky

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691181684

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691181684.001.0001

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Watermelons and Abandoned Watchtowers

Watermelons and Abandoned Watchtowers

(p.251) 8 Watermelons and Abandoned Watchtowers
Beyond the Steppe Frontier

Sören Urbansky

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the development of Sino-Soviet relations and their impact on the Argun borderland from the post-Mao and post-Brezhnev years to the early 1990s. It explores how the boundary between the two communist states gradually became permeable again through center-driven political and economic reconciliation between the two countries and how, with slackening control at the border and the simultaneous political and economic power breakdown of the Soviet Union, informal cross-border contacts grew as well. While the border was still heavily guarded, the borderland soon slipped out of the control of the metropole, at least on the Soviet side of the barbed-wire fence. Indeed, the chapter argues that local initiatives accelerated the process of rapprochement between the two sides. Officially approved contact channels were quickly replaced by zones created by the local border people.

Keywords:   Sino-Soviet relations, Argun borderland, post-Mao era, post-Brezhnev era, political reconciliation, economic reconciliation, border controls, power breakdowns, cross-border contacts, local initiatives

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