The people who have triumphed in their own revolution should help those still struggling for liberation. This is our internationalist duty. Mao Zedong
In the middle of October 1975, a dusty column of South African troops, equipped with armoured cars and helicopters, rumbled north into Angola, further internationalizing the already complex civil war there. The South African attack not only broadened the war, prompting an even greater Cuban intervention, it also posed a dilemma for China, which supported the same Angolan parties as did South Africa: should China follow its policy of tit-for-tat opposition to Soviet expansion world-wide, even if it meant allying with the racist government of South Africa? Or should it follow the opinions of its fellow Third World nations in Africa, even if it led to a Soviet bloc advance? The difficulty China's leaders faced in the autumn of 1975 was one which had hidden origins in the different ways in which China viewed conflicts around the world, a difficulty that had lain dormant for years but which erupted in 1975 into full view, and with disastrous consequences for Chinese foreign policy in Africa. It is, moreover, a discrepancy which continues to exist in China's views of the world today.
How does China view conflicts and revolutions in the Third World? How do the Chinese organize their relations with Third World revolutionary organizations and their post-independence governments? This article examines the tensions and shifts of Chinese policy towards two essentially simultaneous revolutionary struggles and their post-independence governments: Angola and Mozambique.