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Clash with Soviet troops at Damanskii Island (Zhen Bao) of the Ussuri river (Wusuli Jiang).


1969, March


Probably the most serious of China's border conflicts occurred in March 1969 in the vicinity of Zhenbao Island on the Ussuri River, also known as Damanskii Island in Russian. On March 2, 1969, a group of Chinese troops ambushed Soviet border guards on Zhenbao Island. The Soviets suffered 31 dead and 14 wounded. They retaliated on March 15 by bombarding Chinese troop concentrations on the Chinese bank of the Ussuri and by storming Zhenbao Island. The Soviet forces claimed that the Chinese suffered 800 casualties while the Soviets only had 60 killed or wounded. The Chinese claim to have suffered only a few casualties. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the island was given to China.

Commentary: Many researchers have argued that the 1969 Sino-Soviet border crisis was a premeditated act of violence orchestrated by the Chinese side. They believe that China acted out of desperation following Russia's 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and the associated Brezhnev Doctrine which proclaimed Russia's dynastic ambitions. However, China's provocation of the border conflict may also have been caused by Mao's need at that particular time for an external threat to unify the country (Goldstein, 2001).



Goldstein, Lyle J. (2001): Who started shooting and why it matters. In: The China Quarterly, Vol. 168, 985-997


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