China and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

Ann: online CWIHP Working Paper
The Cold War International History Project is pleased to announce the publication of Working Paper No. 54, Evolution and Revolution: Sino-Hungarian Relations and the 1956 Revolution, by Péter Vámos, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Drawing on newly available Hungarian and Chinese archival documents, Vámos examines a still controversial aspect of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution—China’s role in the Soviet decision-making during October and November 1956. Arguing against the claim that Chinese pressure was critical in convincing Soviet leaders to intervene militarily in Hungary, Vámos notes that the commonly accepted narrative-namely that Mao Zedong realized the true "counter-revolutionary" character of the Hungarian events, and thus exerted Chinese influence in order to persuade a weak Khrushchev to intervene militarily-is not supported by the documentary record. Vámos argues that this legend only came into existence in the 1960s, with the attempt by Chinese propagandists to conceal evidence of Chinese subservience to the Soviet Union during the 1950s. Placing special attention on how the Hungarian events influenced Chinese policy-making and propaganda, Vámos concludes that Beijing’s interest in the Hungarian events was primarily focused on drawing lessons for use domestically, and that in 1956, the Chinese government was not prepared for an open confrontation with Moscow over the Hungarian issue.

The Working Paper can be downloaded at the CWIHP website ([url][/url]). This publication has been made possible by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and other donors.


The Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) is a clearinghouse and research institute for international Cold War history based at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. CWIHP collects, translates, and publishes declassified documents from former Communist world and other archives. It supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War, and seeks to accelerate the process of integrating new sources, materials and perspectives from the former "Communist bloc" and other countries into Cold War historiography.

A tax-exempt public charity, the Cold War International History Project/Woodrow Wilson Center receives funding from the Korea Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and other donors.

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