02
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-2-08: Ussuri River Incident

1807 – The U.S. Congress passed an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States… from any foreign kingdom, place, or country.”

1836 – Texas declared its independence from Mexico and an ad interim government was formed.

1877 – In the U.S., Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner of the 1876 presidential election by the U.S. Congress. Samuel J. Tilden, however, had won the popular vote on November 7, 1876.

1897 – U.S. President Cleveland vetoed legislation that would have required a literacy test for immigrants entering the country.

1899 – Mount Rainier National Park in Washington was established by the U.S. Congress.

1901 – The U.S. Congress passed the Platt amendment, which limited Cuban autonomy as a condition for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

1908 – In Paris, Gabriel Lippmann introduced three-dimensional color photography at the Academy of Sciences.

1917 – The Russian Revolution began with Czar Nicholas II abdicating.

1919 – In the Soviet Union, the first Communist International (Comintern) meets in Moscow.

1933 – The motion picture King Kong had its world premiere in New York.

1946 – Ho Chi Minh was elected President of Vietnam.

1969 – Russian and Chinese forces exchange fire at a border outpost on the Ussuri River in eastern Russia.

1974 – Postage stamps jumped from 8 to 10 cents for first-class mail.

1995 – Russian anti-corruption journalist Vladislav Listyev was killed by a gunman in Moscow.

2000 – In Great Britain, Chile’s former President Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was freed from house arrest and allowed to return to Chile. Britain’s Home Secretary Jack Straw had concluded that Pinochet was mentally and physically unable to stand trial. Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland had sought the former Chilean leader on human-rights violations.

Ussuri River Incident

At a time in world history when it seemed Communism was on the verge of realizing the Marxist dream of global revolution, the two principle Communist nations, China and the Soviet Union, squabbled over an island in the Ussuri River.  A squabble which allowed the United States to make inroads into Communist China and eventually led to diplomatic relations between the United States and China.

The first incident as reported by CNN’s Bruce Kennedy in an online article, Chinese-Soviet border clashes:  Centuries-old dispute became open combat during Cold War, occurred on March 2, 1969. 

Christian Ostermann, of the Cold War International History Project, recently uncovered a report, sent to East Germany’s leadership, in which the Soviet Union describes its version of the first deadly border clash, which took place on Damansky, or Zhen Bao, Island on March 2, 1969:

“Our observation posts noted the advance of 30 armed Chinese military men on the island of Damansky. Consequently, a group of Soviet border guards was dispatched to the location where the Chinese had violated the border. The officer in charge of the unit and a small contingent approached the border violators with the intention of registering protests and demanding (without using force) that they leave Soviet territory, as had been done repeatedly in the past. But within the first minutes of the exchange, our border guards came under crossfire and were insidiously shot without any warning. At the same time, fire on the remaining parts of our force was opened from an ambush on the island and from the Chinese shore.” http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/15/spotlight/

Colonel David M Marks in his report about the Ussuri River Incident wrote, “The Chinese claimed that from 23 January 1967 until 2 March 1969 Soviet troops intruded into Damansky sixteen times, using “helicopters, armored cars and vehicles.” The Chinese further assert that the Soviets were guilty of  “ramming Chinese fishing boats, robbing Chinese fishermen, turning high-pressure hoses on fishermen, assaulting and wounding Chinese frontier guards, seizing arms and ammunition, and even violating Chinese air space by overflights.” Finally, the Chinese charged that the Soviets provoked a total of 4189 border incidents from the breakdown of border negotiations on 15 October 1964 to the March 1969 incident. Thus, there was an increasing degree of border tension and dispute beginning with the January phase of the Cultural Revolution and extending to the end of that period of Chinese history, 1966-68.” http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1971/jul-aug/marks.html

At first glance it would appear that at a time in history when Communist Revolution seemed poised to spread throughout the world, the truth was something less clear and it may actually be stated that global Communism controlled by the Kremlin was in fact waning.

A Chinese saying goes: ” Whoever understands the times is a great man.”  http://au.china-embassy.org/eng/zt/zgxz/t46100.htm

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