On July 14, 1969, the Minister of Defense of the PRC, Lin Biao, at a meeting with the military delegations of the DPRK and Albania, declared his readiness "to teach new lessons to the Soviet revisionists encroaching on the ancestral Chinese territories."
The DPRK delegation was silent, and the Minister of Defense of Albania B. Balluku expressed concern that the tension on the border with the USSR could cause an atomic war. Proposing "to defend the sovereignty and security of China, but at the same time restrain the provocative attempts of the USSR to unleash a world war." Lin Biao agreed, but stressed that "it is not we, but the Soviet side that provokes the war." He also recalled that "the other day it was again proved by the events on the primordial Chinese island near Khabarovsk."
The purpose of the then negotiations with the Albanian and Korean military for Beijing was to clarify the position of Pyongyang and Tirana: how far North Korea and Albania can "go" in their criticism of the USSR leadership. Indeed, in particular, Pyongyang, unlike Tirana, did this mostly not publicly. But the Albanians and North Koreans made it clear that they are against a large-scale military conflict with the USSR.
The point is also that about a quarter of the volume of mutual trade between the USSR and the DPRK was carried out through the former CER, which has two outlets to North Korea. Pyongyang clearly feared the seizure of this transit by the Chinese (like the famous conflict at the Chinese Eastern Railway in 1929). The Chinese could well have done such that, blaming the "Kremlin provocations" for this, provoke a confrontation between the DPRK and the USSR.
However, Beijing still did not dare to take such straightforward actions, reasonably believing that Korean leader Kim Il Sung, in the name of self-preservation of his own regime, is able to support Moscow in the Soviet-Chinese conflict.
The Albanian delegation suggested that Moscow, by analogy with Japan's "experience" in creating a puppet state of Manchukuo, could pursue a course of separating this region from the PRC and creating a pro-Soviet regime there. Moreover, a paradoxical scenario was not ruled out, when such an "anti-Chinese enclave" would first be created on some Far Eastern territory of the USSR.
Damansky yesterday, Goldinsky tomorrow?
Such ideas and plans were probably studied in Beijing, but what the Albanians said about this showed that this option is already well known abroad. It seems that this alignment slightly sobered the Chinese adventurers, because in Beijing they preferred to avoid the escalation of a new military conflict - now in the area of Goldinsky Island near Khabarovsk.
On July 9, 1969, the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested to the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Moscow about "… the conflict provoked by the Chinese side on the border island of Goldinsky." The PRC ambassador adopted the relevant note, but said that the incident requires additional verification and that the Soviet side is subjectively interpreting what happened.
The fact that a situation fraught with a large-scale conflict took place not far from Khabarovsk demonstrated Beijing's intentions to directly threaten the large cities and industrial centers of the USSR located near the Soviet-Chinese border.
The anti-Soviet campaign in the PRC unfolded, naturally, with renewed vigor. For example, the Chinese media renewed calls "not to be afraid of sacrifices in the name of China's security and the return of territories seized by imperialist tsarist Russia"; provocations resumed against the Soviet embassies and trade missions in the PRC.
And Chinese loudspeakers almost along the entire border (including in Central Asia) in Russian regularly repeated the incantation:
“The Soviet military, deceived by the clique of the Kremlin revisionists, who betrayed the name and deed of Lenin-Stalin! You are shedding the blood of our military and peasants. But beware! We will give the same crushing rebuff that we gave in Damansky!"
Thus, Beijing made it clear that the situation on the Far Eastern border would not be normalized until Moscow renounced Soviet ownership of most of the islands on the Amur and Ussuri. This campaign was also "stimulated" by the fact that comments appeared in the US and Taiwan media simultaneously that, they say, the military threat to the PRC from the USSR was increasing again.
The Taiwanese media's assessments of the conflicts of that time in the 1970s are quite typical. In short, the alliance with the Stalinist USSR was a priority for Beijing, because there they did not remember about the "lost" territories. But in the second half of the 1950s, according to the Chinese authorities, Moscow began to escalate tensions on the border, to build up weapons in the border areas.
Beijing's cup of patience was overwhelmed by the Soviet military-technical support of India in its military conflict with the PRC in 1961-62, which India lost. We must not forget that at that time rocket launchers were approached to the border of the USSR with the PRC. And the well-known ideological conflict between Moscow and Beijing was intensified by the above-mentioned factors, which led to claims to the territories "captured" by Russia and to military conflicts.
… The swampy island of Goldinsky is much larger than Damansky (about 90 sq. Km). It is located on the Amur River at the junction of the borders of the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region with Heilongjiang. And, we repeat, not far from Khabarovsk. Almost half of the island was Chinese, so possible long-range Chinese artillery shelling of this section of the border would surely cover Khabarovsk and, accordingly, could well interrupt the operation of the Trans-Siberian Railway. This geography forced the Soviet side to refrain from a massive response to Chinese provocations in the same area.
And in Khabarovsk on the same days, the 15th scheduled meeting of the Soviet-Chinese commission on navigation on border rivers was held. And during this meeting, the Chinese went to the provocation. Our river workers (9 people) went to serve the navigation signs on the Soviet part of Gol'dinsky Island. At the talks, Soviet representatives informed the Chinese that Soviet specialists would continue to service these signs. The Chinese side did not mind. And yet, the PRC military set up an ambush on this island.
Here is the information of the portal "Modern Army" (RF) dated June 7, 2013:
… the Chinese military organized an ambush on the island of Goldinsky against Soviet river workers, moreover, unarmed. When they landed on Gol'dinsky (precisely in its Soviet part. - Author's note), for the maintenance and repair of the leading signs, the river workers were ambushed, and the boats were thrown with grenades. As a result, one river operator died and three were injured, the boats were seriously damaged.
River border boats in the middle of the day drove out the Chinese troops from this part of Gol'dinsky. But Moscow did not dare to apply tougher military measures, unlike Damansky. Subsequently, in the early 2000s, Goldinsky became entirely Chinese.
Why did the Soviet media "keep silent"?
Everything seems to be clear: there was no command. However, according to the "Pacific Star" (Khabarovsk, January 26, 2005), everything is much more complicated. After all
… as a result of the last (already in 2004) border demarcation, many islands and a significant part of the Amur water area near Khabarovsk had to be ceded to the Chinese. Such, for example, islands as Lugovskoy, Nizhnepetrovsky, Evrasikha, Goldinsky, Vinny and others.
And all these islands are not like Damansky, but much larger. Goldinsky alone, sprinkled with the blood of our railway workers in the 1969 conflict, is about one hundred square kilometers.
Some Chinese sources, "close" to the official ones, referred in the 70s to a statement allegedly by Khrushchev in 1964 that "Mao can be pacified by handing over to China the disputed islands on border rivers and lakes. The Chinese media are very active in recalling these issues. since 1961, simultaneously with the defense of Stalin. " Khrushchev, obviously, believed that in order to divide such a block of pressure, "it would be possible to resolve the issues of the border islands. Maybe then they will calm down with Stalin."
At the same time, Beijing apparently believed that the post-Khrushchev Soviet leadership was inclined to the same position on the islands and therefore decided to "push" with provocations. In a broader context, the Chinese authorities were convinced that Moscow would not dare to engage in a tough military confrontation with Beijing, due to the growing military and political rivalry between the USSR and the United States.
It must be admitted that, on the whole, this concept has justified itself. Judging by the information from the mentioned portal:
In September 1969, an agreement was adopted on the non-use of force on the mutual border (between the prime ministers of the USSR and the PRC in Beijing on September 11 - Ed. Note), but only in 1970-72. and only in the sector of the Far Eastern border district 776 provocations were recorded, in 1977 - 799, and in 1979 - more than 1000.
In total, from 1975 to 1980, 6,894 violations of the border regime were committed by the Chinese side. Moreover, using this agreement, by 1979 the Chinese had mastered 130 of the 300 islands on the Amur and Ussuri rivers. Including 52 out of 134, where the Soviet side did not allow them to carry out economic activities.
Judging by these data, it is clear why the Goldin incident was so diligently soaked in the USSR. After Damansky and other serious military conflicts on the border, a US-Chinese political and soon economic rapprochement quickly emerged. And this also threatened to oust Moscow from the main roles in the negotiations to resolve the situation in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos.
As Vice President of the United States (1969-73) Spiro Agnew, a Greek by nationality, noted a little later in his memoirs, “the portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin in Beijing and the rest of communist China, the development of our contacts with the PRC soon after Damansky."
In other words, the process went in favor of the PRC and, in accordance with the Agreement between the government of the USSR and the government of the PRC "On the state border on its eastern part" of May 16, 1991, and in the next 14 years Damansky and almost all other Russian islands, contested Beijing (and there are about 20 in total), went to China.
However, in August 1969, Beijing set out to seize the disputed areas on the Central Asian border with the USSR, provoking a military conflict in that region. And here Moscow agreed with these claims, which obviously needs to be discussed separately.
On the part of Khrushchev, and then of his successors, for some reason, there was always hope for the moderation of the Chinese position in relation to Stalin if the island disputes were resolved in favor of Beijing. However, the CCP never "traded" ideology, and this kind of hope has not been met to this day.
So, on December 15, 2018, on the eve of the 139th anniversary of the birth of Stalin, the Minister of Public Education of the People's Republic of China Lian Jinjing said that in our time it is impossible to be a competent economist or specialist in humanitarian disciplines "related to the study of the mechanisms of the functioning of society without knowing the works Stalin - the great Marxist and thinker of the Soviet era ".
We must not forget that with all the use of purely capitalist methods of management, the PRC is building precisely the Stalinist model of the economy. The same Minister Liang especially focused the attention of the audience on this. And the minister confidently attributed the obvious economic successes of China to "first of all, the introduction of precisely those models that were developed personally by Stalin and on his initiative in the post-war period of the development of the Soviet Union."