I was surfing around and ran across something about the Chinese snagging a Soviet tank during an abortive border incursion during the Sino-Soviet split. The Chinese uses the captured tank
For a template to improve their domestic tank industry. The resulting Type 69 which I saw a lot of in the Persian Gulf War because the Chinese sold a boatload of them to Saddam Hussain so he could replace what has been destroyed in the resulting fight with the Iranians during the the Iran–Iraq War which also contributed to Iraq's defeat in the Persian Gulf
War. Iraq's military was accustomed to fighting the slow moving Iranian
infantry formations with artillery and static defenses, while using
mostly unsophisticated tanks to gun down and shell the infantry and
overwhelm the smaller Iranian tank force; in addition to being dependent
on weapons of mass destruction
to help secure victories. Therefore, they were rapidly overwhelmed by
the high-tech, quick-maneuvering US forces using modern doctrines such
as AirLand Battle, that we had developed to counter and disrupt the Soviet armored formations.
Convention of Peking which gave them Outer
Manchuria and other Chinese lands. When both countries became communist,
their nagging border dispute was swept under the rug, especially since
China needed Russian technological expertise.
At least till Nikita Kruschev ruined it. In February 1956, he hosted the 20th Congress of the Communist Party and denounced Joseph Stalin as a monster, demanding reforms.
Zedong, China’s head honcho, was shocked. He thought of Stalin as a
comrade-in-arms. Worse, he believed that Kruschev was also attacking
him, for Mao felt that purges and summary executions were necessary for
China’s transition from its feudalist past.
Then in 1958, Kruschev wanted to install long wave radio stations along China’s coast to help guide Soviet submarines.
was suspicious but agreed on the condition that China be given nuclear
weapons. Kruschev balked, even though Chinese scientists had
already received blueprints for an atomic bomb from their Russian
When Kruschev visited
the US in 1959, Mao accused him of sucking up to capitalists. Things
came to a head in 1962 when China used the Cuban Missile Crisis as an
opportunity to occupy India’s Aksai-Chin region, and the USSR sided with
India. But when Kruschev pulled Soviet missiles out of Cuba, Mao had
had enough, and the official friendship between the two nations ended.
1964, Mao claimed that the Treaty of Beijing had been unfair. He
demanded a return of territories under Soviet control, including Zhenbao
(Treasure) Island, which the Russians called Damanski.
mitigate increasing tensions, Kruschev agreed to hand over Zhenbao and
other lands, but Mao screwed it up a few months later. During a speech,
he jokingly said that he’d present Russia with a bill for their
occupation of Siberia, the Far East, and Kamchatka. Kruschev was
furious, so he nullified his agreement with Mao.
Soviet troops began massing on the disputed border. Though
technologically inferior to Russia, Mao was convinced that China’s
superior numbers would far outweigh Russian technology. He was right.
Arkady Nikolayevich Shevchenko (former Under Secretary General of the
UN) defected to the US in 1978, he admitted that the USSR was terrified
of China’s numbers. Shevchenko claimed that if Mao attacked, the Kremlin
was going to launch nuclear missiles.
But Nikolai Vasilyevich
Ogarkov, Marshal of the Soviet Union, cautioned against it. He knew they
couldn’t nuke China without consequences to themselves. But while the
Soviets thought of self-preservation, Mao did not.
just couldn’t grasp how dangerous nuclear weapons really were, calling
them “America’s Paper Tigers.” He was convinced that China’s vast size
and numbers protected it from any possibility of nuclear annihilation.
Still, he took no chances, so on October 16, 1964, China detonated its
first atomic bomb in their test area.
only got worse from there. According to the official Chinese version,
some of their civilians were attacked by Soviet troops in border
regions. Others who peacefully protested illegal Soviet occupation were
allegedly run over by Soviet tanks.
The Soviets claim that Chinese
soldiers began haranguing Soviet border posts, some by waving Mao’s
“Red Book” at their faces. To de-escalate tensions, Soviet border guards
were ordered to use sticks to push Chinese nationals back across the
The Chinese retaliated by using longer sticks, resulting
in ridiculous jousts. Later, they sent martial artists and wrestlers to
the border, since neither side wanted outright war nor to lose face.
all came to a head on March 2nd, 1969. In supposed revenge of murdered
Chinese civilians, members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
attacked Soviet border guards on Zhenbao Island – killing 59 and
injuring 94. The Soviets counter-attacked on March 15th by shelling the
PLA on the Chinese side of the Ussuri River.
To take Zhenbao back,
they sent in four of their newest weapons – the still-secret T-62. As they crossed the narrow frozen river, one ran over a landmine.
The other three didn’t bother turning. They simply reversed back to the
A PLA soldier approached the damaged tank, opened
the hatch, and found himself staring at the barrel of a pistol held by
an injured Russian. The man fired, but his gun jammed, allowing the
Chinese soldier to throw a grenade in. The Chinese wanted to tow the
tank away, but sniper fire from the Soviet side prevented that.
following day, the Soviets returned to claim their dead, which the
Chinese allowed. But when they tried to retrieve their tank, the Chinese
fired, forcing them to retreat. On March 21st, the Soviets sent over a
demolition team but were again beaten back by the Chinese.
the Soviets gone, the Chinese navy was called in to help pull the tank
onto the Chinese side. They arrived on March 28th, but were shelled, so
the Chinese tried another tactic.
Using the tank and sniper fire
as cover, engineers began dismantling the T-62. They were still at it on
April 2nd when the ice began to melt. The Soviets took advantage of
this by firing at the ice around the tank till it sank. Satisfied, they
ignored the Chinese navy who continued their efforts to salvage the
tank but whose suits were ill-equipped for the freezing temperatures,
causing many to die of hypothermia. By April 29th, the Chinese pulled
the rest out and sent it to a tank factory in Lyshuen.
Soviets hadn’t given up on their tank. In mid-May, a Chinese saboteur
was caught near the factory with a bag full of explosives. Under
questioning, he admitted to working for the Soviets who wanted him to
destroy the factory and the T-62. He was executed, of course.
tank didn’t turn the balance of power in China’s favor, but it
accomplished something far more important. Mao realized that he couldn’t
fight the Capitalist West and the Soviets at the same time, which led
to a thaw in Chinese-US relations.
Only in 1991 was Zhenbao Island returned to China, but it was only in 2003 that the two nations finally delineated their borders