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(19) Exporting revolutions(3)

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Not only did the CCP export revolutions to Africa and Latin America, but it also spent a great deal of effort to gain influence over Albania, another communist country. As early as when Nikita Khrushchev gave his secret speech marking the era of de-Stalinization, Albania was ideologically aligned with the CCP. Mao was greatly pleased, and thus he began the program of giving “aid” to Albania, regardless of the cost.

Xinhua News Agency reporter Wang Hongqi wrote, “From 1954 to 1978, China provided financial aid to the Party of Labour of Albania 75 times; the sum in the agreement was more than 10 billion Chinese yuan.”

At the time, the population of Albania was only around two million, which meant each person received the equivalent of four thousand Chinese yuan. On the other hand, the average annual income of a Chinese person at the time was no more than two hundred yuan. Within this period, China was also experiencing the Great Leap Forward and the resulting famine, as well as the economic collapse caused by Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

During the Great Famine, China used its extremely scarce hard currency foreign reserves to import food supplies. In 1962, Rez Millie, the Albanian ambassador to China, demanded aid in food supplies. Under the command of Party vice chairman Liu, the Chinese ship carrying wheat purchased from Canada and due for China changed course and unloaded the wheat at an Albanian port. [22]

Meanwhile, Albania took the CCP’s aid for granted and wasted it. The enormous amount of steel, machine equipment, and precision instruments sent from China were left exposed to the elements. Albanian officials were dismissive: “It’s of little importance. If it breaks or disappears, China will simply give us more.”

China helped Albania construct a textile factory, but Albania did not have cotton, so China had to use its foreign reserves to buy cotton for Albania. On one occasion, the vice president of Albania, Adil Çarçani, asked Di Biao, the Chinese ambassador in Albania at the time, to replace major equipment at a fertilizer factory, and demanded that the equipment be from Italy. China then bought machines from Italy and installed them for Albania.

Such so-called aid only instills greed and laziness in the recipient. In October 1974, Albania demanded a loan of five billion yuan from China. At the time, it was late in the Cultural Revolution, and China’s economy had collapsed almost completely. In the end, China still decided to lend one billion yuan. However, Albania was greatly unsatisfied and started an anti-Chinese movement in its country with slogans like “We shall never bow our heads in the face of economic pressure from a foreign country.” It also declined to support China with petroleum and asphalt.

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The socialist system in Eastern Europe was entirely a product of the Soviet Union. After World War II, according to the division of power laid down at the Yalta Conference, Eastern Europe was handed over to the Soviet Union.

In 1956, after Khrushchev’s secret speech, Poland was the first country where protests broke out. After protests by factory workers, a crackdown, and apologies from the government, Poland elected Władysław Gomułka, who was hawkish on the Soviet Union and willing to stand up to Khrushchev.

An attempted revolution in Hungary then took place in October 1956. A group of students gathered and toppled the bronze statue of Stalin in Budapest. Soon after, many joined the protest and clashed with police. Police opened fire, and at least 100 protesters were killed.

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