Enhancing Students’ Understanding of Bi-Polarity in the History Classroom , pp. 11 of 13

Cold War Developments

February 1950

China and the USSR signed the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance. Both countries promised to come to each other’s aid if either country was attacked.

25 June 1950

The Korean War breaks out in the Korean Peninsula, with North Korean forces crossing the 38th parallel and invading South Korea. The USSR has been repeatedly accused of assisting the North Korean forces.

October 1950

Chinese forces joined the North Korean forces to fight against the American-led UN forces at the Yalu River after repeated warnings to the United States that China would join the war if the American-led UN forces crossed the 38th parallel.


The Bandung Conference was the first large-scale meeting of newly-independent Asian and African states in Bandung, Indonesia which led to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The states sought the ‘third way’ of non-alignment in the face of growing Cold War bi-polarity, reduce reliance on Soviet or American aid.


The deterioration of Sino-Soviet relations saw the Chinese Communist Party denouncing the Soviet interpretation of communism, and called the Soviet Communist Party ‘traitors’. Their troops also clashed with each other at the common border in 1969.

August 1961

The construction of the Berlin Wall saw the fortification of the Cold War boundaries, physically separating West Berlin from the surrounding East Germany, and preventing East Germans from escaping to or through West Berlin.

October 1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis happened, where the USA discovered Soviet nuclear deployment in Cuba on 16 October 1962 and President Kennedy announced the naval blockade of Cuba on 22 October. Tensions were eventually defused when Khrushchev decided to remove all tactical missiles from Cuba.

5 August 1963

Kennedy and Khrushchev signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty. The treaty, signed by the USA, the USSR and Britain, prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons except underground. It went into effect on 10 October 1963.

May 1972

Following the policy of détente, both the USA and USSR held Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in May 1972 in an attempt to limit, and later reduce the number of nuclear weapons that they possessed. They also signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in May 1972, limiting their possession of anti-ballistic missile sites to two for each superpower.

December 1979

American-Soviet relations deteriorated after the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. The USSR sent in troops to Afghanistan to restore political order. This resulted in President Jimmy Carter cancelling the ongoing arms limitation talks and imposed embargoes on grain and technology against the USSR

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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