His health failing rapidly, Chairman Mao may not last through the year. Will the post-Mao era bring war or peace between the Chinese dragon and the Russian bear? In February 1950, in the midst of a freezing Russian winter, Mao Tse-tung stood beaming in a Moscow railway stat ion at the conclusion of a two-month slay in the Soviet Union. Bundled in a heavy fur coat and wearing a woolen cap, the Chairman paused briefly before boarding his train to speak to the onlooking crowd. Having just concluded a mutual defense treaty with the Kremlin and having received his new nation's first foreign loan for $300 million, he confidently declared that Chinese-Soviet friendship would be "everlasting, indestructible, and in alienable." His prediction turned out to be one of history's worst. By 1963, the "everlasting" friendship lay in ruins, wrecked by bitter ideological rivalry. Since then, Sino-Soviet relations have been on ice.
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