When Khrushchev called Mao an old prostitute

In the late 1950s, the two most powerful communist leaders in the World were Nikita Khrushchev (Soviet Union) and Mao Zedong (China). Although officially still allies, they did not particularly care for each other and both thought of themselves as the World leader of communism.

In 1958, Mao invited Khrushchev to Beijing and insisted talks were held in a swimming pool, well aware of the fact that the Soviet leader could not swim. In 1959, during a conversation of Khrushchev with a Chinese diplomat, the Soviet politician referred to Mao as an “old boot”, which was a somewhat mild insult in Russian. In Chinese however, the word for boot and prostitute are the same. Therefore the Chinese diplomat thought Mao was being called an old whore.  In the years after, the Chinese and Soviet relations would cool off and result in the  split of the coalition.

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Information sources:

The Cold War, TV Series, Episode 15

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