Three Worlds Theory

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In the field of international relations, the Three Worlds Theory (simplified Chinese: 三个世界的理论; traditional Chinese: 三個世界的理論; pinyin: Sān gè Shìjiè de Lǐlùn), by Mao Zedong, proposes three politico-economic worlds: the First world consisting of superpowers, the Second world of developing powers, and the Third world of exploited nations.[1]

The First world comprises the US and the USSR, the superpower countries engaged in imperialism and in social imperialism. The Second world comprises Japan and Canada, Europe and the countries of the global North–South divide. The Third world comprises the countries of Africa, Latin America, and continental Asia.[2] In 1974, the Vice-Premier of the PRC, Deng Xiaoping, explained the Three Worlds Theory at the special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the problems of raw materials and development, about the PRC's cooperation with non-communist countries.[3]

As political science, the Three Worlds Theory is a Maoist interpretation of international relations different from the Three-World Model, created by the demographer Alfred Sauvy, wherein the First World comprises the US, Great Britain, and their allies; the Second World comprises the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and their allies; and the Third World comprises the economically underdeveloped countries and the countries of the Nonaligned movement.[4]


The Communist leaders of China and Albania, Mao Zedong and Enver Hoxha in 1956, before the Sino–Albanian split (1972–78).

In the Communist Bloc, Mao Zedong's Three Worlds Theory provoked opposition from anti-revisionist Marxist political parties, such as the Party of Labour of Albania (1945–91), led by Enver Hoxha, who proposed an alternative ideology of world-systems that contradicted the Stalinist worldview of Mao and the Peaceful Co-existence worldview of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Such ideological disputes culminated in the Sino-Albanian split (1972–78), between the People's Republic of China and People's Socialist Republic of Albania (1946–92).

Moreover, the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, in France, and the Maoist Internationalist Movement, in the U.S., sought to establish a Communist International based upon Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, without the ideologic limitations of the Russian and Chinese interpretations of Marxism, and excluded the Three Worlds Theory from their programs, not considering it part of Maoism but Dengism.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chairman Mao's Theory of the Differentiation of the Three Worlds is a Major Contribution to Marxism-Leninism". People's Daily. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. ^ Gillespie, Sandra (2004). "Diplomacy on a South-South Dimension". In Slavik, Hannah (ed.). Intercultural Communication and Diplomacy. Diplo Foundation. p. 123.
  3. ^ Teng Hsiao-ping (April 12, 1974). "Excerpts From Chinese Address to U. N. Session on Raw Materials; Plundering, Bullying' High-Handed Measures' Independent Development". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  4. ^ Penguin Dictionary of International Relations (1998) Graham Evan and Jeffrey Newnham, Eds., pp. 314–15

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