Three Worlds Theory

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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, is a theory of international relations, which 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 US and the Soviet Union compose the First World group of countries, which engaged in imperialism and in social imperialism. Japan and Canada, Europe and the countries of the global North–South divide composed the Second world. The countries of Africa, Latin America, and Asia (except Japan) composed the Third World.[2] In 1974, at the U.N., the Chinese Vice-Premier, Deng Xiaoping, explained the Three Worlds Theory during his speech to the about the problems of the plundering of raw materials and development, concerning 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 ideologically non-aligned countries.[4]


Some anti-revisionist political parties and organizations were disillusioned by the Three Worlds Theory. Subsequently, in Albania, Enver Hoxha, leader of the Party of Labour of Albania, posited an ideological alternative, opposed to both the Three Worlds Theory and to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s stance. This led to the Sino-Albanian split among communist parties previously aligned with China and Albania.

The Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and the Maoist Internationalist Movement, founders of the modern Maoist movement, were also highly critical of Three Worlds Theory and left it completely out of their respective programs, considering it to fall under the banner of Mao-Zedong-Thought rather than Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

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. 
  2. ^ Gillespie, Sandra (2004). "Diplomacy on a South-South Dimension". In Slavik, Hannah. 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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