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China's Road to the Korean War by Chen Jian
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China's Road to the Korean War

by Chen Jian

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This is an excellent book, written from largely Chinese primary sources. The terms "seminal" and "groundbreaking" are used ad nauseum these days, but it is really true for this book. Chen argues that Mao bullied the PRC into the Korean War as a way to advance his revolutionary agenda both at home and abroad. Most high level Chinese Communists opposed supporting Kim Il Song, but Mao's authority forced it forward. Korea was an opportunity to advance the Communist cause because the United States was more concerned about Europe and would not intervene to save the South Koreans. Once it was clear that this assumption was mistaken, he saw an opportunity to further his domestic agenda. A direct conflict with the United States would allow Mao to mobilize the Chines masses and overcome opposition to his policies domestically. In this respect, the war was a success for him. Militarily and diplomatically, it was a disaster.

As with any ground-breaking work, some parts of Chen's analysis may come under challenge, particularly if more Chinese and Soviet documents become available. Even so, the support he provides for his overall thesis is impressive and very convincing. Anyone interested in the Chinese side of the Korean War must read this book. ( )
  Scapegoats | Feb 16, 2013 |
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In October 1950, one year after the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC), Mao Zedong and the Beijing leadership sent "Chinese People's Volunteers" (CPV) to Korea to fight against United Nations forces moving rapidly toward the Chinese- Korean border. Although China's intervention saved Kim Il-sung's North Korean Communist regime from imminent collapse, it was unable to fulfill the Beijing leadership's hopes of overwhelming the U N forces. Therefore, when the Korean War ended in July 1953, Korea's political map remained virtually unchanged, while America's military intervention in Korea and China's rushing into a conflict with the United States finally buried any hope for a Sino-American accommodation, and the Cold War in Asia entered a new stage characterized by a total confrontation between the PRC and the United States that would last nearly twenty years.… (more)

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