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1. Except for a few books written by journalists, such
as Isidor F. Stone's The Hidden History of the Korean
War (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1952), this
approach dominated the study of the origins of the
Korean War in the 1950s and part of the 1960s. See,
e.g., Robert T. Oliver, Why War Came in Korea (New
York: Fordham University Press, 1950); Philip E.
Mosley, “Soviet Policy and the War," Journal of Inter-
national Affairs 6 (Spring 1952), 107-114; Alexander
L. George, “American Policy Making and the North
Korean Aggression,” World Politics 7:2 (January 1955),
209-232; and Tang Tsou, America's Failure in China,
1941-1950 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1963), 555-556. In his classic study of the Korean War,
Korea: The Limited War (New York: St. Martin's
Press, 1964), 18-20, David Rees continued to draw a
picture reflecting a well-coordinated Communist plot
to start the war. For summaries of various scholarly
interpretations of the origins of the Korean War based
on the assumption that the North Korean invasion
obeyed Moscow's grand strategic design, see Denna F.
Fleming, The Cold War and Its Origins, 1917-1960,2
vols. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961), 2:605; and
Kim Hak-joon, “Approaches and Perspectives to the
Origins of War,” in War Memorial Service-Korea,
comp., The Historical Reillumination of the Korean
War (Seoul: Korean War Research Conference Com-
mittee, 1990), 1-9. For general historiographical dis-
cussions of the origins of the Korean War, see John
Merrill, Korea: The Peninsula Origins of the War
(Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1989), chap.
1; Philip West, “Interpreting the Korean War,” Ameri-
can Historical Review 94:1 (February 1989), 80-96;
Rosemary Foot, “Make the Unknown War Known:
Policy Analysis of the Korean Conflict in the Last
Decade,” Diplomatic History 15:3 (Summer 1991),
2. Truman's statement, 27 June 1950, Foreign Rela-
tions of the United States 1950, vol. 7 (Washington,
DC: Government Printing Office), pp. 202-203.
3. Allen S. Whiting, China Crosses the Yalu: The
Decision to Enter the Korean War (New York:
Macmillan, 1960).
4. These interpretations are evident in Robert R.
Simmons, The Strained Alliance: Peking, Pyongyang,
Moscow and the Politics of the Korean Civil War (New
York: The Free Press, 1975); Melvin Gurtov and
Byong-Moo Hwang, China Under Threat: The Poli-
tics of Strategy and Diplomacy (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1980), 25-62; Peter Lowe,
The Origins of the Korean War (London and New
York: Longman, 1986), ix, 189-201; Ronald Keith,
The Diplomacy of Zhou Enlai (New York: St. Martin's,
1989), 45-47; Richard Whelan, Drawing the Line: The
Korean War, 1950-1953 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1990),
5. This approach can be found in a wide range of
Chinese publications, such as Shen Zonghong and
Meng Zhaohui et al., Zhongguo renmin zhiyuanjun
kangmei yuanchao chanshi (History of the War to
Resist America and Assist Korea by the Chinese
People's Volunteers, Beijing: Military Science Press,
1988), chap. 1; Han Nianlong et al., Dangdai zhongguo
waijiao (Contemporary Chinese Diplomacy, Chinese
Social Sciences Press, 1987), 37-38; Hao Yufan and
Zhai Zhihai, in "China's Decision to Enter the Korean
War: History Revisited,” The China Quarterly 121
(March 1990) 94-115, attempt to offer an alternative to
Whiting's thesis but generally follow Whiting's stress
on Beijing's concerns for the safety of the Chinese-
Korean Border.

6. In a series of recent studies, scholars in the U.S. have series.
begun to use the new Chinese sources. Russell Spurr's 10. The most useful ones include Zhonggong dangshi
Enter the Dragon: China's Undeclared War against the jiaoxue cankao ziliao (Reference Materials for Teach-
U.S. in Korea (New York: Newmarket, 1988) was the ing CCP History, Beijing: National Defense University
first one in this regard. Allegedly supported by “infor- Press, 1986), vols. 18-19 (1945-1953); Zhonggong
mation from extensive interviews,” this book appears zhongyang wenjian xuanji (Selected Documents of the
largely based on hearsay and fiction-style imagination. CCP Central Committee, first edition, Beijing: CCP
Harrison Salisbury devotes a whole chapter to China's Central Academy Press, 1983-1987), 14 vols. Both
decision to enter the Korean War in his new book, The collections were published for internal circulation"
New Emperors: China in the Era of Mao and Deng only. An open and generally enlarged version of the
(Boston: Little, Brown, 1992), which is based on a few second collection has been published in 1989-1992, but
interviews and a haphazard reading of secondary Chi- a few important documents are not included.
nese sources. Lacking corroborating documentary 11. Mao Zedong junshi wenxuan (Selected Military
sources, this book contains many errors. The studies by Works of Mao Zedong, Beijing: Soldiers' Press, 1981);
Michael Hunt and Thomas Christensen represent the and Jianguo yilai Mao Zedong wengao (Mao Zedong's
best efforts to reinterpret China's entrance into the Manuscripts Since the Founding of the People's Re-
Korean War with the support of new Chinese sources. public, Beijing: The Central Press of Historical Docu-
Hunt, in “Beijing and the Korean Crisis, June 1950-June ments, 1987, 1989), vol. 1, September 1949-December
1951,Political Science Quarterly 107:3 (Fall 1992), 1950, and vol. 2, January 1951-December 1951. Both
453-478, offers enlightening analyses of Beijing's man- collections are “for internal circulation” only. Also
agement of the Korean Crisis and Mao's direction of the useful are the openly published Mao Zedong junshi
CPV's first-year operations in Korea. Christensen, in wenji (A Collection of Mao Zedong's Military Papers,
"Threats, Assurances, and the Last Chance for Peace: 6 vols., Beijing: Military Science Press and the Central
The Lessons of Mao's Korean War Telegrams,” Inter- Press of Historical Documents, 1993), and Pang Xianzhi
national Security 17:1 (Summer 1992), 122-154, uses et al., Mao Zedong nianpu, 1893-1949 (A Chronology
Beijing's response to the Korean crisis to challenge the of Mao Zedong, 1893-1949, 3 vols., Beijing: People's
traditional view based on deterrence theory. Also of Press and the Central Press of Historical Documents,
note is Sergei N. Goncharov, John W. Lewis, and Xue 1993).
Litai, Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao, and the Korean
War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), which
offers interesting, though sometimes highly specula-

Chen Jian is Associate Professor of History at tive, interpretations of the Sino-Soviet alliance and its

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. This relation to the origins of the Korean War. 7. The most important ones include Chai Chengwen and

article is adapted from the introduction to his Zhao Yongjun, Banmendian tanpan (The Panmunjom

China's Road to the Korean War; The Making of Negotiations, Beijing: People's Liberation Army Press,

the Sino-American Confrontation (New York: 1989; second edition, 1992); Du Ping, Zai zhiyuanjun Columbia University Press, 1994). zongbu: Du Ping huiyilu (My Days at the Headquarters of the Chinese People's Volunteers: Du Ping's Mem- WILSON CENTER ASIA PROGRAM oirs, Beijing: People's Liberation Army Press, 1988); BOOK ON CCP FOREIGN RELATIONS Hong Xuezhi, Kangmei yuanchao zhanzheng huiyi (Rec

The Asia Program of the Woodrow Wilson ollections of the War to Resist America and Assist Korea, Beijing: People's Liberation Army Literature

International Center for Scholars has published a Press, 1990); Nie Rongzhen, Nie Rongzhen huiyilu (Nie compilation of articles on CCP foreign relations, Rongzhen's Memoirs, Beijing: People's Liberation

revised versions of papers originally prepared for Army Press, 1986); and Shi Zhe, Zai lishi jüren shenbian: a 7-9 July 1992 international academic conferShi Zhe huiyilu (Together with Historical Giants: Shi

ence at the Wilson Center. Toward a History of Zhe's Memoirs, Beijing: The Central Press of Historical

Chinese Communist Foreign Relations, 1920sDocuments, 1991).

1960s: Personalities and Interpretive Ap8. For example, Qi Dexue, Chaoxian zhanzheng juece neimu (The Inside Story of the Decision-making during proaches, edited by Michael H. Hunt and Niu the Korean War, Liaoning: Liaoning University Press,

Jun, contains: Niu Jun, “The Origins of Mao 1991); Xu Yan, Diyici jiaoliang: kangmei yuanchao Zedong's Thinking on International Affairs (1916zhanzheng de lishi huigu yu fansi (The First Test of 1949); He Di, “The Most Respected Enemy: Mao Strength: A Historical Review and Evaluation of the Zedong's Perception of the United States”; Zhang War to Resist America and Assist Korea, Beijing: Chi- Baija, “Zhou Enlai—The Shaper and Founder of nese Broadcasting and Television Press, 1990); Yao Xu,

China's Diplomacy”; Chen Xiaolu, “Chen Yi and Cong yalujiang dao banmendian (From the Yalu River

China's Diplomacy”; Odd Arne Westad, “The to Panmunjom, Beijing: People's Press, 1985); and Zhang Xi, “Before and After Peng Dehuai's Appoint

Foreign Policies of Revolutionary Parties: The ment to Command Troops in Korea,Zhonggong dangshi

CCP in a Comparative Perspective”; Jurgen ziliao (Materials of the CCP History) 31 (1989), 111

Osterhammel, “CCP Foreign Policy as Interna159.

tional History: Mapping the Field"; Michael H. 9. Good examples in this category include Tan Jingqiao Hunt, “CCP Foreign Policy: ‘Normalizing the et al., Kangmei yuanchao zhanzheng (The War to Resist Field”. America and Assist Korea, Beijing: Chinese Social For information on obtaining copies, contact Sciences Press, 1990); and Han Huaizhi and Tan Jingqiao

the Asia Program, Wilson Center, 1000 Jefferson et al., Dangdai zhongguo jundui de junshi gongzuo (The Military Affairs of Contemporary Chinese Army,

Dr. SW, Washington, DC 20560 USA; tel.: (202) Beijing: Chinese Social Sciences Press, 1989), 2 vols.

357-1937; fax: (202) 357-4439; e-mail: Both volumes are part of the "Contemporary China"


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So, Stalin finally took the decision to South
continued from


initiate preparations for the war. At exactly the withdrawal of American troops from

the same time that the above mentioned China was involved in the process of Korea, the 38th parallel lost its meaning; e)

exchange of cables between Moscow and working out communist strategy in Korea in a counterattack was no longer possible since

Pyongyang took place, Mao Zedong was the late 1940s. Basically Mao supported Seoul postponed its plans for an overall

present in the Soviet capital. Stalin dis- Kim's desire "to liberate" the South and offensive against the North.6

cussed with Mao the Korean situation, but even promised to help with troops if necesFinally Stalin ordered a new appraisal according to all available data the Soviet sary. Mao, however, recommended not to of the situation in Korea, sending, on 11

dictator never mentioned to the Chinese hurry things up, to wait until the Chinese September 1949, instructions to the Soviet guest his decision to launch an attack on the completed their revolutionary war. embassy in Pyongyang to study the military,

South as well as his invitation to Kim Il Sung In the beginning of May 1949, North political, and international aspects of a posto come to Moscow.

Korean Politburo member Kim Il had meetsible attack on the South. The embassy gave

Kim Il Sung and his delegation spentings with Chinese leaders. Mao Zedong a negative view on the matter (14 September almost the whole of April 1950 in the Soviet expressed the opinion that a war in Korea 1949), and on 24 September 1949, the CPSU

Union. The first issue on the agenda was: could start at any moment. If the war dragged CC Politburo rejected the appeal of the North

ways and methods of unification of Korea on, the Japanese could interfere, but this was Koreans to start the war, concluding that the

through military means. 10 Stalin gave his not a reason for worry. Mao pointed out: “If North Korean army was not prepared for approval to an invasion of the South and

necessary, we can throw in for you Chinese such an attack militarily, that "little has been

outlined his view on how the war had to be soldiers, all of us are black, Americans will done to raise the South Korean masses to an

prepared. Unfortunately, memorandums of not see the difference.” Mao at the same active struggle," and that an unprovoked

conversations between Stalin and Kim in time warned Kim not to advance to the South attack by the North "would give the Ameri

April 1950 have not been found as yet in the in the near future. He cited the unfavorable cans a pretext for all kinds of interference Russian archives. However, from some situation in the world and the preoccupation into Korean affairs."7

secondary sources (testimonies of people of Chinese communists with the civil war. As can be seen from this Politburo docu

involved in the negotiations, reports of the Mao Zedong recommended to postpone the ment, Moscow no longer flatly rejected the

Foreign Ministry of the USSR) and from war until China was united under the leaderidea of military reunification of Korea. In

earlier and later statements and positions of ship of the Communist party.11 stead it called upon Pyongyang to get better

Moscow and Pyongyang, the following con- In the end of March 1950, Mao Zedong, prepared for the operation. Evidently clusions can be drawn:

talking to the North Korean ambassador, couraged by this shift in the Kremlin's mood,

1. Stalin changed his mind on the Ko- stressed that peaceful unification in Korea the North Korean leadership increased pres

rean war because of: a) the victory of the was impossible, it was necessary to employ sure to win Soviet support for the war. On 17

communists in China; b) the Soviet acquisi- military means. Mao said one should not be January 1950, Kim Il Sung complained to

tion of the atom bomb (first tested by Mos- afraid of Americans because they would Soviet ambassador Shtykov: "I can't sleep

cow in August 1949); c) the establishment of not start a third world war over such a small at night because I am thinking of the unifica- NATO and general aggravation of Soviet territory."12 tion of the whole country. If the cause... is

relations with the West; and d) a perceived After completion of Kim Il Sung's April postponed, then I may lose the confidence of weakening of Washington's positions and 1950 visit to the USSR, of which Mao seemed the Korean people." Kim Il Sung requested

of its will to get involved militarily in Asia. to know nothing, Stalin authorized the Sopermission to make a new visit to the USSR

Stalin was now more confident of the viet ambassador in China to tell the Chinese to receive "orders and permission” from

Communist bloc's strength, less respectful leadership the following: “Korean comStalin for the offensive.8

of American capabilities and less interested rades visited us recently. I'll inform you

in the reaction of Western public opinion to shortly about the results of our conversa3. Stalin blesses the invasion communist moves.

tions."13 Simultaneously Kim Il Sung re

2. Stalin did not consult Mao in advance quested a visit to Beijing to execute Stalin's After ambassador Shtykov informed

because he wanted to work out the plans for instructions: to continue with the war plans Moscow of this wave of demands by

the Korean war himself without Chinese only if Chinese supported the idea. On the Pyongyang, Stalin (on 30 January 1950)

interference and objections and then present eve of the visit Kim Il Sung said to the Soviet replied (through diplomatic channels) “I Beijing with a fait accompli when Mao would ambassador that he did not intend to ask understand the unhappiness of comrade Kim

have no choice but to agree with the invasion anything from the Chinese since “all his Il Sung, but he must understand that such a and assist it. While in Moscow Mao insisted requests had been met in Moscow." large matter regarding South Korea... re

on the liberation of Taiwan. Stalin was nega- Upon hearing from Kim Il Sung about quires thorough preparation. It has to be

tive to the idea. It would be hard for Stalin the decision to attack South Korea, Mao organized in such a way that there will not be to convince Mao in Moscow to help the requested additional information from Stalin. a large risk. If he wants to talk to me on this

Koreans before the Chinese had completed On 14 May 1950 Stalin sent the following issue, then I'll always be ready to receive

the reunification of their own country. cable to Mao Zedong: “In the conversations him and talk to him.... I am prepared to help

with Korean comrades Filippov (Stalin's him in this matter."

4. China's position on "liberating" the alias) and his friends expressed the opinion



ate. 24

that due to the changed international situa- mation about the imminent attack could leak liant success,” that Kim Il Sung “should not tion they agreed with the proposals by the to the South; and that in July rain would slow feel embarrassed ... because of delays in Koreans to set upon unification. The final the advancement of troops.

advancement and because of some local decision of the issue must be made jointly by While making final preparations for the defeats... The biggest success of Korea is Chinese and Korean comrades. If the Chi- war, the North continued a propaganda cam- that it has become the most popular country nese comrades disagree, the decision must paign, proposing initiatives on the peaceful in the world and has turned into the banner of be postponed till a new discussion."15 unification of Korea. Initially the commu- the liberation movement in Asia against the

In talks with North Korean leaders Mao nists wanted to strike at the Ongjin penin- imperialist yoke."22 Kim Il Sung expressed approved their analysis of the situation and sula, but at the last moment the strategy was deep gratitude to Stalin for this letter, and for stressed that he supported a speedy military changed. It was believed that Seoul had “fatherly care and assistance."23 solution of the Korean problem. He was sure learned about the attack and beefed up its But the outlook for the North Koreans of its success. Mao did not exclude the defenses in the Ongjin direction. The North soured following the successful U.S./UN possibility of American interference. In Koreans now asked Moscow for permission landing at Inchon in mid-September. On such an event, China would help. 16 to attack along the whole front.

September 27, the Soviet Politburo, frus

Unfortunately the final period (May- trated by problems at the front, approved a 5. Preparations for the war

June 1950) before the attack is not well letter to Ambassador Shtykov which con

documented, and additional research in the tained devastating criticism of the North Even before Kim Il Sung received, in archives is required to get a clearer and more Korean military leadership and Soviet miliJanuary 1950, the first hints from the Krem- detailed picture of the final preparations by tary advisers. The letter explained in detail lin that Stalin had become more favorably the communist side for the war.

what to do and how to do it in the course of disposed to a war in Korea, Pyongyang had

the fighting. With the situation getting more embarked upon a concerted effort to up- 6. The initial stage of the war

and more complicated for the North Koregrade its military potential. Stalin responded

ans, Stalin, after persistent requests from positively. After Kim's talks in Moscow in Throughout the initial stage of the Ko- both Kim Il Sung and Moscow's representaApril 1950 the war was energetically pre- rean War Stalin was clearly in charge: his tives in Korea, consented to station air force pared by the two sides jointly.

word was final on the date of the invasion, he units in the North. Meanwhile, the situation On June 1949 a special protocol was told the Koreans how to fight and he kept for the communists was becoming despersigned between the USSR and the People's instructing the Sino-Korean command on its Democratic Republic of Korea (North Ko- every move. As for the mood of both Stalin The North Korean leadership forwarded rea) on military-technical assistance. Mos- and Kim Il Sung, it was quickly changing for on September 30 a letter to Stalin literally cow agreed to supply its ally with large the worse as the adversary hit back harder begging for direct military assistance by the numbers of air force planes, tanks, cannons, and harder.

Soviet Union or “volunteer units of China landing ships, machine-guns, engineering Already on 1 July 1950, Stalin seemed and other countries of people's democequipment, etc. 17

to be worried about a halt in the advance- racy."25 Realizing that the situation was At the end of 1949 Kim Il Sung again ment of North Korean troops and the impact desperate, Moscow responded in the followaddressed himself to Moscow a reguest for of American air raids on North Korean terri- ing ways: 1) giving constant advice to North large quantities of armaments and ammuni- tory.20 Soviet Ambassador Shtykov admit- Koreans on tactical matters; 2) withdrawing tions necessary for the creation of new 5 ted that American air raids had worsened the Soviet representatives from Korea; 3) preround units and enlargement of the fleet.18 political mood in the North. Doubts regard- paring plans for the evacuation of the In March 1950, Kim Il Sung asked to use the ing final victory surfaced and some officials Pyongyang regime and its troops out of the Soviet credit allocated for 1951 in 1950 and began to hint that it was difficult for country; 4) training troops for a comeback to to acquire additional quantities of military Pyongyang to rely purely on its own forces Korea in the future; 5) pressuring the Chihardware; these requests were met.

in the war with America.21 Meeting with the nese to enter the conflict. In April 1950, leaders of the guerilla Soviet ambassador on July 3, Kim Il Sung movement in the South arrived in Pyongyang confirmed the seriousness of the situation on 7. China's role in the war's initial stage to work out a program of action for before the front due to American bombing. He and after the invasion. On 12 May 1950, wanted Soviet advice on how to reorganize As was mentioned earlier in this paper, Kim Il Sung informed the Soviet ambassa- the command of the military actions, and China supported an attack on the South. dor that his General Staff had already started also hoped for new supplies of weapons. However, quite soon Beijing became disto plan the operation. Pyongyang wanted to On July 8, Kim Il Sung requested Soviet tressed and offended by the fact that the attack in June but was not sure that prepara- military advisers in order to strengthen his North Koreans did not consult with them tions could be completed by that time.19 By army. Stalin agreed to provide some of these and did not pay heed to their advice. Mosthe end of May, the armaments which had advisers, but his main preoccupation was to cow attempted to calm the emotions of the been promised by Stalin arrived and the plan give moral support to Pyongyang. In an Chinese. of the invasion was ready. Kim Il Sung August 28 cable to Kim, he emphasized the On 2 July 1950, Zhou Enlai in a converinsisted on an attack in June, not in July as fact that "the great liberation struggle of the sation with Soviet Ambassador Roshchin Soviet advisers preferred, arguing that infor- Korean people ... was conducted with bril- complained that the North Koreans had underestimated the probability of American against perfectly equipped foreign troops, it take place now rather than a few years military intervention, ignoring Mao not simply South Koreans.

later, when Japanese militarism will be reZedong's warnings back in May 1949 and In general, Moscow and Beijing held stored as an American ally, and when the 1950. Zhou passed on Mao's advice to the similar views at that time on the strategy and United States and Japan will possess a miliNorth Koreans to create a strong defense tactics of the war, though with the landing of tary spring-board on the continent in the line in the area of Inchon, because American Americans at Inchon, the mood in China form of Rhee's Korea.”32 Stalin informed troops could land there. The Chinese lead- started to change. In a conversation with Kim Il Sung about his attempts to persuade ership feared landing operations by Ameri- Roshchin on September 21, Zhou Enlai ad- the Chinese and called upon the North Korecans in other parts of the Korean peninsula mitted that there were persons in China who ans “to hold firm to every piece of their as well. In this conversation Zhou Enlai complained that the Korean war would drag

complained that the Korean war would drag land.” However, on 12 October 1950, the confirmed that if the Americans crossed the on and would require sacrifices on the part of Soviet leader told Kim that the Chinese had 38th parallel, Chinese troops, disguised as Chinese. It is also significant that China's refused again and that Korea had to be evacuKorean, would engage the opponent. Three authorities leaked to the Soviets intelligence ated. On the next day, however, Stalin had Chinese armies, 120,000 men in total, had information, showing the Kremlin's policy better news: the Chinese, after long delibalready been concentrated in the area of in Korea in a bad light. Thus, at one pointerations and discussions, had agreed to exMukden. Zhou inquired if it would be Moscow was informed by Beijing that the tend military aid to North Korea. Moscow in possible to cover these troops with the So- British consul in the Chinese capital had exchange agreed to arm the Chinese troops viet air force. 26

reached the conclusion that the USSR and and to provide them with air cover.33 By July 8, Stalin was already showing the USA had colluded in Korea, trying, with According to available sources, it was a certain irritation with China. In a cable to the help of the war there, to prevent China not easy for Beijing to adopt that military Ambassador Roshchin he ordered: “Tell from capturing Taiwan, completing the civil decision. Two members of the Chinese Mao Zedong that Koreans complain that war and becoming a strong power.29 leadership considered sympathetic to Mosthere is no representative of China in Korea.

cow, Gao Gang and Peng Dehuai, finally They should quickly send a representative... 8. Stalin pressures a reluctant China to managed to convince Mao to take their side. if, of course, Mao Zedong feels it is neces- enter the Korean war

Their main argument was: if all of Korea sary to have a communication link with

was occupied by the Americans, it would Korea.”27

On 1 October 1950, Stalin came to the create a mortal danger to the Chinese revoOn July 13, Stalin approved the Chi- conclusion that China had to come to the lution. Those who opposed participation, on nese decision to deploy troops in the vicin- rescue of the collapsing Kim regime. On that the other hand, complained about Soviet ity of the Korean border and promised to day he sent an urgent message to Mao and refusal to participate in the conflict. Some train Chinese pilots and to provide China Zhou asking them “to move to the 38th even suggested that China should accept the with military planes. In August-September parallel at least 5-6 divisions in order to give

parallel at least 5-6 divisions in order to give American advance, even occupation by the 1950, on a number of occasions, Mao per- our Korean comrades a chance to organize USA of Manchuria—because in this case a sonally expressed concern over the escala- under the protection of your troops' military war between Moscow and Washington would tion of American military intervention in reserves to the North of the 38th parallel.” break out and China could stay away from Korea and reiterated the readiness of Beijing Stalin added that Pyongyang was not in- trouble. to send troops to the Korean Peninsula “to formed of this request.30 It did not take Mao mince” American divisions. Simultaneously long to respond to Stalin's cable. Mao de- 9. Chinese “volunteers” enter the Korean the Chinese leaders complained that the clined to fulfill his own promise under the War, the communist camp is euphoric North Korean military command had com- pretext that Chinese troops were not strong mitted many mistakes and ignored Beijing's enough and a clash between China and the After the entrance of Chinese “volunrecommendations. Moreover, Pyongyang USA would ruin Beijing's plans for peaceful teers" into the Korean war in late November did not even inform China of developments reconstruction and could drag the USSR into 1950, the mood of Stalin and Kim Il Sung (as on the front.28

a war with Washington. Instead, he sug- well as that of Mao Zedong, of course) On September 20, Stalin in a cable to gested that the North Koreans accept defeat dramatically changed for the better. With Mao agreed that it was not normal and and resort to guerrilla tactics.31

every new success of the Chinese on the correct that the North Korean leadership did The Soviets were stunned with this un- battlefield the desires and arrogance of Stalin not properly inform their Chinese comrades expected change in China's position. Stalin and his allies grew (though they did feel their about the development of combat activities reminded the Chinese of their previous prom- weak points and exchanged occasional comin Korea. Stalin, however, defended the ises and urged them again to move into the plaints). Koreans, explaining the aforementioned fact conflict. The Soviet dictator tried to con- On December 1, Stalin cabled Mao: by the lack of proper communications and vince Beijing that the Americans would not "Your successes make happy not only mynoting that Moscow too had only received dare to start a big war and would agree on a self and my comrades in the leadership, but "sporadic and outdated" information from settlement on Korea favorable to the com- the entire Soviet people. Let me welcome the front. Stalin reminded Mao that the munist camp. Under such a scenario China from all my heart you and your friends in the (North) Korean People's Army was very would also solve the Taiwan issue. He added leadership, your army and the entire Chinese young and inexperienced and it had to fight that even if the USA provoked a big war, “let people in connection with tremendous successes in the struggle against American noticeable that Stalin tried to keep the USSR tween the USSR and the PRC reveals that troops."34 On December 4, Soviet deputy as much as possible out of direct participa- the fighting spirit of the communist side Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, talking tion in the war—if he agreed to send Soviet continued to deteriorate as that of the Amerito the Chinese Ambassador Wang Jiaxiang, advisers, pilots and other military personnel cans improved.44 The situation got so bad advised Beijing to continue its successful to Korea once in a while, every time he did that Stalin felt it necessary to criticize Mao offensive by crossing the 38th parallel. He so only after repeated pleas by Mao and for wrong tactics employed in the war.45 stressed that the Chinese had to exploit the Kim. Stalin did not always satisfy the reemerging opportunities to the full extent. quests of his allies about supplies of arma- 11. Communists seek an armistice Both sides agreed that Americans were con- ments, but for objective reasons: they wanted fused and had fallen into a very unfavorable more than the USSR, still weak after WWII By June 1951 the situation at the front situation, that disagreements had developed and engaged in a global Cold War, could became so hopeless for the communists that between Washington and London. The Chi- provide.

they started to seek a way out. The question nese ambassador quoted reports from the On January 28, Mao informed Stalin of an armistice was raised by the North front that Americans were poor fighters, that the adversary had begun an unexpected Koreans and Chinese. Stalin had no choice much worse than the Japanese."35

offensive and due to this the communist but to agree. Maneuvers around the armiOn December 7, Stalin and Mao agreed troops lost the opportunity to rest and to stice talks did not, however, prevent the to go on with the fighting and present at the undergo a restructuring. Instead they had to communists from looking for every opporUnited Nations tough conditions for a cease- launch a counterattack. After achieving an tunity to reinforce the army, to gain territory fire. On 8 January 1951, in a cable announc- operational success the Chinese side hoped and to strike at the opposite side. At the same ing the further advance of Chinese troops, to resume preparation for the final assault on time the communists constantly worried Stalin wrote: “From all my heart I congratu- the South.39 Stalin promptly agreed with the about attacks by the opposite side. The late Chinese comrades on the capture of strategy, stressing that “from the interna- conditions presented by the communists for Seoul. This is a great victory of popular tional point of view it is undoubtedly advis- an armistice were inflexible. It is also worth patriotic forces over forces of reaction."36 able that Inchon and Seoul are not captured noting that Stalin flatly refused to direct the On January 16, Mao suggested to Kim Il by the adversary, that Chinese-Korean troops armistice negotiations and quite rudely told Sung to reinforce and to restructure joint give a serious rebuff to the advancing troops Mao to do the job. Another prominent forces in Korea (in order “not to repeat of the adversary.'40

feature of this period was constant bargainmistakes committed by the Korean troops In late January/early February 1951, ing between Stalin and Mao about Soviet from June to September 1950'). After a Stalin criticized the structure, organization, military supplies and military advisers. Mao certain rest, Mao proposed that a spring and quality of the Korean armed forces, kept bombarding Stalin with new requests, (April/May) offensive could start “with the suggesting substantial changes. His propos- and the Kremlin chief continued to rebuff purpose of achieving the final solution of the als were immediately accepted by the Kore- Mao, sometimes with visible irritation. South Korean issue.” Mao did not exclude ans and supported by Beijing. By that time In June 1951, Kim Il Sung and Gao that the Americans, having learned about the first reports of the falling spirit of the Gang went to Moscow, where they conserious preparations on the Chinese-North Korean troops reached Beijing and Mos- vinced Stalin to agree to the necessity of an Korean side, would cease resisting and leave cow.41 That the situation for the communist armistice-seeking policy. However, at the the Korean peninsula. But even if Washing- side continued to deteriorate is quite clear same time the communists discussed meaton continued to resist, it would soon realize from a cable sent by Mao to Stalin on 1 sures to beef up their military capabilities that resistance was futile and evacuate its March 1951, in which the Chinese leader and to prepare for an offensive in August. 46 troops from Korea.37

admitted that a general offensive was no In ensuing communications, tactics were On January 19, Peng Dehuai reported to longer possible, that the adversary had supe- worked out on who would raise the issue of Mao that Pyongyang accepted Mao's plan of riority in weapons and dominated the air, the armistice first and how it would be done. a rest and thorough preparation for the final and that Sino-Korean troops were sustaining It was also decided to insist on restoration of assault (though Pak Hon-Yong tried to hurry heavy losses and urgently needed air cover the border line along the 38th parallel and on things up). It was also agreed that the North by Soviet air force units. Mao stressed that a small neutral zone on both sides. Mao Koreans could not advance alone; Chinese the communist side must prepare for a long suggested to raise, for the sake of bargainparticipation was needed. 38

war and admitted that American troops will ing, the issue of Taiwan and then to drop it.

not be driven out of Korea for at least a Simultaneously China requested from the 10. Euphoria disappears number of years.

USSR armaments for 60 divisions. Stalin

Stalin satisfied Mao's requests, imme- gave the OK, though he rebuked the Chinese By the end of January 1951, as docu- diately noting that large-scale military op- for trying to get all the weapons during one ments testify, the communists' euphoria erations were in the offing for Sino-Korean year, explaining that it was “physically imstarted to decline; soon it disappeared, re- troops.

.43 In the following months Moscow possible and totally unthinkable."47 placed by worries, fear, confusion, and at promptly and favorably responded to all Preparing for the negotiations, Mao times panic. Reading the documents, one other requests of the Chinese, concerning cabled Stalin: “It is extremely important that also senses growing irritation among the first of all airplanes and air defense.

you personally take charge of the negotiaranks of the communist allies. It is also Meanwhile, further correspondence be- tions in order to prevent us from getting into

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