Asia in turmoil:
and the rise of the
Cold War, 1945-53
When the Second World War reached its conclusion in 1 945, the devastation was by no means limited to the European continent, for in Asia too destruction stretched far and wide. Moreover, just as the defeat of Germany led to a power vacuum in Europe and the start of Cold War tensions, so the capitulation of Japan on 15 August 1945 led to chaos and revolution in Asia. Over the next decade a new international order very different to that which had existed before the Pacific War slowly emerged from the wreckage. In South and South-East Asia indigenous nationalist movements freed themselves from the European colonial presence and a number of new independent states emerged. Meanwhile China, following the victory of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the Guomindang (GMD), emerged once again as a regional Great Power, while Japan eschewed imperialist expansionism to concentrate on economic growth.
However, this tendency for Asian peoples to gain greater control over their own destiny was to be compromised by another development, namely the arrival of the Cold War in the region. The establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 meant not only that China was now united under a strong centralized state, but that it was ruled by a communist government with close political and military ties to the Soviet Union. Fearing that such a regime posed a danger to its economic and strategic interests in the region, the United States reacted to this apparent threat by introducing a policy of containment similar to that which already existed in Europe. Thus, from 1949, East and South-East Asia became the second most important battleground in the global Cold War.
The encroachment of the Cold War and its attendant reductionist logic was to have a profound effect on Asia. Indeed, in some ways the ideological conflict for control of the continent was to become even more dangerous than the parallel events in Europe. After all, Asia, unlike Europe, witnessed two 'hot wars', in Korea and Vietnam, which had the potential to develop into global conflagrations. The volatility of the Cold War in Asia came about precisely because it was an area where nationalism was on the march and where new unstable states were coming into existence. As a result, the United States and the communist bloc entered into a deadly competition for clients, established either bilateral or multilateral alliance systems, and, in order to win or guarantee loyalty, distributed large amounts of military and economic aid. Uncommitted states were pressed to align themselves, with both the East and West declaring that there could be no neutrality in the conflict between communism and democracy. So rigid was this belief that Washington even felt it necessary to support colonial Powers against the challenges posed by left-wing national liberation movements. The result, not surprisingly, was a largely polarized Asia and the development of two armed camps. However, some states refused to be coerced into line and instead sought to free themselves from the shackles of bipolarity. Rejecting the Cold War paradigm, they asserted that the priority in Asia was the final removal of colonialism, and that Americas insistence on the importance of containing communism was leading it to protect European imperialism and to act as an imperialist itself.
The end of the Raj
In the aftermath of the Pacific War, the first clear sign that a new Asia was emerging from the ashes of that conflict came in 1947 with the most dramatic act of decolonization yet to take place - the end of British rule in India. During the inter-war period Britain had attempted to use both coercion and concession in equal measure in its efforts to remain in India. However, by the end of the Second World War this policy was no longer attractive or feasible. India was now in a state of expectation following the promises of independence that had been made during the war, and, moreover, was in danger of breaking down into inter-communal violence. This was because, while the Congress Party's leaders had been imprisoned, the leading voice of the Islamic community, the Muslim League, had strengthened its position to the extent that it could now effectively veto any arrangement for the transfer of power that was against its interests. In such a volatile situation it was clear that if Britain wished to reassert its control and once again drag out its withdrawal, it would have to pay a high price both financially and militarily. Britain, under the new Labour government of Clement Attlee, was in no mood to make such a commitment. After all, Britain's economic interests in India had been in decline for a number of years and the hope existed that independence would not entirely sever the connection with the subcontinent, rather that India would accept Dominion status and become an active member of the Commonwealth.
Accordingly, from 1946 Britain began actively to negotiate a transfer of power, but this did not prove to be an easy matter, for when independence was granted in August 1947 it was not to one unitary state, but to two - India and Pakistan.
The partition of India occurred because Congress and the Muslim League had fundamentally incompatible ideas about how to constitute a single successor state to British rule. Put simply, the Muslim League desired a weak political centre and the devolution of power to groups of provinces, which would allow the Muslim-majority areas a good deal of autonomy, while Congress sought the construction of a strong centralized state in order to achieve its social and economic goals. With neither side willing to compromise and the country on the brink of chaos, the easiest solution was partition. The result was that the Muslim-majority areas of Baluchistan, Sind, the North- West Frontier, the western half of the Punjab and the eastern half of Bengal were amalgamated into the state of Pakistan under the premiership of the leader of the Muslim League, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Meanwhile India gained its independence under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, the head of the Congress Party. Moreover, it quickly added to its territorial area by bribing or coercing the heads of the Princely States to merge their states into India.
The actual partition process was a painful one, for in the Punjab and Bengal those who found themselves on the wrong side of the religious divide were forced to flee for their lives and hundreds of thousands were killed. Another terrible legacy was left in one of the largest of the Princely States, Kashmir, whose Hindu ruler decided to merge his kingdom into India, even though 70 per cent of the population was Muslim. Pakistan was naturally furious at this outcome, although its protests reflected the province's strategic importance as much as its demography, for it had no desire to see India control the headwaters of the Indus. However, Nehru rejected Pakistan's claim to the province, stating that the religious affiliation of the population was of no matter as India was a secular state. The outcome was a brief war in 1948 and a lingering dispute that has at regular intervals brought conflict to the subcontinent.
Despite the unintended appearance of two successor states, the independence of India was an event of great importance for Asia, for it symbolized and further stimulated the desire to rid the continent of European colonialism. Moreover, in the figure of Nehru it produced an eloquent spokesman for the interests of Asian peoples. However, in the other major area of Asia still under colonial rule, South-East Asia, the road to independence was to prove considerably more complex. Unlike India, this region saw a power vacuum develop at the end of the Pacific War, which had important implications for the return of colonial power. Furthermore, in contrast to the subcontinent, its mineral wealth made it a vital pawn in the growing ideological confrontation between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union.
Nationalism and independence in South-East Asia
As in other areas of the world, the Second World War had a profound effect on South-East Asia. In particular, the humiliating defeats that Japan inflicted on the imperial Powers in 1941-42 dealt a severe blow to European prestige. This effect was then compounded by Japans ambivalent record as an occupying power, which saw it offering nominal independence to the local elites in Burma, the East Indies and the Philippines, while at the same time ruling with such a harsh hand that it stimulated the rise of nationalist-based resistance movements in all the countries it subjugated. In this environment the nationalist movements, which had struggled to make much impact in the pre-war period, began to flourish.
When the war ended in 1945 the strength of indigenous nationalism meant that it was extremely difficult for colonial rule to be re-established. Even Britain, the strongest of the European Powers, did not find the task easy. Building on the precedent set in India in 1947, in January 1948 it granted independence to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma, both of which had made substantial constitutional progress in the inter-war period. In the case of Burma, it was clear that any other choice would have involved Britain in a debilitating effort to maintain order, which the decreasing economic benefits derived from controlling the colony would not warrant. Meanwhile in Malaya, which was of much greater economic importance owing to its position as one of the empire's major dollar earners through its exports of rubber and tin, Britain attempted to make its rule more efficient through constitutional reform. In 1948 it introduced a new federal governmental system that provided for strong central government control over security and finance, but also a degree of local autonomy for the Malay-dominated sultanates.
Holland and France proved to be less accommodating to the forces of nationalism than their British counterparts. Both had suffered a marked loss of prestige during the war, both in Europe and in Asia, and therefore saw the restoration of their possessions in South-East Asia as vital to their national rehabilitation. Both, however, met with strong resistance when they attempted to reassert their control. In the Dutch East Indies the Japanese had directly encouraged Indonesian nationalism by liberating leaders such as Sukarno and Hatta from Dutch custody and allowing the development of an indigenous militia. When the Japanese surrendered in August 1945 the nationalists were therefore ready to take advantage of the power vacuum to establish a Republic of Indonesia and were determined to stop the Dutch from returning. In Indochina, the opposition to the French came from the Viet Minh, a communist-led resistance movement against the Japanese, which in September 1945 declared the independence of Vietnam. In both areas the uncompromising attitudes displayed by both colonialists and subjects meant that a mutually acceptable political settlement was impossible, and thus wars of national liberation broke out.
These two conflicts had a significant effect on the region. Britain had hoped that, in the aftermath of the Pacific War, it could use its position as the predominant Power in the region to encourage economic integration in South-East Asia. It believed that this would produce stability and a quick restoration of the region's favourable trade balance with the United States, which would, in turn, assist the economic recovery of the colonial Powers themselves. However, the fighting in the East Indies and Indochina frustrated this process and, as South-East Asia's economy and food distribution system remained mired in chaos, political disturbances soon spread throughout the region. The most disturbing aspect of this growing unrest was that in 1948 indigenous communists outside Indochina began to take advantage of the situation. In March communists plunged newly independent Burma into civil war, in June the Malayan Communist Party began an armed struggle against British rule, and in September the Indonesian Communist Party launched a failed coup in Java against Sukarno's government. The region thus appeared to be on the edge of political breakdown.
This was, not surprisingly, a matter of great concern for the colonial Powers, but it also became a worry for the United States. Since 1945 the Truman administration had attempted to distance itself from events in the region, merely indicating a general, if vague, desire that the European colonial Powers should allow greater self-government following the American example in the Philippines, which had been granted its independence in July 1946. However, in 1948 American thinking began to shift drastically. This was due largely to the realization that the raw materials, such as rubber and tin, that the region exported to the United States acted as one of the few ways in which key European states such as Britain and France could earn American dollars. The stability of South-East Asia therefore became linked to the main priority of the United States, the economic revival of Western Europe. Accordingly, when communist insurrections began in Burma, Malaya and Indonesia, American policy-makers assumed that these were not merely responses to local conditions but rather a co-ordinated campaign directed by Moscow designed to strike at one of the West's weakest links.
As a result of such thinking, the United States began to take a higher profile in a region that it had previously been content to see under British tutelage. Its main aim was to stem the communist tide. This involved it in what might seem to be contradictory policies, for in some areas it acted to expedite decolonization but in others it helped to perpetuate colonialism. The main focus of its effort to encourage decolonization was the Dutch East Indies. By 1948 the Dutch had still not come to terms with Indonesian nationalism, but their attempts to strangle the Republic of Indonesia had only succeeded in alienating world opinion and wasting their own scarce resources. Believing that the Dutch were involved in a fruitless and dangerous exercise, Washington's solution to this problem, safe in the knowledge that the Indonesian leaders were anti-communist, was to urge the Dutch to withdraw. In April 1949, after American threats to end economic and military aid, Holland finally conceded defeat and Indonesia moved towards full independence.
In regard to Indochina the United States took a very different tack, which was to put it firmly on the side of the imperialists rather than the forces of Asian nationalism. The situation in Indochina was not as simple as in Indonesia, for France was a vital European ally that could not be coerced in the same way as Holland. Moreover, the Viet Minh, although nominally a united front, was clearly under the control of the communists. American policy therefore tolerated the continuation of the French presence and even, albeit reluctantly, paid lip service to the latter's half-hearted gesture towards Vietnamese nationalism in the shape of the nominally autonomous Bao Dai regime.
The situation in South-East Asia in 1949 was therefore that, although much of the region had achieved independence, in one key area - Indochina - the advance of Asian nationalism had been thwarted. It was not, however, only the reverberations of the developing Cold War in Europe that had led to this outcome, for South-East Asia's destiny was also being moulded by events far closer to home. Already by the late 1 940s East Asia was developing into a second front in the Cold War, a process that was completed in 1949 with the emergence of a communist regime in China.
The Chinese Civil War
In order to understand the development of the Cold War in Asia, it is first necessary to look at the respective interests of the superpowers in the region. At the end of the Second World War, both the United States and the Soviet Union sought to provide themselves with greater security in the East Asian and west Pacific regions. For Stalin, this meant a reversal of the outcome of the Russo-Japanese War, that is, the return of the southern half of Sakhalin, possession of the Kurile Islands, the re-establishment of a sphere of influence in Manchuria and use of naval bases in Korea. The United States, for its part, tried to ensure that there would be no more 'Pearl Harbors'. It therefore established trusteeships over what had been the Japanese mandates in the west Pacific, and most importantly, through its occupation of Japan, sought to transform its former enemy into a demilitarized and democratic state that would never again threaten the international order.
To a degree, the security concerns of the superpowers contained within them the seeds of strategic competition, particularly in regard to the future of Japan and Korea. In the case of the United States, one could even say that by occupying Japan it inherited the strategic concerns that had led the latter to become so sensitive about the balance of power in North-East Asia. The crucial factor, however, in determining whether the Cold War would spread to Asia was the fate of China. On the one hand, if reconciliation could be achieved between the GMD and the CCP in China, then the country could become a stabilizing influence. However, on the other hand, if the victory of one of these parties led to the Chinese tilting decisively towards one of the superpowers, it would have a significant effect on regional security.
The position in China at the end of the Pacific War was undeniably tense. At the start of the war against Japan in 1937, the GMD and the CCP had agreed to create the Second United Front, thus putting aside their mutual hostility in order to concentrate on resisting Japanese aggression. However, the two parties remained largely independent of each other, making war in parallel rather than engaging in a joint effort. Neither side was willing to move towards a true coalition for fear that the other would betray it in a repeat of the bloodshed that had accompanied the collapse of the First United Front in 1927. The Second United Front was therefore a fragile alliance that was not expected to last beyond the end of the war and, indeed, as early as 1941, clashes, such as the New Fourth Army Incident, were taking place between GMD and CCP forces.
The problem for Jiang Jieshi as the war progressed was that the CCP based at Yah an in north China became increasingly strong, particularly if contrasted with its dilapidated state after the tribulations of the Long March. The CCP gained strength in a number of ways. In the military sphere, it adopted the principle of 'protracted war, which involved using guerrilla warfare to wear down the Japanese through attrition. This strategy proved successful and over time the CCP built itself a strong base in the rural areas of north China. Implicit in its use of guerrilla warfare was the need to work in the political sphere to foster good relations with the rural population, which it relied upon for food and intelligence. It did this by stressing its nationalist credentials and establishing relatively efficient local government. Moreover, in order to encourage the development of an anti-Japanese 'united front' of classes, it moderated the radical land reform policy it had followed in the early 1930s, so that it would not alienate rich peasants or small-scale landowners. Ideological justification of this policy was provided by Mao's 'sinified' reformulation of Marxism-Leninism, the 'New Democracy' movement, which argued that socialism could only be achieved through the proletariat leading a broadly based alliance of classes. Military success, popular support and a coherent ideological programme led to the CCP's expansion from 40,000 members in 1937 to 1.2 million in 1945. Moreover, despite this rapid growth, party discipline was ruthlessly enforced. The CCP thus emerged as a potential challenger to the GMD's monopoly on power.
In contrast to the rise in the CCP's fortunes, the Nationalists encountered many problems during the war against Japan. The fall of Shanghai and Nanjing in 1937 meant that the GMD lost its wealthy power base in the lower Yangtze valley and, accordingly, was denied the main source of its income. In order to sustain the war effort, officials resorted to increasing the money supply, but this sparked spiralling inflation, which in turn undermined support for the government. In addition, the descent of the GMD into corruption and factionalism and the Nationalist Army's tendency to engage in forced conscription and requisition of goods without payment alienated the general population. Some of these excesses might have been excused had the Nationalists fought well against the Japanese, but Jiang's war record was far from impressive, reaching its nadir in 1944 when his armies collapsed during Japan's Ichigo offensive in south China. This lack of effective resistance led in turn to damaging speculation, fuelled by CCP propaganda, that Jiang was keeping his best forces intact for a post-war reckoning with the communists.
The GMD's reverses were, however, balanced by other factors. The strongest card that Jiang held was that the outbreak of the Pacific War strengthened his ties with the United States. After Pearl Harbor, Washington saw China as a crucial theatre in the conflict with Japan and therefore increased its military and financial support for the Nationalists. In military terms the results of this sponsorship were distinctly advantageous, as the GMD's forces were boosted by the arrival of American advisers and, from 1944, increasing amounts of Lend-Lease material. In addition, American interest in China had the effect of raising the country's, and therefore by implication Jiang's, international standing. During the war Roosevelt became interested in the idea that, when peace was restored, China should become the dominant regional power in East Asia and one of the 'four policemen' of the world. In order to achieve this goal, the United States and Britain agreed in 1943 to relinquish the last of their imperial privileges in China, bar the British possession of Hong Kong. Moreover, Roosevelt supported Jiang's demand for the return of all the territories that Japan had seized since 1895, and lobbied successfully for China to become one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. In addition, Jiang was able in August 1 945 to build a diplomatic bridge to the Soviet Union by signing a treaty accepting the terms laid down by the 'Big Three' at Yalta for Russian entry into the Pacific War. In essence, this meant that the Nationalists accepted Russian economic and military privileges in Manchuria, but in return they received from Stalin the promise of Soviet disinterest in Chinese internal affairs, in other words a commitment not to support the CCP.
The position therefore at the end of the war with Japan was that the GMD, although it faced a formidable CCP challenge, still remained relatively more powerful. It controlled more territory, had more party members and its army was numerically far greater than that of the communists and possessed better equipment. Moreover, Jiang, through his diplomatic manoeuvres, had managed to isolate the CCP internationally, having committed the Soviet Union to neutrality and won the outright support of the United States. The problem for Jiang, however, was how to use this advantageous position to eliminate the CCP threat. On the surface it might appear that immediate renewal of the civil war was the best option, but in late August 1945 Jiang moved instead to open negotiations with the CCP. One reason for this surprising decision was that the GMD needed a period of peace in which to regain its Yangtze stronghold and have its orces airlifted into north China by the Americans. In addition, Jiang knew that Washington desired GMD-CCP negotiations in the hope that they would lead to a democratic coalition government, and to have started a war in such circumstances would clearly have been unwise. Also, there was always the possibility that an isolated CCP might be willing to reach a political compromise, for it too was under pressure from Stalin to negotiate.
From August 1945 China thus entered into a twilight period in which negotiations, marked by grave suspicion on both sides, took place in Chongqing, while in the rest of the country the two parties vied for position. Not surprisingly, the talks soon became deadlocked. Frustrated by this lack of progress and fearing that the Soviets might take advantage of the situation, the Truman administration attempted in December 1945 to break the impasse by sending General George Marshall to mediate a general settlement. Marshall achieved an early success when he negotiated a cease-fire in January 1946, but in reality he faced an almost impossible task, neither side being willing to make any substantial concessions. The only hope lay in the prospect that each party feared that if it broke off the talks and renewed hostilities, it risked the prospect of losing both international and domestic support.
The fragile peace in China was undermined finally by two factors. The first was that by early 1946 the United States and the USSR were increasingly at odds. This was important because it propelled Jiang towards the conclusion that American support was guaranteed if he should go to war against the CCP. He therefore turned away from a political solution and looked for a suitable justification to renew hostilities. This then links to the second factor, which was the situation in north-east China. In the last few days of the Pacific War the Soviet Union had invaded Manchuria, thus honouring its commitment at Yalta to enter the war against Japan. After the Japanese surrender its troops remained in occupation and, despite the treaty signed with Jiang in August, allowed CCP forces to enter the region in the autumn of 1945 and take control of the rural areas. This greatly alarmed Jiang, for Manchuria was a rich prize following its industrialization under Japanese rule. Therefore when, in April 1946, the Russians withdrew from Manchuria, he ordered the airlift of GMD troops into the region in an effort to prevent the CCP from seizing complete control. With this move the cease-fire broke down and China quickly descended into civil war.
In the first year of fighting the GMD's superior numbers led to a series of victories in Manchuria and north China. This apparent success was misleading, for the CCP once again engaged in a 'protracted war' strategy, which was designed to encourage Jiang's forces to overstretch themselves and thus increase their vulnerability. By the autumn of 1947 the CCP was strong enough to go on the offensive in Manchuria, and from then on the tide of the war swung irrevocably in its favour. The victory of the CCP was also due to its broad level of political support. It gained the solid adherence of the peasantry owing to the popularity of its land requisition policy, and acquired the backing of many Chinese 'liberals' as a result of the continuation of 'New Democracy' and its reputation for discipline and incorruptibility. This contrasted with the GMD, which remained mired in factionalism and graft, and proved unable to do anything to control the increasing economic chaos. Indeed, in the midst of the civil war, the Nanjing government continued to introduce reforms designed to modernize the country and centralize power, even though such measures proved to be entirely counter-productive.
Another important miscalculation on Jiang's part was his belief that the United States would fully support his efforts to eradicate communism. In reality, Washington proved reluctant to act. Many in the Truman administration felt that Jiang had miscalculated when he had gambled on war, and believed that he should have concentrated instead on domestic reforms in order to undermine the CCP's appeal. Scepticism about Jiang and his regime became particularly noticeable after Marshall returned to Washington to take up the position of secretary of state in January 1947. Marshall had not been impressed by Jiang's regime, noting its corruption and lack of commitment to democratic values, and held that the United States should not commit itself irrevocably to the GMD's survival. Moreover, although, as Jiang had predicted, serious tensions developed between America and Russia in 1946-47, even this did little to help his cause, for the architects of containment policy in Washington considered China to be economically weak and thus not a vital asset that must be denied to the Russians.
In 1949, after a series of catastrophic defeats, the GMD regime was forced toflee to Taiwan and the CCP proclaimed its victory by establishing the PRC on 1 October in Beijing. On taking power the CCP made it clear that the 'new China would pursue a radically different path to its predecessor. At home it maintained its 'New Democracy approach to government, and in line with this pursued the continuation of land reform, the eradication of anti-social practices, such as corruption and prostitution, and the gradual introduction of socialist economic planning on the Stalinist model. It was, however, in the field of foreign policy that it had its greatest impact.
China, Japan and the Cold War in Asia
From the moment that it was clear that the CCP was heading for victory, the question of how the West would respond to the creation of a communist China and what direction that country would take in its relations with foreign Powers
concentrated minds around the world. Some hope did exist in Western circles that the CCP might not necessarily follow Moscow's line but that it might emulate Tito and become an independent state equidistant from the two Cold War blocs.
This optimism was misplaced, for it showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the Chinese Revolution. For both nationalist and ideological reasons, the CCP had no intention of developing relations with America. It saw the United States as an imperialist-capitalist state that had armed and supported Jiang and which, in the shape of the Sino-American Commercial Treaty of 1947, had attempted to become the latest in the long line of foreign exploiters of Chinese resources. Convinced of American hostility and determined to uphold China's independence, the CCP therefore decided to strengthen its ties with its natural ideological ally, the Soviet Union. Accordingly on 30 June 1949 Mao declared that, in the context of the Cold War, China had no choice but to 'lean to one side' - that is, towards the socialist bloc. In December Mao travelled to Moscow to negotiate a Sino-Soviet treaty of alliance which, after some delay, was signed on 14 February 1950. The alliance was primarily a military agreement which committed the two sides to come to each other's aid if either was attacked by Japan 'or any other state which should unite with Japan', in other words, the United States.
The signing of this agreement, added to the fact that in January 1950 both the PRC and the USSR recognized the Viet Minh's Democratic Republic ofVietnam (DRV), can be interpreted as the point at which the Cold War arrived in earnest in Asia. There was, after all, now a coherent communist bloc in the region that was determined to challenge America's interests. However, this grouping did not emerge merely in order to advance the communist cause; it was also partly defensive in character as a reaction against American activities in the region, and specifically as a response to changes in the American policy towards the occupation of Japan.
Even before the formal foundation of the PRC, the United States had begun to view East Asian affairs through a Cold War prism. One factor that had led to this development was clearly the prospect of the CCP's impending victory, but China's becoming communist was not the only factor that brought about a rapid transformation. In addition, Washington was subject to other influences, such as its concern about the fragile state of the capitalist world economy and the deterioration of its relations with the Soviet Union in Europe. This forced American decision-makers to consider what role East Asia should play both in the revival of international trade and in its policy of containment.
The most important change came in relation to the occupation of Japan. Since 1945 occupation policy in Japan had focused on democratization and demilitarization, but in 1948 the United States put aside these policies and began to stress, in what is known as the reverse course, the need for Japanese economicrecovery and eventually rearmament. The decision to reconstruct Japan came about as the result of a number of interlocking factors. In part, the United States moved in this direction as a result of its disillusionment with China as the latter slipped into civil war, but another significant motivation was the importance of re-establishing Japan's position within the global and Asian economies. In the inter-war period Japan had exported its consumer goods to Asian countries and in turn imported substantial quantities of raw materials. These trade patterns failed to revive after the end of the Pacific War, with the result that Japan itself and Asia as a whole remained mired in depression. This was a matter of great concern, as it constituted part of a larger picture in which the failure of countries in Europe and Asia to recover from the recent war threatened to prevent the establishment of the Bretton Woods international economic order. Just as Germany was considered to be the linchpin for economic recovery in Europe, so Japan was seen as vital in Asia. Indeed, in May 1947 the under-secretary of state, Dean Acheson, referred to these countries as the 'two great workshops of the world'. Thus, for economic and financial reasons, Washington considered it necessary from 1948 to provide dollar loans to help rebuild Japan.
Debating PRC -American relations and the 'lost chance' thesis
Of all areas in international history, study of the origins of the Cold War in East Asia has probably benefited most from the increasing availability of archival material from the former USSR and the PRC. This in turn has helped to revise some of the arguments that were put forward when only American sources were available. This is particularly evident in the case of the 'lost chance' debate about the relationship between Washington and the CCP in 1949-50. In the 1970s and 1980s some historians, such as Nancy Tucker (1983), Warren Cohen (1980) and Michael Hunt (1980), speculated about the possibility that if the United States had proved more forthcoming, it could have established working relations with the PRC and avoided the next twenty years of animosity. This 'lost chance' thesis rested largely on the discovery from American documents released in this period that in the spring of 1949 the CCP had suggested that it was willing to explore diplomatic and economic ties with America, but that no positive response had been forthcoming from Washington.
In positing this argument, the 'lost chance' historians were, however, making a large assumption, which was that the original CCP overtures were sincere rather than mere tactical gestures designed to mislead the Americans. The partial opening of the PRC's archives over the past decade has clarified the CCP's intentions and appears to demonstrate that there was little prospect of better relations. It transpires that in the spring of 1949 the CCP leadership and the Soviets were concerned about the prospect of the United States intervening in China to prevent the fall of the former treaty ports, and that the overtures had been sanctioned to thwart such an occurrence. Moreover, as noted in the main text, it seems from Chinese documents that such was the hostility felt towards the United States that there was little or no chance of any kind of diplomatic relationship with America. However, in this area some caution is still necessary, for it needs to be understood that the PRC still has strong controls over the release of documents and one cannot discount the possibility that the availability of material is influenced by contemporary political considerations.
The Americans did not, however, have only economic considerations in mind when they began the pump-priming of Japanese industry, for security motives also played a part. As in Western Europe, there was a fear that perpetual economic paralysis would prove to be a fertile breeding ground for the spread of communism. Although the situation in Japan was by no means as serious as that in France and Italy, there was real concern about the long term, particularly as the Japanese labour movement was growing at a precipitate rate. To the architects of containment the prospect of Japan turning communist was unthinkable, for it would deliver into the hands of the Soviets the productive capacity of one of the world's leading economies. The feeling in Washington was therefore that the focus on democratization must end and that attention should be concentrated instead on industrial and financial reconstruction, which would in turn lead to political stability.
The growing significance of Japan in American Cold War policy naturally also had implications for its attitude towards other areas in the region. One important effect arose from the calculation that if the Japanese economy were to recover, it needed trading partners. With China in disarray, the only way to achieve this was to encourage Japan to send its manufactured goods to South-East Asia in return for that region's raw materials. This was one other reason why from 1948 South-East Asia became of such importance to the United States. In addition, the emphasis on Japan led the United States to consider how it might strengthen its strategic position in the region and to focus on what base facilities it needed in Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines, and what role Taiwan might play should a general war break out.
However, while the Americans saw the economic rehabilitation of Japan as defensive, in that it was in part a response to the perceived threat to domestic stability posed by the Japanese Communist Party, this was not how it appeared to Russia and China. These countries had, after all, a long history of competition with Japan, and had no wish to see any renewal of Japanese aggression. To them, therefore, it appeared that the United States was encouraging the rebirth of Japanese militarism and intended to use Japan as its cat's-paw for American ambitions in the region.
Conversely, in the tense environment of the Cold War the United States refused to accept that the Sino-Soviet grouping was defensive in nature. It believed instead that the CCP had betrayed Chinese nationalism by becoming a Soviet client state, and responded to the appearance of the Sino-Soviet bloc by further reassessing its strategic planning for the region and heightening its assistance to South-East Asia. In early 1950 America extended economic and military aid to Indonesia, Thailand and Burma. In addition, in the light of the Chinese and Russian recognition of the DRV, aid was given to the French in Indochina: the first fateful American commitment. Thus by mid- 1950 the United States had begun to extend containment from Japan to cover South-East Asia as well. At the same time the Chinese government responded by increasing its support for the DRV, with the result that there were the makings of a proxy war in Vietnam. In the end, however, it was not Vietnam but Korea that was to lead to the eruption of a 'hot war in Asia.
The Korean War
In August 1945 the Americans proposed to the USSR that their forces should share the responsibility for taking the Japanese surrender in the Korean peninsula. The division of their respective zones was demarcated at the 38 th parallel, with the United States taking control of the south and Russia of the north. The intention was that they would then work to implement the long-term plan that had been drawn up by the Great Powers for the political future of Korea, which was that it should come under a United Nations trusteeship that would prepare the country for eventual independence.
On their arrival in Korea in the late summer of 1945 the Americans and Russians discovered that the imposition of a political solution from above was not so easy, for the Korean people were eager for immediate independence. Unfortunately, however, for the Koreans, independence was about the only matter upon which they could agree, for a vast variety of groupings emerged after the Japanese surrender, ranging across the political spectrum from far Right to far Left. This diversity of opinion was a direct consequence of Japanese colonial rule. One problem was that the period of Japanese domination had destroyed the authority and legitimacy of the traditional landowning elite in Korea which had shown a marked propensity to engage in collaboration. There was therefore no chance that a new nation could be built around the compromised monarchy or aristocracy (yangban). Furthermore, the Japanese authorities in Korea had been notoriously intolerant of resistance with the result that the Korean nationalist movement was atomized, its key members scattered into political exile in the United States, China and Russia. These activists drew up a number of radically different interpretations of why Korea had lost its independence in 1910 and varied prescriptions for how a strong, modern, independent state could be constructed in the future. Some, such as Syngman Rhee, leaned towards a state-driven modernization akin to that pursued by the Guomindang in China, while others, such as Kim Il-Sung, proselytized communist solutions to Korea's problems.
If the Koreans had been the masters of their own fate, it is possible that a centre-left coalition might have emerged from this confusion, but the presence of the Russians and the Americans made this an impossibility. In the Soviet zone preference was given to the formation of political groups based on the Korean Communist Party, particularly the faction controlled by Kim Il-Sung. In the American zone, authority rested with General John Hodge, who came to his post with no knowledge of Korea whatsoever. He saw his task as instilling political order, and was prepared to use the former Japanese colonial apparatus to achieve this goal. In so doing he broke with the centre-left factions, whom he saw as fomenting disorder in their desire for retribution against the collaborationist Right. Alienated from all but the right-wing factions, Hodge therefore looked to conservative former exiles such as Syngman Rhee to provide leadership.
The result of Soviet and American policy was the emergence of rival groups from the North and South, each vehemently opposed to trusteeship and to any form of unification which would favour the other. In desperation the Americans in 1947 turned the problem over to the UN. The UN solution was for nationwide elections to take place under its auspices. However, the political representatives from the North rejected this idea on the grounds that the South would interfere with any free ballot. Thus the election that took place in May 1948 as restricted to the south, and as it turned out the ballot, as the north had predicted, was far from untainted. The victor was Syngman Rhee, who in July became the first president of the Republic of Korea (ROK). The response in the north was that in September the Soviets passed control into the hands of Kim Il-Sung, who became the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
In understanding the origins of the Korean War, it is useful to refer to these two new regimes by their proper names rather than as South Korea and North Korea, for both governments saw themselves as the rightful leaders of the whole country and not just the geographical area that they currently administered. Moreover, for each, the prime goal was the destruction of the other and the assumption of leadership over the whole of Korea. In order to achieve this aim, from 1948 the DPRK supported an anti-ROK insurrection in the south by providing both weaponry and cadres. Meanwhile, the ROK attempted to provoke the DPRK into an open attack in the hope that it might win American support for an assault on the North. Thus well before the outbreak of full-scale conventional war, it is possible to see Korea as mired in civil war, a perspective that has been convincingly argued by the leading historian of the conflict, Bruce Cumings.
In 1948-49 the fighting in the Korean peninsula remained localized and inconclusive. The ROK was able to contain the insurrection against it, while the DPRK refused to be provoked into all-out war. In 1950, however, the situation changed drastically. Realizing that guerrilla warfare in the South was insufficient to topple the ROK, Kim Il-Sung appealed to Stalin in January 1950 to approve a conventional attack over the 38th parallel. Kim argued that, with the DPRKs armed forces boosted by the return of troops who had fought alongside the CCP in the Chinese Civil War, the military balance had swung clearly in Pyongyang's favour. Furthermore, he stressed that, as the ROK was only able to retain power through the use of repression, the DPRKs attack might spark a popular uprising against Rhee's government. In such circumstances, Kim predicted that victory would take a matter of days rather than weeks, and would be so sudden that the Americans would have no time to intervene.
Previously the Soviet leader had turned down such requests from Kim, but this time he provided a green light, the only proviso being that Mao should also concur. Stalin's motives are far from clear, as historians lack sufficient documentation to come to any definite conclusion. Some have speculated that he desired to divert American attention away from Europe, perhaps to pave the way for an attack on Yugoslavia. Others have seen the Soviet leader as still suspicious of Mao, and therefore keen to create a Sino-American confrontation that would draw China closer to the USSR. Another possibility is that, disturbed by American activities in Japan, Stalin desired to bring all of continental North-East Asia under communist control, thus denying Japanese militarism its traditional spring-board for expansion and bringing home to Tokyo the cost of collaboration with Washington. Whatever his reason, Stalin's approval set the scene for a marked escalation of tensions within the region.
Having gained Mao's approval, on 25 June 1950 the DPRK launched its assault over the 38th parallel. In Washington news of the attack was met with horror.To Truman this act of unprovoked aggression was analogous to the tactics that had been followed by Hitler, and, drawing the lesson that appeasement was a morally and politically bankrupt policy, he decided that the ROK must be assisted. The Americans therefore took the ROK's case to the UN Security Council and in the absence of the Soviet delegation, which was boycotting its proceedings, a resolution was passed calling for aid to be given to Rhee's regime. Under the UN's auspices, American forces in Japan were ordered to Korea under the command of General MacArthur. In addition, in order to thwart any attack by the PRC on Taiwan, the American Seventh Fleet was ordered into the Taiwan Straits.
With American assistance the ROK forces were able to stem the DPRK offensive and by August had launched a counter-attack. The DPRK retreat became a rout when, on 15 September, MacArthur's forces initiated an amphibious landing at Inchon that threatened to cut the North's supply lines. As victory beckoned thought in Washington turned to the question of whether the UN should accept the restoration of the status quo ante bellum, or fulfil its mandate from 1947 and bring about the unification of Korea by advancing beyond the 38th parallel and completing the destruction of Kim's forces. The latter was a tempting proposition, as Stalin had failed to come to Kim's aid and it seemed unthinkable that the war-weary PRC would attempt to resist American might. In these circumstances Washington decided to roll back communism in Korea, and on 1 October ROK forces moved into the North.
In retrospect, this was a foolish decision, for the crossing of the 38th parallel precipitated Chinese intervention. To Mao the American move into the DPRK, which came only three months after the US navy had started patrolling in the Taiwan Straits, was part of a broader plan to bring about a counter-revolution in China. From his perspective it appeared as though the Americans were readying themselves for a future three-front assault on China, attacking from Indochina, Taiwan and Korea, which might be combined with counter-revolutionary agitation within China. The PRC therefore was faced with a choice: it could either wait passively for the United States to choose its moment to attack, or it could launch a pre-emptive strike to remove the Western presence from Korea before it was too late. From the first, Mao favoured the latter approach. His thinking, however, reflected more than purely strategic concerns, for he realized that to acquiesce in the destruction of the DPRK would damage the PRC's revolutionary credentials and thus undermine both its domestic and international standing. Another important factor was that Stalin was urging the PRC to intervene, although he failed to indicate clearly how much support he was willing to provide. As the Soviet Union was a guarantor of Chinese security, Mao believed that there was a need to demonstrate to Moscow that the PRC was steadfast in its allegiance to the communist cause.
Therefore in October 1950 detailed preparations were made for intervention and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) began to infiltrate its forces over the Yalu River. In late November, with American intelligence having failed to pick up warning of the impending attack, the PLA launched a massive attack on the UN/ROK forces, forcing them to retreat beyond the 38th parallel. If any event set the tone of the Cold War in Asia, it was this unexpected attack, which revealed for the first time that the PRC was a very different creature to China under the GMD. This was a regime so radical and so confident of its military prowess that it was prepared even to challenge the might of the United States. Within Washington the reaction was one of shock, even generating loose talk of the need to use atomic bombs to stem the red tide and to widen the war to attack targets in China itself.
Luckily, the fear that escalation might activate the Sino-Soviet alliance led to restraint, and the war remained limited to the Korean peninsula. The conflict continued for another two and a half years. Armistice talks began in the summer of 1951 when it was clear that neither side had the ability to win a complete victory, but they soon became bogged down in endless discussions over the fate of Chinese and North Korean prisoners. Finally the war-weariness of the Chinese and the Americans meant that the deadlock was broken, and an armistice was reached in July 1953 with the border between the DPRK and the ROK only marginally different to that of 1950.
Asia and the consequences of the Korean War
The outbreak of the Korean War had a profound effect on the development of the Cold War in Asia. The most obvious consequence was that it further exacerbated the divide between the PRC and the United States. The mixture of radical nationalism and Marxism that defined the CCP led it ceaselessly to denounce the imperialist intentions of the United States. Adding fuel to the fire was that American support for Jiang Jieshi's Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan was viewed in Beijing as an unwarranted intervention in China's unfinished civil war. On the American side, its failure to appreciate the nationalist element in the Chinese Revolution led it to perceive the PRC as an unbalanced threat to the international order, which was perhaps even more dangerous, owing to its unpredictability, than the Soviet Union. Twenty years of mutual hostility were to follow.
In addition, the Korean War helped to polarize the continent into hostile alliance systems. On the communist side, the war brought the Soviet Union and the PRC closer together and encouraged the latter to expand its military assistance to the Viet Minh. In response, American fear of the Sino-Soviet bloc, particularly after the dramatic events of November/December 1950, led Washington to rationalize and expand its commitment to the region. In September 1951 the United States agreed to end the occupation of Japan, but in return forced the government in Tokyo to agree to limited rearmament and to sign a bilateral security treaty that guaranteed the United States unrestricted use of military bases on Japanese soil. Further American commitments to the region soon followed. In 1953 the United States signed a security pact with the ROK, and in 1954 military containment was extended even further with the foundation of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the signing of a security pact with Taiwan. In parallel to this, Washington expanded its provision of economic and military aid to its clients in the region, and, in particular, escalated its assistance to the French in Indochina (see Chapter 12).
The American determination to contain the threat posed by communism was, however, to lead to serious problems, for it prompted the United States to adopt policies that in some ways only exacerbated the tense situation in the region. One important error was that in its effort to ensure political stability, Washington tended to tie its fortunes to the conservative forces within its client states, such as the Philippines, Thailand and what, in 1954, was to become South Vietnam. So important were these conservatives that they were able to resist American pressure to introduce progressive policies, such as land reform, that might have the effect of quelling internal discontent. The unfortunate result was that, with peasant grievances largely ignored, fertile breeding grounds remained within which communism could flourish. In addition, the focus on security rather than on developing prosperity for all led to much of the financial assistance to these regimes being in the form of military rather than economic aid. Thus, despite attempts by the Japanese to argue that a large-scale aid programme was needed for the region to fuel economic growth, the states of South-East Asia continued to rely on the extraction but not the processing of raw materials.
In addition, the American concentration on the Cold War above all other issues led to difficulties. The problems arose because the United States felt that the need to contain 'Red China' was so self-evident that it found it hard to tolerate those who disagreed with its viewpoint. However, while the United States saw the PRC as nothing other than an even more belligerent extension of the Soviet Union, others saw Mao's rhetoric and actions more in terms of Chinese nationalism. This, in turn, led some non-communist Asian states to become increasingly critical of the American stance. To countries such as India, Ceylon, Burma and Indonesia, the American obsession with the threat from communism seemed to have blinded it to the real causes of instability in Asia, namely the perpetuation of colonialism and its unwelcome progeny neo-colonialism. Moreover, they resented the way in which their own relationships with Washington came to be defined by the Cold War. For example, in 1951 ill feeling was generated when the American Congress attempted to link urgently needed food aid for India to Nehru's neutralism. Meanwhile American-Indonesian relations were hurt in 1952 by a clumsy American attempt to make economic aid conditional on Jakarta taking an overtly pro- Western attitude in the Cold War.
Another grievance was that America's narrow policy led to its being manipulated into intervening in regional disputes. The most notable example was Washington's increasingly close relations with Pakistan, which it viewed as playing an important role in the defence of the Middle East and South-East Asia. To Nehru, this reeked of naivety, for he was certain that Pakistan only sought access to American weaponry in order to strengthen its position vis-a-vis India. Concerned therefore that the emerging Cold War paradigm was a recipe for continued war and instability, leaders like Nehru and Sukarno sought to create an alternative international system, stressing neutrality from Great Power conflicts and a concentration on the fight against the perpetuation of colonialism in Asia and Africa.
The new Asia that emerged from the ruins left by the Pacific War was therefore a continent that, despite the overthrowing of Western European and Japanese imperialism, remained susceptible to aggressive outside influences. In part, this was due to the security interests of the two superpowers, who advanced into the power vacuum left by the collapse of the Japanese Empire and came into competition over the spoils. However, it would be wrong to categorize Asia's plight as entirely the result of its being one of the areas of the world where American and Soviet interests collided, because events within the continent itself also played a key role in bringing the superpowers in. Ironically, one of the major stimuli that provoked superpower interest was the rise of indigenous nationalism, for the United States in particular found the radical Asian nationalists difficult to comprehend, often seeing them as nothing more than puppets of Moscow.
More than any other episode, it was the victory of the CCP which concentrated American and Soviet attention on the region, thus provoking the descent into a Cold War mentality. Indeed, it is important to understand that it was the CCP's own hostility towards the United States, and the fact that Washington reciprocated this animosity, which came to categorize the intensity of the Cold War in the region. This Sino-American antagonism arose from more than simple ideological differences, for the Chinese Revolution was as much a triumph for radical nationalism as it was for communism. What emerged therefore in 1949 was a strong, deeply nationalistic China that was no longer prepared to be a stage upon which the Great Powers played out their rivalries. In a sense, therefore, the troubled relationship between the PRC and the United States can be seen as the most extreme example of the problems created by the Wests inability to come to terms with Asian nationalism. This can be seen in the way in which Washington reacted to the creation of the PRC, for, instead of recognizing the strength of Chinese nationalism, it classified the Beijing regime as being Moscow's stooge. Similar confusion was later to mark American policy in Vietnam, where again more emphasis was put on the communist than the nationalist side of the revolution.
The emergence of communist China had a profound effect on the United States, which perceived that this new regime necessarily posed a threat to its key interest in Asia, the security of Japan. The result was that Washington sought o contain the Chinese menace; indeed, the importance of Japan was such that, in order to defend its markets and sources of raw materials, America was prepared to extend its anti-Chinese shield ever further into Asia. In turn, its concentration upon Japan helped to deepen Cold War animosities, for the rebuilding of the Japanese economy only increased Chinese and Russian suspicion of the United States, thus cementing their military and political ties.
From 1949 therefore the Cold War began to colour international relations in Asia, but this was not a development that was generally welcomed by the newly independent states which had just freed themselves from the grip of Western and Japanese colonialism. In the tense environment of the late 1940s and early 1950s, some of these new countries, such as India and Indonesia, resented the pressure exerted on them to choose between entering either the American or the Russian camp, for they had not removed one sort of imperialism only to replace it with another. Moreover, these states were not convinced by the Cold War paradigm expounded by the superpowers, for what they saw in the Sino-American confrontation was an attempt by the United States to deny the legitimate aspirations of Asian nationalism. In this attitude lay the roots of what would become Third World neutralism.
At present there is no international history text that covers all of the subjects raised in this chapter. Useful general studies that approach these events from an American perspective include Ronald McGlothlen, Controlling the Waves: Dean Acheson and US Foreign Policy in Asia (New York, 1993), Michael Schaller, The American Occupation of Japan: The Origins of the Cold War in Asia (New York, 1985) and Andrew Rotter, The Path to Vietnam: The Origins of the American Commitment to Southeast Asia (Ithaca, NY, 1987). To gauge the relative importance of East and South-East Asia to the United States in the context of the Cold War, see Melvyn Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration and the Cold War (Stanford, CA, 1992) and Robert McMahon, The Limits of Empire: The United States and Southeast Asia since World War II (New York, 1999).
For decolonization in South Asia, see M. J. Akbar, Nehru: The Making of India (London, 1989), Ayeshajayal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge, 1985), R. J. Moore, Escape from India: The Attlee Government and the Indian Problem (Oxford, 1983), Anita Inder Singh, The Origins of the Partition of India, 1936—1947 (Oxford, 1987) and the chapter by Judith Brown in Judith Brown and W. Roger Louis (eds), The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. IV: The Twentieth Century (Oxford, 1999). For South-East Asia, see Nick Cullather, Illusions of Influence: The Political Economy of United States-Philippines Relations, 1942-1960 (Stanford, CA, 1994), Robin Jeffrey (ed.), Asia: The Winning of Independence (London, 1981), Robert McMahon, Colonialism and the Cold War: The United States and the Struggle for Indonesian Independence, 1945—1949 (Ithaca, NY, 1981), Tilman Remme, Britain and Regional Co-operation in Southeast Asia, 1945—49 (London, 1994), Anthony Short, The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, 1948—60 (London, 1975) and the chapter by A. J. Stockwell in Judith Brown and W. Roger Louis (eds), The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. IV: The Twentieth Century (Oxford, 1999) (for readings on Indochina). see Chapter 12
On the Chinese Civil War, the best studies of the domestic context are Suzanne Pepper, The Civil War in China: The Political Struggle, 1945- 1949 (Berkeley, CA, 1978) and Odd Arne Westad, Decisive Encounters: The Chinese Civil War, 1946-1950 (Stanford, CA, 2003). In regard to the international aspects of the origins of the war, see Odd Arne Westad, Cold War and Revolution: Soviet-American Rivalry and the Origins of the Chinese Civil War, 1944—1946 (New York, 1993) and Xiaoyuan Liu, A Partnership for Disorder: China, the United States and their Policies for the Postwar Disposition of the Japanese Empire, 1941—1945 (Cambridge, 1996). For general texts on the CCP's foreign policy and its relations with Stalin, see Michael Hunt, The Genesis of Chinese Communist Foreign Policy (New York, 1996), Michael Sheng, Battling Imperialism: Mao, Stalin and the United States (Princeton, NJ, 1997) and Odd Arne Westad (ed.), Brothers in Arms: The Rise and Fall of the Sino-Soviet Alliance, 1945-1963 (Stanford, CA, 1999). On the 'lost chance' thesis, see the symposium in Diplomatic History (1997), vol. 21, pp. 71-1 15, which contains useful essays by Chen, Carver, Sheng and Westad. Contrasting outlooks on the American domestic debate about China policy can be found in Nancy Tucker, Patterns in the Dust: Chinese— American Relations and the Recognition Controversy, 1948—1950 (New York, 1983) and Thomas Christiansen, Useful Adversaries: Grand Strategy, Domestic Mobilization and Sino-American Conflict, 1947-1958 (Princeton, NJ, 1996). Chinese attitudes towards America are powerfully conveyed in Chen Jian, China's Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation (New York, 1994). For the 'reverse course' in the American occupation of Japan and its effects on policy towards South-East Asia, see the recommended reading in Chapter 14.
The classic exposition of the Korean War as a civil conflict is Bruce Cumings, The Origins of the Korean War, 2 vols (Princeton, NJ, 1981 and 1990). Other useful works that explain the complex nature of Korean nationalism and attitudes towards modernization include C. I. Eugene Kim and D. E. Mortimore (eds), Korea's Response to Japan: The Colonial Period, 1910—1945 (Kalamazoo, 1977), Hyun Ok Park, Two Dreams in One Bed: Empire, Social Life, and the Origins of the North Korean Revolution in Manchuria (Durham, NC, 2005), Michael Robinson, Korea's Twentieth Century Odyssey (Honolulu, HI, 2007) and Andre Schimd, Korea between Empires, 1895—1919 (New York, 2002). A different perspective that emphasizes the Sino-Soviet role in the conflict is Sergei Goncharov, John Lewis and Xue Litai, Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and the Korean War (Stanford, CA, 1993). A good synthesis of the arguments about the conflict can be found in Peter Lowe, The Origins of the Korean War (London, 1996). On the course of the war, see William Stueck, The Korean War: An International History (Princeton, NJ, 1995), Rosemary Foot, A Substitute for Victory: The Politics of Peacemaking at the Korean Armistice Talks (Ithaca, NY, 1990) and Shu Guang Zhang, Mao's Military Romanticism: China and the Korean War, 1950—1953 (Lawrence, KS, 1995).
For further reading, see the historiographical essay by Robert McMahon, 'The Cold War in Asia: Towards a New Synthesis', in Michael Hogan (ed.), America in the World: The Historiography of American Foreign Relations since 1941 (New York, 1995) and the relevant chapters in Warren Cohen (ed.), Pacific Passage: The Study of American— East Asian Relations on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century (New York, 1996).
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