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86 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 Chen Jian. China's Road to the Korean War: The Making ofthe SinoAmerican Confrontation. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. xii, 339 pp. Hardcover $37.50, isbn 0-231-10024-8. This study of the process by which China made its decision to enter the Korean War provides the reader with an outstanding analysis of Chinese sources. Professor Chen Jian has given us a remarkable view ofthe internal workings ofthe Chinese government, military, and leadership. His research relies on extensive interviews with many participants in the policy formation that led to China's engagement in the Korean War, and on intensive use ofprimary sources. His study provides a new standard for research on this East Asian conflict. Professor Chen politely takes issue with the major interpretations of China's military policies in Korea. He disputes the findings ofthe classic work by Allan Whiting (China Crosses the YaIu), and dismisses the works of Russell Spurr (Enter the Dragon: China's Undeclared WarAgainst the U.S. in Korea), and Harrison Salisbury ( The New Emperors: China in the Era ofMao and Deng). He cites the studies by Michael Hunt and Thomas Christensen as being among the "best efforts in reinterpreting China's entrance into the Korean War." The main thesis of this richly documented work is that Mao Tse-tung had decided to send troops to North Korea well before MacArthur's landing at Inchon in October 1950. Although the threat ofAmerica's invasion into North Korea and its military thrust up to the YaIu intensified the crisis facing China's security , the leadership in Beijing had already decided to ally their armies with those ofKim Il Sung. The Chinese had actually foreseen the possibility of an Inchon landing. They felt that a preemptive strike before the Americans and UN forces could cut offthe North Korean troops would aid in driving the imperialist forces from the Korean peninsula, but this strategy was complicated by tactical problems . Time after time, Stalin refused to provide adequate support for the Chinese march into Korea; consequently, the Chinese leadership expressed reservation and caution about the timing for the movement oftroops across the YaIu. The lack of Russian air cover, the superior military weapons ofthe enemy, the fear that the conflict on the Korean peninsula with the U.S. would spread onto Chinese soil, and the difficulties ofworking with Kim Il Sung provided Lin Biao and others in the Chinese Politburo with strong arguments against Mao's resolve to enter the war. Mao slowly overcame these objections through his political maneuverings© 1997 by University and ideological convictions. For Mao, the war provided an opportunity to save ofHawai'i Pressme reVolution in East Asia, and, by driving the Americans offthe Korean peninsula , China could restructure the existing international system in Asia. His plan to Reviews 87 enter the war was delayed from late August and early September until the week of final decision, from October 12 to 19. On the evening ofOctober 19, Chinese troops crossed the YaIu. This date is important because ofthe timing; it followed the September 15 invasion at Inchon, and the October 9 crossing ofthe 38th parallel by UN forces. Most ofthe earlier scholarship on the war has presumed that the Chinese entered the war because of previous aggressive incidents. Dr. Chen's research, however, points out that this popular conclusion about the Chinese decision to enter the war reflects the common historical fallacy ofpost hoc, ergopropter hoc—the mistaken idea that ifevent B happened after event A, it happened because ofevent A. But the decision to enter the war had already been made by Mao as one means to protect China's security , long before the invasion of Inchon. The event that finally triggered this decision was Mao's success in winning over the Politburo, and not the victories ofthe UN forces. Chen's book reaches beyond the study ofthe decision-making process of the Chinese leadership—including its internecine struggles and quarrels with its international allies. It points up many ironies with regard to U.S. behavior, and tickles the reader's interest for more information. Mao's decision to dub his army...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 86-88
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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