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Mao's American strategy and the Korean War

Wanli Hu, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Even though the Korean War has been labeled by some as a forgotten war, scholars continue to seek the root of the Sino-U.S. confrontation and Mao's decision to enter the war in Korea. Among the five interpretations I examined, Steven Goldstein compares Mao's intervention to a Greek tragedy. In my opinion, this comes closest to explaining this historical puzzle. However, this interpretation has been largely overlooked by scholarship in the field. My dissertation relies on an understanding of “Mao's American strategy” to comprehend Mao's motivation to enter the war. Mao developed his American strategy in late 1944 and by mid-1945 it was established as the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) approach to the United States. The CCP's concept of the United States was based on its analysis of Washington's long-term strategic interests in China after World War II. Washington's strategic objective was to insure its influence on China through a pro-America government. The best means to reach this objective was to establish a coalition government, which would follow America's multi-party democratic system. Considering its obvious weakness at that time, the CCP leadership welcomed a coalition government in which the CCP and the Guomindang (GMD), could enjoy equal power. However, after analysis of GMD-CCP relations, Mao reached the conclusion that Jiang would not abandon autocracy no matter how hard Washington pressed him. Therefore, a GMD-CCP clash was inevitable. The United States took the position that it had no choice but to stand on the side of the GMD and to interfere with the Chinese revolution sooner or later. Truman's blockade of the Taiwan Straits, and the United Nations troops' crossing the 38th parallel and marching toward the Yalu in 1950 triggered Mao's intervention. To meet an unavoidable clash, Mao decided to dispatch his army to Korea. In addition to explaining Mao's American strategy, I introduce an international factor: the clash between the National Independence Movement and the constraints of the Cold War. With Mao's American strategy as a chronological line and the international factor as a horizontal circumstance, this dissertation asserts that Mao's involvement in the Korean War can be seen as inevitable—a Greek tragedy.

Subject Area

History|History|International law|International relations

Recommended Citation

Hu, Wanli, "Mao's American strategy and the Korean War" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3163675.