Reappraising Chinese-Korean Relations in the Wake of June 25

By | June 24, 2012 | No Comments

Reappraising Chinese-Korean Relations in the Wake of June 25

by Charles Kraus

In anticipation of the upcoming 62nd anniversary of June 25, a  date which is commonly known as the “start” of the Korean War, the North Korea International Documentation Project (NKIDP) prepared for release the translation of 34 Chinese documents from Zhou Enlai’s Manuscripts since the Founding of the PRC (建国以来周恩来文稿). The collection offers a top-down perspective of the first six months of the Korean War from the vantage point of Beijing, and the release is part of a broader effort undertaken by NKIDP to provide greater historical context for contemporary analyses of Chinese-North Korean relations. Expect multiple new caches of translated Chinese documents on Sino-North Korean relations between 1955 and 1970 to be released later this year.

 The selected translations are by no means comprehensive, but, as I highlight in my introduction, “Zhou Enlai and China’s Response to the Korean War,” the documents do touch upon a number salient issues in the study of the Korean War and in Chinese-North Korean Relations. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The immediacy in which the Chinese offered aid and material support to the North Koreans after Kim Il Sung’s southward swoop. The Chinese provided ample support to the DPRK well prior to the dispatching of Chinese troops in October 1950;
  • How Chinese strategy and decision-making vis-a-vis the Korean War evolved from June through October 1950, particularly as the Korean People’s Army lost the momentum in the fighting;
  • The degree of military coordination between China and the Soviet Union in 1950;
  • The relationship between Kim Il Sung and Peng Dehuai and between the Chinese People’s Volunteers and the Korean People’s Army.
These are themes and issues which I hope that will be able to elaborate on further, but what is fairly clear is that the release of new Chinese documentary evidence requires us to revise and reinterpret how we view the history of Chinese-North Korean relations.
Further Reading:

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