Roles of the US and China in the Korean War conflict

In 1950 North Korea attacked the South. The attack was seen as an evidence of communist expansionism. Considering that with the end of WWII, tensions between the USA and the USSR rose, this Korean attack signed the first violent conflict of the Cold War. Since 1949, when communist Mao Zedong came to power in China, communism started to expand in Asia. The aim of the US on the Cold War was to contain communist expansion. Therefore, the US did not want the USSR to further expand in Asia.  The US with general McCarthy started to view communism with a monolithic view, this meant that all communist forces referred back to a “nerve center” in Moscow. This thought expressed on the NSC-68 could be the evidence to demonstrate how China and USSR were connected from 1949. This article will compare and contrast the role of US and China in and before the Korean crisis. Firstly, starting from the causes, it will demonstrate how before 1949 the US was involved in Korean affairs whereas China wasn’t. Secondly, how both countries provided support with troops in the conflict.

Since 1910, Korea had been annexed to Japanese land. However, in 1945, after the end of the second World War, Korean land was divided between USA and USSR. The two powers decided to divide the country equally on the 38th parallel. USSR took control of the Northern part of Korea whereas USA took the Southern part of the country. The two superpowers took joint responsibility for repatriating the Japanese forces there. Due to the fact that China wasn’t completely a communist power before 1949, the country did not get involved in the division of Korea. Unlikely, the US got involved in Korean affairs from 1945. Similarly, however, before the Korean conflict started, China and the USA were both motivated by alliances. Mao, was pushed by Stalin and shadowed communism in the conflict with North Korea. The US instead tried to push the United Nations into the conflict in order to be more strong and powerful and therefore to stop communist forces from further expanding. The similarity of both therefore, was that China and the USA were not facing the conflict alone but being allied to Stalin and USSR and the United Nations, respectively.

In 1950 the first “hot war” of the Cold war conflict started. North Korea with Kim Il Sung, invaded South Korea, following the ideal to unify the country. President Truman gave his “total commitment” to the conflict. The US furthermore applied the same policy it had previously used in Europe: “containment”. On the 25th of June 1950 the North invaded the South and on the 1st of July 1950, US troops arrived in Korea. This evidence clearly demonstrated the immediate involvement of the United States in the conflict. On the other hand, since the 27th of November 1950, when there was a march towards the Yalu river, China had only agreed with Sung’s plan of the invasion of the South, but never took part in the conflict since Mao had started to fear about China’s security. Therefore, Mao sent 200,000 Chinese forces to join the North Korean ones. As noticeable this was a clear difference that the two countries faced during the course of the war, while the US immediately took part in the conflict, China waited for the time when the security of the country was in danger. In the course of the conflict however, both countries involved a large amount of troops in support of North Korea (from China) and South Korea (from the USA).

Considering that China, compared to the US in the conflict, was shadowing the USSR, the comparison between the two can be difficult. However, we should consider that in the conflict , the USSR didn’t take any particular direct action, but pushed the two communist leaders, Mao and Sung to defeat the anti-communist forces.

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