In This Review

China and Korea: Dynamic Relations
China and Korea: Dynamic Relations
By Chae-Jin Lee
Hoover Institution Press, 1996, 218 pp

This is the first volume in English to explore comprehensively China's policy toward Korea from the Korean War to the present day. Although much about the origins of the Korean War and China's subsequent involvement still remains ambiguous and imprecise, this volume brings together most of the relevant scholarship in an admirably balanced fashion. The book argues that after repeated requests from Kim Il Sung, Stalin agreed in April 1950 to support Kim's invasion plan because he did not want to be accused of hindering the "revolution" in the east, nor did he want Mao to become another Tito. Mao was fully aware of the general scenario, if not the precise timing and tactics, of Kim's invasion plan, and encouraged and assisted the military preparations. Kim Il Sung recognized signs of the incipient Stalin-Mao rivalry and adroitly manipulated the situation to obtain both leaders' support. Mao's decision to enter the Korean War was based largely on the geostrategic reality that, just as it had when Japan used it after annexing it as a bridgehead to invade China, the Korean Peninsula would pose a threat if it fell under U.S. control. The author closes with a sensible conclusion: "At the present time, China shares a common interest with the United States, Japan, and Russia in making sure that the Korean Peninsula does not succumb to another wave of fratricidal struggles or big-power confrontations."