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The Cold War and the Far East
China is a vast nation with a land of over 10 million square kilometres and a
population of over 1000 million. It had been an important power in the
East but by the first half of the twentieth century it was facing serious
The population was mostly illiterate and primitive farming methods could
barely produce enough to feed the people. Famine was common due to
droughts and floods. Industry was sparse and what existed was
Politics was volatile in the 1920s and 30s. There was fighting between the
nationalists led by Chiang Kai-Shek and communist leader Mao Zedong.
Kai-Shek was supported by the USA who kept him in power with money,
weapons and advisors to stop Mao Zedong coming to power. China joined
the allies during world war two but soon returned to civil fighting. The US
poured hundreds of millions of dollars in Kai-Shek's campaign and all of his
equipment came from the USA.
Kai-Shek alienated the masses by not providing aid to them and not helping
with the economy.
Mao looked to the Soviets for help but this did not come. Stalin wanted
Mao to look for help from the workers. The communist emerged stronger
after the civil war controlling 95 million people. Kai-Shek described Mao
as a soviet puppet.
Fear of communist expansion
The USA feared that other poor countries in the East might follow the lead
of China. Containment of communism was now required on a worldwide
stage. The USA refused to recognise the communist party in China. In
1950 all trade and travel links with China were banned in the USA and for
the next 20 years the USA tried to exclude China from world affairs
including the UN.
Russia welcomed Mao and praised China's success in establishing communism
on a world scale. This was backed up by a treaty which lasted 30 years and
promised loans, military aid and technical expertise in order to develop
China's industries. A new Red Star was rising in the East and a new bamboo
curtain was about to fall.
The Korean War began as a civil dispute. Korea had been ruled by Japan
since 1910 but after the Second World War the allies decided Korea should
be independent. Japanese surrendered to Russia in the North and USA in
the South. The dividing line was established which was to be temporary
until free elections could be held. However, the development of the Cold
War complicated matters. Both the USA and the USSR had removed
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All attempts to
unite the country failed and in 1948 two separate countries became
established. North Korea was communist and South Korea was capitalist.
However, each side claimed to rule the whole of Korea.
Korea was bordered by two friendly communist countries which increased
its confidence when dealing with the South. On 25th of June 1950 North
Korean troops invaded the South. Within 3 days these forces armed with
Russian weapons had taken Seoul-South Koreas capital-and had overrun
most of the country.…read more
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Truman could inform Macarthur of his decision. This outraged many
American people who welcomed Macarthur home as a hero.
The war reached a stalemate with both sides digging into a maze of
trenches, heavy bombardments and dogfights in the air.
The Russians suggested peace talks and they began in June 1951. Peace
talks were complex and frequently broke down with fighting continuing.
Stalin's death in 1953 brought a change in attitude with new leaders
deciding the war must end.…read more