Cold War Widening Revision Notes - 2/6


The Widening of the Cold War 1949-55


  • Truman 1945-53 / Eisenhower 1953
  • Stalin 1953 / Khrushchev 1953-64
  • Attlee 1949-51 / Churchill 1951-55
  • 1949 - SU develops its own atom bomb.
  • 1950 - NSC 68 recommends increased US spending on weapons. Truman reluctant until Korean War but refuses use of nuclear weapons to MacArthur.
  • 1952 - Dulles’ policy of ‘massive retaliation’ –’ more bangs for the buck’ escalates the arms race. ‘Brinkmanship’ maintains tension. Massive US spending on arms (especially for Airforce).
  • 1952 - H bomb tested.
  • 1953 - death of Stalin – no real change.
  • 1955 - at Geneva Eisenhower proposes ‘Open Skies’ treaty but SU reject
  1. US containment in action in Asia; China
  • The Chinese Civil War was between the People’s National Party and the Chinese Communist Party from 1927-1949.
  • Following defeat in WWII, Japan pulled out of China, which it had occupied, and triggered a full-scale civil war.

Key people and their standpoints

Chiang Kai-shek

  • Led the People’s National Party, headed the Chinese Nationalist Government from 1928.
  • With American support, Kai-shek hoped to take full control of China.
  • His Government was corrupt, but refused to put in reforms suggested by Americans.

Mao Zedong

  • Mao was a founder member of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921, later was chairman until death in 1976.
  • Chinese Communist Party approximately 1 million strong.


  • Stalin instructed Mao to form a coalition government with Kai-shek and advised Mao not to seize power as it would upset USA.
  • USSR had been an onlooker to Chinese Civil War, didn’t get involved.


  • Japanese aggression in China and Pearl Harbour prompted USA to support Kai-shek after 1941.
  • Opposed communist takeover in China, but didn’t want war with USSR.
  • Advised Kai-shek to make a coalition.
  • Sent George Marshall to arrange a truce in 1945 which failed in 1946.
  • Americans sent money and aid, worth over $200 million, helped the People’s National Party become 3 million strong.
  • When communist victory seemed imminent they pulled aid in 1948.

Outcome of Chinese Civil War

  • Communist guerrilla forces were in a stronger position by the end of 1947.
  • The People’s National Party’s cities were crumbling due to their corruption and desertion.
  • By early 1949, the Communist party captured Being and by April Nanjing fell, which caused Kai-shek to flee to Taiwan.
  • 1st October 1949 Mao declared the new People’s Republic of China. 
  • USA refused to recognise this, and only recognised the Chinese on Taiwan as the government of China.

Impact of the war on the US


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