Far East After World War II
Mao Zedong met with Joseph Stalin in 1949 and 1950.  During the second meeting these two countries signed the Sino-Soviet Treaty.  Chiang Kai-shek and his followers retreated and lived on the island of Taiwan at the end of the Communist Revolution.  In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea.  The United Nations came to the aid of the South Koreans.  Historically, the North Koreans and South Koreans had fought each other, during the Japanese and Chinese occupations it was calm, but once the Soviets backed the north, they took the advantage. 

Mao Zedong at this time lost favor with the Soviet Union.  Mao was a complete revolutionary and believed that the Soviets had lost focus of the cause.  Mao still believed that the peasants were the key to revolution.  Mao urged the Soviets to let him invade Korea and take care of the Americans, but they refused him. Even though Mao was victorious over Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Nationalists, he did not believe the revolution was over.

Like Stalin’s Soviet Union of the 1920’s and 30’s Mao instituted a set of 5 year plans.  The first five year plan started in 1953.  The goal was to bring business and industry under the government.  The first 5 year plan did not meet expectations, so in 1957 Mao introduced the Great Leap Forward.  Another failure, communes were to produce products independent of each other.  The neglect of the farming industry was a crushing blow along with the Soviet’s anger with Mao.  They cut off aid to China.

Another program instituted by Mao was the Hundred Flowers Campaign.  The goal of the campaign was to have intellectual and cultural leaders publicly criticize the government and high government officials.  It didn’t work out well, people complained, they were censored, and then sent to labor camps or prison. Besides being forced to step down as chairman of the government, Mao angered the USSR.  He accused them again for losing focus, and both in the early 60’s wish to be the dominant communist power.  The Soviets were turning their backs to their communist friends.  Mao was pushed back in terms of political ability and government strength, but he always remained an icon to the Chinese people.

In 1966, Mao’s “Little Red Book” was introduced during his cultural revolution.  This gave Mao the ability to show he was still strong and also that he could still hold power in China. Mao again regained control of China until his death in 1975.  After his death China became less revolutionary and started to become more global instead of isolated.
The Vietnamese were involved in armed conflict between the years of 1946-1975.
The Vietnamese fought against:
-French:  Indochina War (1946-54)
-North vs. South:  Civil War (1955-1965)
-North vs. South + United States:  Vietnam War (Second Indochina War) (1955-1975)

After WW II, the French wanted to show the Vietnamese, especially Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh that they were still in charge.  They were ruthless and pressed the Vietnamese into armed conflict.  The United States believed that the Communists would eventually win Vietnam and urged the French to make a good political solution.  The United States started to get involved in Vietnam as early as 1950.  Ho Chi Minh realized he did not need total victory in Vietnam, all he needed was to make sure that the French didn’t completely win.  Ho Chi Minh’s tactics were to use guerilla warfare to wear down the French.  It was during this war and through the support of the United States that the concept of the domino theory was introduced.  President Eisenhower explained that it was important for the United States to support these types of situations like Vietnam.  “You knock over the first domino, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty it will go over very quickly.”  The French attempted to trick Ho Chi Minh’s forces into a valley to destroy, but Ho was on to this and had his soldiers climb higher with their cannon in the night and shot at the French.  The crushing blow of the French Indochina War was the battle of Dien Bien Phu.  At the end of the French Indochina War the Geneva Peace Conference split Vietnam into two.  Both the North and South would hold free elections to determine their political destiny.  It was no doubt that the North would elect a communist government, the south was a bigger concern to Ho Chi Minh and the United States.


The leader of the South, Ngo Dinh Diem opposed free elections and fought the north and Ho Chi Minh.  The North and South fought each other using non-traditional methods.  Diem lost favor with the United States and the US urged the south to re-establish hamlets in the South to contain the communist threat.  Gulf of Tonkin was the start of a major US escalation in Vietnam.  The Viet Minh were now referred to as the Viet Cong by the US Press.  Ho Chi Minh kept with the same philosophy that they used with the French, ensure that the enemy does not earn decisive victory.  Like the Chinese, Ho Chi Minh and the North Vietnamese condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia as imperialistic.  By 1967 more US soldiers were fighting against the Viet Cong than South Vietnamese.

The turning point of the Vietnam War was the Tet offensive.  By 1975 the United States had completely withdrawn from Vietnam.  A unified Vietnam occurred the next year.  Supporters of the United States had been placed in reeducation camps.  The death of Ho Chi Minh did not stop the Vietnamese from their earlier goals, they invaded Cambodia in 1979.  The Chinese invaded Vietnam in 1979 for various reasons.  The economy of Vietnam has never recovered from the over 30 years of fighting.