China's Battle for Korea

China's Battle for Korea

The 1951 Spring Offensive
Xiaobing Li
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/28/2014
Format: Hardback 12 b&w illus., 19 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-01157-2
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2015 Best Scholarly Publication Award for Original Research, Association of Chinese Professors of Social Sciences

Between November 1950 and the end of fighting in June 1953, China launched six major offensives against UN forces in Korea. The most important of these began on April 22, 1951, and was the largest Communist military operation of the war. The UN forces put up a strong defense, prevented the capture of the South Korean capital of Seoul, and finally pushed the Chinese back above the 38th parallel. After China’s defeat in this epic five-week battle, Mao Zedong and the Chinese leadership became willing to conclude the war short of total victory. China's Battle for Korea offers new perspectives on Chinese decision making, planning, and execution; the roles of command, political control, and technology; and the interaction between Beijing, Pyongyang, and Moscow, while providing valuable insight into Chinese military doctrine and the reasons for the UN’s military success.

Author Bio

Xiaobing Li is Professor and Chair of the Department of History and Geography and Director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma. He is author, editor, or co-author of China at War; A History of the Modern Chinese Army; Voices from the Korean War: Personal Stories of American, Korean, and Chinese Soldiers (with Richard Peters); Mao’s Generals Remember Korea (with Allan R. Millett); and other books and articles on the Korean War. He served in the People’s Liberation Army in China.


“New perspectives on Chinese decision making, planning, and execution during China's epic five-week battle against UN forces in Korea between 1950 and 1953. ”

“One of the limitations of much that has been written about the Korean War in English has been a serious lack of analysis of Chinese sources. As in his previous works, Xiaobing Li shows that even in a one-party state like the PRC there is much useful material available to be interpreted by those with the requisite diligence and linguistic capability. In analyzing the 1951 spring offensive in as much depth as the sources allow from the Chinese rather than the American perspective he is making a major and very necessary contribution to the history of the Korean War.”
 — S. P. MacKenzie, author of The Imjin and Kapyong Battles, Korea, 1951 (IUP, 2013)

“The author has written widely on the Korean War, and his expertise shows in this detailed study of the Chinese military. Little has been published in English about the Chinese point of view and their decision-making processes; this book goes a long way toward redressing that imbalance. The author uses Chinese archival material extensively, as well as American and other accounts, to present a balanced presentation of the Korean War. ”
 — Military Heritage

“[T]his book is a compelling read that will appeal to both the generalist and the specialist.”
 — American Historical Review

“Xiaobing Li has made a major contribution to English-language scholarship on the Korean War. The source material and other evidence assembled here will greatly benefit students and researchers. . . . China's Battle for Korea should be the starting point for anyone interested in the Chinese side of the Korean conflict. ”
 — Michigan War Studies Review

“A leader of the community of expatriate Chinese scholars, editor, compiler, and translator of note, Li Xiaobing has now produced the 'big book' all of us with Korean War interests expected. . . . China’s Battle for Korea is a major contribution to Korean War historiography and, one hopes, a promise of more books on the CPVF in English to come.”
 — Journal of Chinese Military History

“China’s Battle for Korea provides a detailed and thorough analysis of the CPVF’s fifth campaign, the reasons for its failure, and the consequences for the Korean War and the Chinese military. It joins Harold Tanner’s The Battle for Manchuria and the Fate of China . . . as two recent additions on Chinese military history from the University of Indiana Press’s Twentieth-Century Battles series. This is an encouraging trend as works such as Xiaobing Li’s have much to tell us about the Chinese side of the Korean War.”
 — Pacific Affairs

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Note on Transliteration
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: China’s War against America
1. Beijing’s Decision
2. From the Yalu to Seoul
3. The Last Attempt for Victory
4. The First Step: Three Problems
5. The Costly Offensive in the West
6. The Second Step: the Offensive in the East
7. Disastrous Withdraw to the North
8. From Battleground to Negotiating Table
Conclusion: What China Learned
Selected Bibliography

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