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The Lowest Ebb: China’s Policy toward North Korea during the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1969

What Talk
When Mar 31, 2017
from 04:00 pm to 06:00 pm
Where Marvin Center Room 302 The George Washington University 800 21st St NW, Washington, DC 20052
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The George Washington University Institute for Korean Studies (GWIKS) will host a lecture by Professor Yafeng Xia on Chinese policy towards North Korea during the Cultural Revolution.

China's relations with North Korea, especially during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1969, have received relatively little scholarly attention. Making use of newly acquired Chinese and Russian sources, Eastern European Communist-era documents, and CIA analytical reports, I argue that China's relationship with North Korea had worsened substantially during the eighteen months prior to the May 1966 beginning of the Cultural Revolution. By that time China had already believed that the Korean Workers' Party was carrying out a "revisionist" policy.  I contend that the main reasons for the deterioration in Sino-North Korean relations were China's radical and uncompromising foreign and domestic policies. However, it is important to distinguish the verbal attacks by the Red Guards on North Korean leaders from the position of the Chinese government. A review of North Korea's relations with Beijing and Moscow between 1966 and 1969 reveals that Pyongyang did not have as much leverage over its two Communist allies as has generally been believed. Instead, Pyongyang was mainly reacting to policy changes in Beijing and Moscow, and it thereby adjusted its policies in order to better protect its own national security and interests.

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About the Speaker

Yafeng Xia is professor of history at Long Island University in New York and senior research fellow at Research Institute for Asian Neighborhood, East China Normal University in Shanghai. A formal research fellow and Public Policy fellow/scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, he is the author of Negotiating with the Enemy: U.S.-China Talks during the Cold War, 1949-1972 (2006),coauthor of Mao and the Sino-Soviet Partnership, 1945-1959: A New History, with Zhihua Shen (2015), and Mao and the Sino-Soviet Split, 1959-1973: A New History, with Danhui Li (2017), as well as many articles on Cold War history. He has coauthored a new book, entitled, "A Misunderstood Friendship: Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung and the Myth of Sino-North Korean Relations, 1949-1976," which is under review for publication.

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