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A Misunderstood Friendship: Mao Zedong, Kim Il-Sung, and Sino-North Korean Relations, 1949-1976

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Today, China is widely known as North Korea's only ally on the world stage, a relationship that goes back decades as both countries forged a path as communist governments in the post-World War II period. Historically, both countries have advertised the relationship as being one of special closeness, based on shared political ideals and regional goals. Yet, as China has ris Today, China is widely known as North Korea's only ally on the world stage, a relationship that goes back decades as both countries forged a path as communist governments in the post-World War II period. Historically, both countries have advertised the relationship as being one of special closeness, based on shared political ideals and regional goals. Yet, as China has risen in global standing, its current position in relation to North Korea seems to be changing into a reluctant one, affected by global perceptions of North Korea, calls for Chinese global and regional leadership, and increased economic and political connections between China and other world powers like the United States. In A Misunderstood Friendship, Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia contend that the history of the North Korea-China relationship is not so simply understood. Relying on newly declassified Chinese government documents and in-depth interviews with former North Korean and Chinese diplomats, this book reveals that the complexity, tension, and global sensitivities that currently plague the alliance between the two countries have in fact been a feature of the relationship from the beginning. Shen and Xia contend that China has always viewed the relationship as one of convenience, and further, that going forward the relationship will not play as large of a factor in Chinese foreign policy decisions as some experts or foreign policy officials in the region may believe. An in-depth study drawing on unprecedented archival access, this book covers exciting new ground in the history of Cold War Asia


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Today, China is widely known as North Korea's only ally on the world stage, a relationship that goes back decades as both countries forged a path as communist governments in the post-World War II period. Historically, both countries have advertised the relationship as being one of special closeness, based on shared political ideals and regional goals. Yet, as China has ris Today, China is widely known as North Korea's only ally on the world stage, a relationship that goes back decades as both countries forged a path as communist governments in the post-World War II period. Historically, both countries have advertised the relationship as being one of special closeness, based on shared political ideals and regional goals. Yet, as China has risen in global standing, its current position in relation to North Korea seems to be changing into a reluctant one, affected by global perceptions of North Korea, calls for Chinese global and regional leadership, and increased economic and political connections between China and other world powers like the United States. In A Misunderstood Friendship, Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia contend that the history of the North Korea-China relationship is not so simply understood. Relying on newly declassified Chinese government documents and in-depth interviews with former North Korean and Chinese diplomats, this book reveals that the complexity, tension, and global sensitivities that currently plague the alliance between the two countries have in fact been a feature of the relationship from the beginning. Shen and Xia contend that China has always viewed the relationship as one of convenience, and further, that going forward the relationship will not play as large of a factor in Chinese foreign policy decisions as some experts or foreign policy officials in the region may believe. An in-depth study drawing on unprecedented archival access, this book covers exciting new ground in the history of Cold War Asia

37 review for A Misunderstood Friendship: Mao Zedong, Kim Il-Sung, and Sino-North Korean Relations, 1949-1976

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Chew

  2. 5 out of 5

    Theodora Triantafyllidi

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ghaith Al-Kuwari

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dingyuan Xie

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mauricio Santoro

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kitty Reiners

  7. 5 out of 5

    Yifan Zhang

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  9. 4 out of 5

    Krzysiek

  10. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  11. 4 out of 5

    LPenting

  12. 4 out of 5

    Annabelle

  13. 4 out of 5

    Todd Mundt

  14. 4 out of 5

    Konsta

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alex Rhea

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adam Wolf

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hadrian

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪كايِلان راتكِليف

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  20. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Bassett

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris Stenning

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Botto

  23. 4 out of 5

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  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex Harper

  25. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Tucker

  26. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

  27. 5 out of 5

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  28. 4 out of 5

    Gabe

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elliott

  31. 5 out of 5

    Billy Jeffers

  32. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Koeller

  33. 5 out of 5

    David Garfinkle

  34. 5 out of 5

    Tim Krause

  35. 4 out of 5

    Tom Limongello

  36. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  37. 5 out of 5

    Marie-Perle

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