The Spread of Communism in Asia

The Spread of Communism in
Since the 1920s, Chinese
communists, led by Mao
Zedong, had been engaged in
civil war with Kai-shek’s
Nationalist Koumintang (KMT).
Despite significant American
support for the KMT it had
grown out of touch with the
people, and the communists
were eventually victorious. On
the 1 October 1949 Mao
Zedong announced the
establishment of the People’s
Republic of China. Chiang Kaishek fled to the nearby island
of Formosa (later renamed
The Chinese
people have
stood up!"
What was Russia’s Reaction?
Russia was delighted that China was now communist. Stalin
had never expected the communists to win the war. He was
determined to establish a link with his new communist
neighbour. Therefore the Treaty of Friendship was agreed
between the two powers. It was agreed that Russia would help
China to develop economically, technologically and militarily.
How did the USA react?
America was severely disappointed by these developments; China
was a vast country with a massive population and huge resources;
its fall to communists turned the Cold War into a worldwide struggle.
Americans suspected that the fall of China was part of Stalin’s
scheme to spread communism across the world. Even more
worryingly, its fall came shortly after Russia successfully exploded its
first atomic bomb. Truman’s regime came under massive criticism at
home for its failure to stand up to communists more forcefully.
Day in History 1949: Soviets explode atomic bomb
What was the US response?
America regarded Mao Zedong to be nothing
more than Stalin’s puppet, the US government:
Refused to recognise the new regime as
China’s legitimate government.
Tried its best to ignore communist China and
continued to support Chiang Kai-Shek’s right
to represent China in the UN.
Stalin’s attempt to obtain the Chinese seat at
the UN for the communists were rejected; in
response the Soviets staged a walkout and
boycotted the UN.
The Threat of Asia
Many concerns
surrounded the fall of
China. The Americans
feared that their
neighbours may follow.
America’s fear of a series
of neighbouring countries
becoming communist
one after the other
became known as the
domino theory.
If Indochina falls, Thailand is put in an
almost impossible position. The same is
true of Malaya with its rubber and tin.
The same is true of Indonesia. If this
whole part of South East Asia goes
under Communist domination or
Communist influence, Japan, who
trades and must trade with this area in
order to exist must inevitably be
oriented towards the Communist
Vice-president Richard Nixon, speech, (December, 1953)
How to stop this ‘domino theory’?
To stop this happening containment would have
to become a worldwide policy- not just a
European one. The first test of America’s
determination to oppose the spread of
communism in Asia came almost immediately.
This time the country involved was China’s
neighbour Korea.
Click on the next slide for a French T.V.
broadcast on the Korean War and the following
page a Korean broadcast. You will be learning
more on this in the coming lessons.
Read page 172 of your CCEA
Answer questions 1-3
Again make note of the revision tip.
The fall of China to communism is when the
domino theory came into play. It is very
important that you do not get this mixed up with
the Cold War in Europe. Many candidates have
made the mistake in the past and said that the
Domino theory started in Europe. DO NOT DO