The Chinese Decision to Enter the Korean War

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China's decision to intervene in the Korean War can best be explained by her desire to establish the legitimacy and secure the future of the Chinese Communist Party by manipulating external factors to achieve internal objectives, rather than any desire to challenge the supremacy of the United States…

Introduction

China's intervention in Korea cannot be ascribed simply to wanting to maintain the semblance of balance of power, "a theory of state behavior [that] explains and predicts how states respond to threats posed by a potentially dominant, revisionist and aggressive state"1, based on the assumption that states seek to, "maximize their power in order to survive in a competitive international system".2 US presence in the Asian region led to China and the US pursuing purely security related strategies that were mutually exclusive, inadvertently generating mutual hostility.
Similarly, Chinese responses cannot be generalized into the Chinese merely wanting to secure their national interests without taking into consideration many other factors such as leadership challenges, domestic imperatives, and political consensus amongst domestic bureaucracies that can impinge upon foreign policy. The general understanding and belief is that China's foreign policy has been shaped primarily by external stimulus with domestic factors playing only a marginal role. However, the inability of existing theories to fully explain the reasons for China's entry into the conflict signifies that we must look at explanations that go beyond functional concepts of International Relations but also look more closely at internal factors and domestic compulsions.
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