“A Misunderstood Friendship: Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, and Sino-North Korean Relations”
Zhihua Shen, Professor of History, East China Normal University
Danhui Li, Professor of History, East China Normal University
Yafeng Xia, Professor of History, Long Island University
Moderator: Thomas Christensen, Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director of the China and the World Program, Columbia University
Monday, October 1, 2018
4:30 PM – 6:00 PM
International Affairs Building, Room 918
No registration required.
This lecture will focus on the new book from Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia, “A Misunderstood Friendship: Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, and Sino-North Korean Relations,” published by Columbia University Press. In the work, the authors note that today, China is widely known as North Korea’s only ally on the world stage. 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. The authors 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. The authors note 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 archival access, this book covers new ground in the history of Cold War Asia.
Co-sponsored by the Columbia-Harvard China and the World Program