Wilson Center Experts

Yafeng Xia

Fellow
History and Public Policy Program

Expertise:
Cold War
;
Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
;
History
;
Communism
;
Diplomatic History
;
International Development
;
North Korea
Affiliation:
Associate Professor, Long Island University
Wilson Center Project(s):
“Mao Zedong, Stalin and the Myth of Sino-North Korean Relations, 1945-1976”
Term:
Sep 06, 2011
-
May 25, 2012

I am an associate professor of history at Long Island University in New York and a guest professor at the Center for Cold War International History Studies, East China Normal University in Shanghai. I am a native Chinese with U.S. education, fluent in both Chinese and English languages. I obtained a Ph. D. in modern diplomatic history at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2003. Prior to my doctoral training and academic career in the United States, I served in Chinese Foreign Service, including three years at the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. from 1995 to 1998. I have always been interested in studying the People’s Republic of China’s relations with other countries. I have been able to publish my findings in both Chinese and English. In addition to numerous publications in Chinese, my first book in English, Negotiating with the Enemy: U.S.-China Talks during the Cold War, 1949-72 was published by Indiana University Press 2006.  Drawing on Chinese and U.S. primary sources, the book deals with the complex and fascinating history of Beijing-Washington communications from the dangerous years of confrontations to the period of rapproachement. Many of my articles have appeared in Journal of Cold War Studies, Diplomacy & Statecraft, The International History Review, The Chinese Historical Review, Diplomatic History, Cold War History, and Asian Perspective, among others.

Since 2008, I have been collaborating with Zhihua Shen, a professor of history at East China Normal University in completing a book on the rise and fall of the Sino-Soviet alliance during the Cold War. Professor Shen and I are now moving to write this new book on Sino-North Korean relations in an attempt to further explore the relations between socialist allies during the Cold War. At the Wilson Center, I am completing the book manuscript, tentatively titled, Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung and the Myth of Sino-North Korean Relations, 1945-1976.

Education

B.A. in English Language and Literature, Nanjing Normal University, 1987; M.A. in International History, Nanjing Normal University, 1990; Ph.D. in History, University of Maryland, College Park, 2003
 

Project Summary

Relying mainly on newly declassified Chinese foreign ministry documents, I propose to write a comprehensive account of China’s relations with North Korea between 1949 and 1992. An in-depth study of China’s policies toward North Korea will clarify a number of long-standing questions raised by those who have previously studied China-North Korea relations and will challenge a number of images and constructs held in China and elsewhere. Most obviously, the project will examine whether there is a greater internal consistency and purpose to China’s relations with North Korea than is sometimes apparent. It will also explore a number of second-order questions, including which Chinese national security actors (e.g., the Foreign Ministry, the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese Communist Party International Liaison Department, the Politburo, the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Foreign Affairs Small Group, etc.) participated in setting and implementing policy toward North Korea, and whether this has changed over time. It will provide important evidence on the attitudes and practices of one of the few remaining self-proclaimed Communist states and reflect on how the Chinese leaders conceive of the relationship of their own state to its Communist past. The study of the trajectory of relations between China, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union is of fundamental importance in order to understand the origins of the ongoing conflict on the Korean peninsula and the political reshuffling of post-Cold War East Asia. This study thus is of both historical and political importance. It will offer a valuable tool for predicting future trends in the highly important China-North Korea relationship, and will provide historical context for the critical debates regarding China’s foreign policy, Northeast Asian security, and international relations.

Major Publications

  • Negotiating with the Enemy: U.S.-China Talks during the Cold War, 1949-1972 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006)
  • “The Great Leap Forward, the People’s Communes and the Sino-Soviet Split,” Journal of Contemporary China, vol. 21, no. 73 (2012) (with Zhihua Shen), pp. 513-36.
  • “An Erroneous Decision of Mao Zedong during the Korean War – A Study of China’s Rejection of the UN Cease-fire Resolution in Early 1951,” Asian Perspective, summer 2011 (with Zhihua Shen).
  • “Mao Zedong,” in Steven Casey and Jonathan Wright, eds., Mental Maps in the Early Cold War (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2011), pp. 160-79.
  • “‘Whirlwind’ of China: Zhou Enlai’s Shuttle Diplomacy in 1957 and Its Effect,” Cold War History, 10:4 (November 2010) (with Zhihua Shen), pp. 513-35.
  • “Wang Jiaxiang: New China’s First Ambassador and the CCP’s First Director of International Liaison Department,” American Journal of Chinese Studies, vol 16 (Fall 2009), pp. 501-19.
  • “Hidden Currents during the Honeymoon ---Mao Zedong, Khrushchev and the 1957 Moscow Conference,” The Journal of Cold War Studies, 11: 4 (fall 2009) (with Zhihua Shen), pp. 74-117.
  • “Myth or Reality: Factional Politics, U.S.-China Relations, and Mao Zedong’s Psychology in His Sunset Years, 1972-1976,” The Journal of American-East Asian Relations, vol. 15 (fall 2008), pp. 107-30.
  • “The Study of Cold War International History in China—A Review of the Last Twenty Years,” The Journal of Cold War Studies, 10: 1 (winter 2008), pp. 81-115.
  • “China’s Elite Politics and Sino-American Rapprochement, January 1969—February 1972,” The Journal of Cold War Studies, 8:4 (fall 2006), pp. 3-28.
  • “Negotiating at Cross-Purposes: Sino-American Ambassadorial Talks, 1961-1968,” Diplomacy and Statecraft, 16:2 (June 2005), pp. 297-329.

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