How Significant was China’s intervention in deciding the course and outcome of the Civil War?
China’s intervention in the Korean played a significant part in deciding the course and outcome of the Civil War in a variety of ways. Among the most significant of these factors are the role played by the Chinese ‘volunteer’ army in pushing the UN forces back to the 38th Parallel and then South Korea, which prolonged a conflict which was seemingly going to be won by the UN. Without this intervention, the stalemate that led to the eventual Armistice would never have happened. Also, if China hadn’t intervened, then General MacArthur may not have been sacked by Truman, as part of the reason for his sacking was his failure to prevent the advance of the PRC; this would have been academic if the PRC hadn’t intervened in the war. If China had not intervened, MacArthur could have still been in control of the army ( as Truman would have had less reason to dismiss him), and as a result the US could have held a more aggressive stance towards attacking mainland China, as this is what MacArthur wanted in order to end the conflict quickly. Chinese intervention also meant that the damage and cost to all sides increased, as well as the significant impact China had on the eventual peace terms.
One of the main factors that demonstrate the significance of the Chinese intervention was the role played by the ‘volunteer’ Chinese army. Although this force was made up of 300,000 poorly equipped fighters, they were experienced fighters as many had already fought in the Chinese Civil War. Initially, it seemed that the Chinese intervention was ‘too little, too late’, as they lost their first major battle with the UN forces, and in October 1950, the ROK’s troops crossed the 38th Parallel. In addition to this, the US Eighth Army captured the capital of North Korea on the 20th October 1950, as well as the X command capturing the important port of Wonsan on the East Coast. As a result, it initially seemed that Chinese intervention might prolong the Civil War, but ultimately, a UN victory would be inevitable. However, the apparent weakness of the Chinese forces was just a carefully planned illusion that caused the UNC to view China as a weaker force than it was. The fact that officially it was a ‘volunteer’ force would have further added to this view. As a result, by the 25th November, the CPV had defeated the 2nd Corps of the ROK, and had successfully cut off the US First and Ninth Marine Corps and the US Secondary Infantry Division. As a result, the Chinese intervention was having a growing significance on the course of the war, as it was forcing the UNC troops back to the 38th Parallel. This was accentuated by the fact that the morale of the UNC troops was greatly damaged – just when they thought the war was almost won, they were faced with experienced, fresh-faced troops from the CPV. It would ultimately have great significance on the outcome of the war as well as without it; the war would never have reached the stalemate that it did.