East Asia 1950: Korean War
In June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, leading to war with the United States and its allies. As the U.S. saw mainland China as part of the same Communist threat as North Korea, they also sent ships to defend Taiwan, ending any possibility of a Communist invasion.
11–27 Dec 1949 Chengdu Campaign▲
By December 1949, the People’s Republic of China was in control of eastern Sichuan, forcing the Nationalist government to abandon its capital in Chengdu for Taipei. The People’s Liberation Army seized Jianmen Pass between 14 and 18 December, defeating the 1000 remaining Nationalist defenders and breaking into western Sichuan. On 27 December they captured Chengdu itself, bringing an end to significant Nationalist resistance in southwestern China.
18 Dec 1949 End of East Turkestan Republic▲
On 24 August 1949, the five leaders of the East Turkestan Republic (ETR) boarded a plane for Moscow to negotiate the position of the republic in the new People’s Republic of China (PRC). On 3 September, the Soviet Union informed the Chinese government that the plane had crashed, killing all on board. Saifuddin Azizi, the new leader of the ETR but also a member of the Chinese Communist Party, kept the tragedy secret until December, by which time the People’s Liberation Army had arrived in the region. On 18 December, the PRC dissolved the ETR, although the Soviet Union retained concessions in East Turkestan until 1954.
3 Mar–1 May 1950 Hainan Landing Operation▲
Over 100,000 People’s Liberation Army troops embarked aboard 2,130 civilian junks from Leizhou Peninsula for Hainan Island, off the south coast of China and still under the control of the Chinese Nationalists. Although the 120,000 defenders fended off an initial landing in March, a second major landing in April secured a beachhead in the north of the island. From here the Communists successfully expanded across Hainan, capturing Hankou on 23 April and the remaining cities by 1 May.
25 Jun 1950 UNSC Resolution 82▲
The United Nations Security Council passed UNSC Resolution 82 demanding North Korea immediately end its invasion of South Korea and move its troops back to the 38th parallel. The measure was adopted by a vote of 9 in support, none opposed, with Yugoslavia abstaining. The Soviet Union was absent from the meeting as it was boycotting all UN meetings at the time, in part due to the UN’s failure to recognize the People’s Republic of China.
25 Jun 1950 Outbreak of Korean War▲
At dawn on Sunday, 25 June 1950, the armed forces of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) crossed the 38th parallel into the Republic of Korea (South Korea), under the pretense that the South Koreans had attacked them. Heavily outnumbered and weak in modern weaponry, the South Korean forces were quickly overrun, abandoning Seoul on 28 June.
7 Jul 1950 U.N.S.C. Resolution 84▲
With the failure of North Korea to withdraw from South Korea, the United Nations Security Council passed UNSC Resolution 84, recommending that UN members provide military assistance to South Korea under the unified command of the United States. The resolution succeeded with the votes from Cuba, Ecuador, France, Norway, the Republic of China (Taiwan), the United Kingdom, and the United States, with Egypt, India, and Yugoslavia abstaining. Although the first US troops had already begun arriving in Korea on 30 June, the resolution allowed for a full Western commitment to the war.
4 Aug–18 Sep 1950 Battle of Pusan Perimeter▲
Unable to defeat the invading North Korean forces, the United Nations army in South Korea was pushed back to a 230 km defensive line around the port of Pusan in the southeast of the Korean peninsula. Despite two major offensives in August and September, the North Koreans were unable to penetrate this perimeter or dislodge the UN troops, while the UN used the port to build up its forces. The battle ended in mid-September, when the UN landings at Inchon led to a North Korean rout.