People's Volunteer Army (PVA) was a Volunteer army used by the Chinese government during the Korean War . It was volunteer in a effort to prevent a official war with the United States.
Diplomacy[edit | edit source]
The army was used by the People's Republic of China (PRC) chiefly to avoid direct diplomatic confrontation with the United States. The name also helped to delude the US intelligence about the size and nature of the Chinese army who entered Korea, as some Americans believed that the PVA was merely a rabble of untrained volunteers. Technically the People's Liberation Army only manned supply depots and infrastructure in Manchruria during the conflict, and never crossed the Yalu.
Others think it is not just a euphemism. During the Korean War, the PRC recruited many young men and women to fight the United Nations as they defended South Korea, citing the reason that their presence on the Korean Peninsula endangered the newly formed People's Republic of China. The popular view of this war outside the communist world is different.
The UN troops drove to the Yalu River bordering China. This greatly concerned the Chinese, who worried that the UN forces would not stop at the Yalu River, the border between the PRK and China, and had warned Western leaders that such an action would not be tolerated. Many in the West, including General MacArthur, thought that spreading the war to China would be necessary. However, Truman and the other leaders disagreed, and MacArthur was ordered to be very cautious when approaching the Chinese border. Eventually, MacArthur disregarded these concerns, arguing that since the North Korean troops were being supplied by bases in China, those supply depots should be bombed. However, except on some rare occasions UN bombers remained out of Northeastern China during the war.
MacArthur refused to believed that the Chinese would really enter the war and ignored warnings from the Indian ambassador.
First Campaign[edit | edit source]
Chinese forces drove UN back near Yalu and promptly withdrew. While the People's Republic of China had issued warnings that they would intervene if any non-South Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel, citing national security interests. Truman regarded the warnings as "a bald attempt to blackmail the UN". On October 8, 1950, the day after American troops crossed the parallel, Chairman Mao issued the order for the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (actually regulars in the Chinese People's Liberation Army) to be moved to the Yalu River, ready to cross. Mao sought Soviet aid and saw intervention as essentially defensive: "If we allow the U.S. to occupy all of Korea… we must be prepared for the US to declare… war with China", he told Stalin. Premier Zhou Enlai was sent to Moscow to add force to Mao's cabled arguments. Mao delayed his forces while waiting for Soviet help, and the planned attack was thus postponed from 13 October to 19 October. Soviet assistance was limited to providing air support no nearer than 60 miles (96 km) from the battlefront. The MiG-15s in PRC colours would be an unpleasant surprise to the UN pilots; they would hold local air superiority against the F-80 Shooting Stars until newerF-86 Sabres were deployed. The Soviet role was known to the U.S. but they kept quiet to avoid any international and potential nuclear incidents. It has been alleged by the Chinese that the Soviets had agreed to full scale air support, which never transpired South of Pyongyang, and helped accelerate the Sino-Soviet Split.
On October 15, 1950, Truman went to Wake Island to discuss the possibility of Chinese intervention and his desire to limit the scope of the Korean conflict. MacArthur reassured Truman that "if the Chinese tried to get down to Pyongyang there would be the greatest slaughter."
On October 19, 1950, Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, fell to UN forces.
The Chinese assault began on October 25, 1950, under the command of General Peng Dehuai with 270,000 PVA troops (it was assumed at the time that Lin Biao was in charge, but this notion has been disproven). The Chinese assault caught the UN troops by surprise, despite the capture of Chinese soldiers and other evidence of the entrance of the PLA into Korea. In addition, the Chinese, employing great skill and remarkable camouflage discipline, concealed their numeric and divisional strength after the first engagement with the UN. After these initial engagements, the Chinese withdrew into the mountains; UN forces ignored the stern warning delivered by the Chinese government and continued their advance to the Yalu. In fact, many UN leaders interpreted this withdrawal as a show of weakness; they thought the Chinese initial attack had been all they were capable of.
Second Campaign[edit | edit source]
PVA advanced across North Korea towards 38th parallel. In late November, the Chinese struck again. In the west, along the Chongchon River, the Chinese army overran several South Korean divisions and landed an extremely heavy blow into the flank of the remaining UN forces; the resulting withdrawal of the U.S. Eighth Army was the longest retreat of an American unit in history. In the east, at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir (November 26–December 13) a 3,000 man unit from the U.S. 7th Infantry Division, Task Force Faith, inflicted heavy casualties on the Chinese brigades, but were soon surrounded. They fought their way out of the encirclement, but in so doing lost 2000 of their 3000 men killed or captured. They also lost all of their vehicles and most other equipment. This was considered to be one of the largest defeats of American military in history. The Marines fared better; though surrounded and forced to retreat, they inflicted heavy casualties on the Chinese forces, who committed six divisions to trying to destroy the American Marines.
UN forces in northeast Korea withdrew to form a defensive perimeter around the port city of Hungnam, where a Dunkirk-style evacuation was carried out in late December 1950. Approximately 100,000 military personnel and material and another 100,000 North Korean civilians were loaded onto a variety of merchant and military transport ships, not always voluntarily as the South Korean military and police often conscripted military-age males, and were moved to ports in UN-held territory on the southern tip of Korea.
Third Campaign[edit | edit source]
PVA drove to 37th parralllel and recaptured Seoul. On January 4, 1951, Chinese and North Korean forces recaptured Seoul. Both the 8th Army and the X Corps were forced to retreat. General Walker was killed in an accident. He was replaced by Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway, who had led airborne troops in World War II. Ridgway took immediate steps to raise the morale and fighting spirit of the battered Eighth Army, which had fallen to low levels during its retreat from North Korea.
Fourth Campaign[edit | edit source]
Overextended PVA went on defensive, In March 1951, in Operation Ripper, a revitalized 8th Army — restored by Ridgway to fighting trim — expelled the North Korean and Chinese troops from Seoul, destroying much of the city with aerial and artillery bombardments in the process.
MacArthur was removed from command by President Truman on April 11, 1951, due to a disagreement over policy. MacArthur was succeeded by Ridgway, who managed to regroup UN forces for an effective counter-offensive. A series of attacks managed to slowly drive back the opposing forces, inflicting heavy casualties on Chinese and North Korean units as UN forces advanced some miles north of the 38th parallel.
Fifth Campaign[edit | edit source]
US counteratatck stabilizes along 38th parrellel.The rest of the war involved little territory change, large scale bombing of the population in the north, and lengthy peace negotiations (which started in Kaesong on July 10 of the same year). Even during the peace negotiations, combat continued. For the South Korean and allied forces, the goal was to recapture all of what had been South Korea before an agreement was reached in order to avoid loss of any territory. The Chinese attempted a similar operation at the Battle of the Hook, where they were repelled by British forces. A major issue of the negotiations was repatriation of POWs. The Communists agreed to voluntary repatriation, but only if the majority would return to China or North Korea, something that did not occur. The war continued until the Communists eventually dropped this issue.
On November 29, 1952, U.S. President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled a campaign promise by going to Korea to find out what could be done to end the conflict. With the UN's acceptance of India's proposal for a Korean armistice, a cease-fire was established on July 27, 1953, by which time the front line was back around the proximity of the 38th parallel, and so a demilitarized zone (DMZ) was established around it, still defended to this day by North Korean troops on one side and South Korean and American troops on the other. The DMZ runs north of the parallel towards the east, and to the south as it travels west. The site of the peace talks, Kaesong, the old capital of Korea, was part of the South before hostilities broke out but is currently a special city of the North. No peace treaty has been signed
Tactics[edit | edit source]
Similar to Europeans during the Mongol invasions, UN forces believed that Chinese victories were due to simple human wave tactics. In fact Chinese forces used rapid attacks on the flanks and rear and infiltration behind UN lines to give the appearance of vast hordes. The initial Chinese victory along the Yalu River was a great morale booster for the PLA and the first Chinese victory over the West in modern times. In addition the retreat from the Yalu to a line below Seoul was the longest retreat in American history. However by late 1951 American meatgrinder tactics had forced a stalemate. The North Koreans that invaded in 1950 had been much better supplied and armed by the Soviets. The main arms of the PVA were captured Japanese and KMT arms.
"PVA's tactics were designed to void UN's advantage of air power and artillery.PVA used night fighting tactics. It would start an attack when night fell, withdrew and went to cover at dawn, so US airplanes could not harass them. It also used close combat, threw its units into enemy line, so the enemy artillery could not operate. Another PVA tactics was to infiltrate deep into enemy positions, attack their command posts and artillery positions directly from inside.During the truce talks, PVA invented the bunker war, they would dug very long and deep bunkers in the hills and stock supplies there, when enemy shell the hills, they would withdraw into the bunkers, when the shelling stopped, they came out to fire on the attackers, after the surface positions taken by enemy, they would withdraw back into the bunkers, then PVA artillery would shell the enemy on the surface and they came out the bunkers again to assist the retaking of the hill.PVA's main strategy at the beginning was the so-called "movement war", the main objective was to divide the enemy into isolated pieces and then use superior strength of force to annihilate the encircled enemy piecemeal before enemy reinforcement could be brought in, to do this, PVA uses frontal attacks and simultaneous penetrations to cut directly into enemy rear, cutoff MSR (main supply route) and withdraw routes, trap enemy units when they tried to redeploy.To understand PLA strategies, one must study the grand campaigns in which PLA wiped out 8 million KMT troops in 2 years, with small casualty of its own. During battles, western forces were usually incapable of correctly estimating the strength of PVA forces, often times, they greatly exaggerated the number of attacking PVAs, such as taking a PVA regiment as a PVA division. PVA mostly attacked at night, blowing bugles and wistles, shouting thrills, even play "sweet music" to cause psychological stress, the PVA tactics made western forces feel that the enemy was everywhere from every direction. Moreover, PVAs were masters of infiltration, they often sneaked in and attacked directly on command posts, generating shock and chaos. Western combat history always referred PVA attacks as "swarm of Chinese", "human waves", "Chinese hordes", as if PVA simply threw its men into the fire and let itself slaughtered, such a description indicated a great misunderstanding of the PVA tactics. As some military analysts pointed out, PLA rarely use dense formation in their attacks, it seeks to inflict maximum damage with mnimum casualty. At various stages of the Korean war, PVA nevered had a commanding numerical superioty against UN forces, in fact, during the 4th campaign, it was greatly outnumbered by UN (it was always outgunned), yet it could still outmaneuver UN forces and even managed to counter attack at X Corps. PVA could achieve all these with inferior firepower because it had smarter tactics and strategy. " http://www.centurychina.com/history/faq1.shtml#1
"The Chinese had no air power and were armed only with rifles, machineguns, hand grenades, and mortars. Against the much more heavily armed Americans, they adapted a technique they had used against the Nationalists in the Chinese civil war of 1946–49. The Chinese generally attacked at night and tried to close in on a small troop position — generally a platoon — and then attacked it with local superiority in numbers. The usual method was to infiltrate small units, from a platoon of fifty men to a company of 200, split into separate detachments. While one team cut off the escape route of the Americans, the others struck both the front and the flanks in concerted assaults. The attacks continued on all sides until the defenders were destroyed or forced to withdraw. The Chinese then crept forward to the open flank of the next platoon position, and repeated the tactics."
Historian Bruce Cumings noted that when Chinese soldiers and officers saw how Americans fought the war, they were surprised by how freely the Americans would resort to what they considered to be excessive and unnecessary force. One Chinese soldier stated that if the Americans encountered a single sniper hiding in a village or house, they would invariably call in massive artillery and air attacks, destroying the entire village and killing everyone in it. He asked, "Why do they do this instead of simply sending in soldiers to kill the sniper?" American superiority in military hardware had profound consequences for the Korean people on the peninsula as well as the soldiers fighting the war.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
Propaganda in North Korea however still suggests that the war was won by Kim singlehandedly with minor Chinese help. Nevertheless similar to Egypt in The Suez War this was a great victory for China's prestige especially considering the dismal military performance of the Manchus and the KMT against the West. In addition China had single handedly battled forces from the USA, UK, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ethiopia, Thailand, the Phillipines, Colombia, Benelux, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Turkey. The Soviets played on a minor role in the war taking back their promise for air cover just as Chinese forces began crossing the Yalu. the aid they did provide came too late and was expensive. The Korean War was the decisive factor in ensuring that US-China relations remained sour and ensured that China would remain outside the UN.
Brainwashing and POWS[edit | edit source]
POWS played a major role in the continuation of the war past 1951. The US accused China of brainwashing US prisoners while China refused to allow the US to repatriate POWs to Taiwan. A major POW riot was organized by the Chinese.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
People's Republic of China
From official Chinese sources, PVA casualties during the Korean War were 390,000. This breaks down as follows: 110,400 KIA; 21,600 died of wounds; 13,000 died of sickness; 25,600 MIA/POW; and 260,000 more WIA. However, western and other sources estimate that about 400,000 Chinese soldiers were either killed in action or died of disease, starvation, exposure, and accidents out of around 2 million deployed in the war. Mao Zedong (毛澤東)'s only healthy son, Mao Anying (毛岸英), was also killed as a PVA officer during the war.
It also contributed to the decline of Sino-Soviet relations. Although Chinese had their own reasons to enter the war (i.e. a strategic buffer zone in the Korean peninsula), the view that the Soviets had used them as proxies was shared in the Western bloc. China had to use the Soviet loan, which had been originally intended to rebuild their destroyed economy, to pay for the Soviet arms. However, the willingness of China to assist North Korea against the United States, and the show of force they engaged in, heralded that China was once again becoming a major world power. By many Chinese the war is generally seen as an honour in Chinese history as it was the first time in a century the Chinese army stood up against a Western army in a major conflict.
Republic of China
After the war was over, 14,000 of the Chinese prisoners of war hostile to communists of the People's Republic of China defected to the Republic of China (ROC) (in contrast, only 7,110 Chinese POWs opted to return to the PRC). The defectors arrived in Taiwan on January 23, 1954 and were referred to as "Anti-Communist volunteers"(反共義士). January 23 was named World Freedom Day(自由日) in their honour in Taiwan.
The Korean War also led to other long lasting effects. Until the conflict in Korea, the U.S. had largely abandoned the government ofChiang Kai-Shek, which had retreated to Taiwan, and had no plans to intervene in the Chinese Civil War. The start of the Korean War rendered untenable any policy that would have caused Taiwan to fall under PRC control. Truman's decision to send American forces to the Taiwan strait further deterred the PRC from making any cross-strait invasion of Taiwan. The anti-communist atmosphere in the West in response to the Korean War contributed to the unwillingness to diplomatically recognize the People's Republic of China by the West until the 1970s. Today, diplomacy between the Republic of China and mainland China remains strained, and mainland China continues to claim the sovereignty of Taiwan.
Fiction[edit | edit source]
During the war, Wei released a series of stories, which then were collected and edited as the book ''Who is the most lovable?'' 《誰是最可愛的人》. One of the more notable books of its period, it glorifies the revolutionary spirit of the Chinese People's Volunteers (中國人民志願軍) serving in Korea.
It represents Wei's most significant work on Korea as well as an influential example from the period of the revolutionary theme. The book's success came from Wei's cautious choice of sources, brevity, and depth of detail.
In the book, Wei highlighted three particular examples. The first is Song gu feng War (松鼓峰戰爭), describing the courage of the soldiers and their hatred towards their enemies. The second is the story of Feng Yuxiang taking a big risk to rescue a Korean child, showing the spirit of "internationalism" (國際主義;精神) of the volunteer soldiers. The third is a conversation between Wei and some soldiers, which reveals their patriotism. Although the three examples have different approaches, they all illustrate the theme "Who is the most lovable" (誰是最可愛的人).
War Trash is a novel by the Chinese author Ha Jin, who has long lived in the United States and who writes in English. It takes the form of a memoir writtten by the fictional character Yu Yuan, a man who eventually becomes a soldier in the Chinese People's Volunteer Army and who is sent to Korea to fight on the Communist side in the Korean War. The majority of the "memoir" is devoted to describing this exprience, especially after Yu Yuan is captured and imprisoned as a POW. The novel captured the PEN/Faulkner Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Shangganling Battle (Shanggan Ling, Chinese: 上甘岭, BW-1956)，is a chinese movie, in the Korean war in early 1950s, a group of Chinese People's Volunteer soldiers are blocked in Shangganling mountain area for several days. Short of both food and water, they hold their ground till the relief troops arrive. d: Meng Sha, Lin Shan; C: Gao Baocheng, XuLIinge, Liu Yuru; M: changchun.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
Mao Zedong's oldest son was killed during the first campaign by American napalm bombs.
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
Enter the Dragon, Russell Spurr, 1988
The Day The Chinese Attacked, Edwin P. Hoyt, 1993
The First War We Lost, Bevin Alexander
Links[edit | edit source]
- Korean War FAQ from a Red Chinese POV
- Peng Dehuai's memoirs on the Korean War
- Chinese 50th Anniversiry Korean War Memorial