Story: Asian conflicts

The octopus of Chinese communism, 1950

The octopus of Chinese communism, 1950

This New Zealand Herald cartoon from November 1950 illustrates New Zealand's fears of Chinese communist expansion in Asia. A sequence of events in the late 1940s and early 1950s prompted such concerns. The 1949 communist victory in the Chinese civil war was soon followed by Chinese invasion of Tibet and intervention in the Korean War. Meanwhile the communist-dominated Viet Minh were fighting the French in Indochina. In Malaya the armed wing of the Malayan Communist Party fought a guerrilla campaign against the British. Within New Zealand the widespread view of these events was of an international communist conspiracy, conducted by China but ultimately directed from Moscow. The 'domino theory' became a common belief. This held that when one Asian country fell to communism its neighbour would be next, eventually directly threatening Australia and New Zealand.

Courtesy of New Zealand Herald

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Auckland University Press
Reference: Roberto Rabel, New Zealand and the Vietnam war: politics and diplomacy. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2005, p. 65.
Cartoon by Gordon Edward George Minhinnick

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How to cite this page:

Ian McGibbon, 'Asian conflicts - Cold War', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/cartoon/34513/the-octopus-of-chinese-communism-1950 (accessed 3 December 2021)

Story by Ian McGibbon, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 1 Feb 2016