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 had prompted such concerns. In 1949 the communist victory in the Chinese civil war was followed by the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Chinese intervention in the Korean War followed in 1950. 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 suggested 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, (accessed 24 February 2020)

Story by Ian McGibbon, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 27 Feb 2016