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Learning And Problem Representation In Foreign Policy Decision-Making: China’s Decision To Enter The Korean War Revisited

Author: CHAO GUO and RONGRONG REN
Published in PAQ, Vol. 27 No. 3

This article attempts to study the role of learning and problem representation
in Chinese foreign policy decision-making as illustrated by the
case of the Chinese decision to enter the Korean War. Drawing on
cognitive theories of learning and problem representation, the authors
argue that, in the past three decades prior to the outbreak of the Korean
War, Chinese communist leaders learned through trial-and-error experimentation
and through success and failure and developed their image of
the United States as the biggest imperialist enemy and that this enemy
image led to their representation of the Korean War problem as the
American aggression into China which seriously constrained the
generation of alternatives among which the Chinese policy-makers
could choose. This article concludes with several theoretical and policy
implications.

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