The Last Celestial Empire: Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung and Sino-North Korean Relations | Wilson Center

How stable, close and special is the Sino-North Korean relationship? What was the core of Mao’s North Korean policy? And how do we best conceptualize and assess PRC-DPRK relations? Based on new Chinese documentation, China’s leading Cold War historian, Professor Shen Zhihua (East China Normal University), will explore the Cold War era roots of a relationship that remains central to U.S. policy concerns in Northeast Asia. A panel of experts will discuss the Beijing-Pyongyang connection and its legacies for today.

Zhihua Shen is distinguished university professor of history and director of the Center for Cold War International History Studies at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China. The author of more than 10 books and 90 articles on the Korean War and Sino-Soviet relations (in Chinese, Russian and English), he is the preeminent scholar of the Cold War in China. His most recent English language books include: Mao, Stalin and the Korean War: Trilateral Communist Relations in the 1950s (2012); After Leaning to One Side: China and Its Allies in the Cold War (2011) with Danhui Li. He is a former Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar.

Robert Daly, Director, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars;
James Person, Coordinator, Hyundai Motor–Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy; Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars;
Jonathan Pollack, Senior Fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.


Moderated by:
Christian F. Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.



  • Shen Zhihua

    Public Policy Scholar
    Director, Center for Cold War International History Studies, East China Normal University (ECNU), Shanghai, China