War Wings: The United States and Chinese Military Aviation, 1929-1949

By Kan, Paul Rexton | Air & Space Power Journal, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

War Wings: The United States and Chinese Military Aviation, 1929-1949


Kan, Paul Rexton, Air & Space Power Journal


War Wings: The United States and Chinese Military Aviation, 1929-1949 by Guangqiu Xu. Greenwood Publishing Group (http://info. greenwood.com), 88 Post Road West, Westport, Connecticut 06881-5007, 2001, 264 pages, $64.95.

The transfer of lethal technology, the problem of governmental corruption, the dangers of national division, and the competition between US and European firms over the Chinese market may all sound like elements that complicate contemporary relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC). However, in this fascinating new book, we can see how they have been long-standing issues between the two powers. By reading this richly detailed account of US and Chinese relations that span the years of Nationalist China and the birth of the PRC, the reader will gain a unique perspective for understanding how America's relationship with China might evolve in the future.

The book is a solid account of China's historic preoccupation with national unity and that country's perception of how a new technology of the times-- airpower-could help achieve this goal. The author begins in 1926 with the Nationalist Party's attempt to consolidate its power over local warlords, who remained fairly powerful in their provinces. As a largely rural country trying to shake off its feudal past, China lacked a modern transportation infrastructure, such as roads and railways, that the Nationalists could use to extend and consolidate their rule. Without an indigenous aviation industry, China had to look outside its borders for assistance and found it in the United States, among other countries. So begins a relationship that became both beneficial and troublesome for each but which remains a central focus for many members of the international community.

The most interesting quality of the book is the way it resonates with the reader's own knowledge of present-day China. The promise of airpower as a tool for national unification continues to occupy the imagination of the PRC's present leaders.

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