Misconceptions in Parallel: Belligerent Perceptions of Mediator Bias in the Chinese Civil War

Spencer Gaitsch

Name: Spencer Gaitsch
Majors: History, Political Science
Advisor: Dr. Christina Welsch, Dr. Matthew Krain

Scholars have long studied intrastate conflict mediation efforts, third-party intervention, and the decision-making process of civil war belligerents, but how negotiations are affected by the perceptions combatants hold of their mediator remains underdeveloped. This paper combines traditional political science approaches to civil war mediation research with a detailed historical case study of the Chinese Civil War that analyzes the perceptions of key Communist and Nationalist leaders, focusing on how their respective interpretations of the United States affected their engagement with negotiations. This paper highlights the usefulness of historical analysis within political science to understand better civil war combatants’ motives, beliefs, and thought processes and emphasize the privileged place belligerents occupy in determining the outcome of peace negotiations. A history lens is used to analyze primary sources from the conflict, enabling precise insights into the mindsets of leaders like Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong that begin a dialogue with the political science literature. This study concludes that the perceptions of civil war belligerents are paramount for determining how combatants will act during negotiations based on their understanding of the relevant mediator. It also encourages additional research to determine how third-party mediators can better signal their neutrality and conviction that a mutual settlement is preferable to a military victory.

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Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2022.

7 responses to “Misconceptions in Parallel: Belligerent Perceptions of Mediator Bias in the Chinese Civil War”

  1. Lisa Keefe says:

    Well done, Spencer! You did a bang-up job combining both history and political science perspectives in your I.S. research. It’s a well-crafted, insightful argument with much relevance in today’s world. You are quite the orator, too. Congrats!

  2. Tom Gaitsch says:

    This type of analysis is so applicable to understanding and effectively dealing with the conflicts in today’s world. Excellent work, Spencer.

  3. Benjamin Hassan says:

    Interesting work, Spencer. Who was considered the belligerent in the Chinese civil war?

  4. Anabelle Andersen says:

    Great work, Spencer!

  5. Spencer Gaitsch says:

    Thank you!

  6. Emily Davis '20 says:

    Awesome job Spencer! This is super relevant today. What is one thing you wish you had more time to research about? Looking forward to reading the whole thing!

  7. Carter Schmidt says:

    Amazing job Spencer you did a perfect job combining history and political science to create a very relevant study!

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