East Asian Cold War Timeline

Note: For Links to History Sites or to Texts of Long Documents, try using the "Edit --> Find" command in your web browser to find the particular event referred to in the timeline. For example, on the Korean War History Site, click "edit" and "find" then type in "Inchon" and hit "return" to find the reference in the article to the Inchon landings.

1945 Feb 11

Yalta Agreement signed by Stalin, Roosevelt, and ChurchillÛin part an agreement for disposing of the Far Eastern question.

1945 June

Kremlin authorized talks to negotiate the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance with the Chinese Nationalists (considered as an appendix to Yalta by many Chinese).

1945 Aug 06

Nuclear bombing of Hiroshima occurs three days before the Soviets entered the war in the Pacific and the day before the second round of Sino-Soviet talks.

1945 Aug 09

Soviets announced they considered themselves at war with Japan.

1945 Aug 14

Japanese Emperor Hirohito surrendered, ending World War II in the Pacific. On the Korean Peninsula, above the 38th parallel, Japanese troops surrender to the Soviets; below the 38th parallel, Japanese troops surrender to the Allied forces Ō thus begins the division of Korea into North and South.

1945 Aug 14

Chinese/Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance signed. Major Chinese concessions to the Soviets.

1949 Apr 04

NATO formed. Text of NATO Treaty

1949 Oct 01

Revolutionary Chinese Government (PRC) established in Beijing (which was renamed Beijing from Beiping and made the capital) Chinese History from Microsoft Expedia

1949 Dec

MaoĖs trip to the Soviet Union.

1950 Jan

Soviet Union and China recognize Ho Chi MinhĖs Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

1950 Feb

After months of hard bargaining, China and the Soviet Union sign a new Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance; valid until 1980.

1950 Jun 25

North Korea invades South Korea. Eighth Army History of the Korean War.

1950 Sep 15

Inchon Landings (first major UN Forces counter-offensive in Korea).
The Korean War ProjectĖs
History of the Korean War.

1950 Oct 08

China enters the Korean War. Mao creates the Chinese PeopleĖs Volunteers and orders them to march to Korea and join the North Korean war effort. (For an informative account of Chinese and Soviet involvement in the Korean War, see Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao, and the Korean War. (Stanford Univ Press 1993))


"[T]he UN declared China [PRC] to be an aggressor in Korea and authorized a global arms embargo on shipments of arms and war materiel to China. PRC aggression put an end to any move to replace Nationalist China (Taiwan) as a member of the UN and the Security Council". University of MarylandĖs Link to History of the PeopleĖs Republic of China

1953 Jul 27

Korean War Armistice signed at Panmunjom. No formal peace agreement has yet been signed.

1954 May 08

Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) formed by Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Pakistan. A treaty for the defense of Southeast Asia. A protocol extended the treatyĖs protection to South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

1954 Jul 20

French and Viet Minh sign cease-fire agreement in Geneva, providing for withdrawal of French troops from Vietnam and referring to future unified elections, which are never held. South Vietnamese government, which was granted independence from France before agreement was negotiated, refuses to sign the agreement.

1954 Jul 21

The next day, the Geneva Conference on Indochina produces an unsigned "Final Declaration" regarding Indochina

1955 Dec 14

Cambodia admitted to the United Nations.


MaoĖs "Great Leap Forward" begins Ō a program of agricultural and land reforms. The programs, followed by floods and drought caused "the worldĖs greatest recorded famine Ō 27 million starved to death." Figures taken from R.J. Rummel, Death by Government (1994).
Information about the Great Leap Forward at
ASIATOUR History of China.

1961 Apr 17

Bay of Pigs Invasion


American Military Assistance Command (MACV) formed in South Vietnam. U.S. military advisors in South Vietnam increase to 12,000 by the end of the year.

1962 Oct

Cuban Missile Crisis.

1964 Aug 07

Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution 416 to O in House and 88-2 in the Senate, thereby authorizing U.S. combat troop involvement in Vietnam. Full text of the Resolution.

1965 Aug 09

Singapore pulls out of the Federation of Malaysia to form an independent nation state within the commonwealth (the Republic of Singapore).

1965 Sep 21

Singapore admitted to the United Nations.


Cultural Revolution begins in China (1966Ō70). Estimated loss of life 1,600,000. Virtually all universities and schools in China are closed. Microsoft Expedia History.

1967 Aug 08

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) established, by the five original Member Countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei joined on 8 January 1984. Vietnam became the seventh member on 28 July 1995. Laos and Myanmar admitted in July 1997. CambodiaĖs expected admission in July 1997 postponed because of renewed violence.

Go to ASEAN Home Page, then click on Overview.

1970 Mar 05

Multilateral Treaty for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons comes into force. It was opened for signature at London, Moscow and Washington on 1 July 1968. Text of the NPT; Signatories.

1970 Apr 30

Nixon announces U.S. decision to enter Cambodia to attack North Vietnamese military sanctuaries across the Cambodian border.


China (PRC) admitted to the United Nations, replacing the Republic of China (Taiwan).

1972 Feb

Nixon visits China.

1973 Jan 27

Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Viet-Nam (The 1973 Paris Agreements) signed and entered into force.

1973 Feb 29

Last U.S. combat troops leave South Vietnam

1973 Nov 07

Congress passes the War Powers Resolution over President NixonĖs veto. Text of the War Powers Resolution.

1974 Jan

China uses a combined naval and air operation to remove South Vietnamese troops and occupy the Paracel Islands. The South China Sea Flashpoint, Chapter 3.

1974 Aug 09

Nixon resigns. Gerald Ford becomes first unelected U.S. President.

1975 Apr

Kymer Rouge, under Pol Pot, takes control in Cambodia. Over two million Cambodians are killed during the reign of Pol Pot. Article on Pol Pot.

1975 Apr 29

Last American citizens are evacuated from Vietnam. (Evacuation of Saigon)

1976 Jan 08

Zhou Enlai dies. Microsoft Expedia History

1976 Sep 09

Mao Zedong dies. ASIATOUR History of China.


"By mid-1977, it became clear that Deng Xiaoping was now the most powerful figure in China, though he never assumed the positions of party chairman or prime minister, preferring to let protégés hold the official position, and to work himself much from behind the scenes. Deng overseas economic liberalization." ASIATOUR History of China.

1978 Sep 01

Vietnam admitted to the United Nations.

1978 Dec

Vietnam launches a successful offensive against the Cambodian Khmer Rouge and sets up a puppet government in Cambodia. Guerrilla fighting continues throughout the 1980s.

1979 Jan

Full diplomatic relations established between China (PRC) and the United States.

1985 Aug 06

The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty opened for signature after the South Pacific Forum, (Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Western Samoa), endorsed the text of the Treaty. Text of South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.

1985 Dec 12

North Korea Ratifies the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Text of the NPT

1988 Mar

Chinese (PRC) and Vietnamese military forces clashed in the Spratlys area of the South China Sea. "The clash probably occurred when Vietnamese ships attempted to observe Chinese construction activities on two reefs claimed by both sides." Journal of IntĖl Affairs, China Regional Security Issues See also, The South China Sea Flashpoint, Chapter 3


Timor Gap Treaty between Australia and Indonesia or arrangements to share jurisdiction over contested fisheries in the South China Seas. U.S. Institute of Peace background on the South China Sea Disputes

1989 Jun 04

"Thousands of students demonstrating peacefully for democracy were fired on by troops and tanks of the PeopleĖs Liberation Army in BeijingĖs Tiananmen Square. Hundreds were killed and 10,000 injured." Microsoft Expedia History

1989 Jun 30

Taiwan (ROC) set up a monument on Tungsha Island to assert its sovereignty over the archipelago, which is located along the major sea route connecting the Pacific and Indian oceans. According to the ROC Web Site, "[t]he South China Sea, with a surface area of nearly two million sq. km, is under the jurisdiction of the Republic of China." ROC Web Site Information on the South China Sea.


The annual Indonesian-hosted Workshops on Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea were initiated in Bali. Statements from 1st through 7th Annual Workshops.

1990 Aug 02

Iraq invades Kuwait.


Taiwan "formally renounced control over the [Chinese] mainland." Journal of International Affairs Article on Regional Security Issues for Contemporary China.


1991 North-South Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

1991 Sep 17

North Korea and South Korea admitted to the United Nations.

1991 Oct 23

UN Sponsored Agreement on Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict signed in Paris (1991 Paris Peace Accords). Carter Center Report on Cambodia. ASEAN is an active participant in the negotiations leading up to a settlement.

1991 Dec

Seoul-Pyongyang Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, Exchanges and Cooperation (the Basic Accord); "unimplemented because of a breakdown in North-South dialogue." U.S. Institute of Peace Article on the North Korean Nuclear Challenge.


Bosnia-Herzegovina declares independence and is granted UN membership. War starts.

1992 Jan 30

As part of its requirements under the NPT, North Korea concludes an inspection and safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). North Korea submits its initial report in May 1992 and the IAEA inspections begin to reveal conditions inconsistent with North KoreaĖs reports.


"The Chinese announcement of an oil exploration concession to the U.S. Crestone Company, combined with the occupation of Da Lac Reef and subsequent deployment of three Romeo-class conventional submarines to patrol the area, aroused alarms among the ASEAN states, which had just called for the nonuse of force in resolving the Spratly Islands dispute in the Manila Declaration on the South China Sea." U.S. Institute of Peace Background on the South China Sea Disputes

1992 Feb

China (PRC) passes a law asserting its territorial claim over the Spratlys, the Paracels, the Senkakus, and Taiwan. China also declares its right to "adopt all necessary measures to prevent and stop the harmful passage of vessels through its territorial waters." Journal of IntĖl Affairs, China Regional Security Issues

1992 Jul 22

ASEAN issues a "Declaration on the South China Sea," to "Emphasize the necessity to resolve all sovereignty and jurisdictional issues pertaining to the South China Sea by peaceful means, without resort to force" and to work together on issues such as navigation, environmental concerns, etc. Text of Declaration

1993 Jan

ASEAN establishes the ASEAN Free Trade Area, designed to eliminate most tariffs on goods between its member nations over the next 15 years. Link to U.S. State Department Fact Sheet on ASEAN

1993 Feb 9

The Director-General of the IAEA proposes a special inspection of some of North KoreaĖs nuclear facilities to rectify the apparent inconsistencies between the NorthĖs reports and the IAEAĖs findings. The North refuses.

1993 Mar 12

North Korea announces its intention to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). U.S. State Department Background Notes on North Korea.

1993 May 11

The UN Security Council passes a resolution urging the D.P.R.K. to cooperate with IAEA. U.S. Institute of Peace Article on the North Korean Nuclear Challenge; Security Council Resolution 825 (1993).

1993 Jun

North Korea agrees to "suspend" its withdrawal from the NPT. U.S. State Department Background Notes on North Korea.

1993 Sep 21

Cambodia adopts a new Constitution soon after elections are held under the supervision of the UN Transitional Authority (UNTAC). U.S. State Department Background Notes on Cambodia.

1994 May

The ASEAN-EC Management Centre opens in Brunei to encourage cooperation that will "mutually benefit ASEAN and European Union member countries."

1994 Jun

President Carter visits North Korea to negotiate a settlement to the Nuclear problem. U.S. Institute of Peace Article on the North Korean Nuclear Challenge.

1994 Jul 08

North KoreaĖs eighty-two year-old president, Kim Il Sung, dies. U.S. Institute of Peace Article on the North Korean Nuclear Challenge.

1994 Jul 25

ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) established "to serve as a multilateral consultative forum aimed at promoting preventive diplomacy and confidence building among the states in the Asia-Pacific region." ASEAN Home Page and click on Political and Security Cooperation. See, U.S. State Department Facts on ASEAN for a list of participating states (ASEAN countries, U.S., E.U. countries, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, etc.)

1994 Oct 24

Framework Agreement outlining North KoreaĖs intent to remain a party to the NPT, the steps for dismantling North KoreaĖs plutonium production capability, and measures to improve U.S.-DPRK relations. Text of Framework Agreement. Key Points of Framework Agreement as laid out by U.S. Institute of Peace.

1995 Mar

Chinese troops occupied Mischief Reef, within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines (following the PhilippinesĖ announcement of an oil exploration agreement in the "Mischief Reef area"). Chinese and Philippine ships clash in March and April 1995. Philippines announced on Mar. 22 that it had removed Chinese survey markers in the area. U.S. Institute of Peace Background on the South China Sea Disputes See also, Journal of IntĖl Affairs, China Regional Security Issues and The South China Sea Flashpoint, Chapter 3

1995 May 22

The U.S. announces the decision to allow Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui to make a private visit to Cornell (his alma mater) in June.
Chronology of recent events in U.S.-Taiwan and U.S.-China Relations Ō from Taiwan Home Page

1995 Jul

Vietnam granted membership in ASEAN. U.S. State Department Facts on ASEAN.

1995 Jul 11

United States extends full diplomatic recognition to Vietnam.

1995 Aug

ASEAN Regional Forum [ARF] held in Brunei. The Chinese Foreign Minister announced that China would "pursue a solution to the South China Sea dispute consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea." U.S. Institute of Peace Background on the South China Sea Disputes

1995 Aug

The Philippines and China held bilateral talks regarding their disputes in the South China Sea and agreed to honor the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. In March 1996 the two countries again meet to "establish a bilateral consultative mechanism to explore ways of cooperation in the South china Sea." The South China Sea Flashpoint, Chapter 3.


In the fall of 1995, the North Korean government requested international assistance for the first time in its history, to alleviate a severe food shortage. U.S. Institute of Peace Article on the North Korean Nuclear Challenge.

1995 Nov 21

Dayton Peace Agreement signed setting out a "General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina" NATO intervention soon followed. U.S. State Department Summary of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

1996 Feb 22

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director John Deutch confirms that China is continuing to export "inappropriate" nuclear technology and missiles to Pakistan Taiwan Home Page History.

1996 Mar

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali issues a written statement appealing for restraint and avoidance of tensions over ChinaĖs missile exercises off Taiwan

1996 Mar 8

China begins three rounds of war games near Taiwan. Taiwan Home Page History.

1996Mar 10

U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher announces the dispatch of a battle group led by the USS Independence to the area near Taiwan. Taiwan Home Page History.

1996 Mar 11

"President Clinton orders a second U.S. carrier battle group into the area around Taiwan. The naval battle group led by the USS Independence, stationed about 200 miles off TaiwanĖs shores the week before to monitor ChinaĖs ballistic missile exercises, moved to within about 100 miles, but remained outside the Strait of Taiwan. Secretary of Defense William Perry says the movement of U.S. warships is "a prudent, cautionary measure." Taiwan Home Page History.

1996 Mar 19

The Clinton Administration approves TaiwanĖs request to buy Stinger air defense missiles and other weapons

1996 Mar 23

Taiwan holds its first-ever democratic election for President and members of the National Assembly.

1996 Apr 03

Amoco Orient, China Offshore Oil Nanhai East Corporation, and Kerr-McGee China Petroleum begin production from the South China SeaĖs largest oil field, located approximately 130 miles (200km) south, southeast of Hong Kong. Amoco Web Page

1996 May

The Chinese ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Ratification is seen as a major step toward a possible peaceful settlement to the South China Sea disputes. Text of the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

1997 Feb

Deng Xiaoping dies at the age of 92 Microsoft Expedia History

1997 Feb 12

A high-ranking North Korean defector seeks refuge in the South Korean Embassy in Beijing Ō leaving China placed in the middle between its North Korean Communist ally and its new South Korean trading partner.

1997 Jun 24

Phillips Petroleum China Inc., a unit of Phillips Petroleum Company, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, and Pecten Orient Company (an affiliate of Shell Oil Company) announced the development of an oil field in Block 15/11 of the South China Sea. Phillips Web Page

1997 Jul 01

Hong Kong peacefully reverts to Chinese control after more than 150 years of British rule. U.S. State Department Country Background Notes on Hong Kong.

1997 Jul 04

"Cambodia is once again on the brink of civil war as Hun Sen, one of the co-prime ministers, ousted Prince Ranhariddh, the other co-prime minister and started a wholesale purge of his supporters. An immediate consequence of this action is that Cambodia's accession to membership in ASEAN has been indefinitely postponed." First Chicago NBD Global Economic and Political News, July 1997. For additional information, go to ASEAN Home Page and Click on "ASEAN 10;" or see U.S. State Department Briefing of Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Situation in Cambodia.

1997 Aug

North Korean famine continues to grow. International humanitarian aid organizations seek additional food donations and the World Health Organization warns of a tuberculosis epidemic. Collection of related web sites on the situation in North Korea. World Vision Article.

1997 Aug 23

The North Korean Ambassador to Egypt and his brother, an employee at the North Korean mission in Paris, and their families defect to the United States.

1997 Oct 29

Chinese President Jiang visits the United States for China-U.S. Summit. News Coverage of U.S.-China Summit and JiangĖs visit.

1997 Dec

South Korea receives $55 billion from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) as a result of massive bank and conglomerate failures. Money Daily from 4 December 1997.
See also,
IMF to the Rescue, Time Magazine, Dec. 8, 1997.
Looking at the East Asian economic woes and questioning whether the IMF will help or make matters worse. Article also contains historical figures for IMF bailouts and contributing nations since 1965.

1997 Dec 09

First day of fourŌnation talks held in Geneva between the U.S., China, North Korea, and South Korea in an effort to fashion a permanent peace to replace the armistice signed in 1953 to end the fighting in the Koran War. Additional talks scheduled for March 1998. UPI Article