Washington lashes back at Xi’s Korean War jab

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Washington lashes back at Xi’s Korean War jab

WASHINGTON - The United States yesterday ridiculed China for describing its participation in the Korean War as an effort to defend North Korea from U.S. aggression.

“I have to go back and dust off the history books,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. “That doesn’t sound right to me.”

Crowley was responding to remarks by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping earlier this week describing the Korean War as “a just war to defend peace against aggression from the United States.”

Xi, considered a frontrunner to succeed Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2013, added that the war had been aggravated by “imperialist invaders” and that the Communist Party of China and former leader Mao Zedong made the decision to fight at the request of North Korea even at the risk of China’s security.

“It was also a great victory gained by the united combat forces of China’s and [North Korean] civilians and soldiers, and a great victory in the pursuit of world peace and human progress,” Xi said. He also said the war would never be forgotten by the Chinese people.

North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, and were pushed back by U.S.-led United Nations troops to the border with China within months. China then sent in hundreds of thousands of troops.

About 36,000 American soldiers were killed in the war, which ended in an armistice after three years, leaving the two Koreas technically at war for the past six decades.

Xi’s remarks represent history as promulgated in China and North Korea - that the U.S. invaded North Korea to begin the Korean War - but it is rare that a senior Chinese official publicly discusses it.

Xi was earlier this month appointed to vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, a step toward succeeding Hu as party leader in 2012.

Earlier in the week, Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, responded to Xi’s comment by saying the Korean War was provoked by North Korea. The commander went on to state that the war, which started in 1950 and ended in 1953, had pitted North Korea against the rest of the world.

“We should be prepared for everything that North Korea can do,” Sharp said on a visit to Washington. “That is our responsibility.”

When asked about Xi’s statement at a briefing Wednesday in Seoul, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said the Korean War “was started by a North Korean attack upon the South and that fact does not change.”

“All countries are in agreement with this,” Kim said. “The Korean War is an issue on which all arguments have already been internationally resolved, and I do not think I have anything additional to say.”

By Christine Kim, Yonhap [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]
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