Setting the record straightA Hong Kong scholar sentenced to 11 years in jail on the Chinese mainland for unauthorized use of Chinese military documents about the 1950-1953 Korean War was released last month. Dr. David Tsui was arrested in 2000 allegedly for releasing “top secret” documents he received from the People’s Liberation Army.
The reason behind Tsui’s arrest and imprisonment was that he had exposed the Korean War from a different angle than what North Koreans and the Chinese have been claiming. Dr. Tsui traced back how China got involved in the Korean War, which was set off by North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung, to achieve his ambition of taking over the South through a military invasion. According to Tsui’s research, Chinese leader Mao Zedong was against Chinese interference, but was pressured by the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin to enter the war.
His study overturns the preposterous revisionist arguments by some scholars that the Korean War was an extended civil war, or that President Syngman Rhee - notorious for his hard-line stance against communism - willfully provoked North Korea to invade the South in anticipation of U.S. intervention and an eventual unification of the Korean Peninsula. Confidential documents released by Russia in the early 1990s already proved that the Korean War was prompted by the personal ambition of Kim Il Sung to forcibly unite Korea under the socialist ideology.
Dr. Tsui’s findings also raised serious questions on China’s official position that the Chinese interfered in the Korean War to counter U.S. forces. China has persistently argued that it got involved in the war to support North Koreans because U.S. troops forced their way up to the Yalu River, threatening the border of China. But Tsui presented various military documents that the Chinese military had long prepared for their involvement to wield greater clout over the peninsula.
Hard proof in the form of documents show that China has been distorting its real intention for getting involved in the war. The Chinese government must stop hiding, distorting and falsifying historic records for political reasons. Without setting the record straight, Sino-South Korean ties will have to face endless problems down the road.
The Chinese government cannot attain its long-coveted rank and respect in the global community if it doesn’t tell the real story by releasing all the documents on the tragic war on the peninsula.