Beijing uses the term ‘Korean War’ for first timeBEIJING - A recent statement by the Chinese government referring to the “Korean War” - a term Beijing doesn’t usually use - has made some analysts suspect that Beijing is edging away from its total support for neighbor and ally North Korea.
But it may be merely a sign of Beijing trying to improve relations with Washington.
On June 24, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei announced that Vice President Li Yuanchao would visit North Korea to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War, which falls on Saturday.
Hong said Li will attend events to commemorate the “Korean War.”
It’s unusual for Beijing to use that construction to describe the three-year-long war, in which millions of its soldiers fought on the North Korean side against UN troops, including South Korean and American soldiers.
China’s ruling Communist Party usually used the phrase “a war against the U.S. and to help the DPRK [North Korea].”
In 2003, the Chinese ruling party referred to the “50th anniversary of the signing of the Joseon armistice agreement.” On Oct. 25, 2000, and on the same day ten years later, China commemorated the dispatching of its troops to the war. The first event was attended by Chinese President Jiang Zemin and the second by President Hu Jintao. They called the day “the anniversary of sending Chinese People’s reinforcements to [a war] against the U.S. and to help North Korea.”
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in China, said Beijing must be consciously trying to maintain good diplomatic relations with Washington as it emerges as a world superpower.
“China is pursuing new relations with the United States based on mutual respect and cooperation,” Shi said. “So it refrains from the expression ‘against the U.S.’ [when referring to the Korean War].”
Shi speculated that China is phasing out the expression, “against the U.S.,” when describing the Korean War starting this year.
Previously, China’s Foreign Ministry and the Communist Party have stressed that China “is in normal relations with North Korea,” which analysts interpreted as Beijing putting some distance between itself and Pyongyang.
BY CHEONG YONG-HWAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]