Facing up to history is not chauvinism

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Facing up to history is not chauvinism

It is quite funny to see how you, along with other South Korean media outlets getting so worked up by that piece from Quartz alleging that Trump said (according to Xi Jinping) “Korea used to be a part of China,” so much so that your editorial “Dangerous chauvinism” demanded Xi Jinping to “explain himself.”

First off, Trump is a well-known blabbermouth who often speaks recklessly without referencing sources with an iota of truth (he doesn’t care anyway). Are you sure that verbiage was passed along to him by Xi Jinping, or that sums up what Xi Jinping was telling him during that ten-minute conversation on North Korea?

Secondly, even if what Trump said was indeed what Xi Jinping conveyed to him, I don’t see what the fuss is about. To begin with, the four Han Commanderies occupied much of what is now northern Korea. After the annihilation of Goguryeo at the hands of the Tang-Silla alliance, Tang established “Protectorate General to Pacify the East” which was headquartered in Pyongyang and exerted control of a sizeable swath of territory in northwestern Korea. To be sure, China never exerted direct control over the entire Korean peninsula, therefore indeed the perceived notion that (the whole) Korea used to be part of China is incorrect and inaccurate.

By the way, it is a historical fact that China was a part of the Mongol Empire between the 13th and 14th century and there is absolutely nothing wrong with stating it as such. What does that have to do with the identity of the Chinese, the Koreans etc.? Recognizing that part of what is now Korea today was under Chinese control does not contradict to your statement about “the ethnic Koreans’ unique identity, totally distinct from the Chinese.” Let me repeat it: China used to be a part of the Mongol Empire, period.

Your editorial also lambastes China for the so-called “revisionist arguments” that “all the history that took place within the boundaries of China’s current territory belongs to Chinese history.” Why is that wrong, if I may ask? Doesn’t South Korea consider the history of the Four Han Commanderies part of Korean history, for example? Should the Americans exclude the history of the various Native American peoples from American history?

Chauvinism is bad and should be condemned, but facing up to history is neither chauvinistic or revisionist. The history simply shows China, or ancient Chinese states to be more precise, had direct control over territories of what is now in the Korean peninsula. It also shows that ancient Korean state Goguryeo had direct control over territories of what is now People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation.

South Korean commentators and journalists like to boast about South Koreans being mature (in contrast to China), yet obviously they still are not mature and confident enough to avoid this sort of knee-jerk reaction of raging against China at the first sign of seeing perceived injustice done to the Korean nation by China. Too bad.

*Beijing citizen

Fan Xiao
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