The Korean War and Xi Jinping

A few months ago I wrote a post about the Korean War and how the dominant narrative here in the PRC about the start of that bloody conflict has changed over time.  While it’s true that the nitwits in the CCP (and the academics who shill for them) frequently rely more on “truthiness” than actual evidence when discussing history, in the case of the Korea even the most hardcore sheep couldn’t continue to bleat the previous party line that it was the US and the American ROK puppets who invaded the north and started the war.

Well, as any partially housebroken border collie can tell you — herding sheep is a hard way to make a living.

Speaking at an event commemorating the 60th anniversary of China’s ‘volunteers’ entering the Korean War, CCP heir apparent and hair product aficionado Xi Jinping once again let the gel do the talking:

In his address on behalf of the CPC Central Committee and the CMC, Xi said that the Chinese movement 60 years ago was “a great and just war for safeguarding peace and resisting aggression.”

“It was also a great victory gained by the united combat forces of China’s and the DPRK’s civilians and soldiers, and a great victory in the pursuit of world peace and human progress,” Xi said.

Huh?

Well…I’ll give the volunteers credit for stopping MacArthur from fulfilling his wildest Genghis Khan fantasies and invading the PRC, but considering that the DPRK’s goal was to reunify the Korean peninsula by force, it takes a special kind of moron to call the Korean War a “a great victory” never mind one in the pursuit of “world peace and human progress.”

Fortunately, most actual historians in the PRC are well aware of the trove of documents from the USSR and other archives that detail the origins of the Korean War, and even school textbooks (a bastion of CCP truthiness if there ever was one) punt the question of who started the war with a tepid “After the war started, China….”

First of all, I’m going to really enjoy the Xi Jinping era. If this is the kind of unintentional comedy we can expect from the Hair Apparent for the next decade then I’m all for it.

BUT…South Korea was less than pleased by Xi’s remarks. (Oddly enough, the DPRK press was quite supportive , hmmm…)  This of course all came on the heels of Yang Jiechi throwing an absolute hissy fit at a meeting of Southeast Asian states this past July.  Then the fracas with Japan.  Whatever your feelings on the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands, the Chinese government’s handling of the mess was amateur at best, and the number of times I read an article — from both sides — leading off with “history proves…” (which is of course code for “the writer of this piece has no understanding of history as a discipline”) made me want to start chewing on my own extremities.  And, frankly, whenever a Chinese politician or editorial writer bases an ‘argument’ on “China has never provoked anyone” or “China has never invaded a neighbor” the good people of Vietnam must just roll their eyes and wonder if the only reason anybody remembers 1979 is because it was the last time the Pirates actually won a World Series.   For a group so ready to whinge about historical inaccuracies and demand apologies for every perceived slight, the rhetoric coming from the CCP toward its Asian neighbors over the past few months has been oddly tone deaf…

Ah, Xi Jinping: like some sort of unholy cross between Glenn Beck and a rabid wombat, it’s gonna be a wild ride.  Thanks for getting an early start.

  • jdmartinsen

    Xi’s characterization of the Korean War is less mind-bending when you apply the lessons of the American Civil War, which, seeing how it seems to turn up everywhere from Tibet to Taiwan to Xinjiang to arguments over the rule of law, seems to act as a sort of Swiss Army Knife of policy justification. I was watching a roundtable discussion on CCTV the other night in which the experts took turns agreeing with each other while a five-minute montage of war footage played on a loop in the background. One of them made a comparison to the US Civil War and suggested that the situation in Korea was similar — a completely domestic affair that the US had no right to intervene in, but once they did, China was completely justified in taking up arms. Would Americans have tolerated it if a foreign power had intervened on either side in the 1860s?

  • kailing

    Kudos! 100% agree

  • Andrew

    Great post. Couldn’t agree more. I often ask how anybody can really take official new conferences and speeches seriously if not for the fact that they are in control of the second largest economy and are more than willing to use their new found economic power for political gain.

    Everything they do is so choreographed. The first time you see a panoramic view of the Great Hall with all those shining black heads of hair and wrinkly faces you know you’ve stepped into the twilight zone. Nothing flips from the script. Impromptu questions are rarely asked, and if one happens to squeeze through, they just regurgitate the official line no matter how far off the mark it is.

    If this speech is any representation of his future presidency, I also look forward to Xi’s comedic presidential performance on the world stage.

  • http://granitestudio.org Jeremiah

    Joel,

    Not quite clear on your Civil War analogy (and I’m never clear on the CCP’s use of the war — at least not since Xinhua’s famous “Mao as Lincoln freeing the slaves” storyline…)

    The US probably would have been pretty upset if the British/French jumped into the Civil War. Would we still harbor antipathy to the present day? I dunno, maybe.

    But China become angry at the US intervening in the Korean Civil War, that’s probably pushing it a bit and as we have seen, the Party Line on the Korean War, while have come a ways in the last few decades, still occasionally relies more on truthiness than archival materials.

  • http://www.foarp.blogspot.com FOARP

    I’ve been in that group of people who simply assumed that Xi’s rise to power has been trailed for so long that there was simply no way it was ever going to happen, and that some more sane candidate would pull a quiet stab-in-the-back and pip Xi at the post. Since it’s now looking like it is actually going forward (with Li Keqiang due to fill the inevitably grandpa-like position of Premier) it seems I may have been wrong. So I find myself asking myself the same kind of question I do when looking at American presidential candidates – “is this guy crazy?”.

    Based on these comments, and his earlier pronunciamento in Mexico, he may well be. I’m preparing myself for ten years of Deng-style barn-yard language, Jiang-in-1996-esque brinkmanship, and maybe some Mao-style warmongering just to leaven the mix.

  • http://granitestudio.org Jeremiah

    FOARP,

    As I said, it’s going to be a wacky decade of work over at the Relevant Organs.