The Korean War in Contemporary China: How and Why the Korean War Is Remembered as a Victory
Cha, Victor D
In this thesis, I examine the historical memory of the Korean War, and why it is remembered as the victory that it is. Often referred to as "the War to Resist America and Aid Korean" (KangMei-YuanChao) in China, the Korean War began less than a year after the People's Republic of China (PRC) was established. By entering the war, China paid heavy military, economic, and diplomatic costs but was not able to achieve the goals it aspired to at the beginning of the war. Nevertheless, these setbacks are not reflected in the official, public narratives of the war, which instead portray it as a just war and a complete victory.I examine the war as portrayed in a 2002 middle school history textbook and in the national museum dedicated to the war, located in Dandong, Liaoning, China, as well as state efforts to shape the narrative of the war as it was being fought. The war has been carefully interpreted to portray China and the Chinese military as just, heroic, and victorious. To achieve this goal, details (such as Chinese casualty numbers and North Korea's invasion of South Korea) are omitted. This narrative has bolstered the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by defining the PRC as a just country capable of standing up to any outside force. Finally, I argue that the Korean War should not be ignored in the context of China's international relations because it demonstrated that what is referred to as China's "Century of Humiliation" (1840-1949) had ended.
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