Xi Jinping invokes China’s ‘Korean war spirit’ as 70th anniversary approaches

22-Oct-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday urged the Chinese people to “keep their faith in ultimate victory”, saying the spirit forged during the Korean war would inspire them to “prevail over all enemies”.

Although Xi did not mention the escalating friction with the United States, observers said his remarks during a visit to an exhibition commemorating the 70th anniversary of the war’s beginning sent a clear signal to the US not to misjudge China’s determination to defend its core interests.

According to state-run news agency Xinhua, Xi stressed the decision by the Chinese Communist Party to enter the war was made to “safeguard peace and resist aggression”.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

“Holding high the banner of justice, the heroic Chinese People’s Volunteer Army soldiers gallantly fought side by side with the people and army of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and won a great victory, making great contributions to world peace and human progress,” Xi said.

“The victory in the war to resist US aggression and aid Korea was a victory of justice, a victory of peace and a victory of the people.”

Xi was speaking during a visit to the Korean war exhibition at Beijing’s Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution. He was accompanied by his six fellow members of the Politburo’s standing committee the party’s top decision-making body as well as vice-president Wang Qishan.

Xi described the spirit forged during the war as a “very precious spiritual wealth” and said it would “inspire the Chinese people and the Chinese nation to overcome all difficulties and obstacles, and prevail over all enemies”.

The museum visit was part of a series of commemorations of the People’s Republic of China’s first and only military conflict with the United States officially known in China as “the war to resist US aggression and aid Korea” which is being heavily promoted against a backdrop of increasing tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Later this month, Xi is expected to deliver another keynote speech at an official ceremony commemorating the war, which is likely to take place on Sunday the war’s official memorial day in China one day before the Fifth Plenum, the party’s key meeting to chart the country’s political, economic and social development over the next five years.

Junfei Wu, deputy director of Hong Kong think tank the Tianda Institute, said Xi’s speech at the museum had a “two-pronged message” for domestic and overseas audiences.

“At the beginning of the Korean war, America misjudged China’s determination to push them back. They thought China would not send troops into the Korean peninsula. But China did. Xi’s speech and Beijing’s high-profile commemorations are clear warning signals to the US not to underestimate Beijing’s determination to safeguard its core interests,” he said.

“Internally, Xi took this opportunity to build a wartime mentality to forge unity among the party leadership before the Fifth Plenum, while rallying the morale of the Chinese people as China’s economy is facing challenging years.”

Wu said there were parallels between current tensions and the situation in the Korean war, when China faced a coalition of forces led by the US. “The circumstances China is facing now are similar. The US is not only leading the charge, but also putting leverage on its military and intelligence alliances like the Five Eyes, to counter China.”

Chen Daoyin, an independent political scientist and a former Shanghai-based professor, noted that from the Communist Party’s perspective, historical narratives always needed to serve current politics. “Xi’s historical evaluation of the Korean war corresponds to the current era of the new ‘cold war’ confrontation between China and the US,” he said.

“It is like a mobilisation call for the entire nation to be prepared for the fight with the US. [The underlying tone is] we dared to take on the US and defeat them, when China was very poor 70 years ago, we can surely do better now when we are more affluent and the nation is stronger.”

Chen said Xi had become even more confident after China’s success in bringing the Covid-19 pandemic under control.



Category: Korea

Print This Post

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.