ROK, US mark 60 years since start of Korean War

By Cheng Guangjin (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-06-25 07:42
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BEIJING - As the United States and the Republic of Korea hold a series of events commemorating the Korean War that broke out 60 years ago, China stressed that concerned parties should learn from history and cherish the hard-won peace and stability.

ROK, US mark 60 years since start of Korean War
Robert James Cummiskey (right), US veteran who fought in the Korean War (right), carries a wreath with ROK army soldiers in a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War on Thursday at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju near the border village of Panmunjom in the ROK. Ahn Young-Joon / Associated Press 

"What's important now is to take history as a mirror to build a better future," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Thursday. He added China is ready to develop friendly cooperation with countries in the region and be committed to safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

The ROK navy is expected to stage a drill today to commemorate its first naval battle against the DPRK on the second day of the Korean War.

Beside major events in the ROK, commemorations are slated for the US, the American Forces Press Service said.

"The US and the ROK are seizing this occasion to enhance their alliance and deter the DPRK," said Huang Youfu, director of the Institute of Korean Studies at Beijing-based Central University for Nationalities.

China, which entered the war on the DPRK side four months after the outbreak of hostilities, has no plan to officially commemorate the war, a military source with the Ministry of Defense confirmed on Wednesday.

Military researcher Major-General Luo Yuan told China Daily the military's institution for retired veterans is currently collecting information of those who fought in the war, but had no news about whether any event would be held around this October - 60 years after China joined the war.

US President Barack Obama is likely to issue a statement for the 60th anniversary and highlight the alliance - the first US presidential proclamation to mark the war's outbreak, the ROK's Dong-A Ilbo said.

On June 18, ROK president Lee Myung-bak visited the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan where about 2,300 UN troops who died in the war are buried.

ROK, US mark 60 years since start of Korean War

Lee's visit is the first time in 44 years an ROK president has paid homage to those fallen soldiers.

The war was fought from June 25 1950 to July 27 1953.

Huang said the ROK is trying to mediate between the US and China as it depends heavily on economic ties with Beijing, while relying on the US to support its military, which is weaker than the DPRK's.

"China supports the peaceful reunification of the Korea peninsula but is under an unshakable principle that the US military should not intervene and stay there," Huang said.

Konstantin Asmolov, a leading researcher at the Center for Korean Studies Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Russia, said "the background of the war in Korea is perceived by us today as a tragedy of errors."

Despite conflicting views about the initiation of the war, mainstream scholars in China said there should be no doubt that China responded to the war defending its own territory under threats from the US troops.

"We could not tolerate the flames of war burning at our own gates," said Huang, who still has a fresh memory of the war when he was an elementary school child.

"It was shortly after the arduous war of liberation when the nation was in desperate need of reconstruction," said Huang. "We should pay tribute to the sacrifices of soldiers, who with poor equipment won a peaceful environment for us to develop in."

Shi Yuanhua, a researcher on Korean studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the weekly newspaper International Herald Leader, said there was not an issue whether or not China should fight the war.

"Before sending troops to Korea, China sent messages to the US through many channels that US troops should not cross the 38th parallel," Shi said. "But the US didn't listen and instead brought the warfare to the Chinese border."

The different names for the war in the DPRK, ROK, the US and China reflect different perceptions in these countries, said Huang.

"In China we call it the 'War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea' because our aim of the war was to defend our country and help Korea, which supported our liberation of Northeast China."

In the ROK, the war is called the "6.25 war" marking the date of its outbreak. In the DPRK, it's "Fatherland Liberation War". And it is known internationally as the "Korean War".

A proposal for a grand commemoration on Oct 25, marking the 60th anniversary of China's participation in the war, was put forward in March by Major-General Luo Yuan to the annual Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body.

Liu Yiwei contributed to the story.