70 Years after China and the DPRK Defeated the United States in Korea

There is a piece of news on an important anniversary missing from western state and corporate news. This year, 2020, is the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) army entering the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to help in, what the Chinese call, the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea.

It is described by the People’s Daily thus:

The war, which happened 70 years ago, was forced upon the Chinese people by invading imperialism. After the U.S. repeatedly ignored the warning from the Chinese government, brazenly started the war against Korea and even attacked the territory of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government resolutely made the historic decision to resist the aggression of the U.S., aid Korea and protect its homeland, shouldering the historic mission of safeguarding peace with indomitable courage.

After the United Nation forces invaded the DPRK in October 1950 and advanced quickly towards the Yalu River, which forms the border with China, the CPV crossed the Yalu and joined with the DPRK people and army. Two years and nine months later, the CPV and DPRK had “won a great victory.”

American author Bruce Riedel referred to it as “the catastrophe on the Yalu.”

By December 31, 1950, the Americans had been driven 120 miles south back to the 38th parallel and were still retreating. Seoul would fall to [the direct commander of the CPV] Peng [Dehuai]’s armies in early 1951. It was by far the worst military debacle the U.S. armed forces suffered in the entire twentieth century.

It was a military victory for the peasant Chinese and DPRK fighters, but as the People’s Daily made clear this was not military triumphalism.

The Chinese people love and cherish peace. They take safeguarding world peace and opposing hegemony and power politics as their sacred responsibility. They firmly oppose resorting to threat of military force for solving international disputes, and interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs under the name of the so-called democracy, freedom and human rights.

CPC chairman Xi Jinping echoed this earlier on 28 March 2014:

The Chinese nation, with 5000 years of civilization, has always cherished peace. The pursuit of peace, amity and harmony is an integral part of the Chinese character which runs deep in the Chinese people.1

The People’s Daily argued,

The victory of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea proves that a nation, which is awakened and dares to fight for its glory, independence and security, is undefeatable.

Does this hold true in all cases? The relative size of the combatant nations and the level of military and technological development likely play a large role.

Nonetheless, there are numerous examples that support this contention. For instance, consider that impoverished Yemen (population 28.5 million) has not only steadfastly resisted the 2015 invasion by US-backed, oil-rich Saudi Arabia (population 33.7 million) but has inflicted some severe strategic damage itself to the invader. And the US is still mired in Afghanistan after 20 years. Following the Vietnamese defeat of French imperialists, who were aided by the US, the US military took over, with the military support of allies such as Australia and South Korea. The final military outcome featured US personnel escaping by helicopters from the rooftops in Saigon.


Video of an apartment complex in Saigon housing CIA and USAID employees.

The DPRK has never attacked the US. It is only the US, when it intervened in a Korean civil war, that attacked the DPRK.

During the US-UN-China-Korean war the US destroyed crops, food reserves, and the energy grid when it attacked the DPRK2 – actions designed to cause food shortages. It was war in which the US used biological and chemical weapons.3 US military commanders had even sought permission to use nuclear weapons.4 The US caused enormous destruction during the war on the peninsula, a war that some claim was started by the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK).5 There had been several ROK troop incursions into the North preceding the DPRK invasion that began on 25 June 1950.6

Korea expert Bruce Cummings wrote: “it is the Americans who bear the lion’s share of the responsibility for the thirty-eighth parallel.”7 The DPRK and China blame the US for the war — a blame that is logically unassailable. Because if the US had not insisted on splitting the Korean peninsula, the casus belli of reuniting the two Koreas wouldn’t have existed. Consequently, today’s precarious security situation would have been avoided.8,9

Ramifications to China of the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea

Today, although beset with crunching economic sanctions, the DPRK is independent and fully capable of thwarting any attack. It would be foolish to attack a nuclear-armed opponent. The DPRK for its part has pledged no first use of nuclear weapons.

On the China-US front, the US abrogates its undertaking to recognize one China by supplying the breakaway province Taiwan with military armaments. The War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea had thrown a large wrench into the plans of chairman Mao Zedong and the Communist forces to liberate Taiwan from the Guomindang (KMT) and reincorporate it with the Chinese motherland.10

As with the division of the Korean peninsula, the US was complicit in the separation of Taiwan from mainland China,

The [KMT] Generalissimo [Chiang Kai-shek aka Jiang Jieshi], his cohorts and soldiers fled to the offshore island of Taiwan (Formosa). They had prepared their entry two years earlier by terrorizing the slanders into submission—a massacre which took the lives of as many as 28,000 people. Prior to the Nationalists’ escape to the island, the US government entertained no doubts that Taiwan was a part of China. Afterward, uncertainty began to creep into the minds of Washington officials. The crisis was resolved in a remarkably simple manner: the US agreed with Chiang that the proper way to view the situation was not that Taiwan belonged to China, but that Taiwan was China.11

China is economically rising while the US is battling negative growth. Although now militarily powerful, China is committed to peaceful existence.

The expected outcome is with the US in decline that their Taiwanese kin will proudly one day rejoin the resurgent and unified China.

  1. Xi Jinping, “China’s Commitment to Peaceful Development” in The Governance of China (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014). []
  2. Nhial Esso, What You Don’t Know about North Korea Could Fill a Book (Intransitive Publishers International, 2013): 63%. []
  3. See (23 June 2001). Korean International War Crimes Tribunal: Report on U.S. Crimes in Korea 1945-2000, (Korean Truth Commission). []
  4. Bruce Cummings, “Korea: forgotten nuclear threats,” Le Monde diplomatique, December 2004. []
  5. See Ho Jong Ho, Kang Sok Hui, and Pak Thae Ho, The US Imperialists Started the Korean War (Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1993). []
  6. See Won Myong Uk and Kim Hak Chol, Distortion of US Provocation of Korean War (Pyongyang : Foreign Languages Publishing House, 2003). []
  7. Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2005): 186. []
  8. Carole Cameron Shaw, The Foreign Destruction of Korean Independence (Seoul: Seoul National University Press, 2007). []
  9. Nhial, 11-22%. []
  10. Lin Cheng-yi, “The legacy of the Korean War: Impact on U.S.-Taiwan relations,” Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, Winter92(11) Issue 4, p40. []
  11. William Blum, Killing Hope (Zed Books, 2003): 23. []
Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: kimohp@gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.