“Kim Jong Il is a great leader of North Korean people, and is a close friend of Chinese people”
– Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon the death of North Korea’s dictator
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
– American President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address
The crazy king of North Korea is dead and good riddance, but his passing does offer us a moment to consider the long and stormy U.S. – Korean – China relationship.
The cause of 20 million people in greater Seoul living in fear of nuclear annihilation and 30,000 American troops cooling their heels south of the DMV at enormous expense to the U.S. taxpayer is nothing more than the desire of the Chinese leadership that that they continue to do so. Despite Beijing’s vocal protests over the American presence, any time a further draw down (there were once nearly 100,000 Americans there) appears likely the North Korean King would launch some mad and often deadly provocation, like testing a nuke, torpedoing a South Korean ship or shelling Yeonpyeong island. And the North Korean King did nothing without the approval of his Chinese benefactors.
Since the start of the Korean war, China has been intimately involved in its all of the North’s decisions and at times little more than it’s puppet master. If you’d like to learn more about that, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s detailed biography of Mao, “Mao: The Unknown Story” provides an excellent summary of those events in 1950.
What is particularly galling for Americans in all this is that most Mainland Chinese completely misunderstand the history that has lead us to this imperfect day. I was in a Shanghai market on May Day a few years ago and a vendor was selling Stalin T-shirts. I asked her if she was serious and she was. In fact, she said “Comrade Stalin was a great friend of the Chinese people.” Many Chinese history texts and many naïve Chinese citizens believe that World War II is a story of China beating off Imperial Japan with Russia’s aid.
Of course the true facts are: (and I state them for my friends in the MSS or any other communist supporters who might actually read my blog).
- Japan attacked America at Pearl Harbor, not because it wanted to provoke the most powerful nation on Earth, but because American support for China including a raw materials (notably oil) embargo imposed after the rape of Nanking compelled them to try and remove the US from the Western Pacific. America entered its most costly war because it was a friend of China!
- Russia entered the war against Japan on August 8, two days after the U.S. atomic attack on Hiroshima made the outcome certain and fought for only about a week.
- Russia occupied great portions of Chinese Manchuria (then the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo) and Northern Korea along with Japanese territory. Russia tried to keep much of the Chinese land for a decade (see Global Security piece).
- During this period, Mao’s Russian friends terrorized and raped the Manchurian populace and looted vast amounts of material.
So now the stage was set for the creation of the most misnamed kingdom of all time, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK. (We strongly suggest this title, like “PRC”, never be used by those who do not wish to be made liars by criminals).
Despite the fact that China owed its very post-war existence to the U.S. (not its fair weather Soviet friends) the communist Chinese were eager to support a North Korean invasion of the South in 1950. When General MacArthur’s brilliant invasion at Incheon led to a complete rout of communist forces Mao sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers (and his own son) to their death in hopes of killing young American Marines and GIs and enslaving more Koreans into communism.
That was a half century ago, but little has changed. Hu Jintao continues to support the bloody North Korean puppet state at the expense of the Korean people and the American military. This economic disaster of a nation could not survive without Chinese trade and subsidies including vast “gift trains” that ferry personal luxuries to its kings (see page Brett Decker’s and William Tripplett II’s book Bowing to Beijing starting at pg. 63). Tens of millions of North Koreans have suffered for generations – including millions of children starving to death – simply so the Chinese Communist party can keep America off-balance.
Remember every time you do your Christmas shopping at Wal*Mart’s emporium of Chinese goods or invest in a China mutual fund you’re helping to support that too.
Greg Autry is the co-author of Death by China and teaches macroeconomics at the Merage School of Business, UC Irvine. He serves as chief economist for the American Jobs Alliance and writes and speaks on China, space, economics, investing, and business strategy. For more information, please visit http://www.gregautry.us and follow the author on Facebook.