Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anti-American Art: Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot...

Here's a Cultural-Revolution-era Chinese poster showing a messenger, probably one of the Chinese "volunteers," bravely carrying a parcel through the battlelines, apparently defying a cowering crowd of wounded American GIs. Millions of Chinese turned the tide of the Korean war, rescuing the North from the American counteroffensive: it was de facto war between the new People's Republic of China and the U.S.A., and Korea was the battlefield. The Koreans and Chinese have been best buds ever since, even though their respective allegedly socialist ideologies have substantially diverged.

Or are they actually best buds? Among the speculations in the wake of the recent Wikileaks release of thousands of diplomatic cables are suggestions that elements of the Chinese government might be predisposed to allow the reunification of Korea under South Korean governance. I have to say I'm not sure I buy it. I don't think China feels responsibility for the DPRK regime: clearly the two countries do not share much actual political agreement, but that's not exactly the point. And while South Korea (and the U.S.) might be important trading partners for China's new world economic ambitions, I don't see China switching sides. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Chinese lost their lives in the Korean war.

More likely to me would be something akin to the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea in 1979 to kick out former ally Pol Pot. I could see the Chinese acting to replace Kim Jong Il's (or his son's) regime with one more docile.

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