Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information CenterSouthern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center
HomeAbout UsCampaignsSouthern Mongolian WatchChineseJapaneseNewsLInksContact Us



(LEAD) China's Distortion of History Targets Neighbors, Ethnic Minorities

Yonhap (South Korea)
by Kim Hyung-jin
September 13, 2006

SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- China's distortion of Korea's ancient history is key to its moves to boost its historical claims over neighboring countries and ethnic minority groups on its soil, steps critics say are linked to Beijing's regional hegemonism.

Earlier this month, South Korea's drawn-out disputes with China flared again when a state-run Chinese research institute disclosed several theses claiming almost all of Korea's ancient kingdoms, which straddled in the northeastern Chinese region of Manchuria and the northern part of the peninsula, as China's vassal governments.

The disclosures immediately angered many South Koreans since they violated a 2004 accord in which the two nations pledged to ease the history row.

Beijing's Foreign Ministry said the research papers didn't reflect its government's position, but critics accused China of revealing its ambition to become a hegemonic power by "snatching away" the history of other countries.

The Chinese moves "not only steal our historical sovereignty but also pose a serious threat to a peace in Northeast Asia," a group of history study groups in South Korea said in a joint statement issued on Wednesday.

"We all have to unite and protect at any cost our history that our ancestors and martyrs have defended by sacrificing their lives," it said.

Media reports and analysts point out that China also triggered similar history disputes with neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Mongolia and took a series of steps to deny the "independent" histories of its autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, where separatist sentiments have been rampant.

In 1986, China's former leader Deng Xiaoping ordered a research program to be launched to strengthen its control of Tibet, a contested border region that once flourished as an independent kingdom from the 7th to the 13th centuries and came under communist Chinese rule in 1950.

The research program later produced theses that deleted Tibet's 8th-century history, when its kingdom grew to be a dominant force in Central Asia and reached the capital of China's Ming Dynasty.

China also carried out a similar academic program to incorporate the history of the Muslim Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang, which was ruled sporadically by local leaders while being successively subject to rule by Tibetans, Uighurs, Arabs and Chinese.

International human rights groups have reported widespread human rights violations of imams and ordinary people in Xinjiang every year, but the suppression intensified in recent years in the name of cracking down on terrorism. The province is traversed by the Silk Road.

China's history distortion has also been directed against Mongolia and Vietnam.

In 1995, China put out a three-volume publication arguing that Mongolia's territory is part of China, drawing an angry response from Ulan Bator. Beijing also repeatedly insisted that Nam Viet, an ancient kingdom encompassing southern China founded in 208 BC, was its provincial government, while Hanoi believes the kingdom was the root of the Vietnamese people.

"China is seriously challenging Japan's reputation as Asia's champion for revising historical and territorial truths," the English-language Korea Times in Seoul said in an editorial last week.

"It's regrettable that Asia is running in the opposite direction of Europe, which is seeking unity in diversity."

The paper also said the Chinese distortion of Korea's history is aimed at blocking possible Korean claims to Manchuria after its reunification, or the collapse of North Korea, which is expected to cause a flood of refugees.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun expressed regret over the issue during a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of an EU-Asia summit in Helsinki earlier this week.

However, calls for the government to react more strongly emerged as China was found to have allowed schools to use history textbooks containing distortions of Korea's ancient history starting from this semester. China also took a series of steps solidifying its historical claim over Mount Paekdu, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, nearly half of which belongs to the Chinese territories.

Kim Moon-soo, a third-term lawmaker with the main opposition Grand National Party, called on South Korea to take joint steps with other Asian countries to cope with the Chinese moves.

"International cooperation with China's neighbors is necessary for us to deal with its efforts to twist history," Kim said in a recent media interview. "I believe other regions, such as Tibet, Vietnam, Cambodia and Mongolia, have the potential to join us and refute this Sinocentric world view."




From Yeke-juu League to Ordos Municipality: settler colonialism and alter/native urbanization in Inner Mongolia

Close to Eden (Urga): France, Soviet Union, directed by Nikita Mikhilkov

Beyond Great WallsBeyond Great Walls: Environment, Identity, and Development on the Chinese Grasslands of Inner Mongolia

The Mongols at China's EdgeThe Mongols at China's Edge: History and the Politics of National Unity

China's Pastoral RegionChina's Pastoral Region: Sheep and Wool, Minority Nationalities, Rangeland Degradation and Sustainable Development

Changing Inner MongoliaChanging Inner Mongolia: Pastoral Mongolian Society and the Chinese State (Oxford Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology)

Grasslands and Grassland Science in Northern ChinaGrasslands and Grassland Science in Northern China: A Report of the Committee on Scholarly Communication With the People's Republic of China

The Ordos Plateau of ChinaThe Ordos Plateau of China: An Endangered Environment (Unu Studies on Critical Environmental Regions)
 ©2002 SMHRIC. All rights reserved. Home | About Us | Campaigns | Southern Mongolian Watch | News | Links | Contact Us