To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War (1950-1953), China’s state-run broadcaster CCTV (China Central Television) began airing a six-part documentary series called “For Peace” on Oct. 18. The series, described as “resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea to protect the homeland” is being broadcast as Sino-U.S. relations have recently intensified to an unprecedented scale since the establishment of diplomatic relations. The documentary promotes Beijing’s anti-American propaganda narrative.
The CCTV stated in a report that “to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army’s mission abroad to fight against U.S. aggression and aid [North] Korea, with the approval of the Central Military Commission, the Political Works Department of the Central Military Commission organized and filmed six episodes of a large-scale TV documentary ‘For Peace.’” Each episode is about 50 minutes long.
The CCTV report pushed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s anti-American propaganda narrative. CCTV described the first episode, titled “Upholding Justice,” as “looking back to the historical background and international environment of the all-out war launched by the United States against North Korea, as well as the serious threats to the national security of New China.”
French media RFI (Radio France Internationale) noted in a report that the Korean War was not launched by the United States as China’s state-run media claims. Instead, the war was launched by former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung and his communist regime, with support from the Soviet Union and the Chinese regime. China sent millions of soldiers to fight alongside the North Korean military.
A War with Different Names
In South Korea, the Korean War is called “625” or the “6–2–5 Upheaval” which refers to the day the war began on June 25, 1950.
In North Korea, the war is called “Fatherland Liberation War.”
In mainland China, the CCP officially called it the “War to Resist America and Aid Korea.”
In July 1950, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 84, condemning the “armed attack by North Korean forces against the Republic of Korea” that “has constituted a breach of peace.” Under the resolution, the United States led a multinational troop to fight against the North Korean and Chinese joint troops. The “United Nations Army” is composed of armed forces from 16 countries and medical teams from five countries. The United States provided 88 percent of the combatants.
According to historical accounts, many CCP members opposed the war, citing that the country had just gone through WWII and a civil war, making it difficult to participate in another large-scale war. However, former CCP leader Mao Zedong decided to send troops to Korea at the request of the Soviet Union. The war was not a “great victory” as the CCP boasted. The North Korean troops were pushed back by the U.S.-led troops to the 38th parallel which divided the North and South since 1945. North Korea’s attempt to take over the entire Korean peninsula by military force had failed. A peace treaty has never been signed after the war unofficially ended on July 27, 1953 in an armistice.
Although China claims that it lost 180,000 lives, experts estimate that the actual figures could be higher, with at least 500,000 Chinese casualties and 400,000 American casualties.
Hostility Toward the US
In the past, the Chinese regime banned the broadcast of Korean War-related film and television programs that had anti-American overtones in order to avoid conflict with the United States at that time. For example, CCTV was not allowed to produce such programs in 2001, Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao reported in August.
The report also mentioned that after the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, some of the generals of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) wanted to broadcast a film that contained the theme of “resisting U.S. aggression and aiding Korea,” but they were opposed by the central authorities.
The turning point came after the Sino-U.S. trade war. When the bilateral negotiations were at a stalemate in May 2019, CCTV Six temporarily adjusted its programming to broadcast Korean War-themed films such as “Battle of Shangganling” (1956) and “Hero Sons and Daughters” (1964), Ming Pao reported. But there were only a few such films. The shortfall enraged the central authorities and they demanded more Korean War-themed films and television shows, the report said.
The CCTV report described the new series of documentaries as “fully demonstrating the Chinese nation’s determination and great contribution to defending peace without fear of violence,” and called on the Chinese people to “vigorously promote the great spirit of resisting U.S. aggression and to provide aid to [North] Korea and the national spirit, and unite more closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core.”
This year’s anniversary of the Korean War underscores the CCP’s anti-American sentiment. South Korean pop music group BTS recently received the James A. Van Fleet Award in recognition of its contribution to promoting South Korea-U.S. relations. When BTS captain RM (Kim Nam Joon) paid tribute to the American and Korean victims of the war in his acceptance speech, there was a backlash from pro-CCP Chinese netizens, according to international media reports.