AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 643

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Session 643: Wars and Their Legacey in East Asia II

Chiang Kai-shek’s Secret Korean War: How US-Taiwan Intelligence Collaboration Brought about the “Defection” of 14,000 Chinese POWs to Taiwan and Saved the Republic of China
Cheng David Chang, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Hong Kong

Immediately after the outbreak of the Korean War, Chiang Kai-shek offered troops to fight in Korea. Despite Washington’s adamant refusal to allow Taiwan’s participation in the war, the U.S. military’s desperate need for Chinese linguists and psychological warfare personnel brought Nationalist operatives to POW camps as translators, interrogators, and teachers. Owing to their influence among the 21,000 Chinese prisoners, anti-Communist POWs gained ascendancy over pro-repatriation prisoners. In the April 1952 screening, more than two thirds of the prisoners declared their intention not to be repatriated to China. In armistice negotiations the impasse over POW repatriation prevented reaching an agreement, and war was prolonged for more than a years. Surreptitiously and effectively Taiwan hijacked the agenda of the Korean War. In January 1954, more than 14,000 Chinese POWs of the Korean War arrived in Taiwan. For the U.S. and Taiwan, this large "defection" of Communist soldiers was a major propaganda coup, purportedly demonstrating that if given a choice people in China would invariably reject communism. Referring to these POWs as “fourteen thousand witnesses” (of communist tyranny), the Nationalist delegation to the UN repeatedly cited this episode to legitimize its representation in place of communist China. Without suggesting that Taiwan was a central player in the Korean War, I propose an alternative understanding of the war. If we see the two superpowers and China as the locomotives that drove the war, Chiang Kai-shek played the role of a switchman at several key junctures, effectively altering the course of war and peace.

US Naval Strategies Toward Japan in the Early Twentieth Century
Yoshiaki Katada, Nagoya University of Commerce, Japan

In the run up to the Pacific War, both Japanese and U.S. navies targeted each other as the major hypothetical enemy. However, both navies did not prepare enough for their eventual conflict since they did not fully understand each other's naval strategy. The Japanese navy did not have sufficient information about U.S. naval strategies. Particularly, it lacked the precise knoledge of the ongoing construction of naval bases and shipyards in main harbors in the West coast and the Pacific, which were supposed to be a most crucial factor in the event of war. The U.S. navy also did not have a clear idea of how to link each naval base to its own entire naval strategy towards the Japanese counterpart. These naval bases are Pearl Harbor, Puget Sound, Mare Island, and Los Angeles Harbor. In examining the characteristics of the development of each naval base, my paper will show what was the problem of pre-war U.S naval strategy toward the Japanese navy, and why the U.S. led Japan to intend to attack on Pearl Harbor in terms of historical investigation of chief naval bases in the Pacific. In other words, it is expected to explore the international relations between Japan and the United States from the perspective of each local history of the aforementioned U.S. naval bases. My paper will also characterize the perception of Japan's naval leaders regarding the development of U.S. naval bases, thus shedding light upon the nature of their strategical thinking. In examining U.S.-Japanese relations before the Pacific War, it is very important to consider naval bases because there have been many researches on naval constructions, but very few on naval bases. It is also meaningful to reconsider why the Pacific War took place especially in Hawaii in the 70th year after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The Beginning of the End of the Sino-American Cultural Cold War:A Reappraisal of the Ping Pong Diplomacy
Hongshan Li, Kent State University, USA

The visit of American table-tennis players to China in spring 1971 shocked the world and left a deep mark on the history of U.S.-China relations. However, for a long time, it has been treated merely as one of the tiny pieces of rubble that paved the road to a more dramatic diplomatic show put up by national leaders like Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Mao Zedong, and Zhou Enlai in the early 1970s. Such a treatment is utterly inadequate since it has overlooked its impact on the ending of the cultural Cold War between the two nations. With newly released government documents and recently published personal recollections or autobiographies, I intend to explore the forces behind the ping pong diplomacy, examine the early effort at restoring cultural and educational ties, and evaluate its impact on the outcome of the Cold War between the two nations. The visits of the table tennis players not only broke the ice in U.S.-China diplomatic relations, but also opened the door for cultural and educational exchange that had been cut off at the beginning of the Korean War. China’s decision to send a large number of students and scholars to the United States, and to revamp its educational system mostly after the American model in the end of the 1970s, has brought cultural confrontation and isolation to a gradual end. At the same time, it has demonstrated that the outcome of the Cold War between the two Pacific powers was largely determined by the battles on the cultural and educational fronts rather than military confrontations or diplomatic maneuvers.

The Legacy of the Asia-Pacific War on Japan-China and Japan-US Relations
Mary M. McCarthy, Drake University, USA

Some of the most intractable issues between Japan and China today have been connected with history – experiences of war and conflict and differing interpretations of such. Claims of historical revisionism, resurgent militarism, and disregard for the people of Asia have become commonplace in Chinese official statements toward Japan. However, at the same time that the history card has been used liberally by Chinese leaders when referencing Japan, we find it used on relatively rare occasions in US political rhetoric towards Japan. Despite the fact that China and the US both fought (and defeated) Japan during the Asia-Pacific War, the legacy of the war has been extremely different in China and in the US. Generally speaking, the US government has tended not to raise issues of wartime memories and historical revisionism with Japan and, in fact, has seemed to actively avoid such discussions at times. In this paper I address how, when, and why its history with Japan is used by the leadership of China and the US, respectively. I explore what factors promote the raising of issues related to history, which issues tend to come to the forefront, and why. I investigate the reason for the differences in Chinese and US government responses to Japanese actions and statements that can be viewed as nationalistic and/or historical revisionist. A comparison of the Japan-China and Japan-US cases provides us with a deeper understanding of the role of history in the Asia-Pacific today and of how we may achieve reconciliation in the region.