The Chinese government on Thursday gave its backing to remarks by the country's Vice President Xi Jinping that the Korean War was "a great and just war for safeguarding peace and resisting aggression."
Xi, widely tipped as China's next president, had made the remarks Monday on the 60th anniversary of China's entry into the war.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the Chinese government's position is clear. "A symposium was held in Beijing yesterday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Chinese People's Volunteers entering [North Korea] to help in the war to resist U.S. aggression," Ma said, and Xi "delivered an important speech on behalf of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission."
In the past, Chinese textbooks inaccurately said the Korean War was "caused by a northward invasion." But after Beijing and Seoul established diplomatic relations in 1992, that changed and textbooks now merely say the war "broke out."
The Chinese government apparently distinguishes the Korean War as such, which it regards as a civil war, from China's participation, which was caused by U.S. intervention that it believes posed a threat to its territorial integrity.
But a diplomatic source in Beijing said that it makes no sense for China to attribute its participation to threat to its territory given that the U.S. at the time did not advance across the Apnok (or Yalu) River to invade into the country.