April 20, 2017 09:43
U.S. President Donald Trump in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week falsely claimed that Korea "used to be part of China."
During a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump told the daily on April 12, Xi "then went into the history of China and Korea... And you know, you're talking about thousands of years ...and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China."
The paper did not publish the claim, but it was picked up later by online news agency Quartz.
Trump claimed that he then realized how tough it would be for China to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. "After listening for 10 minutes I realized that... it's not so easy," he added.
Speaking through interpreters, the two leaders had discussed the North Korean nuclear crisis for more than two hours. It is unclear what Xi said, though there have been persistent attempts by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to portray ancient Korean kingdoms as part of the Chinese empire.
One diplomatic source in Seoul said, "Since Xi became president, Beijing has displayed behavior that seems to idealize the old system of Asian countries paying tribute to China."
Quartz wryly commented, "This is a glaring historical inaccuracy that has, somehow, not yet enraged South Korea, which is usually extremely defensive about suggestions that it is lesser than China or has ever been dependent on it."
"We can probably assume that Trump did not have ideas of his own about this matter of Asian history, and in fact got this notion from Xi."
On other occasions the U.S. Senate and Trump administration have been critical of China's hegemonic nationalism. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said last month China's territorial spat with other Asian countries in the South China Sea was "China shredding trust as they adopt a tribute-nation kind of approach where all other nations have to pay tribute or acquiescence to the more powerful nation, the larger nation."
A Foreign Ministry official here said, "We don't even need to comment about the claim," but added, "It is a fact recognized by the international community that Korea was not a part of China during the thousands of years of historical relations between the two."
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