Korean War POWs compared to America’s Illegal Wars in Laos and Cambodia

August 5, 2015

Chinese history shows that since the time of Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor (221 – 207 B.C.), the standard practice in war was to execute POWs because they were a burden that might lead to defeat.  An army that doesn’t have to feed and guard POWs is more effective at fighting and winning.  Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan knew this fact too.

Some time ago I watched a documentary on the Korean War that mentioned that 87% of United Nations (U.N.) troops captured by the People’s Liberation Army or North Korean troops during the war died in captivity, but it doesn’t explain how they died.

In fact, while there was strong evidence that North Korean Troops executed U.N. POWs, the Chinese rarely executed prisoners like their North Korean counterparts did. Instead, mass starvation and diseases swept through the Chinese POW camps during the winter of 1950-51. “About 43 percent of all U.S. POWs died during this period.” The Chinese defended what happened because Chinese troops during this period also suffered mass starvation and diseases due to an incompetent logistics supply system. Even the civilian population behind the Communist lines didn’t have enough to eat. – wikipedia.org

Surviving U.N. POWs, however, have disagreed with this claim. Click on the previous link to see what the POWs had to say.

Even though the Wiki piece claims “both the Communists and United Nations forces were committed to the terms of the 1949 Geneva Conventions III, regarding the treatment of POWs,” China didn’t join the United Nations until October 25, 1971 — twenty years later, and North Korea wouldn’t become a member of the U.N. until September 1991.

The International Treaties on the Laws of War written in Geneva and the Hague in 1938 by the League of Nations was meant for the “Protection of Civilian Populations Against Bombing from the Air in Case of War,” but during World War II, the US Air Force killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Germany and Japan. Many of the bombs dropped were napalm (jellied gasoline) and the innocent along with enemy troops were roasted alive and that included the elderly, women and children.

In addition, the Geneva Convention for the treatment of Prisoners of War was written in 1949, the same year the Chinese Communists won the Civil War in China, but the U.S. had been an ally of the Nationalist Chinese since well before World War II and protected Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists in Taiwan after 1949 in spite of the fact that Chiang Kai-shek was a brutal dictator who ruled Taiwan with martial law and was responsible for the killing of more than thirty-thousand civilians in 1947 in the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan.

While the behavior of Chinese and North Korean troops when it came to POW’s was unacceptable by Western humanitarian written standards, US forces are just as guilty when it comes to killing innocent civilians. It is estimated that the US killed between 1.5 and 3.6 million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (note that the US bombings in Laos and Cambodia were illegal and were not approved by the U.S. Congress), and left behind a horrible legacy due to the use of Agent Orange.

“Not only did Nixon and Kissinger not seek the necessary approval from Congress to bomb Cambodia, (and Laos 1962-1969) they tried to conceal the bombing not only from the American public but Congress as well.” – Third World Traveler

In conclusion, written agreements seldom are practiced in war, and it is obvious these agreements do not save innocent lives. To learn more about the illegal US bombing in Laos, read National Geographic Magazine’s recent Life After the Bombs. “The total weight of the bombs dropped was many times greater than the weight of the people living in Laos, which at the time had a population of perhaps two million. It worked out to as much as a ton of bombs per person. … The bombs didn’t distinguish between communists and anticommunists any more than they distinguished between soldiers and children.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China Protecting its Teeth in 1950 Korea – Part 8/9

March 1, 2011

When you read what happened to the UN POW’s, keep in mind that from 1949 to 1976, Revolutionary Maoist doctrine ruled China with an iron fist.

Most of the powerful Communist generals and politicians that fought with Mao to win the Civil War from 1925 to 1949 spoke out against his harsh actions as the leader of China.

Those men, with few exceptions, were killed or went to prison. A few survived by learning to stay out of sight and shutting up. Deng Xiaoping was one of the few that protested and survived.

After Mao’s death, Deng Xiaoping reappeared, gained the leadership and embarked on a campaign to convert China to an open-market economy mixing socialism with capitalism creating a hybrid form of government never seen before.

The reeducation camps that existed for much of Mao’s rule and the labor camps that appeared during the Cultural Revolution do not exist in China today.  In fact, I know of a cousin of my father-in-law that spent decades in these camps but today, in his 80s, he is free and lives with his son and daughter-in-law in Shanghai.

When the current central government of China came to power after the 1982 Constitution was written, many of the political prisoners that survived were released and received a small pension. This cousin was one of them.

Do we blame today’s Americans for slavery in the US in the 18th and 19th century until the end of the Civil War?

Do we blame them for discrimination that ended with the Civil Right era of the 1960s?

Do we blame them for all the American natives that were killed during the Indian Wars of the 19th century?

Do we blame them for the concentrations camps that locked up Japanese-Americans during World War II?

Do we blame them for the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882—the only act of its kind in US history?

In Korea, the UN POWs that survived shared horror stories of the torture, brainwashing and severe hunger they suffered. They told of terrifying campaigns to reeducate them and turn them against the cause of democracy.

The POWs reported that they were forced at gunpoint to speak out against America on the radio.

Many of the POWs went crazy and starved to death.

The UN POW camps in South Korea had problems too. The Chinese POWs split into two factions. One was anticommunist and the other procommunist.

Like rival street gangs in US prisons, the Chinese POWs turned against each other and there was violence.

The peace negotiations were tense and difficult and dragged on.

The fighting continued. The last two years of the war were a series of skirmishes. However, there were also hours without combat when the troops waited to see what happened next.

The armies fought repeatedly for the same hills. The most famous was called Old Baldy.  After nine months of fierce battles as the hill changed hands often, Old Baldy finally stayed in UN hands.

To force a compromise at the peace negotiations, the UN turned to air power. The one area where the UN held an advantage over China was air power and UN air forces ruled the skies over Korea. In 1952, the US air force had about 1500 planes flying missions and more from the Navy, Marines and other UN nations.

Korea was the hot button issue of the 1952 American presidential election. Legendary five-star General Dwight Eisenhower promised he would end the war, while his opponent, Adlai Stephenson said he would not withdraw from Korea.

Return to China Protecting its Teeth in 1950 Korea – Part 7

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


POW Deaths During the Korean War

February 28, 2011

I planned another post for this spot but decided to write about UN POW deaths during the Korean War since that topic came up at the end of Part 7 of this documentary summarizing the Korean War.

It mentions how 87% of POW’s captured by the People’s Liberation Army and/or North Korean troops during the war died in captivity.  It doesn’t explain how.

The lack of context may provide Sinophobes with ammunition to criticize China for the behavior of its troops during the Korean War.

In fact, while there was strong evidence that North Korean Troops executed UN POWs, “the Chinese rarely executed prisoners like their Korean counterparts (since) mass starvation and diseases swept through the Chinese POW camps during the winter of 1950-51. About 43 percent of all US POWs died during this period. The Chinese defended their actions by stating that all Chinese soldiers during this period were also suffering mass starvation and diseases due to the lack of competent logistics system.” Source: Wikipedia

Surviving UN POWs, however, dispute this claim. Click on the link to see what the POWs had to say but know that Mao ruled China from 1949 to 1976. Revolutionary Maoism died with him.

In 1951, the Western rules of war did not apply to China or North Korea. China wouldn’t join the United Nations until October 25, 1971 — twenty years later.  North Korea would become a member of the UN September 1991.

If you were to study the International Treaties on the Laws of War, you would discover that most were written in Geneva and the Hague. Source: Wikipedia

What I found interesting in this list was the 1938 League of Nations declaration for the “Protection of Civilian Populations Against Bombing from the Air in Case of War.”

During World War II, the US air forces killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Germany and Japan. Many of the bombs dropped were napalm (jellied gasoline) and the innocent were roasted including the elderly, women and children.

The Geneva Convention for the treatment of Prisoners of War was written in 1949, the year the Chinese Communists won the Civil War in China.

There is an old saying — the friend of my enemy is my enemy.

The United States has been an ally of the Nationalist Chinese since well before World War II and protected Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists in Taiwan after 1949.

However, Chiang Kai-shek was a brutal dictator that ruled Taiwan with martial law and is responsible for the deaths of more than thirty thousand civilians there. Learn of the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan.

Chinese history shows that since the time of Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor (221 – 207 B.C.), the standard practice in war was to execute POWs because they were a burden that might lead to defeat.  An army that doesn’t’ have to feed and/or guard POWs is more effective at fighting and winning.  Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan knew this too.

While the behavior of PLA and North Korean troops when it came to POW’s was unacceptable by Western humanitarian standards, US forces are just as guilty when it came to killing innocent civilians. There are estimates that the US killed about two million civilians in Vietnam and left behind a horrible legacy due to the use of Agent Orange.

When it comes to war, both combatants are usually guilty of atrocities against POWs and/or civilians. However, the victor decides who is guilty of those crimes and the punishment.

The rules of war to use are Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.