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Canadian troops cross over a log bridge during the Korean War in Feb 1951.

The Canadian Press

A group of Chinese-Canadian associations are marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean War by publicly condemning the United States and its allies, including Canada, as aggressors and imperialists while lauding China for fighting alongside North Korea.

More than 26,000 Canadians in the army, navy and air force served in the United Nation-authorized military campaign to defend South Korea from China-backed North Korean forces in the early 1950s. The war claimed the lives of 516 Canadians, whose chief adversaries were Chinese and North Korean troops.

Statements praising China’s role in the Korean War from five Chinese-Canadian organizations were recently posted on WeChat, the popular Chinese-language social-media platform. Apptopia, a firm that tracks mobile services, said WeChat has been downloaded 265,000 times in Canada in 2020 alone.

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The quotes appeared as part of an article posted by the Come From China News WeChat account in Ottawa.

“Seventy years ago, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Korean people fought together to resist the invasion, took the initiative to attack and achieved victory! Let us remember this great victory,” wrote Tracy Law, a Vancouver financial adviser and president of the Guangzhou Fellow-students Association of Canada and president of the Guangdong Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Canada.

David Bercuson, a University of Calgary historian who wrote a book on the Korean War, said celebrating China’s role in the Korean War is akin to glorifying Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939.

He said it’s particularly offensive because South Korea would be living under a communist dictatorship today if it weren’t for the actions of the United States and allies including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The United States did not start the war. North Korea, with the approval of China and the Soviet Union did, he said.

“If we had not stopped the North Koreans and the Chinese from taking over South Korea, then South Korea today would be part of North Korea.”

He said China deployed about 400,000 troops to help North Korea in the conflict.

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The most famous battle fought by Canadian soldiers was at Kapyong in April, 1951, when a battalion of about 700 Canadian troops from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry helped defend a crucial position against about 5,000 Chinese soldiers. This helped prevent the communist forces from retaking Seoul, and the Canadians received the United States Presidential Unit Citation from the American government for their conduct.

Canadian Senator Yonah Martin, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, said she found these statements extolling China’s role to be shocking.

She said the comments mirror statements last week by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi last week marked the 70th anniversary of China’s entry into the Korean war, characterizing it as fighting off “imperialist invaders,” a reference to the U.S. and allies including Canada, and how it was a fight against “U.S. aggression.” He was later accused of distorting history by South Korea’s foreign minister.

“These quotes are part of a campaign which is taking part in China,” Ms. Martin said.

In his speech, Mr. Xi said China’s performance in the Korean War "broke the myth that the U.S. military is invincible,” China’s Global Times quoted him as saying.

In the same WeChat post, Lu Hongmin, executive director of the Federation of Ottawa Chinese-Canadian Community Organizations, reprised comments from Mr. Xi deploring the “Cold War mentality” of the United States and praising China for sending its armies to support Pyongyang after U.S.-led forces, including Canadians, pushed the North Koreans out of Seoul and back to their side of the 38th parallel.

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“American aircraft invaded North Korea, repeatedly bombed the northeast border area of China, causing serious losses to peoples' lives and property, and our country’s [China’s] security was facing a serious threat,” Mr. Lu wrote, quoting Mr. Xi.

In the same WeChat post, Liu Luyi, with the Federation of Ottawa Chinese-Canadian Community Organizations, was quoted as saying “the Chinese People’s Liberation Army dared to face the provocation of the world’s military power, the United States, to fight against aggression.”

Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat in China and senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said it is regrettable some Chinese Canadian organizations choose to echo recent comments of Mr. Xi.

“It is so wrong to get Canadians to identify with the interests of a foreign state. That goes against the principles of citizenship.” Mr. Burton said.

Ms. Law later told The Globe and Mail in an interview that her comments were meant to show sympathy for the deaths of Chinese soldiers and she should have mentioned the sacrifice of Canadians.

“I live in Canada and I support and love the country. Those [words] are probably not appropriate to say that,” Ms. Law said. “We should have said Canadians also fought in the war.”

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Mr. Lu said his intention in this WeChat post was peaceful. “I do not and never support any war no matter when and where," he said in an e-mailed statement. "We are Canadians. We love to live in Canada.”

The Korean War ended with an armistice agreement that brought an end to stalemated fighting. Since then, the border between the two Koreas has been one of the most militarized in the world, with about a million troops now positioned near their side of a divide that was redrawn at the end of the conflict.

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