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The Forgotten War or the Hijacked War? How Chinese POWs and Chiang Kai-shek Hijacked the Korean War

January 16, 2020 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Encina Commons, Rm 123 (615 Crothers Way)

About the talk: 

The Korean War was in reality two wars: the first fought over territory from June 1950 to June 1951 and the second over prisoners of war from late 1951 to July 1953. While the first war restored the territorial status quo ante, the second war’s only visible outcome was the “defection” of 14,220 Chinese prisoners to Taiwan and 7,574 North Korean prisoners to South Korea, the cost of which was a near doubling of the length of the war and numerous casualties on all sides. Contrary to the popular belief that an American conspiracy was to blame, this outcome was unplanned. This talk examines how two separately conceived US policies—prisoner reindoctrination and voluntary repatriation—became intertwined and resulted in the rise of anti-Communist prisoners, who persuaded and coerced fellow POWs to renounce their homeland, effectively hijacking the war agenda. The US government became hostage to its own moralistic but ultimately hypocritical policies and to Chinese prisoners and Chiang Kai-shek—a reality so embarrassing that the second half of the Korean War had to be forgotten by the American people. Using archival documents and interviews with more than 80 POWs, Chang reveals the interplay between US policies, Chinese POWs, and Taiwan's agents.

This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP here.

About the speaker: 

David Cheng Chang (常成) is Associate Professor of History at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He received a PhD in Modern Chinese History from the University of California, San Diego, an MA in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and a BA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Center for East Asian Studies in 2011–2012. He studies the histories of WWII interpreters, the Korean War, the Cold War, and US-China relations. The Hijacked WarThe Story of Chinese POWs in the Korean War (Stanford University Press, 2020) is his first book. This book will be on sale at at the talk venue. 

Event Sponsor: 
Center for East Asian Studies, History Department
Contact Email: 
mozhaeva@stanford.edu
Contact Phone: 
650-723-3363