‘We will fight’: Xi Jinping’s speech commemorating the Korean War and Mao’s legacy

‘We will fight’: Xi Jinping’s speech commemorating the Korean War and Mao’s legacy

Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a clear warning to the US in Beijing this week. After many years, the first meeting to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Chinese People’s Volunteers Entering the Korean front in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea was held in Beijing.

In his speech at the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, warned America to “watch its step”. ‘‘The Chinese People’s Volunteer Army’s patriotism, revolutionary heroism, revolutionary optimism, revolutionary loyalty and the spirit of internationalism that fight for peace and justice for humanity should be inherited in the new era,’’ said Xi Jinping.


After the outbreak of civil war in Korea in June 1950, the US sent troops to the region and started a war. Despite China’s warnings, the US military crossed the “38th parallel”, approaching the China-Korea border, and even attacked China’s northeastern border.

The Chinese People’s Volunteers, formed by the Chinese government at the request of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, went to Korea in October 1950. The war, which lasted for two years and nine months, resulted in a unique war scenario where the side which was far weaker emerged victorious.

The brand new People’s Republic of China followed Mao Zedong’s call and joined the war with 1 million volunteers. China thus contributed to maintaining peace in East Asia and the world.


Xi Jinping praised Mao Zedong, albeit anonymously, in his speech. “The ancestors of the revolution will never be forgotten, with their immortal contributions to defend international justice, world peace and the newly established People’s Republic of China, and the martyrs who lost their lives in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea,” he said.

In his speech, Xi pointed out that the victory achieved in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea was a turning point in the development of the Chinese nation, and that the Chinese people destroyed the plans of the occupiers to “crush the head of the People’s Republic of China”, helping the regions families attain peace.

President Xi stated that the war, which paved the way for the People’s Republic of China to become a great country, reflects the Chinese people’s determination to preserve world peace, the fearlessness of the People’s Liberation Army, and the nation’s winning spirit.

Mao Anying, Mao’s eldest son, was martyred in the Korean war.


Xi emphasized that this war also showed that no matter how strong a country or army is, it will surely fail if it bullies the weak and thinks it can endlessly expand its occupation.

Xi stated that as a responsible great state, China will follow the understanding of global governance based on common consultation, building and sharing, insisting on the common values of humanity based on peace, development, justice, democracy and freedom, and that China will follow the understanding of peaceful development, open development, common development and cooperation. He stated that he will proceed on the path of development without fail.

Emphasizing that China will never pursue hegemony and expansion, that it will definitely oppose the politics of hegemony and tyranny, Xi Jinping stated that they will always follow a military policy in the nature of homeland defense.


China’s central news agency Xinhua issued a commentary titled ‘War commemoration: a timely warning to anti-China “paper tigers,’ after President Xi’s speech. This evaluation also refers to Mao’s famous phrase “American imperialism is a paper tiger”.

“The speech is a declaration of peace and justice anti-China hardliners must not ignore.

Facing a severe threat to national security 70 years ago, China fought the war to safeguard peace and resist aggression. CPV soldiers fought side by side with the DPRK’s people and army, shattering the myth of the invincibility of the US military, and forcing the invaders to sign the armistice on July 27, 1953.

The victory in the 1950-1953 war is a reminder that China has never been afraid of and will never bow to power politics. History has demonstrated that any country, no matter how powerful, is a “paper tiger” doomed to failure if it stands on the wrong side of the development trend of the world. Seeking peaceful development and win-win cooperation is the right way forward.

China will continue to promote peace and cooperation in a world in which it can realize the goal of modernization and its people can achieve a better life. To that end, more than 197,000 Chinese heroes devoted their lives in the war seven decades ago. Any individual or force that attempts to stop China’s step toward this lofty cause is only repeating the strategic mistake committed by invaders 70 years ago.’’


Mao Anying, the eldest son of Mao Zedong, also joined the Chinese People’s Volunteers and went to war to resist US imperialism in Korea with the rank of Lieutenant General. Mao Anying was martyred by the US military napalm on November 25th 1950, on the day of his 28th birthday.

Mao Anying was born on November 24, 1922 at Xiangya Hospital in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. His mother was Yang Kaihui, the daughter of a left-wing intellectual. Yang’s father had helped Mao Zedong get a job as a library assistant in Beijing. Mao was greatly impressed by Yang Kaihui’s appearance and political diligence. They married in 1920 and set up a house in Changsha. Yang Kaihui had three sons named Anying, Anqing and Anlong.


When Mao went to Jinggang Mountain in 1927, he left his wife, Yang Kaihui, in Changsha with three babies behind him. In October 1930, Nationalist warlord He Jian arrested Kaihui. Kaihui refused to provide information about Mao’s location, and was shot in front of his two sons after extended torture. A few weeks later, they released Anying and his brothers, and they went to see their grandmother. The enemy directed their attacks on Mao and his relatives. In 1931, the Communist Party of China (CPC) sent the children to Shanghai. They went to a kindergarten run by the underground Communist Party. When the kindergarten was closed and its administrators arrested, they started to live on the streets. Pastor Dong Jianwu, a Communist party member in Shanghai, took care of them. In Shanghai, Anlong died of dysentery, and a police officer beat Anqing, possibly leading to lifelong mental illness. The party eventually smuggled Anying and Anqing to Moscow. Anying studied under the name of “Sergei Yun Fu” in the “Interdom” for the children of the leaders of the oppressed progressive movements in the Soviet Union. During World War II, Anying and his brother Anqing joined the Soviet Red Army. He participated in the Second World War with special permission from Stalin. Anying served as an artillery officer in the fight against Hitler in Poland.


In 1946, Mao Zedong had his sons brought to Yanan. Mao sent his children to rural reform work and asked to learn from peasants. When the Chinese Revolution became successful and the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, the family came together and lived in Beijing.

After the US attacked Korea and threatened the Chinese revolution, Mao called for the establishment of a People’s Volunteer Army. Mao Anying also voluntarily participated in the Korean War.

Mao’s wife, Qiang Qing, warned Mao not to let her son go. However, Mao did not want any special treatment for his children. Anying traveled to Korea with a headquarters unit in October 1950. He served as the secretary and Russian translator of Peng Dehuai, Commander of the People’s Volunteers.

The headquarters of the People’s Volunteers Army was set up in an old gold mine. Ancient caves provided excellent protection from American fighter bombers. On November 25th 1950, the weather was so good that everyone went out to enjoy the sun, at which point an American fighter-bomber dropped a napalm grenade over the field. The casualties were not great, but one of the three officers killed was Mao Anying. Mao refused to have his son’s body returned to China. Mao made no explanation about his son’s death, and Anying’s death was kept secret for years.

He was buried in Pyongyang, the Cemetery of the Heroes of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. Peng later presented his formal apology, Mao’s reply was steadfast: “An ordinary soldier has been killed. Do not make a special event just for my son!”


President Mao Zedong commented on the death of General Mao Anying:

“There must be sacrifice in war. No sacrifice, no victory. There is no difference between sacrificing my son or the sons of other people. There can be no parents in the world who do not care about their children. But please do not worry for me, because this is completely unpredictable. We realize how and why these deaths happen. So many people sacrificed their children for the sake of the revolution. They need more consolation. We should pay more attention to them rather than being drowned by our own suffering.”

Until Mao died, he did not allow a special treatment after his son was martyred.

In 1991, because of the 70th anniversary of the CPC’s foundation, a movie by the name of “Mao and his son” was made. In 2013, a play of the same name was staged.

Mao’s relatives did not speak about it either. Liu Siqi, Mao Anying’s widow, was the first guest of a documentary this year. She told how she said goodbye to her husband in the documentary “For Peace” produced by CCTV regarding the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.

Adnan Akfırat

Adnan Akfirat is former representative to China and Member of International Relations Bureau of the Patriotic Party of Türkiye; Chairman of Turkish-Chinese Business Development and Friendship Association (Turk-Cin Is Der); visitor researcher of Shanghai University Turkish Studies Center and Shihezi University Silk Road Research Center. Mr. Akfirat has been living in Shanghai since 2011.

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June 2024