Weekly Insights and Analysis

Obama in Seoul: Underscoring the Sino-U.S. Gap on North Korea

November 17, 2010

By Scott Snyder

Although the main stories of the Obama visit to Korea revolved around the gap between the United States and China on global rebalancing issues at the G-20 and the failure of Presidents Obama and Lee to tee up the KORUS FTA, a third issue arose that dramatizes Sino-U.S. differences over the Korean peninsula.

At a Veterans’ Day event with U.S. troops hosted at Yongsan, President Obama stated that “Sixty years have come and gone since the communist armies first crossed the 38th Parallel … as we look around in this thriving democracy and its grateful, hopeful citizens, one thing is clear:  This was no tie. This was victory.” These comments mark a dramatic contrast with the views of China’s heir apparent, Vice President Xi Jinping, who stated the Korean War as “a great and just war for safeguarding peace and resisting aggression. … It was also a great victory gained by the united combat forces of China’s and the DPRK’s civilians and soldiers, and a great victory in the pursuit of world peace and human progress” in comments commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of China’s entry into the Korean War only a few weeks ago.

Read the full piece on the Council on Foreign Relations blog Asia Unbound.

Scott Snyder directs The Asia Foundation’s Center for U.S.-Korea Policy. He can be reached at

Related locations: Korea
Related topics: Center for U.S.-Korea Policy


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