Sixty-five years is a long time to hold a grudge. The newspaper headlines say there has been a thaw in relations between the United States and North Korea, which says it wants to talk with the United States. We assume China has something to do with the thawing.
But the main reason is, as President Donald Trump says, North Korea is feeling the impact from sanctions. The proof is at border crossings between China and North Korea. There is little activity. Not long ago there were hundreds of trucks lined up at some checkpoints between the two countries.
The trucks were filled with food, building materials and other consumer goods bound for North Korea. On their return trips, there were North Korean exports of seafood, coal and garments. The sanctions were imposed by the U.S. and other countries in an attempt to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons buildup.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the sanctions are hitting local Chinese businesses hard “and starting to bite inside North Korea.”
North Korea is using South Korean officials to urge peaceful dialogue.
This writer’s mistrust of North Korea and China goes back to an incident that happened 65 years ago. It was in the Korean War in July 1953.
While with an infantry company, we had heard for at least two months that a ceasefire was about to happen. When word came July 27, 1953, that the ceasefire was to go into effect that night at 10 p.m., troops on line at the time were skeptical. In early July, the Chinese troops launched their biggest attack in two years. South Korean and American units were overrun.
Our infantry company had been in a blocking position for several days. On the final night of the shooting, our company was ordered to replace a Greek company, which had suffered casualties. In the United Nations’ war effort, the Greeks were assigned to our division, the 3rd Infantry Division. When we arrived at the Greeks’ position, they were glad to see us, and fearing more shelling on the route to the rear, they decided to stay with us for the rest of the night.
With the Greek company’s forward observer as a partner, we had a good view of “no man’s land.” By the way, there was a language barrier. The rules of the ceasefire included that no troops from either side were to enter “no man’s land” after 10 p.m. the night of July 27. At daybreak, the area we had an excellent view of in “no man’s land,” was swarming with Chinese and a few North Korean troops in violation of the ceasefire. An American artillary unit had been overrun in the Chinese attack a few weeks prior to the ceasefire. They were stealing the American artillary unit’s equipment, even 105 howitzer cannons — anything they could get their hands on.
We asked for permission from battalion to fire on them. The answer was that the U.S. was going to abide by the ceasefire rules — no firing.
From that time on, for 65 years, we have not trusted the Chinese or North Koreans. Agreements mean nothing to them. The upmost caution must prevail in dealing with them.
They can’t be trusted.