S. Korea leader to at­tend China’s cel­e­bra­tions of the end of WWII

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye will travel to main­land China next month to at­tend a cer­e­mony mark­ing the an­niver­sary of vic­tory over Ja­pan in World War II, her of­fice said Thurs­day.

China plans to hold a se­ries of events to com­mem­o­rate the an­niver­sary, in­clud­ing a lav­ish mil­i­tary pa­rade fea­tur­ing aerial dis­plays and its latest weapons.

Park’s of­fice said in a state­ment she will at­tend a Sept. 3 an­niver­sary cer­e­mony. But her aides said Park re­mains un­de­cided on at­tend­ing the mil­i­tary pa­rade set for the same day.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin is ex­pected to at­tend the Chi­nese cel­e­bra­tions though many Western lead­ers won’t do so.

Ja­pan col­o­nized the Korean Penin­sula and oc­cu­pied parts of China be­fore and dur­ing World War II. Many peo­ple in South Korea and China still har­bor bit­ter re­sent­ment against Ja­pan.

Main­land China as­sisted North Korea and fought against South Korea dur­ing the 1950-53 Korean War, while Amer­i­can-led U.N. troops fought along­side South Korea. China and South Korea now have boom­ing trade ties.

China is North Korea’s last ma­jor ally and big­gest aid bene­fac­tor. It’s not known if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will at­tend the Chi­nese cer­e­monies. If he at­tends, it would be his first known travel out­side the coun­try since tak­ing power upon the death of his dic­ta­tor fa­ther Kim Jong Il in late 2011.

Ear­lier this year, there was spec­u­la­tion Kim would at­tend May’s Vic­tory Day cel­e­bra­tion in Rus­sia. But Kim even­tu­ally didn’t go and sent his par­lia­ment head to the event that marked the 70th an­niver­sary of the Soviet Union’s vic­tory over Nazi Ger­many in World War II.

China has not specif­i­cally said pub­licly who it has in­vited and most world lead­ers have de­clined to com­ment.

How­ever, at­ten­dance is con­sid­ered prob­lem­atic for at least three rea­sons, of­fer­ing suf­fi­cient cause for for­eign lead­ers to main­tain their dis­tance.

Many na­tions, in­clud­ing those as far away as Great Bri­tain, have re­cently crit­i­cized main- land China’s ag­gres­sive mil­i­tary moves in the seas on its pe­riph­ery, in­clud­ing build­ing new, mil­i­tary sig­nif­i­cant is­lands in the South China Sea.

There is also con­cern that the pa­rade is be­ing used to build in­ter­na­tional sup­port for main­land China in its on­go­ing ri­valry with Ja­pan.

Some also worry about the im­agery of for­eign lead­ers at­tend­ing a mil­i­tary pa­rade ad­ja­cent to Tianan­men Square, the heart of a stu­dent-led pro-democ­racy move­ment in 1989 that was blood­ily sup­pressed by the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, an in­ci­dent that main­land China re­fuses to in­ves­ti­gate in­de­pen­dently and de­fends as jus­ti­fied to pre­serve na­tional unity.

AP

South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye speaks dur­ing a lun­cheon meet­ing with mem­bers of char­ity groups at pres­i­den­tial house in Seoul, Thurs­day, Aug. 20.

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