09/08/2006, 00.00

Seoul: "Beijing revising history to destroy our national unity"

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young

Members of the Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee of the South Korean parliament have complained about the Chinese government's approval of university textbooks describing Korea as "part of China". China's perceived imposition with regard to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games has also come under fire.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee of the South Korean parliament yesterday denounced Beijing's distortion of history in university textbooks and its attempts to damage the nation's spirit and national integrity.

The members of the Commission also criticized the approach of the Blue House [presidential cabinet] towards the matter, saying it was "low profile".

The MPs claimed China was doing its utmost – thanks to its international economic clout and the pressure it could bring to bear – to register Mt Paektu as a UNESCO world heritage site and was pushing to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games near the mountain.

The MPs said: "Beijng is not taking into account, or is even deliberately ignoring, the fact that Koreans consider the mount as a sacred place. This is a bid to damage Koreans' spirit and territorial integrity."

The Chinese government ''Northeastern Project,'' introduced in 2002, also came under fire: starting out as an official university project, it has claimed Korea "originated from China" and that the northern part of the peninsula "was ruled by a local government of China in ancient times".

The results of the research sparked street protests and in August 2004, China's vice foreign minister was obliged to visit Seoul. During that visit, the Communist politician agreed not to make history "a political issue".

After the new university textbooks were approved, a representative of the Korean commission said "the agreement has not been entirely violated" but he underlined the "necessity to use diplomacy to prevent Beijing from making the research results its official stand on the matter."

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