Korean lawmakers submit bill claiming Chinese territory

kando59 lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties signed and submitted a bill to the National Assembly on Friday calling for the nullification of the 1909 Gando Convention, signed by Japan and Qing Dynasty China, that recognized Chinese sovereignty over what-was-then the mostly-Korean region of Gando in return for Japanese railroad and mining concessions in Manchuria. The lawmakers claimed, “For Imperial Japan to arbitrarily hand over the territory of Joseon (Korean), not its own territory, to the Qing has no effect in international law,” The lawmakers pointed out that according to the 1952 Treaty of Peace signed between [the Republic of] China and Japan, all treaties, conventions, and agreements concluded before Dec. 9, 1941 between the two nations were to be considered null and void. They also pointed out that the Protectorate Treaty of 1905, which handed over control of Korea’s foreign policy to the Japanese, was a treaty signed signed out of compulsion, and such treaties have no effect under international law, and what’s more, the 1909 Gando Convention would have been a violation of the 1905 Protectorate Treaty even if the later were recognized as valid, which it ain’t.

The bill also stated that the Koguryo history issue wasn’t limited to just history, but connoted an intention to establish sovereignty over the Gando area. Uri Party Rep. Kim Won-ung, who is leading the bill, stressed at a press conference Friday that “while the Koguryo issue was a historical one, the Gando issue is a territorial issue with its basis in international law.” He also said, “In some quarters, they worry about causing diplomatic problems with China, but doesn’t Japan send our government an official document demanding sovereignty over the Dokdo Islets every year? Our government, too, must have a firm understanding that it cannot yield its territorial sovereignty.”

Interestingly enough, Rep. Kim — who was actually born in Chongqing, China — represents Daejeon’s Daedeok district, the site of Korea’s 2000 uranium enrichment experiment. Perhaps fortunate, too, because if you’re going to start putting territorial claims on China, you’d best hope those physicists are hard at work. Anyway, I’m sure the veteran lawmaker would appreciate any support/condemnation you might have — the BBS of his homepage can be found here, or send him an e-mail at kww@kww.or.kr

For what it’s worth, the government — and the Foreign Ministry in particular — seemed quite annoyed with what it considered extremely unhelpful behavior on the part of the ruling party. This bill, which comes hard on the heels of the delivery of a letter signed by 26 Uri Party lawmakers addressed to U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar condemning the North Korea Human Rights Act, was seen by the government as provocative and coming at a really bad time considering how recent visits by high-ranking Chinese officials resulted in what the Foreign Ministry considered a start to the solution of the Koguryo history issue. One government official, speaking to the Dong-A Ilbo, said that given how the Chinese have been arguing that the “Northeast Project” started as a defensive measure because Korea was crying about “recovering Manchuria,” the bill would strengthen Chinese claims and give them ammunition in future negotiations. The paper also suggested that with Cheong Wa Dae playing it cautiously while the hardliners spout off in the National Assembly, it could make it difficult to accurately convey Korean public opinion to China concerning the Koguryo issue, and this would not help diplomacy.

Another thing is that both the letter to Sen. Lugar and the Gando bill have proved quite embarrassing to the Uri Party leadership, according to the Dong-A. The letter was delivered to the U.S. Embassy by young first-term lawmakers in apparent disregard of the party position, and when Rep. Kim tried to push the Gando bill last month, the party leadership decided that the issue should no longer be brought up. An Yeong-geun, head of the Uri Party’s 2nd policy coordination committee, said Friday, “Is Kim calling for a territorial dispute? The bill would not be passed by the National Assembly.” What’s more — and this really makes one wonder about what the hell is going on in the ruling party — newly appointed Uri Party chief Lee Bu-yeong is actually on visit to China right now, and there’s some concern that he may now have to curtail his activities. It goes without saying the Lee’s going to get an earful from Beijing officials for something he had nothing to do with.

  • Jing

    Somehow, I think this is going to go over in China as well as a sack full of bricks.

  • Horace Jeffery Hodges

    This bill is a really bad idea.

    The overall aim of nations with an interest in Northeast Asia ought to be stability, and that is especially the case for a country like South Korea. I don’t know the history of the Gando region (yet), so I don’t know who’s right or wrong on this. But there’s a sense in which the rightness or wrongness is irrelevant. To start making territorial claims on land that is internationally recognized as belonging to another country is to set oneself up for serious problems. I would much prefer that all of the nations of Northeast Asia accept existing borders and that they make public their acceptance of these.

    The case of North vs. South Korea is, of course, different. The DMZ has always been understood to be temporary. The aim of eventual Korean reunification depends upon the stability of other borders. If China thinks that a reunited Korea is planning to open border issues over Gando (or even Goguryeo), then China will certainly never agree to permit reunification.

    Jeffery Hodges

  • BS

    “Kim Won-ung, who is leading the pill…”

    Pill? Man, you might need a week or two vacation away from Korea.

    I usually go by Bill, but I switch that to Will if I introduce myself in Korean. I remember when pill was uncomplimentary slang.

  • Mizar5

    What precisely would nullification of the 1909 Gando Convention mean? Would it be unilateral or require the written retraction of the signitors, given here as Japan and China? Were there any Korean signitors?

    Wouldn’t nullification of the treaty in fact require either a three-party summit or a Korean declaration of war? Is either scenario likely?

    What is meant by the statement that the treaty “recognized Chinese sovereignty over what-was-then the mostly-Korean region of Gando in return for Japanese railroad and mining concessions in Manchuria”? Does the fact that the area was “mostly-Korean” actually mean that it was it in fact recognized as Korean territory? Is it possible that the claim to Kangdo is weaker than implied?

    Are the lawmakers correct in asserting “For Imperial Japan to arbitrarily hand over the territory of Joseon (Korean), not its own territory, to the Qing has no effect in international law.?€? Is international law really so clear on this?

    “The bill also stated that the Koguryo history issue wasnt limited to just history, but connoted an intention to establish sovereignty over the Gando area.” Isn’t that a moot point given that such soverignty is in fact already established?

    So what does this all mean? Is it more impotent, indignant gesturing about ancient history? Or is it relevent to a current claim to that land that Korea intends to pursue through world courts?

  • Paul Webb, USA

    J. Hodges, your comments are dead-on correct. The amateurish Uri Party comes up with all these bad ideas, while the Foreign Ministry, whose veterans actually understand foreign policy, has to scramble in damage control mode. Does the head know what the tail is doing in this government?

  • WJK

    When I received grade school education in Korean from 86 to 91, we were not taught anything about Gando. Sure, I remember the region being mentioned for having a large Korean population especially in late 1800 to before 1945, but there seemed no didactic interest in labeling Gando as Korean territory. The maps made by missionaires are fascinating, though. Now I understand, though, why China wants to stress that Koguryo was a Chinese controlled nation. They don’t want a strong unified Korea claiming portions of Manchuria. I thought the South Koreans claiming Shilla ancestry gave that up since the Koryo (Korea) kingdom. Kind of silly for both sides, from my eye anyway. In my opinion, Shilla didn’t really unify Korea. They lost all of Machuria and most of North Korea in what they proudly claim as unification of Korea. And they used the help of the Chinese Tang dynasty. People who are named Kim, Park, Suk will say otherwise, though.

  • john bragg

    Well, now, if the PRC ever feels the need to gratuitously humiliate South Korea, they can demand a formal renunciation of Korean claims to territory beyond the Yalu before beginning negotiations on whatever the issue of the day is.

  • yen jun

    Heil, Fuehrer Kim! Heil, Greater Dae Han’s Neo-Nazis! Where can a copy of Mein Kampf to him be sent?

    But Fuehrer Kim might already be well-versed with Hitler’s wisdom of the ages. He’s probably familiar with the story about the chip on Der Fuehrer’s shoulder about Jews.
    A Jew is supposed to have spat on him. To wash off the stain, Hitler wiped out six million of them. Talk about holding a grudge.

    Now, maybe Fuehrer Kim had the same bad experience with Chinese during his Chongqing days. After all, spitting is a national, Olympic-worthy sport on the mainland.

    So: Fuehrer Kim deposes Roh in a coup, sweeps across the Yalu with the patriotic sons of Shilla – stand aside, FAt Boy – to force an anschluss of ROK and Gando. Just like Hitler’s Germany and Austria.

    Heil, the 10,000 year 3rd Reich! Heil, 10,000 years of Greater Dae Han!!

    After planting the Taegyukki on sacred reclaimed land, Fuehrer Kim orders the building of Auschwitz-style camps, for Dae Han’s Final Solution to the Chinese Problem. A 1.3 billion problem.

    But, if the Japs can shoot, bayonet, drown, burn and rape 300,000 (Chinese count) or 50,000 (Jap count) during six weeks in Nanjing, what can’t Koreans do, with state-of-the-art American arms?

    Heck, at last, Korea will be one-up on Japan. It swallows China without a burp, while Hirohito choked!

    We’ll show those geisha boys who’s a real warrior, with kimchi fire in the belly!

    Go,Team Shilla, go, go! Today, China. Tomorrow…the Iraq football team?

  • Sugar Shin

    Calm down, yen jun. In no sense to play down Japanese war crimes and the atrocities in Nanjing, but I hope you know the numbers of dead Chinese people during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution under Mao’s and his Communist gang’s incompetence and relativism? Kim Jong-Il has to beef up his death camps in North Korea to break the “Olympic” mass-murder record of Stalin, Mao and Hitler. Guess KJI already surpassed Cambodia’s Pol Pot.

    To compare disliked (ROK) politicians with “Nazis” and the “F?¼hrer” is so lame… eyes roll and headshakes…

  • Jing

    Some clarifications Mizar5, the 1909 Gando convention may or may not have already been nullified as the conclusion of world war 2 meant that all Sino-Japanese treaties prior to 1941 were declared null and void. However, as I mentioned earlier, the biggest wrench in Korean territorial claims over Gando is the 1962 DPRK-PRC border settlement which has dilineated the present border. Revoking this treaty would be difficult if not impossible even for a unified Korea. A parallel can be drawn to the situation in the former east and west Germany. A large section of German territory was essentially annexed by Poland (which had a portion of its own territory annexed by the Soviet Union) yet the Helsinki final accords prevented any unified claims onto this territory. Granted there was no equivalent post-war treaty in Asia that solidified contemporary boundaries yet the chances of a a shift in present borders is microscopic given the present geopolitical situation.

    As for the historical claims that Korea has on Gando, it is

  • http://blog.marmot.cc The Marmot

    That’s precisely the problem — following unification, South Korea inherits North Korea’s treaty obligations as well, including the ’62 border agreement. That won’t stop some from making arguments, but legally, it might prove difficult.

  • non korean

    North Korea has already signed Gando away as the Marmot mentioned. Korea needs to make sure not to sign away anymore land to China- namely NE port cities in North Korea.

  • http://blog.marmot.cc The Marmot

    Personally, if Korea is going to start claiming Chinese territory, I encourage it to think big. Screw Gando — Yenji is a hole. Go for Dalian — I really liked the place (if you find yourself in that neck of the woods, make sure to pay the city a visit), and it’s got Korean dog meat restaurants, so it’s as good a place as any to make a claim on.

  • Jing

    whoops, my last post somehow got cut off.

    What I was writing was that Korea certainly has a legitimate historical claim to the area of Gando. However demographics which first spurred the Korean claim (Korea’s modern claim to the Gando region mainly originates from between 1888 to 1908 when large numbers of Koreans moved into the region which had generally been uninhabited) have shifted considerably since then. The Gando territory which during the early 20th century had been roughly 80% Korean and 20% Chinese has witnessed a shift in population ratios. The Gando region, more or less the Yanbian autonomous prefecture and Changbai autonomous county, now has more Chinese(Han, Manchu, and Mongolian) than Koreans. (In Yanbian, the Korean population is roughly 40%, in Changbai only 17.6%)

    My understanding is that the historical boundary between Korea and China had been amorphus up until 1712 when an agreement was reached stipulating the border as being bound by the Yalu and Tumen rivers. The problem arises primarily on the eastern section of the border, namely which Tumen river the border refers to. Unfortunately for the Chinese, the border dispute was not resolved normally by bureaucratic organs responsible for such issues but rather by Imperial fiat, so there are few detailed records to substantiat their claims. The issue, however, had been irrelevant up until the late 19th century because the Gando region had been left uninhabited. The Qing court forbade any settlement of the area by either Han or Manchu immigrants. However, by the late 19th century, Koreans began settling the Gando region for one reason or another(economic? escaping political turmoil in Korea proper?) and this began spurring the Chinese to contest the issue. (Which was problematic as I mentioned that the Korean’s have a more verifiable claim) By 1905 when Korea in effect was annexed by Japan, the Japanese began to support the Korean claim to Gando for their own pragmatic reasons. Namely that many Korean partisans had withdrawn into Gando to continue their guerilla attacks on the Japanese occupiers. Being disputed territory, Japan would need some justification to send troops into the area to suppress them, which they found in claiming Gando as Korean territory. Eventually these claims were dropped when China granted Japan more economic concessions in Manchuria.

  • Kimbob

    Screw the Gando. It’s really a dumb ideal to try to get it back. Not only this is politically impossible, why would Korea want to gain a territory full of poverty, more mouths to feed when you have incorporation of North Korea to worry about?

    But not to worry, this bill has the same chance of passing as my chance of me winning the jackpot lottery ticket.

  • http://- yen jun

    Sugar Shin:

    Just a bit of fun. All politicos, wherever they come from, are a circus act in themselves.

    Yup, some of the worst atrocities in China during modern times have been under Mao.

  • Mizar5

    Kimbob, although from what I’ve read here so far, it would appear that the Korean claim to Gando is fairly far-fetched, there are some pretty good reasons for Korea to get her hands on it.

    Some economists say that it takes a market of 125 million for a nation to be self-sustaining. Japan’s population is 127,050,000, the US’s is 290,809,777 and Korea’s is a meager 48,598,175. Internal markets are why a negative balance of trade is not devestating for the US but would be a disaster for Korea.

    Korea is currently dependent on outside nations for export growth, imports and military protection. But she could become a more independent nation given the land, population and geographical military buffer. Right now capital is fleeing Korea at an alarming pace. Korean capital is being used to revitalize areas in major cities in the US, and could revitalize Kando.

    Tenuous as the claim to Kando may be, borders are by no means perpetually fixed, and Korea may well have a shot at Kando.

    Once we overcome our internal struggles and begin to train our military hardware outward, we may have a shot. In my opinion, a unified Korea could become a major arms exporter and provide military assistance around the globe, perhaps providing a balance to China’s growing influence. That is, if we ever get serious about our economy and learn to work better within the global economy.

  • http://simonworld.mu.nu/archives/044408.php Simon World

    Asia by Blog
    Today’s edition of Asian blogging’s best: Hong Kong, Taiwan and China Myrick says here today, gone tomorrow, or why is it Communists like Photoshop so much? Western cultural imperialism is helping China earn more. I’m just not sure that this is a “…

  • mw

    “a unified Korea could become a major arms exporter and provide military assistance around the globe, perhaps providing a balance to China?€™s growing influence.”

    not likely, the major powers don’t really trust the koreans.

  • Jing

    Fresh from the Korea times.

    By Ryu Jin
    Staff Reporter

    President Roh Moo-hyun’s diplomatic ignorance and rudeness prompted China to turn the dispute over the Koguryo kingdom into a full-scale diplomatic row, a former South Korean legislator claimed Monday. Jang Sung-min, a former opposition lawmaker, argued that the Koguryo dispute escalated to a full-blown dispute when Roh angered high-level Beijing officials by suggesting “dual nationality” for ethnic Koreans living in China’s northeastern region.

    “When Zhao Nanqi, former vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, visited Seoul in June, President Roh asked him to deliver his wish to Chinese officials that ethnic Koreans in China be eligible for Korean nationality as well,” he said in a radio program. “Roh’s remarks shocked Zhao, who was barely able to stop himself from directly retorting,” he said, quoting who he called a reliable source familiar with the diplomatic issue. Chong Wa Dae flatly denied Jang’s allegation.

    Zhao, 77, a retired general in the Chinese army with the Korean name Cho Nam-qi, was the highest-ranking ethnic Korean in the Chinese leadership. He made a visit to Seoul in June for a security-related forum. Most Koreans believe Koguryo, a kingdom of hunting tribes that ruled much of modern day North Korea and Chinese Manchuria from 37 B.C. to A.D. 668, is an essential part of their history. Both South and North Koreans take pride in the legacy of Koguryo, especially its independent spirit, military might and cultural achievements.

    But Beijing has recently made efforts to lay claim to Koguryo history in a systematic campaign, behind which many experts suggest it feared that one day the two million ethnic Koreans, better known as “Chosonjok,” will support a “greater Korea” that will spill over modern borders after the possible reunification of the peninsula. “For China, which comprises 55 minority races, President Roh’s call must have been regarded as a near diplomatic threat,” Jang said, describing Roh’s remarks as a critical diplomatic fiasco.

    Chong Wa Dae, the presidential office, said Jang’s allegation is “totally groundless.” “Mr. Jang’s allegation is totally untrue,” Kim Man-soo, a Chong Wa Dae vice spokesperson, told reporters. “President Roh has made no request nor any assertion while meeting with Zhao at that time.” He added the presidential office, however, was not considering any legal action to cope with the false allegation.

    In case anyone is curious about Zhao Nanqi, or any other prominent politicians in China today, China Vitae is a great place to start. Too few people have even the slimest understanding of contemporary Chinese politics let alone the backgrounds of the politicians. China Vitae is a great place to start learning.

    Here is what China Vitae has on Zhao Nanqi.

    Zhao Nanqi, Vice-Chairman of the 9th CPPCC National Committee, Former Director of the PLA General Logistics Department
    Born: 1926, Jilin Province, Yongji County

    Zhao Nanqi (aka Cho Nam Oi), male, Korean nationality, was born in 1926 in Yongji, Jilin Province. He joined the PLA in 1945 and the CPC in 1947. He graduated from the PLA Logistics Academy and then served in the Korean War. Between 1955 and 1957, he studied again at the PLA Logistics Academy and for the next 20 years conducted political work for the PLA in Jilin Province. From 1984 to 1985, he served as political commissar for the PLA military district of Jilin Province.

    From 1987 until 1992, Zhao was director and Party secretary of the PLA General Logistics Department and a member of the PLA Central Military Commission. Zhao, who was ranked general in 1988, was president of the PLA Academy of Military Sciences from 1992 to 1995.

    Zhao was a member of the 12th, 13th and 14th CPC Central Committees, vice-chairman of the Nationalities Committee of the 5th NPC, and vice-chairman of the 9th CPPCC National Committee.

    A lot of the postings are more or less honorific (CPPCC) however, the posting as director of the PLA logistics department, membership in the central committee, and president of the military academy of sciences means he probably has a degree of influence in decision making. It would certainly be ironic if recent PRC claims to Koguryo were in fact supported in some manner by ethnic Koreans politicians in China :)

  • http://blog.marmot.cc/archives/2004/09/09/gando-madness/ The Marmot’s Hole Beware the Gando Card!

    […] A few days ago, I blogged that a group of 59 lawmakers signed and submitted a bill to […] A few days ago, I blogged that a group of 59 lawmakers signed and submitted a bill to http://blog.marmot.cc/archives/2004/09/04/korean-lawmakers-submit-bill-claiming-chinese-territory/“ target=”_blank” title=”Marmot’s Hole: Korean lawma […]

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