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Mao’s Martyrs

Revolutionary Heroism, Sacrifice, and China’s Tragic Romance of the Korean War

by Pingchao Zhu

China entered into the Korean War at a critical historical moment: the new Communist regime had just celebrated its first anniversary in October 1950. In military strength and industrial capacity, China was no match for its opponent, the well-equipped and well-supplied United Nations Command (UNC) under the United States military command leadership. What China could rely on the most was its massive manpower and its political propaganda entrenched in the Marxist doctrine of anti-imperialism and internationalism.

On October 8, 1950, Mao Zedong—the Chair of the Chinese People’s Military Commission—issued an executive order to organize the army of the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) to lend its support to its North Korean comrades-in-arms. Mao elaborated on the nature of China’s decision to enter into the Korean conflict as “to assist [North] Korean people’s liberation war, to resist the aggression of the American imperialists and their running dogs, and to protect the interests of the [North] Korean people, the Chinese people, as well as countries in Asia.”(1)

In every way, the Chinese government strove to galvanize its population into the belief that they were fighting a just war. Mao had always paid special attention to the role of political mobilization for war. “It is utmost important to let our military and people know the political purpose of the war,” Mao emphasized. “It is highly necessary to explain to every soldier and every citizen why the war is to be fought and how the fighting is related to them.”(2) Characteristically, the war waged by China was not simply portrayed as a conflict in Korea: it was dubbed by the Chinese authority as Kangmei Yuanchao, Baojia Weiguo, namely “the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid [North] Korea” and “Defend Homeland and Protect Our Country.”(3)

When the People’s Daily carried articles on U.S. bombing of China’s border cities, they showed bloody bodies and burned houses, making the war in Korea personal to the Chinese people. Editorials of the People’s Daily condemned American imperialists to “have brought the war to the Yalu River border…Until the war on the Korean Peninsula ceases, there will be no peace along the Yalu River.”(4) This government controlled newspaper did a great job to connect the war in Korea to the life and death for new China. The term “唇亡齿寒” was used to imply the mutual interdependence of China and North Korea as bordering countries when one fall the other would be in danger.(5)  Instantly, the fundamental interest of the Chinese people came to be tied closely to the outcome of the war on the Korean Peninsula: the only way to resolve this crisis was to send in China’s support to the Korean people.  For China, the war of kangmei yuanchao was not only to be fought, but also one to win.  

The new Chinese Communist regime wasted no time generating massive popular support for the war effort. With enthusiasm and inspiration came national unity, and citizens’ dedication and determination to make sacrifice for the cause. In October 19, 1950, the first wave of the CPV’s four infantry armies, 260,000 in strength, crossed the Yalu River into North Korea.  One week later, the National Headquarters of the Chinese People’s Kanmei Yuanchao was officially established to provide leadership to support China’s war effort.(6) Vigorous political mobilization under a national movement of the Great War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid [North] Korea began unfolding on the home front.

While popular support called the war “a holy struggle,” official propaganda made the war a crusade for victory over the American imperialism. National unity, self-confidence, determination, and indignation were translated into the actions of massive monetary donations, high working spirit, flaunting patriotism, and positive responses to military recruitment. In June 1951, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party issued calls for the signing of Patriotic Agreements among the populace and for donation of weaponry to the war front. By May 1952, contributions from people from all walks of life reached $180 million—enough to purchase 3,710 fighter jets.(7) Enthusiasm overwhelmed the society and population. A Seventy-Six years old janitor from Hunan Province sent in earnings from fetching water to buy weaponry for the war. School children gave their pocket money hoping to buy a jet in their names. A well-known Yu Opera actress, Chang Xiangyu, hosted 170 fund raising performances in six months, and purchased a fighter plane in her name for the war front. Even Buddhist institutions were inspired to collect contributions from monks to fund a fighter plane to be named “Buddhism.”(8)  Undoubtedly, the entire population had been rallied behind the country’s war effort.

Following the CPV troops into the Korean battlefield were other voluntary units, including railroad workers, transportation divisions, and over 6,000 of medical staff. Successful propaganda was able to unite the entire population behind the country’s war effort. Patriotic sentiment elevated the general love for homeland to a higher romantic emotion for motherland. “To fight US aggression and aid North Korea,” a People’s Daily editorial asserted, “is to defend our own homeland.”(9)  Without the security of the country, how could the safety of our homeland be possible?  When the war approached China’s doorstep, the Chinese people should not be standing idle with folded arms. The hatred toward U.S. imperialism were transformed into a massive willingness to contribute whatever little wealth of the Chinese—as well as much greater manpower—for the greater national interests. Patriotism and international obligation persuaded the Chinese people to believe firmly “why a war is necessary.”(10)

War demands commitment and sacrifice. The Communist authority enshrined the ideal of revolutionary heroism into their wartime culture of patriotism and martyrdom.   According to Communist theory, revolutionary heroism is the opposite of individual heroism. While the former emphasized the ideal and action where one dares to fight and eventually give his life for the revolutionary cause he believed in and to make sacrifice for the public interest and masses, the latter was described as focusing on individual fame and self-interest.

Mao expounded in 1945 on the features revolutionary heroism: “This army embraces the spirit of moving forward unstoppably and of overwhelming all enemies, but never to be overcome. Under any circumstance, as long as there is one man left, he must fight to the end.”(11) Since the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921, the Chinese Communists had upheld the tradition that previous revolutionary martyrs had laid down their lives for the revolutionary cause, and for the brighter future of a Communist China.  These martyrs, according to Zhu De, one of Communist China’s most prominent military commanders, “would not only sacrifice part of their own interests, but also their own lives without hesitation, for the sake of revolutionary interest and needs.”(12) This was the very essence of revolutionary heroism: one person’s sacrifice for millions of people’s lives, and for the nation’s security. The Korean War provided a great opportunity for every Chinese, soldiers or not, to embrace the spirit of revolutionary heroism.

The orgy of propaganda over the Great Kangmei Yuanchao Movement not only promoted China’s participation in the Korean War, but also brought to the forefront soldiers of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.  They answered the call to arms to march to the Korean battlefields, with inadequate military equipment and insufficient supplies, including winter clothes.(13) Yet, the military seemed to remain in high spirit, having the entire nation behind them.

In every corner of the homeland, young people, men and women from all walks of life—including many college students—rushed to military recruiting stations to register for the military, and go to the war. Reportedly, about three million young men and women joined the CPV forces.(14)   In public rallies, factories and farmlands, enthusiastic Chinese patriotically sent their youngsters off to war in Korea. During the span of the Korean War period China was not short of manpower for soldiers.

On the eve of troops deployment to the Korean front in October 1950, the CPV soldiers pledged, “We are the soldiers of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. In order to protect our victory, to support [North] Korean liberation, to defend our homeland, and for world peace, we volunteer to fight in Korea to defeat American aggression.”(15) The military pledge was followed by the CPV battle hymn:

Valiantly and spiritedly, we cross the Yalu River,
To defend peace is to safeguard our motherland;
United, the Chinese heroic sons and daughters,
Resist America, Aid (North) Korea, defeat the U.S. devilish aggressors!(16)

The CPV combat hymn made its soldiers feel like valiant warriors for Communist crusade, with no fear but only courage and commitment.

Facing mounting difficulties upon entering the war to fight the UNC troops, led by the most powerful military in the world, Mao and the Chinese leadership were worried about the CPV fighting capacity on the Korean battlefield. At the same time, Mao embraced a strong belief that a weak army could win the war against a strong enemy “because he was convinced that ‘man’ could beat ‘weapon.’”(17) The CPV soldiers, armed with revolutionary heroism, would beat the American aggressors who were equipped not only with the most advanced military technology but also the most powerful weapon, the atomic bombs. Mao wished, and the entire country hoped, that the massive number of CPV troops would find the way to beat the technologically advanced weapons of the UNC.  

The CPV soldiers indeed lived up to the expectations of their countrymen. Reports from the Korean warfront spoke highly and positively of the CPV campaigns. One month after the CPV went into action in the war, a young army officer working at the PLA Political Headquarters by the name of Wei Wei went to the Korean battle front where he witnessed the war and the bloody fighting. He came back in three months with an essay entitled “Who Are the Most beloved People,” published by the People’s Daily on April 11, 1951. Wei’s pen recreated the life, fighting, and death of the CPV soldiers, and captured vividly something people in China would not have known or seen. “Every day I was in Korea,” Wei reflected, “I was moved by something…I began to feel deeply who the most beloved people were…They were our [CPV] troops, and they were our soldiers.”(18) These soldiers, according to Wei, were prideful of what they were doing, sitting in foxholes on battlefield so that their countrymen could enjoy sunshine in the park.

After reading Wei’s essay, Mao instructed the distribution of copies throughout the army. For over half a century, Wei’s essay remained a classic piece to be included in textbooks of contemporary literature, from junior high school to college. “The Most Beloved People” became the synonym of the CPV soldiers. The care packages sent to the Korean battlefield were printed with “To the Most Beloved People.” A celebrated symbol of revolutionary heroism was reconstructed in front of the entire nation.

Wei praised the bravery and virtue of the CPV soldiers, in a fashion similar to when Pericles spoke of it in his funeral oration to the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War in the 5th century B.C. Wei’s extolment of the CPV soldiers seemed to prove the unlimited human power sustained by revolutionary heroism, when one CPV company fought to kill some 300 enemies while suffering heavy casualties by overwhelming enemy fire power from air bombing, tank and artillery, flame thrower, as well as strong frontal assaults. But they managed to hold onto the position until the arrival of reinforcement.

This ancient idea that warriors, “because of their godliness and virtue, can vanquish strong opponents,” was shared by many. One historian noted that “the Christian crusaders counted on it. Jihad, Islam’s conception of a holy war, is based on it. The [Japanese] Samurai believed it. So did the Nazis.”(19) In the case of the CPV forces in Korea, the sentiment of the Kangmei Yuanchao Movement empowered the CPV soldiers to believe they were fighting a just war for a just cause, and a just cause was invincible.

Mao’s strategy in proving “man can beat weapon” lay in his using at least four times larger, if not more, in number of troops, and 1.5 to two times bigger the fire power than that of the enemy’s in order to eliminate them.(20)  The concept of “human wave” was born. As a result, more martyrs were in the making, and more sacrifices would be added to the national glory and international stardom.

In war, death can conveniently transcend to a higher realm of nobility. When death casualties of the CPV soldiers were reported back home, the nation and the people seemed to have little time to grieve. The authorities wanted everyone at home to “turn grief into strength, sorrow for the loss of loved ones into hatred toward the American imperialism.” Sacrifice for the Chinese nation and world peace was a glorious deed. “As a prideful CCP member,” one anonymous CPV soldier wrote the night before he was to die defending the hill top, “[I] must give my life…for the victory…for my motherland.”(21)  Official propagandists and writers joined hands in exalting the CPV’s courageous fighting and heroic death on the Korean battlefield, transforming bloody carnage into a national indignation. When Mao praised the heroic fighting spirit of the CPV troops, saying, “Our soldiers and cadres are resourceful and brave to look death in the face,” everything else became overshadowed by the rising stature of the CPV soldiers.(22)

The People’s Daily, as the primary government media outlet, continued to dominate the political propaganda. While war zone reports focused on portraying heroic actions of the CPV soldiers on the battlefield and general campaign developments in Korea, several reports on CPV martyrs were given special attention at the national level. And the exceptional way of death on the battlefield gave revolutionary heroism a new meaning.

The fall of 1951 saw the Korean War entering into a state of tactical offense for the UNC, but tactical defense for the CPV. In October, the UNC was prepared for the launching of Operation Showdown in the area of Iron Triangle, with the US Eighth Army Corps facing five CPV armies. On the night of October 11, 52 CPV soldiers from the 9th Company, 87th Regiment, 29th Division of the 15th Army undertook an undercover operation at the foot of Hill 391. They had to “lie in wait” with camouflage cover in bushes for over twenty hours before the final assault was to take place. By noon the next day the South Korean force by the hill post launched several fire bombs into the CPV soldiers’ hiding location, causing the scrubs to burst into flame. The blaze caught the camouflage cover of a CPV soldier in the name of Qiu Shaoyun. He could have roll over to put out the fire, but doing that would have exposed the hiding place of his crew and jeopardized the entire mission. Instead, Qiu remained steadfast by clutching his hands into the dirt until he was burned to death. His sacrifice, according to the CPV field headquarters, won the time for the CPV final assault on the hill position.

One week later on October 19, the UNC launched Operation Showdown in an attempt to take over Hill 397.9, also known by the Americans as Triangle Hill. In one of the CPV uphill attacks, Huang Jiguang of the 2nd Company, 135th Regiment, 45th Division of the 15th Army threw his own body to block enemy’s machine gun fire after he ran out of ammunition. While Huang Jiguang was posthumously awarded the “Supreme Hero,” Qiu Shaoyun received the title of the “First Rank Hero” by the CPV headquarters in Korea. They were both posthumously granted members of the Chinese Communist Party, and the grateful North Korean government presented them medals of “Korean National Hero.”(23)

The People’s Daily carried articles on the consummate valor of the two exceptional CPV soldiers by emphasizing their heroic deaths. In the process of praising the conspicuous gallantry and indomitable courage, above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy, the Chinese nation and its people were to remember how the CPV martyrs died more than how they lived.  Reports from the official sources turned the two heroes into an image that was not unfamiliar to the entire nation: the transformation of the most beloved to the memory of the most beloved dead.

Soon, stories about the heroic deeds of the two martyrs were compiled into textbooks for school students. Literature and other media competed to contribute to that feat of glorification. In order to elevate the supreme sacrifice and inspirational action of the heroes, one situation was added later to Qiu Shaoyun’s death: there was a creek by his side when he was on fire. Rolling down to the creek could have saved his life, but he did not. This chance of survival was given up by the hero for the sake of the victory.(24) “Eternal life to the CPV martyrs!” the People’s Daily applauded.

As one historian who studied heroes in Nazi Germany commented, “Death in battle not only guaranteed eternal life for the martyrs, but also acted as a resurgent life force for the Fatherland. Death in combat took on the ennobling force of a sacrament.”(25) Communist revolutionary heroism ensured eternal life in propaganda for those who died for the revolutionary cause. Both Huang Jiguang and Qiu Shaoyun pledged before going into battle that they were willing to “give their lives for the victory.” Now they had achieved just that, dying a heroic death fighting the most powerful country in the world, the United States. The state apparatus rigorously created a specific account of the heroism of the CPV soldiers, who lived for the life of their motherland, and who died for the peace of the Korean people. In life they were part of the “most beloved,” and in death they joined the immortals.

According to the most updated Chinese statistics, some 183,000 CPV soldiers died in the Korean War.(26) About ninety-eight percent of them were buried in North Korea.(27) A very special martyr was among these heroic souls buried in North Korea. He was Mao Anying, Mao Zedong’s the eldest son, who died in an American air raid in November 25, 1950 while working in the CPV headquarters in North Korea. Upon hearing the news, Mao’s response was calm but solemn:

In war there must be sacrifice. So many CPV soldiers have given their lives
already. As a proletarian fighter and a CCP member, Anying has done his duty…
He is an ordinary soldier of the CPV. His death should not be made a big issue
just because he is my son…Why can’t a son of the CCP chair be making sacrifice
for the common cause of the Chinese and Korean peoples?(28)

Although it is difficult to verify the authenticity of Mao’s comments, the ideas between the lines reflected Mao’s mindset as the chief engineer of China’s participation in the Korean War. Mao believed that death was an unavoidable thing in war, and that he and everyone would have to be ready to endure that burden if it came. Mao insisted that his son was to be buried in North Korea alongside majority of the CPV martyrs.(29) Between 1953 and 1960, Mao met with the mother of CPV martyr Huang Jiguang three times. The publicity further affirmed the nobility of China’s cause in the Korean War, and the reality of how an ordinary mother bore the burden of her son’s death in Korea. But a mother’s pride would conquer her pain—to show that national glory would eventually justify many more sacrifices. Equally important, a father and national leader’s pride for his son would allow the entire nation to accept the cost of war and sacrifice.

Sixty-one years later on March 28, 2014, remains of 437 CPV soldiers were returned by South Korea to China.(30) In order to mark this memorable moment, the Chinese government has expanded the Shengyang Kangmei Yuanchao Cemetery to be able to accommodate at least 900 more CPV solders’ remains. Trucks that carried the remains were also trimmed with banners eulogizing “Eternal Martyrs Forever in History” and “Motherland and Our People Forever Remember You!”(31) At least superficially, the Chinese government seems to endorse the glorious statue of the fallen CPV soldiers when they headed home in coffins.

With the signing of the Armistice Agreement in July 1953, the fighting in Korea came to a temporary halt. The three-year long hot war in Korea cost China $3.2 billion, with nearly 2.3 million troops fighting in the war.(32) The country threw nearly seventy-five percent of its military forces into combat in Korea, suffering a daring one million casualties. Two months later at the Chinese Central People’s Government Conference, Mao delivered an inspirational speech. “We have won a great victory in the war to resist U.S. aggression and aid [North] Korea,” Mao declared, “We fought American imperialism, an enemy wielding weapons many times superior to ours; and yet we were able to win and forced it to agree to a truce.”(33) This self-righteous vision embraced by Mao dominated the mood of China throughout the Korean War period. Regardless of the outcome of the fighting in Korea, China insisted that it achieved great victory over the American imperialism. The cease-fire status on the Korean Peninsula was something the Chinese government refused to accept, and the public ignored the cruel question: were China’s million casualties and billions of war expenditures worth the cease-fire which still separates the Korean Peninsula? For China the war without a victory would soon become a forgotten one.

Yet, the nation would have to live with one frustrating, if not embarrassing, reality when only one-third, 7,100 out of 21,000, of the CPV prisoners of war (POW) chose to be repatriated back to China at the end of the war.(34) In the fall of 1953, upon crossing the border from North Korea into China, the CPV repatriates were rounded up in a place known as “Returnees Management Administration” (guiguanchu, RMA), which was to supervise the debriefing and other administrative details. They were told that the authority had already learned about their “heroic action” on the Korean front, and now they must confess their “disloyalty” while in enemy captivity.

For nearly ten months from November 1953 to September 1954, the so-called debriefing and political reeducation proceedings put the CPV repatriates through hell of soul searching in the dark. Almost overnight these “most beloved” CPV soldiers “became turncoats, traitors, spies, cowards, and the ‘most cursed.’”(35) The outcome for the CPV repatriates was very dismal and disheartening: 91.8 percent of the Communist Party members were stripped of their membership and the remaining received political reprimand and warning. About 11.5 percent were expelled from military roll with dishonorable discharge, and 76 percent were able to retain their military roll only up to the point when they were captured. All received no pension for the time they served in the military.(36)  

The reason they received this type of punishment was clear: they became POWs instead of dying on the battlefield in Korea. “There is no such a vocabulary,” one RMA staff screamed to the CPV repatriates at the study session, “ ‘to be captured’ in our Communist dictionary.” “To become a POW means ‘losing one’s honor.’” “You are guilty to the people to return as a POW.” “If you are a Communist member, you should have died fighting [on the battlefield]. Why did you even come back alive?”(37) With these assumptions, all repatriates were presumed guilty, regardless of their performance on the battlefields and how they were captured. The POW status sealed the fate and political life of the CPV repatriates. In comparison to the heroic actions of Huang Jiguang and Qiu Shaoyun, becoming POWs, a disgraceful stance, was no doubt an action of cowardice and a statement of betrayal.  

Ironically, the ending of the Korean War, with an armistice and the return of the CPV POWs, seemed to have cast a spell on China’s sacrifice and devotion to the Korean War.  Throughout the war, Mao and the Chinese authority made good use of the propaganda apparatus to promote revolutionary heroism, and placed individual CPV soldiers’ deaths within the context of homeland security and world peace, which demanded sacrifice to safeguard a nation’s survival. China’s heroes were given an active role as they walked toward death with courage and vigor.

There was no doubt that the CPV soldiers sincerely believed in why and what they were fighting for in Korea. Death seemed to be more justifiable than life to acquire the title of revolutionary hero. Retrospectively, the Korean War has occupied a special place in Communist China’s contemporary history. Sending millions of China’s best to fight in Korea was no easy decision for Mao and the new leadership to make. In an ironic way, China’s participation in the Korean War generated more positive impact at international level than at home. For Mao and Communist China, the sacrifice of a few hundred thousand CPV soldiers in the war might be a price worth paying—to change international political geography and international developments in the decades that followed.


(1) Jianguo yilai Mao Zedong wengao [Manuscripts of Mao Zedong since the Founding of China], Sept. 1949-Dec. 1950 (Zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 1987), 1:543.

(2) Mao Zedong, “Lun chijiuzhan,” [On the Protracted War] in Mao Zedog junshi wenxuan [Selected Works of Mao Zedong’s Military Thought], (Beijing: Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun zhong zhengzhibu chubanshe, 1961), 218.

(3) It is interesting to see how the opposing sides named the war they participated in Korea. Both the U.S. and South Korea called it the “Korean War.” North Korea termed it “War of Fatherland Liberation,” while the Chinese dubbed it “the War to Resist America and Aid [North] Korea.” See volume from the Chinese Military Museum, Kangmei yuanchao zhanzheng [The War to Resist America and Aid Korea], (Renmin chubanshe 2000), 24.

(4) Zhao Peng, “Kangmei yuanchao yundong chuqi 《Renmin Ribao》 xuanchuan fangshi fenxi,”[Analysis of the Propaganda Patterns of the People’s Daily during Early Period during the Movement of Resisting US Aggression and Aiding Korea], in Zhonggong dangshi yanjiu [The CCP History Studies], Issue 7, 2010, 110-11.

(5) The term, 唇亡齿寒, literarily means that if lips are gone, the teeth will be feeling cold and helpless.

(6) The official title of the national headquarters was known as “The Commission of the Chinese People to Defend World Peace and Oppose US Aggression.” See Kangmei yuanchao zhanzheng, 2000, 24.

(7) Kangmei yuanchao zhanzheng, 2000, 36 and, accessed, Dec. 26, 2012. The money amount was fifteen-five trillion Yuan, old currency, equal to 557 million Yuan in new currency, or US$180 million.

(8) It is believed that those donated airplanes were never flown in combat mission.

(9) People’s Daily, November 6, 1950, 1.

(10) Wang Xianling, “Lun kangmei yuanchao yundong zhong minzhong de aiguo qinggan jiaoyu” [On the Patriotic Education of the General Public during the Movement to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea], Journal of Zhengzhou University, Vol. 46, No. 4, (July 2013), 153.

(11) Mao Zedong, “Lun lianhe zhengfu” [On the Coalition Government], in Mao Zedong junshi wenxuan [Selected Works of Mao Zedong’s Military Thought],1961, 284.

(12) Zhu De, “Balujun xinsijun de yingxiong zhuyi” [Heroism in the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army], People’s Daily, July 7, 1944, 1.

(13) Prior to China’s entry into the Korean War, Stalin promised to provide the CPV with necessary military equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and artillery support. But when the Chinese leadership finalized CPV deployment to Korea, Stalin informed Mao on October 11, 1950 that the Soviet Air Force would not be ready for two or more months. Two days later, Mao decided that the CPV deployment to Korea remained unchanged, regardless of the lack of Soviet air support. See Pang Xianzhi & Li Jie, Mao Zedong yu kangmei yuanchao [Mao Zedong and the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea], (Beijing: Zhong-yang wenxian chubanshe, 2000), 25-26.

(14) In Zhejiang Province with a population of 20 million, for example, about one million signed up at the military recruitment center. See Kou Wen & Shuang Shi, “Donating Airplanes to fight against Americans,” in Jiefangjun shenghuo [PLA Life], Special Edition for the 50th Anniversary of the Victory of the War of Kangmei Yuanchao, Issue 32, (2000), 27.

(15) “Zhongguo renmin zhiyuanjun shici” [Deployment Pledge of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army], October 1950. See, accessed, April 13, 2014.

(16) The CPV pledge lyrics were initially written as part of the CPV pledge by an army officer waiting to be deployed to the Korean War zone in the fall of 1950. When the pledge was published in the People’s Daily, November 26, 1950, composer Zhou Weizhi saw the pledge note and compose it as the CPV battle hymn, published by the People’s Daily on November 30, 1950.

(17) Shu Guang Zhang, Mao’s Military Romanticism: China and the Korean War, 1950-1953 (University Press of Kansas, 1995), 29.

(18) Wei Wei, “Shui shi zuikeai de ren” [Who Are the Most Beloved People], People’s Daily, April 11, 1951, 1.

(19) Loren Baritz, “God’s Country and American Know-How,” in The American Experience in Vietnam: A Reader, ed. Grace Sevy, (University of Oklahoma Press, 1989), 13.

(20) Pang Xianzhi & Li Jie, 2000, 139.

(21) Zhiyuanjun yiri [One Day of the CPV Soldier], Vol. 2, (Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1956), 180.

(22) Mao Zedong, “Kangmei yuanchao de weida shengli he jinhou de renwu,” [The Great Victory in the War to Resist U.S. Aggressors and Aid Korea and Our Future Tasks], in Mao Zedong xuanji [Selected Works of Mao Zedong], Vol. 5, (Beijing: Renmin chubanshe, 1977) 5:102.

(23) The title of the “Supreme Hero” is higher than that of the “First Rank Hero.”

(24) Unfortunately, in later interviews of officers and soldiers in the same mission with Qiu Shaoyun, no one admitted that a creek was nearby as the hiding site was actually on a slope by the hill foot. Even though there was a creek, according to Qiu’s Lieutenant, there was no water in frozen October in Korea. See, accessed December 29, 2012.

(25) Jay W. Baird, To Die for Germany: Heroes in the Nazi Pantheon (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 2.

(26) This is the Chinese official data, which is significantly smaller than that from the American estimate. The United Nations and US data appear to indicate a much higher number, which counted about 1.5 million casualties with close to a one million death toll. The most updated Chinese sources show a precise number of 183,108 death tolls. See Xu Yan & Li Xiaobing, “The Chinese Forces and Their Casualties in the Korean War: Facts and Statistics,” Chinese Historians, Vol. VI, No. 2 (Fall 1993): 56, Pingchao Zhu, Americans and Chinese at the Korean War Cease-fire Negotiations, 1950-1950 (The Edwin Mellen Press, 2001), 181, and, accessed December 29, 2012.

(27) According to the regulations of the Chinese Military Central Commission, bodies of the CPV soldiers who received Special Combat Hero Medals and officers at the ranks of Captain and higher were shipped back to China for burial. Altogether there are eight CPV martyrs cemeteries in North Korean funded and constructed by the Chinese government following the signing of the Korean War Armistice in July 1953. See, accessed December 29, 2012.

(28) Jiang Tingyu, “Mao’s Responses to Mao Anying’s Death,” The CCP News Network,, accessed, Jan. 1, 2013.

(29) Mao Anying was buried in the CPV Martyrs Cemetery in Hoechang Country, about 70 miles south of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

(30) Choe Sang-hun, “After Six Decades, Chinese Soldiers Killed in South Korea Head Home,” New York Times, March 29, 2014, A4.

(31) Shengyang Kangmei Yuanchao Cemetery is the only official burial site for the CPV fallen soldiers. Following the Korean War ceasefire, South Korean government kept bodies of the fallen North Korean and Chinese CPV soldiers they discovered in South Korean sites in a burial ground north of Seoul known until recently as “enemy cemetery.” The Korean War Armistice Agreement required continuous repatriation of fallen soldiers’ remains. Between 1981 and 1997, forty three remains of the CPV soldiers were returned to China via North Korea. However, due to unsolved issues and complications from North Korean side, remains repatriation was suspended since 1997. 

(32) Xu Yan & Li Xiaobing, 1993, 58.

(33) Mao Zedong, 1977, 5:101.

(34) Out of the total 21,000 CPV POWs repatriates, two-thirds of them, 14,000, chose to go to Taiwan, causing uncomfortable embarrassment on the Chinese side. Most of the two-thirds CPV repatriates were those who once served in the quondam Nationalist military units and surrendered to the Communist forces in 1949 at the end of the Civil War. They were then incorporated into the People’s Liberation Army and reorganized into the CPV in 1950 to fight in the Korean War. For details of this issue, see Zhu, 2001, 168-71,He Ming, Zhongcheng: Zhiyuanjun zhanfu guilai renyuan de kanke jingli [Loyalty: Frustrating Experience of the Returned CPV POWs (Beijing: Wenshi chubanshe, 1998).

(35) Zhu, 2001, 170.

(36) He Min, 1998, 138.

(37) Zhang Zeshi, Zhanfu shouji [A CPV POW’s Accounts], (Xining, Qinghai renmin chubanshe, 1995), 224.