The Truth Behind a Chinese Patriotic Film

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The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has set off another wave of patriotism and anti-Americanism through the release of a film that greatly distorts the historical truth of a battle.

Censorship of Film Reviews Online

There are two focal points of the hype around this film titled “The Battle at Lake Changjin.”

The first one is that the film has become a blockbuster since its release. As of Oct. 7, the total box office sales of the film officially exceeded $680 million and thus set a new record, according to the real-time data platform Lighthouse Professional, an internet data information platform.

The second point is about a film review titled “To Whom is the Cheap Patriotism Dedicated,” which was immediately deleted on WeChat.

This review was meant to criticize the three-hour blockbuster, invested in by Chinese business magnate Jack Ma and released on the National Day of the CCP, for not praising the greatness of the CCP enough. The cheap special effects of the film had also made a negative representation of the regime’s allegedly magnificent history.

However, the article was immediately deleted, although it has nothing to do with opposition but is just not being entirely obsequious. Such reaction embodies how much the Cyberspace Administration of China—the central internet regulator—regards the importance of the film.

Historical Background of the Battle

The Battle at Lake Changjin (also called The Battle of Chosin Reservoir) was a military move launched near Changjin Lake during the CCP’s second offensive to drive the United Nations out of North Korea in 1950. The regime’s core objective was to wipe out the 1st Marine Division and the 7th Infantry Division (members of the X Corps) of the U.S. Armed Forces by encirclement and ambush.

The result, however, was that the United States withdrew its military forces successfully and the CCP suffered heavy losses.

There is an important background to this battle, beginning with the Battle of Pyongyang. After North Korea launched a war of aggression against South Korea, the United Nations Command (UNC)—a collective international security team under the UN system and led by the United States—counterattacked and later entered North Korea in early October 1950.

On Oct. 19, 1950, the UNC captured Pyongyang and basically wiped out the army of former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. General Douglas MacArthur, then commander-in-chief of the UNC, had predicted that the Korean War would end before Christmas.

Epoch Times Photo
A South Korean woman cries as she mourns her relative who died in 1950 in the Korean War on the Korean Memorial Day at the Seoul National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, on June 6, 2004. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

At this juncture when Kim Il Sung’s regime was about to fall, the CCP quietly intervened in this war in an undeclared manner, posing as a volunteer while sending a large number of powerful regular forces to launch a large-scale ambush of the UNC.

Thus, the battle at Lake Changjin began.

Controversy Over the Battle

Although the CCP had claimed on the surface that it was the winner of the Battle at Lake Changjin, there have been great controversies within the regime.

In 2014, the CCP’s largest mouthpiece, People’s Daily Online, published an article confirming a statement made by Liu Bocheng, one of the Ten Marshals who prompted the establishment of the People’s Liberation Army.

Liu said that it was very nice for the U.S. military to be able to fully withdraw from the Battle at Lake Changjin.

In fact, what Liu actually said, when teaching at Nanjing Military Academy, was the following:

“During the Battle at Lake Changjin, a regiment of [Chinese] troops, which had surrounded the 1st Marine Division of the U.S. Armed Forces, ended up wiping out or defeating no enemy. With its casualties 10 times less than ours [CCP’s], not only did the U.S military fully withdraw from the battle, it also took away all its wounded and weapons.”

In fact, there’s another embarrassing figure not mentioned by Liu—the U.S military not only fully withdrew from the battle, but also successfully covered the retreat of more than 98,000 refugees.

On Nov. 25, 2020, the U.S. Embassy in China mentioned this important detail again in a tweet commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle at Lake Changjin.

In other words, despite the elite CCP troops having an absolute advantage in armed forces, surrounding the U.S. military, and catching them off-guard, they still could not defeat the enemy.

Given the fact that the CCP had also sacrificed more soldiers than the United States, the Battle at Lake Changjin was really a disgrace to Mao Zedong, then leader of the CCP who was allegedly invincible on battlefields.

Another thing worth mentioning is that not only had the CCP deemed the Battle at Lake Changjin a huge strategic victory, the United States also had regarded the same battle as a triumph.

Upon the withdrawal of the 1st Marine Division of its Armed Forces, the U.S. military issued a total of 17 Medals of Honor and 70 Navy Crosses.

In the history of U.S. military warfare, there has not been another battle in which more medals were awarded for an operation since then.

Frostbitten by Carelessness

Why did the CCP lose so many troops and fail to achieve its goal of wiping out the U.S. military? The main reason is that the CCP suffered severe non-combat attrition through frostbite casualties.

According to the CCP’s official statement, the attrition happened because its 9th Corps stopped for while in China’s Shenyang to take a break and put on warm clothes and then continued to move quickly to North Korea, which was embroiled in confrontation.

Also, according to “Selected Materials on Logistical Experience in the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea: Military Supplies,” a book published by the CCP, the 9th Corps did receive a large number of winter clothes such as thick cotton coats and cotton caps. The rumors that the 9th Corps entered the battle in thin cotton-padded clothes were not true.

However, there is still a significant information saying that many soldiers on the battlefield died from frostbite because of their poor clothing, which begs the question—where did all those winter clothes go?

There are two reasons behind this tragedy: one is that due to various factors, some soldiers did not distribute the winter clothes they received to the rest of the troops on the front line.

Epoch Times Photo
South Koreans in a bus bid farewell to their North Korean relatives before they return to their home after a family reunion, having been separated for 60 years following the Korean War, in Mount Kumgang, North Korea, on November 5, 2010. (Kim Chang-Gil-Korea Pool/Getty Images)

Another reason is that in order to get the troops to the ambush site and complete the encirclement as soon as possible, the command issued a marching order that was almost beyond the limits of soldiers. Because of this order, many soldiers were forced to abandon heavy winter clothes fearing that they could not reach the ambush site in time.

The CCP officers valued their military exploits above the lives of their soldiers, thus treating them miserably.

For example, in order to speed up the construction of a bridge, a certain engineer battalion of the 26th Army directly ordered a platoon of its officers and soldiers to jump into the icy river, which was minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit. After one night, the whole platoon was severely frostbitten and suffered amputations as a result.

The root cause of the failure of this battle, which had been attributed to the cold weather, was actually the carelessness of the officers.

Epoch Times Photo
1950: American troops in Korea. (File Photo/MPI/Getty Images)

Truth Behind the Strategic Victory

The CCP officials have always emphasized that although the Battle at Lake Changjin inflicted a devastating toll on Chinese soldiers, their efforts still strategically reversed the situation and avoided the collapse of the Kim family, a three-generation lineage of North Korean leadership descending from the country’s first leader, Kim Il Sung.

Without this battle, there would not have been the subsequent armistice negotiations held in Panmunjom. The battle should thus be regarded as a strategic victory.

Statements like this have somewhat distorted the truth.

The Korean War was triggered by Kim Il Sung’s war of aggression against South Korea by crossing the 38th parallel north. Having fought several battles, the CCP failed to change the outcome of the still-existing ceasefire between the two Koreas, which was bordered by the 38th parallel north based on the Korean Armistice Agreement.

In other words, what the CCP got after inflicting over a million casualties and huge financial expenditures was nothing but the antagonism between Western countries and itself.

The CCP has been repeatedly emphasizing the importance of complying with the international order demanded by the United Nations. According to Resolution 82, which was passed by the United Nations Security Council in 1950, North Korea should immediately end its invasion of South Korea.

As for another Resolution 498 passed by the United Nations General Assembly on Feb. 1, 1951, the aggression of the People’s Republic of China was condemned. It was the first time in which the United Nations treated a nation as an aggressor.

By the same token, the CCP must first admit its aggressive behavior before it is qualified to say anything about complying with the order of the United Nations.

In the face of such historical facts, will the CCP avoid talking about it as usual or deny it with “historical nihilism,” a term referring to interpretations of history deemed to be incorrect by itself?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Tang Jingyuan


Tang Jingyuan is the web director of New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV). He is a China affairs specialist and a senior commentator and columnist for NTDTV, English NTD, The Epoch Times, and Sound of Hope.

With a medical professional background, he has followed news of COVID-19 from the start of the epidemic. He has paid close attention to tracking the source of the COVID-19 virus.

He is one of the main scriptwriters for the documentary “Tracking Down the Origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus,” which has been viewed over 80 million times on Facebook and YouTube. He recently launched his own political commentary channel on YouTube, “Vision Express (遠見快評).”

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