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China is celebrating 70 years since it entered the Korean war

AN OPTIMIST MIGHT call it progress that China’s national memorial to the Korean war, newly reopened after years of renovations, has reduced the space devoted to a Mao-era hoax—the charge that America used the plague and cholera as bio-weapons during that conflict, thereby committing a war crime.

It is dismaying that the allegations remain on display at all in the memorial, a hilltop complex overlooking the Chinese border city of Dandong and, across the Yalu river, the North Korean town of Sinuiju. The memorial reopened in late September, ahead of the 70th anniversary of China’s entry into the conflict that laid waste to the Korean peninsula from 1950 to 1953, and that Chinese leaders call “The War to Resist America and Aid Korea”. Still, hopeful sorts might note that the hoax was once a much bigger deal. The allegations of germ warfare were worldwide news in the first months of 1952. Chinese and North Korean leaders saw a chance to challenge the legitimacy of the American superpower. In Europe, Soviet-bloc governments and Western sympathisers staged protest marches involving millions of people, accusing American warplanes of dropping bombs packed with bacteria-laced insects on Korea and northern China.

The new memorial in Dandong charges America with crimes against international law in a single display panel, offering...

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