The Gando issue as a conflict

The reason why the Gando issue, the border conflict between Korea and China, in the 21 century is gaining more interest instead of becoming something that is overlooked is because it has so much possibility for conflict and debate. 

(1) The beginning 
The Gando issue became an issue between the two countries is in the rising of the Ching dynasty when they began to restrict people from living in the Aprok and Duman area. Afterwards, after the Ching did a survey of Mt. Baekdu for inhabited regions they set the the Baekdusan Junggyebi in 1712 and in the end of the 19 century they lifted the restriction (people from living on certain areas) and tried to make the already residing Koreans to their nationality. But, ‘To the west the Aprok, to the east Tomun’ is written on the Baekdusan Junggyebi. The Koreans at that time (Chosun dynasty) referred to the Tomun and Duman as different rivers while the Chinese considered them the same.

To clarify the borders, there were border meetings in 1885 and 1887. According to the Baekdusan Junggyebi, the Totoeh and Suktoeh was connected to the Tomun and the this was connected to the Songhwa which clearly shows that the Tomun and the Duman are different rivers. But both nations did’t come to a conclusion so there was no final agreement. In addition, Japan illegally stripped Chosun of its diplomatic rights in 1905 and railway building rights and mining rights were obtained in condition of the exchange of the Manchu Agreement and the Gando Agreement which resulted in Gando belonging to China.

The 1909 Gando Agreement should have been terminated in the Cairo and Potsdam Declaration. Also, in the China Japan peace treaty in 1952, it states that all treaties, agreements and conventions that were signed before 1941, will not be effective. But unlike the Manchu Agreement that had lost effect after Japan’s surrender, the Gando Agreement which was a settlement for exchange was still in effect and China had control over Gando. Later, there was some tension with China and North Korea in the Northern North Korean border which ended in 1962 with the signing of a Secret Change Agreement and exchange of the Border Protocol in 1964. This leads to set the border to the Aprok-Baekdusan Chunji and Yangbun-the Duman.

There are other complications with the Gando issue. There are complications with the ones who did and the ones who have to negotiate. 2 border meetings of the setting of the Baekdusan Junggyebi between Chosun and Ching, the illegal Eulsa Treaty between Japan and the Chosun Emipire, Manchu and Gando Agreement between China and Japan, the Secret border setting treaty, debating again of the Gando issue between Korea and China or the between the unified Korea and China and etc. concerning the negotiator and the specific contents is complicated.

But the Gando issue is not just an agenda that has to do with North Korea or South Korea. It is an issue that concerns Korean as a whole and China. Because there wasn’t a friendly and clear border negotiation between Korea and China. 

2) Specific examples 
The complexity of the Gando issues in specific views between Korea and China is very different. Even the location of Gando and the basic issues aren’t agreed upon.
Name of places are the by-product of human society. The formation and the usage, the change and the course of settlement lies the historical laws like the time setting, natural conditions, political trend and etc. In other words, I would like to stress that Gando is not just a name that someone made up. The Chinese claim that originally there was no name Gando but the Koreans settled in the area, just made up or further more is just a myth is related with the origin of the name. But Koreans claim that this area is traditionally and historically related to Korea thus making this stressing that Gando is a part of Korea.

The Chinese see Gando as the area of the Duman in the Pukan region or Yanbian region but the Koreans see Gando as the China’s northeast area bordered by the Amrok and the Duman. If you origin of the name Gando, you can see that there is also emphasis in the traditional historical fact and could be understood from this point of view. Korea defines this area as a vast otherside of the Amrok and the Duman where the Koreans used to reside when the Chinese limits the area to Yanbian. But according to the Gando Agreement, the issues that Gando is believed to be the North Gando where the Yan bian Korean autonomous prefecture and not including west Gando which is the other side of the Amrok.

China stresses that the time that Koreans when to live in Gando was after the 1870s. Many Koreans went north crossing the Amrok and the Duman and cultivated the land during the era when Korea had famine, harsh living and heavy taxes. But if you go through the Chinese history books, there is proof that Koreans have been living there since ancient times and there are theories that say they moved in the beginning of the Ming dynasty or the end of Ming and early Ching. Even though China has many theories they are setting this to the period of the 19th century as a policy.

Chinese see the Gando issues resulting from Korea changing the border the way they wanted with no concent and requesting the return of Gando. Another view is that the Chinese were generous in letting the Koreans reside in the Gando area as they please which resulted into the Gando issues. But when talking about the sovereignship in ones state, the important factor is who is the one who first occupied the territory and proof that there was a ruling nation of the area, the majorities’ culture and language and etc. This is an important factor when checking the validity of a territory by international law. According to the historic data of China, Japan and Korea, the Koreans first occupied Gando and had administrative authority of the area and great portions of the majority were Koreans. These are the clear facts that support Korea didn’t forge the border on his own.

Like what we have covered, the Gando issue starting from the name, the area and so forth is being argued overall between Korea and China showing many differences of opinion. This is why the Gando issue is more sensitive and complex than any other issue. This has been placed as a conflict issue. Also, the imperial nations of East Asia have northeastern Asia policies that will become issues of conflict. 

When Japan invaded eastern Asia with militarism, the slogan they had was ‘the Peace of East Asia’. The declarations of war in the Sino-Japanese war and Russo-Japan war , Korea-Japan annexation Treaty, requesting 21articles, the government statement of the Nogugyo incident in 1937 and documents of declaring war to England and the US in 1941 and etc. was for the peace of East Asia. Though Japan promoted peace in East Asia, they pursued they expanded to East Asia to obtain profit and people lines and their interests in Korea and the northeast became more actual. In 1910, Japan had invaded Korea. In 1921, in the Manchu and Mongol area (Northeast Asia), Japan’s special status showed that there was a close relation the welfare of Japan which was the reasons for Manchu mongolia Treaty. After Myungchiyooshin, Japan was directed on taking over the world. The fulfill this strategy, invading the northeastern area was a really important stepping stone in invading the continents.

For China, not only was the northeastern area was a war line for advancement but it was also the last line that they could retreat to. Historically though the northeastern area was an important military line, the Chinese didn’t consider this as a military line though it was important in that nature. Instead, it was considered as life line because occupying this area was vital to them. The northeastern area was a natural military line for China and also the life line. If China couldn’t keep this line, then there is no hope in defending the north. In history according to geographical views, it could be said that the northeast is China’s life line. If there is no northeast there is no China.

There is close relation with the profit line and the life line of China and Japan. Therefore historically, this is the region that nations met when expanding their power. ‘This is the Asian Balkan peninsula and the center of war in the northeast.’ When there is a shift of power in the countries in the northeast, peace is broken. Will the northeastern (including Gando) interests of this region overcome conflict?

Share This Post


You must be logged in to post a comment Login