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FEATURE: Postwar60: Germ warfare exhibit draws visitors despite U.S. objections.

DANDONG, China, Sept. 12 Kyodo


A museum on a hillside overlooking the Chinese-North Korean border exhibits an enlarged photo of a centipede allegedly infected by U.S. forces with germs to sicken or kill enemy troops during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Other photos on display here show what are supposedly infectious crickets, a dissected disease-carrying snake and the signed confession of a U.S. prisoner-of-war saying U.S. forces used germ warfare against Chinese and North Korean soldiers.

Every year, about 200,000 people are said to visit this exhibit in the museum at the Resist America - Aid Korea Memorial, located in the coastal city of Dandong, Liaoning Province. Some come on guided tours, others come alone.

The U.S. government denies having engaged in biological warfare, prohibited under international treaties such as the 1925 Geneva Protocol, and says the former Soviet Union's KGB had a hand in contriving the story as part of a massive anti-U.S. propaganda campaign during the Cold War.

Accordingly, U.S. Ambassador Clark Randt objected to the exhibit when he visited the museum in April, following somber museum inspections by U.S. officials from the consulate in nearby Shenyang, according to museum vice director Zhang Zhongyong.

''Being a U.S. government official, he'll always oppose this,'' Zhang said.

Historians and other experts working with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a U.S. government-sponsored think tank in Washington, have concluded from analysis of documentary evidence from Kremlin archives that the Soviet, Chinese and North Korean governments fabricated the U.S. use of germ and chemical warfare against China and North Korea.

Their research, carried out under the center's Cold War International History Project, was based primarily on 12 documents obtained in Moscow by Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun in January 1998 and circulated to historians.

They say historical record shows that China began as early as April 1951, less than a year after the Korean War broke out, asserting that the U.S. Army was preparing to use germ warfare.

In February 1952, North Korea's Foreign Minister Bak Hun Yung charged in a statement addressed to the United Nations that U.S. aircraft had dropped infected insects of several kinds bearing plague, cholera and other diseases over North Korean territory.

The following month, after publicly supporting the North Korean charges, Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai accused the United States of having sent 448 aircraft on 68 occasions between Feb. 29 and March 5 into northeast China to airdrop germ-carrying insects aimed at spreading human diseases like plague, anthrax, cholera, encephalitis and a form of meningitis.

Zhou also alleged that the U.S. side had spread animal and plant diseases using insects, spiders, ticks and small rodents.

The U.S. scholars note that China and North Korea refused a follow-up investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross and that the Soviet Union voted against a U.N. investigation.

But the museum and its patrons, some of them locals with other sources of war information, stand by the story.

''This is definitely true,'' said museum visitor Li Guoqiang, 40, a tourist and photographer from neighboring Jilin Province, recalling that Japan had previously used germ warfare in China.

The Imperial Japanese Army's notorious Unit 731, headquartered in northeastern China, conducted germ warfare before and during World War II, using plague, anthrax and other bacteria. After the war, the United States waived war crime charges against unit members and gave them monetary rewards in exchange for experiment data.

''And it's not just because Japan used (germ warfare),'' Li said. ''There were lots of Chinese troops, so many that the U.S. side could see that they would fail (without germ warfare).''

The exhibit takes up several meters of wall and floor space in one room of the four-floor museum, which fully opened in 1993 for admission of 30 yuan ($3.70) per person.

A map shows 17 alleged germ warfare application areas, including Pyongyang and a swathe of China extending northeastward from Dandong.

An American POW is pictured, allegedly confessing, and an International Association of Democratic Lawyers meeting held in 1952 in Beijing to discuss biological weapons. The association, which the United States dismissed as a Soviet front organization, supported the Chinese and North Korean claims.

Also on display are blue and white protective clothes for the Chinese-Korean troops and buckets of spray they are said to have used to protect against poisons.

An exhibited meter-long bombshell, dropped over China, carried germs, the museum says.

''In 1952, the intruding U.S. Army waged a bacteriological warfare in secret in the north half of Korea and Northeast China regardless of the public international law in an attempt to weaken the effective force of the volunteers and the people's army,'' the exhibit states in its written English-language introduction.

''With the support of the people worldwide, the Chinese and Korean people united as one in their fight,'' the introduction says. ''While disclosing the crime of waging the bacteriological warfare by the U.S. army, they developed a mass disease-prevention and sanitation.''

''As a result, the bacteriological warfare by the U.S. Army didn't attain its anticipated objective.''

The museum's prerecorded and regularly replayed visitor introduction also mentions germ warfare.

The exhibit gives no statistics on the alleged deaths and illnesses caused. But Zhang, the museum vice director, said evidence of exposure had surfaced in 72 Chinese cities or counties that were affected in the war.

He said deaths were hard to tally because diseases would take time to develop.

''The biological warfare is irrefutable,'' Zhang said. ''That the United States is solely rejecting this doesn't mean it can be rejected.''

Museum visitors like 51-year-old local visitor Wang, who only gave his surname, believe what they see.

''This would appear to be true. There are still sufferers in Liaoning Province,'' Wang said.

But he said the exhibit does not stir much in him.

''It was a thing of the past,'' Wang said. ''I don't have that much feeling about it.''
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Sep 12, 2005
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