Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series

From Comrades to Enemies: Three Chinese Interpreters' Tangled Paths from the Pacific War to the Korean War and the Cold War

2024-01-30 12:302024-01-30 13:30Asia/Hong_KongFrom Comrades to Enemies: Three Chinese Interpreters’ Tangled Paths from the Pacific War to the Korean War and the Cold War

Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series
From Comrades to Enemies: Three Chinese Interpreters’ Tangled Paths from the Pacific War to the Korean War and the Cold War

Dr. David Chang (Associate Professor, Division of Humanities, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

Date/Time: January 30, 2024, 12:30 – 1:30 pm (HKT) | January 29, 2024, 8:30 – 9:30 pm (PST)
Venue: Room 201, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong or via Zoom
Language: English
Enquiry: (Email) ihss@hku.hk

    2024-01-30 12:302024-01-30 13:30Asia/Hong_KongFrom Comrades to Enemies: Three Chinese Interpreters’ Tangled Paths from the Pacific War to the Korean War and the Cold War

    Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series
    From Comrades to Enemies: Three Chinese Interpreters’ Tangled Paths from the Pacific War to the Korean War and the Cold War

    Dr. David Chang (Associate Professor, Division of Humanities, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

    Date/Time: January 30, 2024, 12:30 – 1:30 pm (HKT) | January 29, 2024, 8:30 – 9:30 pm (PST)
    Venue: Room 201, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong or via Zoom
    Language: English
    Enquiry: (Email) ihss@hku.hk

      Overview

      Title:

      From Comrades to Enemies: Three Chinese Interpreters' Tangled Paths from the Pacific War to the Korean War and the Cold War

      Speaker:

      Dr. David Chang (Associate Professor, Division of Humanities, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

      Date/Time:

      January 30, 2024, 12:30 - 1:30 pm (HKT) | January 29, 2024, 8:30 – 9:30 pm (PST)

      Venue:

      Room 201, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong (Map), or Via Zoom

      Language:

      English

      Enquiry:

      Title:

      From Comrades to Enemies: Three Chinese Interpreters' Tangled Paths from the Pacific War to the Korean War and the Cold War

      Speaker:

      Dr. David Chang (Associate Professor, Division of Humanities, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

      Date/Time:

      January 30, 2024, 12:30 - 1:30 pm (HKT) | January 29, 2024, 8:30 – 9:30 pm (PST)

      Venue:

      Room 201, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong (Map), or Via Zoom

      Language:

      English

      Enquiry:

      Abstract

      In the Second World War, the Chinese Nationalist government mobilized more than 4,000 Chinese college students as interpreters for the American and British Allied forces in the China-Burma-India theater. Discharged after V-J Day, most interpreters resumed and completed their education while China descended into civil war. By 1949, most of the former interpreters remained in China, while some 200 fled to Taiwan and over 100 studied or worked in the United States. In the wake of China’s intervention in the Korean War, the United Nations Command (UNC) was in desperate need of Chinese linguists. However, Washington avoided mobilizing Chinese interpreters within the United States, leaving the task to General Douglas MacArthur, who hired more than 70 linguists from Taiwan, mostly former WWII interpreters. These interpreters served not only at the UNC headquarters in Tokyo but also on the front lines, in POW camps, and in the negotiation tents at Panmunjom, leading to the rise of the anti-Communist POWs and the prolongation of the armistice negotiations and the war. On the Chinese Communist side, a small number of former WWII interpreters served as POW interrogators and medical doctors. Drawing on archival documents, newspapers, and memoirs, this talk traces the divergent and intertwined paths of three former interpreters from the Second World War to the Korean War and the Cold War. It reveals the multifaceted encounters between the Chinese interpreters and the Americans, as well as among the interpreters themselves, first as comrades and later as allies and enemies.

      ABOUT THE SPEAKER

      Dr. David Chang is Associate Professor of Humanities at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Visiting Professor of History at Ewha Womans University. He received his Ph.D. in modern Chinese history from the University of California, San Diego. He studies the Cold War, US-China relations, and the social history of war and revolution as experienced by the common people, such as WWII interpreters and Korean War soldiers and prisoners. His first book, The Hijacked War: The Story of Chinese POWs in the Korean War, was published by Stanford University Press in 2020.

      About the Series

      This series aims to introduce a wide range of cutting-edge research in various disciplines and areas. If you have any questions about this seminar or would be interested in giving a talk, please contact Dr. Ghassan Moazzin (gmoazzin@hku.hk). 

      Light refreshments will be served for registered participants attending the seminar in person.

      POSTER