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China Denies That It Never Returned U.S POWs from Korean War

December 24, 1992

BEIJING (AP) _ China today called ″totally groundless″ a U.S. congressman’s report that it held and never returned hundreds of American soldiers captured during the Korean War.

A Foreign Ministry statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency said there are no American prisoners of war in China and that the issue was settled long ago.

″The assertion that China has not returned hundreds of American POWs of the Korean War is totally groundless,″ the statement said.

Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., said Wednesday that North Korean officials told him hundreds of Americans, perhaps more, were taken to China during the Korean War and that their fate was unknown.

China sided with North Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War, and the United States fought with South Korea.

Smith, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA Affairs, visited North Korea last weekend.

He said, ″Every single Korean official we talked to confirmed this.″ According to Smith, North Korean officials said Chinese oversaw POW camps in North Korea and northeastern China.

Smith said he was also shown photos of Chinese soldiers guarding Americans.

Russian and eastern European intelligence sources have told the U.S. government that American POWs in Korea were taken to China. Earlier this year, the United States gave China a list of 125 soldiers missing from the Korean War, but China said it did not receive any of them.

In July, the Los Angeles Times reported that dozens of U.S. POWs from the Korean War may have been sent to China, where they were subjected to medical tests. Some were executed, the report said.

The Chinese statement repeated Beijing’s official line that POWs held by the Chinese in Korea were treated in a humanitarian manner. None were transferred to a third country or to China, it said.

The Foreign Ministry said that all but 21 U.S. POWs were repatriated after the war or were turned over to the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission.

Of the 21 who stayed in China, 18 later left, one died and two still live in China.

″The U.S. side is well aware of these facts,″ the statement said.

Early this month, Chinese officials told visiting Sen. David Boren, D- Okla., that they would receive an American team investigating servicemen missing or held prisoner from the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Update hourly