JI' AN (South Korea): South Korea is furious at claims by Beijing that an ancient kingdom regarded as its founding civilisation was a mere province of China.
Koguryo, the region in question, formed most of modern North Korea and a part of what is now China where many ethnic Koreans still live. It merged with the southern kingdom of Silla to form Goryo, from which the name Korea is derived.
But last winter Chinese government historians published research purporting to prove it was a Chinese civilisation, sparking fears about Chinas growing political ambitions.
Many South Koreans are concerned that should the dictatorship of Kim Jong-il collapse in the communist North, where thousands of people face dire food shortages, China will intervene to protect its own interests there.
It is said that Beijing fears that a crisis in North Korea could cause a flood of refugees and, through reunification with the South, bring an American ally right up to its border.
This is not a purely historical issue, said Kim Woo-jun, a professor at the Korean Institute of East-West Affairs. If Koguryo is incorrectly interpreted by China as Chinas old kingdom, the North Korean region becomes Chinas historical territory. And this can serve as justification for future Chinese intervention.
Unconfirmed reports from residents near the China-North Korea border say that Peoples Liberation Army troops have held training exercises recently.
The academics started the row by promoting proposals that the historical sites in Koguryo be listed as Unesco World Heritage sites.
The announcement was feted in the Chinese state media as a national triumph.
No mention was made of the kingdoms links to modern Korea. The Korean history section on the Chinese Foreign Ministrys website was altered to remove references to Koguryo.
A group of South Korean Members of Parliament who wanted to visit Jian were refused visas. The Daily Telegraph