Chronology of Personnel Accounting Progress in China

April 27, 2017

Chronology

1996:

People’s Republic of China (PRC) President Jiang Zemin initiated discussion of POW/MIA cooperation with President Clinton at the APEC Summit in Manila.

1999:

In May, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Affairs (POW/MPA), Robert Jones, met with his China Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) counterpart, Chen Mingming. Mingming indicated a willingness to investigate clear and specific information on Korean War cases, but stressed that Korean War archives belong to the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and remain classified. 

2000:

  • January: The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) presented over 40 Korean War cases to the Chinese for investigation.  The MFA agreed to support an oral history program (OHP), allowing DPMO to interview Chinese Korean War veterans involved in POW camp operations.  The OHP began in Beijing with interviews of four Chinese veterans in September 2000.
  • July:  During his visit to Beijing, Secretary of Defense Cohen highlighted the importance of increased cooperation on Korean War accounting. 

2001:

In January, six American Korean War veterans met with Chinese veterans in Beijing.  This initiative was put on hold to establish U.S. – PRC academic exchanges focused on the Korean War and to pursue avenues for open-source archival research

2002:

  • March:  During President Bush’s visit to China, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly mentioned a Cold War C-47 case in Jilin Province to the Deputy Director of North American Affairs, MFA, who was aware of the case and acknowledged our interest.
  • May:  A DPMO and Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) team met with the MFA in Beijing to negotiate support agreements for two World War II (WWII)-era crash site recoveries in Tibet and to discuss other POW/MIA issues.  The MFA agreed to support operations at both sites in Tibet and a survey of the Cold War C-47 crash site.
  • July:  A CILHI team and a DPMO analyst surveyed the C-47 crash site in Jilin Province, finding aircraft wreckage.  Another team recovered four remains from a WWII C-46 crash site in Tibet.  JPAC identified the remains in 2005.  CILHI also investigated a second Tibet WWII C-46 crash site.

2003:

  • March: DASD (POW/MPA) Jerry Jennings visited China and met with MFA, Ministry of National Defense (MND), and Red Cross Society of China representatives to improve personnel accounting cooperation.
  • April – July:  The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic prevented operations in China.
  • October:  A DPMO and Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) team met with the MFA in Beijing to discuss operations in 2004, which included two recovery operations and a site survey.

2004:

  • February:  DPMO and JPAC representatives met with Chinese government officials in Beijing to discuss operational and logistical requirements for operations in 2004.
  • May – June:  JPAC excavated a Korean War F-86 crash site near the city of Dandong in Liaoning Province, recovering and identifying the remains of Air Force Captain Troy G. Cope, shot down in aerial combat on September 16, 1952. 
  • June:  JPAC excavated a Cold War C-47 crash site in Jilin Province and recovering aircraft wreckage and remains identified as R.C. Snoddy, the pilot.
  • August – September:  JPAC investigated a WWII C-46 crash site in Tibet and recovered personal effects and aircraft wreckage, but no human remains.  Three crewmembers are unaccounted-for from this aircraft loss
  • November:  DPMO and JPAC representatives met with Chinese government officials in Beijing to discuss proposals for field operations in China during 2005.

2005:

  • February:  DASD (POW/MPA) Jennings traveled to China to press his counterparts for information from military archives relating to the PLA’s administration of prisoner of war camps during the Korean War.  The Chinese agreed to permit investigation of two WWII cases in Hunan and Shanxi Provinces, and later agreed to the investigation of two more WWII crash sites in Guangxi Province.
  • May – June:  JPAC investigated three WWII sites in Shanxi and Guangxi Provinces and excavated a gravesite in Hunan Province.  The gravesite contained remains identified as Robert H. Upchurch, a WW II P-40 pilot.
  • October:  Accompanied by Assistant Secretary of Defense (ASD) for International Security Affairs, Peter Rodman, and the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Affairs, Richard Lawless, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld pressed Ministry of Defense officials for U.S. access to information in military archives.  Secretary Rumsfeld also pressed for information on a 1956 loss off the Zhoushan Archipelago.  During a December visit the Chinese reported to DUSD Lawless, they had no additional information on this case.
  • December:  A DPMO team met with Chinese officials in Beijing to discuss operations in China during 2006, accessing information in China’s military archives related to the PLA’s administration of prisoner of war camps during the Korean War, and a possible veteran’s exchange visit.  Chinese officials expressed cautious optimism regarding archive access and received a written request for specific information we would believe exists in the military archives.  The Chinese approved only one site for investigation in 2006.

2006: 

  • July:  During a meeting with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, China’s highest-ranking military General committed to provide active assistance to our efforts to account for missing Americans and search for documents in China’s military archives. 
  • September:  A joint DPMO/JPAC team met with Chinese MND, PLA, and MFA officials.   They discussed efforts to access to China’s military archives and investigated one of the six sites proposed in December 2005.  The MND proposed working with our archivists to develop a program that will result in locating materials related to unaccounted-for Americans.  The site survey of a Korean War site (see map below) appears promising to support an investigation and recovery operation, possibly in summer 2007.
  • December:  DUSD Lawless (APSA) hosted the Director, MND Foreign Affairs Office, North America Directorate, for policy coordination talks.  During the meetings, they discussed the POW/MIA mission and our interest in China’s military archives.  The Chinese representative said China was interested in providing as much assistance as possible for the POW/MIA mission and military archivists ready to meet with DPMO to discuss the archives issue.

2007: 

  • January 30-31:  DPMO and JPAC met with Chinese MND and MFA officials in Beijing to discuss personnel accounting initiatives for 2007.  The MND reiterated its commitment to assist the U.S. in the accounting mission and reported it is searching for, locating, and organizing POW/MIA related information in its archives.  JPAC presented 15 cases to the Chinese for recovery, investigation, and research. 
  • March 3:  China’s MFA approved one case for a recovery operation from August through September 2007.   This case involves three aircrew members lost during the Korean War.  The MFA stated the other cases presented in January 2007 remain under consideration.  The MFA indicated that they would not provide a final answer on the other cases until after mid-May, following analysis of feedback from the provincial foreign affairs offices.  On July 10, 2007, Operations and logistics requirement talks took place in Beijing.
  • May 9 -15, 2007:  A delegation of PLA archivists visited JPAC, DPMO, and the National Archives and Records Administration to study the personnel accounting mission and archives management procedures.  The PLA delegation presented a draft arrangement to formalize archival cooperation between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the PLA.  We are reviewing the proposal.
  • July 2007:  China’s MFA informed the Department that they are unable to sponsor JPAC operations during 2007 due to numerous other commitments and delegations from the U.S.  The MND also postponed until October a planned visit to Beijing by the DASD (POW/MPA).
  • November 2007:  JPAC operational logistics talks cancelled due to MFA lack of response to proposed 12-13 November dates.
  • Secretary of Defense Gates held talks with the Chinese Defense Minister, Cao Gangchuan.  The Defense Minister pledged “closer cooperation on military archives to resolve the fate of U.S. troops missing from the 1950-53 Korean War.”
  • 15 Nov.  China’s MFA again approved the Korean War case involving three aircrew members for investigation and recovery in 2008.  The MFA requested additional information on the other Korean War cases submitted by JPAC, and provided feedback on the preliminary research they conducted on the other cases.

2008

  • January 30:  The Commander JPAC discussed with China’s MFA logistical requirements for the approved recovery operation and potential investigations during summer 2008, requested additional information on several cases, and presented cases for potential operations in 2009.  China’s MFA authorized JPAC to conduct operations at two of the requested sites. (Korean War and WWII)
  • February 29:  DASD (POW/MPA) Charles A. Ray and Major General Qian of China’s Ministry of National Defense signed a Memorandum of Arrangement (MOA) between The Department of Defense, The United States Of America and the Ministry of National Defense, The People's Republic of China.  The purpose of the MOA was to establish and develop military archives cooperation activities to search for information relating to U.S. military personnel missing in action before, during, and after the Korean War to formalize archival cooperation between the Department of Defense and the PLA.  According to the arrangement, Chinese archivists will review military holdings for information related to American missing before, during, and after the Korean War, and provide relevant information to DPMO.  The Chinese also will seek out and interview surviving Korea War veterans who may have knowledge about missing American servicemen.
  • China Archival Agreement
  • April 7:  Chin’s MFA provided a response to the cases presented by JPAC in JAN 2008.  The MFA requested the USG “close” MACR 10124, MACR 16259, MACR 16263, and REFNO 0800.
  • April 7:  U.S. Defense Attaché’s Office (USDAO) presented an invitation to China’s MFA to visit JPAC and DPMO to understand better the complexities of the personnel accounting mission. 
  • April 18:  USDAO presented to China’s MND a draft technical arrangement to implement the archival cooperation arrangement signed in Shanghai in February 2008. 
  • April 24:  DPMO Director for Policy and Senior Colonel Liu Ying of the PLA Archives Department signed a “Memorandum Of Arrangement Between DoD DPMO And The PLA Archives Department,” a technical arrangement to implement the umbrella document signed in February 2008.
  • May 21, 2008:  JPAC postponed the remains recovery operation in Dandong because a financial arrangement could not be successfully negotiated with the Chinese government in time to conduct the operation in June 2008.  Talks will resume after the summer Olympics in an effort to complete the arrangement and reschedule the JPAC operation in FY09.

2009

  • January 2009:  JPAC discussed conditions for a proposed recovery operation in Dandong, but the two sides could not reach a mutually acceptable arrangement, and JPAC postponed the recovery operation.
  • April 2009:  Former DASD Ray and JPAC Commander, RADM Donna Crisp, toured the PLA archives.  Discussions included six cases of missing Americans proposed by the U.S. side for investigation and/or recovery and one case raised by Chinese archivists.  The delegation also traveled to Liaoning Province to discuss the proposed Dandong recovery operation, but the two sides were again unable to reach a mutually acceptable financial arrangement.
  • August 2009:  A JPAC investigative team investigated two WWII sites.  Both sites were included among the proposed cases for 2010 and 2011. 
  • September 2009:  PLA archivists visiting DPMO reported on their efforts to date, asserting they had screened approximately 200,000 pages of documents representing about 10% of available material.
  • October 2009:  General Xu Caihou presented documents and an artifact from a Korean War crash site in Guangdong Province to Secretary of Defense Gates.
  • China Archival Report 200810-200904

2010

  • April 2010:  JPAC-DPMO team investigated the Guangdong crash site but was unable to pinpoint the crash site.  Also in April, the U.S. presented Chinese officials with proposals to research, investigate or recover 19 cases in 2010 and 2011. 
  • July - August 2010:  a JPAC investigation team located the crash site in Guangdong Province. 
  • September 2010:  The PLA provided a written report of the results of its past year’s archival research and field investigation.  The report contained new information on five Korean War air losses that crashed in China and one in North Korea, in two cases identifying the location of potential gravesites. 
  • November 2010:  JPAC held operational talks with Chinese officials to discuss recovering the Korean War crash site in Guangdong Province.
  • China Archival Report 200909-201008

2011

  • February-March 2011:  JPAC began the first of two planned excavations at the Guangdong Province crash site, discovering wreckage but no human remains.  During this operation, JPAC and DPMO leadership visited the excavation site and then traveled to Shenyang to continue discussions on excavation of gravesites in Dandong.  Issues related to land compensation continued unresolved, but both sides were hopeful follow-on discussions would end in an agreement.
  • April 2011:  PLA archivists visited Washington, D.C., for discussions on renewing the original technical arrangement that forms the basis for cooperation on military archives.  DPMO and PLA staff agreed to meet in fall 2011 to sign the new version, at which time the PLA’s annual report of its progress would also be due.
  • September 2011:  JPAC received approval from the PRC government to conduct a second planned recovery operation at the Guangdong province crash site.  In September, the PLA provided a written report of the results of its past year’s archival research and field investigation efforts.   DPMO and JPAC analysts are now in the process of reviewing the report.
  • October-December 2011:  The Guangdong recovery operation of a November 1950 Navy PBM-5 aircraft crash site and crew of 12 began in October and continued until Dec. 10, 2011.  It built on work begun during the first operation earlier in the year.  Unfortunately, JPAC recovered no human remains during this operation, but did recover aircraft debris.
  • China Archival Report 201008-201108

2012

  • March 2012:  JPAC met with China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to propose operations for FY2012 and FY 2013.  The MFA approved an investigative mission on two WW II aircraft crash sites in Shanxi Province.  JPAC also asked to send a recovery team to excavate the three gravesites in Dandong if land compensation issues can be resolved.
  • May 2012:  DPMO and JPACstaff met with Chinese military archivists in Beijing to sign a new technical arrangement to cooperate for another three years on sharing information about American military personnel missing in conflicts with China.  The Director of the PLA Archives Department reported that the MND considers the archival research arrangement to be the most successful component of the U.S.-China mil-to-mil program.
  • July 2012:  JPAC investigated two WWII aircraft crash sites in Shanxi Province, a single-seat P-51 Mustang and a B-29 with 11 aboard.  The JPAC team interviewed witnesses and surveyed the site of the P-51, but it determined the second crash site did not relate to the B-29 aircraft under investigation.
  • China Archival Report 201109-201208

2013

  • January 2013:  JPAC and DPMO representatives met with China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to propose operations for FY2013 and FY 2014.  For FY13, JPAC proposed and the MFA approved an investigative mission on one WW II C-47 aircraft crash site in Guangxi Province and a Vietnam A-6 aircraft that crashed in Guangxi province in August 1967.  JPAC also asked to send a recovery team to excavate the three Korean War gravesites in Dandong if land compensation issues can be resolved.  If time permits, following the excavation of the three Dandong gravesites, JPAC proposed investigating three single seat Korean War aircraft crash sites in Liaoning Province.  If JPAC is not able to investigate the three Korean War F-86 cases in Liaoning Province this year, JPAC proposed investigating them in FY14.  In addition, JPAC proposed investigating three additional WW II aircraft crash sites in Yunnan, Sichuan, and Shaanxi provinces in FY14.
  • May 2013:  In Hawaii on May 21 and 22, a six person China PLA/MND delegation met with the JPAC commander and staff and toured JPAC facilities.  In Washington on May 24, a six-person China PLA Archives/MND delegation met with the Principal Director, DPMO and staff.  At the technical meeting on May 24, participants discussed the PLA Archives Department recent work and annual report preparation; reviewed cases proposed by JPAC to the China MFA for investigative and recovery work in FY13 and 14, and plans for future archival cooperation.  In addition, the PLA Archives/MND delegation participated in a tour of the U.S. National Archives Building in Washington.
  • August 2013:  JPAC cancelled scheduled recovery activities planned in Guangxi province, China in August and September 2013 because of damage sustained in the crash area by Typhoon Usagi.  JPAC also requested approval to conduct archival research in August, but was unable to receive PLA support during the requested period.  JPAC was unable to reach an arrangement with local Chinese government officials to excavate three suspected gravesites related to the Korean War RB-29 aircraft crash site near Dandong, China.
  • October/November 2013:  Because of the U.S. government shutdown in October 2013, JPAC postponed bilateral discussions with China MFA officials, PLA Archives Department representatives, and other host nation officials in Beijing to plan investigations and remains recovery activities in China in 2014 until the first or second quarter of 2014.
  • Nov. 8, 2013:  Accounting community FY14 annual plan for personnel accounting activities in China approved.
  • China Archival Report 201209-201308

2014

  • April 2014:  On April 2, 2014, DPMO received a copy of the PLA archives annual report from the PLA Assistant Army Attaché in Washington for work the PLA Archives performed in from Sept. 1, 2012 through Aug. 31, 2013.  DPMO’s Operations Directorate completed its evaluation of the report.  It provides information about two specific loss incidents involving missing Americans from the Korean War in China.  DPMO posted the FY2013 PLA Archives annual report on DPMO’s Internet web page.  It is now available online for review.
  • September 2014:  DoD representatives (DPMO and JPAC team) traveled to Beijing China to participate in annual talks with the PLA Archives Department on September 16, 2014.  The purpose of the meeting was twofold.  First, we discussed the work accomplished over the past year and received briefings from the PLA Archives Department on their archival research effort and field investigations on selected cases of unaccounted for U.S. military personnel.  Second, we discussed the way ahead for the PLA Archives archival research effort for the next 12 months.  This involves searching for information about unaccounted for U.S. service men from past wars involving China in accordance with the existing technical arrangement between DOD and the PLA Archives Department.  One of the most important accomplishments of the Sept. 16, meeting, was that the PLA Archives Department turned over a sample of partial human remains it discovered and recovered during a China unilateral activity associated with Field Search Case (FSC) 654A.  This was the crash site of an RB-29 aircraft on Jan. 12, 1953, at Yushu village near Dandong City, Liaoning Province, China.  Subsequently, the China Ministry of Public Security conducted DNA testing on the partial remains and found them to be 96.8 per cent of European descent.  Based on the DNA test results, the PLA Archives Department repatriated the suspected partial remains associated with FSC 654A to U.S. control on Sept. 16, 2014, at the annual meeting.  The partial remains were transported to the U.S. Embassy Beijing for safekeeping following the meeting.  On Sept. 17, 2014, the U.S. delegation and USDAO Beijing personnel shipped the partial remains from the U.S. Embassy to JPAC’s CIL in Hawaii via the diplomatic mail system.
  • October 2014:  The JPAC CIL received partial remains of one individual on or about Oct. 15, 2014. The remains are now undergoing forensic examination and testing to determine if the remains belong to one of the three unaccounted for crewmembers from this loss incident.
  • China Archival Report 201309-201408

2015

  • November 2015: DPAA sent a representative to participate in a ceremony returning remains from a previously excavated sight in Tibet to the U.S., discovered by a Chengdu Museum salvaging the aircraft.
  • July 2015: China Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) informed DPAA through the U.S. Defense Attaches Office Beijing that it would not be able to support DPAA’s proposed investigative field activities in Yunnan Province in July 2015 and Liaoning Province in September 2015. DPAA is now working on plans to propose joint field activities in China in FY2016.
  • June 2015: The DPAA and the PLA Archives Department scheduled the annual meeting on archival Cooperation for June 1-4, 2015, in the U.S. The China Ministry of National Defense (MND) Foreign Affairs Office and PLA Archives Department will visit the DPAA West Office in Hawaii from April 1-2 and will visit the DPAA East Office from June 3-4.
  • April 2015: A 4-person DPAA delegation conducted working level talks with China MFA and China MND/PLA Archives Department On April 13, 2015. The purpose of the talks was to propose DPAA field activities in China in FY2015, discuss the particular cases proposed for investigation, discuss the upcoming annual meeting with the PLA Archives in Washington in June 2015. Following the talks, China MFA approved the DPAA proposal for two field investigation activities in China in 2015. DPAA is moving forward with plans to conduct two investigative field activities in China in 2015.

2016

  • October 2016: DPAA met with the MFA, OIMC, and PLA Archives in Beijing, China. PLA-A discussed cases for investigation and DPAA provided an update on the FY17 operational plan. DPAA’s goal is to conduct two missions a year into China. DPAA also reiterated support of a PLA-A archivist and researcher visit the national Archives/Library of Congress in the upcoming year.
  • September 2016: Greater Asia analyst, researchers meet with PLA Archives researchers for 1st Joint Archival Working Group. A detailed and in-depth information exchange transpires leading to a better understanding of their procedures. PLA Archives request DPAA support for archivist and researchers to visit the national Archives/Library of Congress in December 2016.
  • April 2016: Dir Linnington travelled to China and met with officials from MFA, OIMC, and the PLA Archives Department. The MFA informed DPAA that the upcoming mission to Liaoning province was cancelled due to security concerns in the region. DPAA is planning for Bilateral talks to take place in early Fall to discuss missions opportunities for FY2017.
  • February 2016: Conducted bilateral discussions with MFA and PLA Archives presenting proposed missions for FY 16 and a visit by our new Director to meet MFA and PLA Archives officials in April.


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