중앙데일리

To save a culture, take the long view

[분수대] 저우언라이와 세종시  PLAY AUDIO

Jan 30,2010




Rong Yiren from Shanghai was the first capitalist in communist China, practically the only capitalist recognized in the harsh battle of the proletariat. This is where the term “red capitalist” came from. Mei Lanfang was the singer who preserved the Beijing opera through war and revolution. Both are famous, but they have something in common that’s not well known: relationships with Zhou Enlai, the first premier of the People’s Republic of China.

In 1958, Zhou appointed Rong as vice minister of textiles. He called Rong “Rong Lao-ban,” meaning president, and treated him respectfully. However, even Rong could not avoid begin tarnished in the Cultural Revolution. The Red Guards, a mass movement of mostly students in China, targeted Rong’s house. They cut off Rong’s right index finger and beat Rong’s wife, Yang Jianqing. His physically disabled fourth daughter also suffered. It looked as if they would murder the whole family. That was when Zhou stepped in. He told the Red Guards, “Rong is a representative of China’s top asset class. Protect him.” The Rong family was hospitalized soon afterwards. After becoming an international man of great wealth, Rong frequently said, “I would not be who I am today if it were not for Premier Zhou.” Rong later went on to become vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and vice president of the nation.

The revolutionary group led by Zhou before China became a communist country was a neighbor of Mei Lanfang in Shanghai. After the Red Guards took over Shanghai in May 1949, Zhou met Mei and said, “You showed the character of the Chinese people during the anti-Japan war. Do not follow the Chinese Nationalist Party, but stay in Shanghai.” In June that year, Mei performed “Farewell My Concubine” at the request of Zhou. Immediately after the performance Mei said with affection, “I have performed ‘Farewell My Concubine’ more than 1,000 times, but it has never felt gratifying before.” When Mei died from a heart attack at the age of 67 on Aug. 8, 1961, Zhou volunteered to be chair of the funeral committee and led the state funeral.

There are many diverse debates on trust and loyalty in the political world. Many argue about whether to place importance on ideals or actual benefits. Let us rise beyond this standard. Consider the insight of Zhou, who protected people with a long-term perspective for his country. If there had been no Rong, an “enemy of the proletariat,” the reform and opening pursued by Den Xiaoping might have been crippled, and if not for Mei, the maestro of Beijing opera, which was once dismissed as an “art of the wealthy,” a unique piece of Chinese culture would have faded. Let us remember that Zhou was the one who saved Deng Xiaoping when he started the engine for reviving China. Conflicts like the Sejong City problem would be resolved easily if viewed with long-term insight like Zhou’s.

The writer is the chief of an investigative reporting team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Rong Yiren from Shanghai was the first capitalist in communist China, practically the only capitalist recognized in the harsh battle of the proletariat. This is where the term “red capitalist” came from. Mei Lanfang was the singer who preserved the Beijing opera through war and revolution. Both are famous, but they have something in common that’s not well known: relationships with Zhou Enlai, the first premier of the People’s Republic of China.

In 1958, Zhou appointed Rong as vice minister of textiles. He called Rong “Rong Lao-ban,” meaning president, and treated him respectfully. However, even Rong could not avoid begin tarnished in the Cultural Revolution. The Red Guards, a mass movement of mostly students in China, targeted Rong’s house. They cut off Rong’s right index finger and beat Rong’s wife, Yang Jianqing. His physically disabled fourth daughter also suffered. It looked as if they would murder the whole family. That was when Zhou stepped in. He told the Red Guards, “Rong is a representative of China’s top asset class. Protect him.” The Rong family was hospitalized soon afterwards. After becoming an international man of great wealth, Rong frequently said, “I would not be who I am today if it were not for Premier Zhou.” Rong later went on to become vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and vice president of the nation.

The revolutionary group led by Zhou before China became a communist country was a neighbor of Mei Lanfang in Shanghai. After the Red Guards took over Shanghai in May 1949, Zhou met Mei and said, “You showed the character of the Chinese people during the anti-Japan war. Do not follow the Chinese Nationalist Party, but stay in Shanghai.” In June that year, Mei performed “Farewell My Concubine” at the request of Zhou. Immediately after the performance Mei said with affection, “I have performed ‘Farewell My Concubine’ more than 1,000 times, but it has never felt gratifying before.” When Mei died from a heart attack at the age of 67 on Aug. 8, 1961, Zhou volunteered to be chair of the funeral committee and led the state funeral.

There are many diverse debates on trust and loyalty in the political world. Many argue about whether to place importance on ideals or actual benefits. Let us rise beyond this standard. Consider the insight of Zhou, who protected people with a long-term perspective for his country. If there had been no Rong, an “enemy of the proletariat,” the reform and opening pursued by Den Xiaoping might have been crippled, and if not for Mei, the maestro of Beijing opera, which was once dismissed as an “art of the wealthy,” a unique piece of Chinese culture would have faded. Let us remember that Zhou was the one who saved Deng Xiaoping when he started the engine for reviving China. Conflicts like the Sejong City problem would be resolved easily if viewed with long-term insight like Zhou’s.

The writer is the chief of an investigative reporting team of the JoongAng Ilbo.



저우언라이와 세종시


룽이런(榮毅仁)은 공산 중국의 제1호 자본가다. 상하이(上海) 민족자본 대표다. 혹독한 무산계급투쟁 속에서 인정받은 거의 유일한 자본가다. ‘홍색(紅色) 자본가’라는 이름은 그래서 나왔다. 메이란팡(梅蘭芳)은 살벌한 혁명을 뚫고 경극(京劇)을 지켜낸 예인(藝人)이다. 잘 알려지지 않은 공통점이 두 사람에겐 있다. 저우언라이(周恩來) 총리다.

저우는 1958년 룽을 방직공업부 부부장(차관)으로 초빙한다. ‘룽 라오반’(老板·사장)이라고 부르며 그를 예우했다. 그러나 룽도 문화대혁명은 피해 가지 못했다. 베이징 사범대 부중 소속 홍위병들이 룽의 집으로 몰려갔다. 룽은 오른손 식지를 잘렸고, 부인 양젠칭(楊鑑淸)은 난타당했다. 지체 장애인 넷째 딸도 횡액을 당했다. 일가가 몰살할 판이었다. 그때 저우가 나섰다. “룽은 민족자산계급의 대표 인물이다. 보호하라”고 지시했다. 곧 이어 룽 일가를 입원시켰다. 세계적 거부로 성장한 후 룽은 “저우 총리가 없었다면 오늘의 나는 없다”고 입버릇처럼 말했다. 룽은 훗날 정협 부주석(국회 부의장 격)과 국가 부주석(부통령 격)까지 올랐다.

공산 중국 출범 전 저우가 이끄는 혁명 조직과 메이란팡은 상하이 마쓰난루(馬思南路)에 사는 이웃이었다. 1949년 5월 홍군(紅軍)이 상하이를 점령한 뒤 저우는 메이를 만나 “당신은 항일 전쟁 중 중국인의 기상을 드러낸 인물”이라며 “국민당을 따라가지 말고 상하이에 남아 달라”고 요청했다. 메이는 감격해 “어디에도 가지 않겠다”고 약속했다. 그해 6월 메이는 저우의 요청으로 패왕별희(覇王別姬)를 공연한다. 공연 직후 메이는 “패왕별희를 1000회 이상 공연했지만 오늘처럼 통쾌한 날은 없었다”며 감격했다. 67세를 갓 넘긴 메이가 61년 8월 8일 심장병으로 사망했을 때 저우는 장례위원장을 자임하고 국장을 주도했다.

정치권에서 미생이니, 증자니 논쟁이 분분하다. 명분이냐 실리냐의 다툼이다. 이 수준을 한번 넘어보자. 나라 위한 긴 시각으로 상대를 감쌌던 저우의 안목은 어떤가. ‘무산계급의 적’인 룽이 없었다면 덩샤오핑(鄧小平)이 추진한 개혁·개방은 한참 늦춰졌을 테고, 한때 ‘가진 자의 예술’로 치부됐던 경극의 대가 메이가 없었다면 중국 특유의 문화는 빛이 바랬을 것이다. 중화 부흥의 시동을 걸었던 덩샤오핑도 저우가 구해냈음을 기억하자. 저우 같은 긴 안목으로 바라본다면 세종시 같은 갈등은 절로 풀릴 것이다.

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