[FOUNTAIN]China’s pride gripped by an iron fist

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[FOUNTAIN]China’s pride gripped by an iron fist

In her book “Deng Xiaoping: My Father,” Deng Rong, the daughter of former Chinese leader, revealed her pride in Chinese culture and people. The Chinese believe that their history repeats itself every 800 years. First, a powerful kingdom unifies the nation and encourages new spirits with a large-scale civil engineering project. Then an empire of the Han tribe emerges and prospers for several centuries. As the fall of the empire approaches, it would suffer from internal conflicts and a slackening of law and order. The cycle would end when the empire collapses from an invasion by barbarians.
In ancient times, the cycle began with Qin Shi Huang’s unification and construction of the Great Wall, followed by the Han Empire and ended with the chaos of Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarian Peoples. The Sui, Tang and Song dynasties and the invasion of the Mongols make another cycle. The most recent ones were the Ming and Ching dynasties and the invasion of the Western powers. As an extension of the cycle, the foundation of the People’s Republic of China could be considered a hard-earned glory that followed a humiliating part of history stained by invasion by Western powers. At this point, the Chinese are most wary of internal division. Therefore, Taiwan and Tibet are the most sensitive pending issues.
When Hu Jintao became the president of China in 2002, the Western media hoped he would be what Gorbachev was to Russia. Little did they know about Mr. Hu. The breakthrough for Mr. Hu’s public career came when he was named the secretary of the Communist Party in the Tibet region at the time of bloody revolt in 1988. He prevented further friction by enacting martial law. Right after Mr. Hu became the president, he visited the small village of Xibaipo. That’s where Mao Zedong had set up a secret base to prepare for a campaign to go into Beijing. Xibaipo is sacred ground where the Communist Revolution was completed. Mr. Hu is currently working on legislation that would legally allow aggressive military action toward Taiwan.
The issue of North Korean defectors is also a sensitive concern. The Grand National Party lawmakers who held a news conference regarding defectors on Jan. 12 must have underestimated the pride of China. After all, Mr. Hu is a leader whom BBC said has “an iron fist in a velvet glove.”


by Oh Byung-sang

The writer is the JoongAng Ilbo’s London correspondent.
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