[Viewpoint] An unhappy China

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[Viewpoint] An unhappy China

Lately, the international media have been paying attention to a book published in China titled “China is Unhappy.” The book, written by five writers known for their nationalistic tendencies, became an instant bestseller after it was published in mid-March.

But why is China unhappy? Why is the world paying attention to this book?

Let’s look at some excerpts:

“Learn from America? The United States is virtually bankrupt already. However, it is not actually going bankrupt because it is like a water demon. Countries around the world have lent to the United States so much that they are all concerned about America’s collapse. The United States lives like a parasite. Its economic system is like a cancer to the global economy. Learn from America? China can learn only bad things from America.”

And: “The United States has no money and its manufacturing sector is crippled. Consumers don’t save and only indulge in spending. This led to the subprime mortgage crisis. Some Chinese still worship Western ideas. They are overwhelmed by the United States, underestimate the caliber of the Chinese people and are about to miss the opportunity that comes along with the global financial crisis.”

Then, finally: “The Chinese people are great. China has to save mankind. Amid the financial devastation, China must lead the world to overcome the crisis. The Chinese people have been given such a critical task.”

The international media are watching the book because it clearly demonstrates the nationalistic global perspective rapidly emerging in China. From this point of view, the Chinese deserve to be unhappy. The source of Chinese pride is the millennium-old conviction that China is the center of the world. However, after the First Opium War in 1840, China was torn apart by the Western powers. And in 1949, after almost 100 years, the communist government was established, and the territory was somewhat united. And during the 40 years of the Cold War, China was overwhelmed by the Soviet Union and the United States.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, China has been working hard for 20 years under American hegemony.

Now in 2009, the 60th anniversary of the Communist Party regime, China can recover its pride. With the money earned from selling goods to the United States, China bought U.S. Treasury bonds. Now that the United States is in economic crisis, China can proudly say as a creditor that America is not right. Unless the United States gives China the treatment it deserves, China will help no more.

This is China’s subjective perspective. Having been hurt and forced to struggle, many Chinese think this way. Of course, it is not the official position of the Chinese government. Yet the absolute majority of the Chinese people shares the perspective, and some of the leaders are considered to be in covert agreement.

Last February, Xi Jinping, the most likely successor of President Hu Jintao, visited Mexico. During a meeting with local ethnic Chinese, he criticized the attitude of the West for pointing a finger at China when the West was at fault. Official Chinese media did not cover the story.

The important thing is that the Chinese government is moving in this direction gradually yet firmly. And in reality, the United States and other countries cannot resist such a move.

More importantly, the Korean Peninsula is most directly influenced by the emergence of China. In particular, China is the only country in the world that can influence North Korea.

If China were not there for Pyongyang, it is doubtful whether North Korea could have developed nuclear and missile programs. If China had not helped the North, it could not have afforded to decline America’s food assistance. Would the North have been able to launch a missile despite U.S. pressure? Could it open and close Kaesong Industrial Complex as it pleases? If China really wants to lead the world, it should understand that some countries, including Korea, could become unhappy because of China. In addition, Korea needs to remind China what it’s like when the shoe is on the other foot.


The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Oh Byung-sang

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