Letter from Beijing? Return to sender

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Letter from Beijing? Return to sender


I received an e-mail from a Chinese reader, who regularly checks the JoongAng Ilbo online.

“My name is Zhang, and I live in Beijing. I plucked up the courage to write a letter to the JoongAng Ilbo as I could not help feeling anxious after reading Korean news. Please consider my opinion as a view of an average Chinese man.

“My wife and I have an argument from time to time, and the main cause of conflict is shopping. Frankly, I don’t like shopping, and I never know what to choose. I suffer from what you call ‘shopper’s block.’ All the products look so similar that I cannot decide what to pick and have to hesitate all the time. However, my wife is being extremely selective. She would carefully look through the products and examine each one a number of times. When I go shopping with her, I get tired and frustrated. I tell her to hurry and make a choice, but she insists on taking time to find something that best suits her needs. So whether we go to a department store or a grocery store, we always end up getting mad at each other.

“That may be how Koreans feel as the presidential election approaches. The candidates may seem all the same, but then again, they are very distinct. You must be agonized that your choice may not matter, but then again, your vote could make a serious change. You may feel just as confused as I do when I go shopping.

“As you well know, the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress is in progress to select the next leader of China. I am so thankful that we don’t have voters’ block. Without my hesitation and contemplation, the Congress will select the most competent, experienced, respectable and verified leader. China is so different from other countries that spend tremendous amounts of money on elections, stir up the entire country and fight over their choice of leader.

“I am sorry to be so boastful, but the 21st century is not the period of democracy versus dictatorship, but a contest between ‘good governance’ and ‘bad governance.’ Chinese governance is the most ideal way of administration, integrating the grassroots democracy of the regions and the centralized meritocracy. Chinese governance is a combination of election and selection, and it may be far superior to the Western democracy of election alone. Let’s look at the U.S. presidential election. While they advocate democracy, the election is all about money. The people are not the owners, but the top 1 percent rules the election. I hope you don’t get offended because I just feel sympathetic and wish for Korea’s success.”

After reading the e-mail, I thought for a while and sent a simple reply: “Mind your own business.” A colleague asked me, “Are you daydreaming? Didn’t you just say, ‘Mind your own business?’?”

I must have drunk a bit too much over lunch.

* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo

by Bae Myung-bok

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