China’s dangerous dreamRemarks made by Chinese President Xi Jinping on a recent visit here clearly showed why he came to South Korea before visiting the North. As many experts have pointed out, Xi wants to pull South Korea away from the trilateral security regime of Seoul, Tokyo and Washington amid a contest of strength among China, the United States and Japan. His latest visit to Seoul and his charm offensive during his stay are aimed at both Japan, which is exhibiting early signs of desiring to become a military superpower, and the United States, which stands behind Tokyo’s rearming. Washington’s endorsement of Tokyo’s decision to exercise its right of “collective self-defense” despite Seoul and Beijing’s concerns also plays into Xi’s move to engage South Korea.
Immediately after taking office in November 2012, Xi announced a significant statement on the so-called “China dream” when he visited the National Museum’s Road to Revival exhibition with six members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China. “In my view, realizing the great renewal of the Chinese nation is the Chinese nation’s greatest dream in modern history,” Xi said. “The China dream has encapsulated the long-cherished aspiration of Chinese people of several generations, represented the overall interests of the
Chinese nation and Chinese people, and has been a common expectation of every Chinese.”
The exhibition showed the trajectory of China’s rise from the hardships and disgrace of the Opium War in 1840 to the rejuvenation of the country. The context of the so-called China dream can be summarized as regaining the Qing Dynasty’s territory. During his speech at Seoul National University, Xi talked about the China dream. By mentioning several cases of solidarity between China and Korea - Silla prince turned Buddhist monk Kim Gyo-gak, who practiced asceticism and passed away on China’s Mount Jiuhua; Choe Chi-won, who rose to a high post in the Tang Dynasty; the Ming Dynasty’s support of Joseon during Japan’s invasion in 1592; and Baekbeom Kim Gu’s independence movement against Japan in China - Xi tried to persuade Koreans to join his China Dream. And yet, it was notable that Xi failed to mention examples of China and South Korea being at odds with each other, such as the second Manchu invasion of Korea and China’s intervention in the Korean War, which prevented Korea’s reunification.