Heydays of strongmen

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Heydays of strongmen


“Now, there are four Putins: Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un who says he has exceeded Putin, Trump who likes Putin, and Xi Jinping who wishes to resemble Putin,” said a Chinese scholar as he conveyed diplomatic news from Beijing.

Xi is not the only one. The Chinese have long loved the Russian leader. In early 2014, Putin annexed the Crimea Peninsula in Ukraine. China raved over Putin’s tactic to turn the crisis into an opportunity. Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV aired a five-part documentary titled “Strongman Putin.” On New Year’s Day, China’s CCTV presented a talk show titled “Will Strongman Putin Throw a Punch Again?” and predicted a strike on Syria.

“In territorial dispute, there is no deal but only war.” “Russia’s land is vast, but not an inch is useless.” “Russia has only two allies, the Army and the Navy.” “The rules of the jungle are valid for long.” These are some Putin remarks that are popular in China.

After serving as the prime minister and a constitutional revision, Putin secured power until 2024. Xi is eager to learn from Putin. A China’s Communist Party source told the Wall Street Journal that Xi was planning a similar leadership system like Putin’s model. For the great rise of China, Xi should rule for at least 20 years, the source said. Mao Zedong built the nation and Deng Xiaoping made China rich. Xi Jinping aspires to make China strong.

Another strongman, Donald Trump, signaled the beginning of the nuclear chicken game. Nuclear specialist and Tsinghua University professor Li Bin said that China would not fall into Trump’s nuclear trap, and the nuclear capability and the ability to break the missile defense system will become more advanced. “Trump wants to regain the lost leadership in global nuclear order by leaving the nuclear reduction treaty, rearmament of nuclear warheads and augmentation of nuclear delivery devices.”

There are a number of “foxes” assisting China’s strongman. Tsinghua University’s Yan Xuetong is a hawk known as Xi’s diplomatic messenger. He advised that China shift its foreign policy from attaining political purposes through economic leverage to directly using force.

Xi’s real “fox” is Wang Huning, head of the Central Policy Research Office. After teaching in the U.S., he published “The United States Opposes the United States” in 1991, analyzing U.S. strengths and weakness. He also participated in the One Road One Belt project, a 21st century strategy to unite Europe, Russia and China to counter the U.S.

Korea’s populism is busy tracing President Park’s history of beauty treatments. When the strong collides with the strong, they will break.

The homework for Korea in 2017 is to elect a leader with a flexible mindset and find clever strategists.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 31, Page 26

*The author is the Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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