On par with MaoChinese President Xi Jinping placed himself on the same rank as legendary leaders Mao Zedong, who had founded the People’s Republic of China, and Deng Xiaoping, who opened China’s economy in the 1980s. The 19th National Congress closed on Tuesday after including Xi’s name on the Communist Party constitution.
Previously, only Mao and Deng had their names tied to their signature theories — or policies guiding the party and country in the coming years. The enshrinement of Xi on par with Mao and Deng underscores unquestionable support behind his power and campaign to revive Chinese hegemony after its humiliations from the Opium War in the 19th century.
With the legitimate mandate, Xi and China could become more aggressive to strengthen national power. Xi revised Deng’s vision of pushing China to a mid-level rank by mid-21st century. He vowed to make China a top state in military and other capabilities.
We hope China is not using the circumstances in the Korean Peninsula as an excuse to strengthen its powers. In last week’s political report, Xi declared that no country should retreat into becoming an isolated island, apparently referring to North Korea. He also aimed at Seoul with his comment that no state should expect China to gulp down a bitter fruit that could be harmful to China, as if referring to the row over Korea’s deployment of a U.S. antimissile system.
Strongmen are at the helm of global powers concerning Korea. Rightist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a snap election and is set to become the longest-serving Japanese leader and push ahead with his ambition to remilitarize and build up arms. The United States and Russia are also led by aggressive leaders.
The current situation requires resolute leadership and statesmanship in Seoul. We must break out of being occupied with the past and instead focus our resources and wisdom to defend and ensure the country’s future.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 25, Page 34