By Oh Young-jin
Chinese leader Xi Jinping had dream for his country.In 2012, Xi laid out the plan for it, called “Two 100s.”
The first 100 is that by 2021, the centennial of the communist party, China will be moderately wealthy. The second is about it joining the ranks of advanced nations by 2049, the 100th anniversary of People’s Republic of China.
For the first goal, he may claim some credit but for the more ambitious second, he is foundering. More exactly he runs the risk of turning China into a monstrous bully that is doomed to the second-rated state.
By and large, Xi only has himself to blame.
At the heart of the coming failure is his tendency to lie blatantly and get his way whatever way, even if it goes against the norms in advanced countries’ behavior.
One example is about China’s Korea bashing.
Xi’s government has instigated the boycott of products and outlets of Lotte, the Korean retailer that has offered land for the deployment of U.S. missile interceptor here to counter North Korea’s missile threat.
Its Foreign Ministry made an unveiled bold threat, telling Korea that it should get ready to take punitive measures. China’s official papers ― People’s Daily and Global Times ― also participated in the Korea bashing, saying that Korea would suffer the worst of crossfire in a war between China and the United States. Beijing feigned ignorance about administrative harassment inflicted on Lotte, which has closed one third of its retail outlets in China.
Barely two months ago in Davos, Switzerland, Xi played the role of globalist evangelist to the international audience at the World Economic Forum, condemning protectionism and isolationism and calling for the open and rules-based economy.
Then, Xi said, “We must remain committed to developing global free trade and investment, and say no to protectionism” …”pursuing protectionism is just like locking one’s self in a dark room. Wind and rain might be kept outside but so are light and air.”
Which version represents the real Xi?
At the start of this speech, Xi was even caught disclosing his one-man-above-everybody else autocratic tendency calling the Davos forum the summit of “Schwab” for the annual confab’s founder Klaus Schwab. If he were a real democratic leader, he wouldn’t have made such a comparison.
There is another Xi, a dyed-in-wool Cold War warrior. In his speech marking the 95th anniversary of his party in July 2016, Xi revealed his true colors.
“We are now witnessing the aggressive actions by the United States against Russia and China. I believe that Russia and China may form an alliance before which NATO will be powerless and it will put the end to the imperialist aspirations of the West.”
This statement explains why they have renewed their joint effort to counter the Korea-U.S. decision to deploy THAAD missile defense system. Also indicative is that Xi has an animosity against the West ingrained into his DNA with the ultimate goal of destroying the world order.
This Cold-War camaraderie also extends to North Korea despite embarrassment it brought to China with defiant acts of building its own nuclear arsenal and delivery systems.
It may be concluded that China will not take sides with the outside world and make a serious effort to force the North to give up on its weapons of mass destruction. That assessment should be the basis for a more realistic and skeptical approach Seoul and Washington should take to address the North Korean challenge.
Xi’s Sept. 3, 2015, speech marking the 70th anniversary of what China called its victory over imperial Japan showed how deep-seated his distrust of the outside world is.
He said in part, “The victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression is the first complete victory won by China in its resistance against foreign aggression in modern times.”
This great triumph crushed the plot of the Japanese militarists to colonize and enslave China and put an end to China’s national humiliation of suffering successive defeats at the hands of foreign aggressors in modern times.”
From this statement, it can be understood that Xi’s animosity didn’t end with Japan and extended to other countries _ Britain that inflicted on China great shame and damage through the Opium Wars, Portugal that won the trophy of Macau and Germany that took Qingdao, among others.
Then Xi said, “No matter how much stronger it may become, China will never seek hegemony or expansion. It will never inflict its past suffering on any other nation.” He is caught of lying through teeth.
At Xi’s order, China has built artificial islands in South China Sea and tried to deny the global rule of freedom of navigation in international waters, seeking dominance in the region.
If that is not an example of China seeking hegemony or expansion, what could be qualified as such?
The irony is that his speech was peppered with word “peace” that it was called peace speech but obviously Xi’s peace is different from one with the universally accepted notion. That can make his China Dream a scary nightmare for the rest of the world.
Oh Young-jin is The Korea Times’ chief editorial writer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.