Trump's Korea Gaffe Exposes Hegemonic Thinking in China

      April 20, 2017 12:41

      U.S. President Donald Trump last week claimed that Chinese President Xi Jinping told him that Korea "actually used to be a part of China." Well, actually it did not, but many Chinese people tend to believe something along those lines, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences used to have a project going to prove that the ancient Korean kingdom of Koryo was part of China.

      At the root of this nonsense lies a powerful hegemonic nationalism that has become wrapped up with the Chinese brand of communism, and a sense of entitlement that stretches back to the days when Asian kingdoms paid tribute to the empire.

      China is a bully. It has refused to hear South Korea's rationale for deploying a U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here and has launched an unofficial economic boycott. The ostensible reason is that it worries about the powerful radar that comes with the battery, which it thinks will be used to spy on its military activities.

      Yet Beijing has never taken issue with a much more powerful radar being used in Japan, for which it has some grudging respect. Beijing's retaliatory measures, like shutting down Lotte supermarkets in China for minor health-and-safety infractions, are simply petty, and motivated by nothing more than a bully's belief that Korea somehow owes it obeisance.

      Trump's own ignorance is already well documented, but it is worrying that he will take history lessons about Korea from such an obviously biased teacher as Xi. Korea needs to remain alert in these baffling times.

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