AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

An extremely warm hard-liner

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And if there be wolves and jackals,
We greet them with a hunting rifle.
– Wo De Zu Guo (My Motherland)

THE BRIEF ARTICLE by Barbara Deming in the Los Angeles Times about the elevation of Xi Jinping to the position of vice chairman of the Central Military Commission in China is yet another example of why reading newspapers is so often a waste of time.

The story is important because the promotion means Mr. Xi is likely to become China’s next president:

“It looks like the case is closed. Based on today’s announcement, he’ll be the next leader,” said Jin Zhong, editor of Hong Kong-based Open Magazine and an analyst of the Communist Party.

What sort of man is Mr. Xi?

Well, the article says he has a reputation as being tough on corruption and friendly to business, including foreign business. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson said:

“(He’s) a guy who really knows how to get over the goal line.”

Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviewed him for a book:

“He’s extremely warm. He has none of the airs of an official who’s impressed with himself.”

Well, that’s nice. So is the information that he’s married to Peng Liyuan, a famous folk singer. (Chinese trad, but the article didn’t mention that.)

Something useful finally appears at the bottom:

“He is a safe choice. The party didn’t want uncertainty,” said Liu Junning, a political scientist based in Beijing. Liu said that Xi’s views on sensitive issues — such as whether China should open up for political reform — remain largely unknown since he had not tended to put himself on the line. “I would be surprised though over time to see him become a reformer.”

So, Mr. Xi is an extremely warm, hard-charging, business-friendly guy who isn’t interested in reforms. Is that all?

Of course not. Ms. Deming didn’t talk to enough sources.

For example, in Japan, Toshikawa Tadao referred to Xi Jinling in a recent article of Gendai Business Online. Here’s my summary of one part:

(S)ome in the conservative wing of the party, represented by former leader Jiang Zemin, think China’s attitude toward Japan and the U.S. is weak-kneed. Mr. Xi is seen as a Jiang ally, and Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen are thought to be more open to Japan and the U.S.

In the same post, I summarized another reference by freelance journalist Itagaki Eiken, formerly of the Mainichi Shimbun:

Mr. Itagaki also brings up the power struggle in the Chinese leadership. He identifies both Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao as friendly to Japan, but Xi Jinping as a hardliner influenced by the official anti-Japanese education curriculum.

Then there was today’s column by commentator Miyazaki Masahiro. While pointing out (as did several other Japanese) that Hu Jintao is now a lame duck, he also suggested that Mr. Xi had little leadership ability, that most of his experience has been in the bureaucracy, and that some see him as a miniature of Jiang Zemin. Mr. Miyazaki also noted that the military viewed Mr. Xi favorably because of his military experience, and because his politically active folk singer wife is also a major-general in the People’s Liberation Army. He thinks there is reason to be concerned that the strong military support for Mr. Xi might lead to more adventurism than occurred during Mr. Hu’s term in office. East Asian fishing folk, be on your guard!

China's next president and first lady-in-waiting

Other commentators echo the concerns that he is part of a hard-line group that will oppose greater reform and democratization. He also reportedly encouraged a crackdown on the Uighurs, while Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen wanted to take a more lenient approach. And that description of him as “extremely warm”? Another Japanese commentator referred to Mr. Xi as a happo bijin (literally, a beauty in eight directions). That does not always have good connotations in Japanese; it has the nuance of a contrived effort to cultivate good relations with everyone and to avoid offense by a person lacking either sincerity or depth of interest.

Sweet man…likes business…gets things done…beautiful wife in show business…who sings propaganda songs…anti-reform…a cultivated phony…a hard-line attitude toward the U.S., Japan and internal dissent, backed by the military, may be more likely to rattle sabers, and thinks the current leadership is wussing out.

Of all that data, which is the most important to know, and which does the Los Angeles Times provide?

Afterwords:

Of course I went looking for Peng Liyuan videos on YouTube. Found one, too! She’s performing a famous song from the 50s called Wo De Zu Guo (My Motherland)–and her singing is superb. That’s one talented major-general.

I also found a translation of the lyrics, though I cleaned it up slightly. More extensive rearranging would require Chinese language ability, and song lyrics in foreign languages are difficult to translate and have them scan like an English song anyway. People who can read Japanese will be able to follow along with some of the lyrics in the video.

*****
Large billowing waves on this big river,
Wind blowing (through) the fragrant paddies of both banks,
There is my house on the bank,
Where I can hear the usual boatman’s song
As a boat with white sails passes by.
This is my beautiful Motherland,
The land of my birth.
On this vast expanse of land,
Everywhere is beautiful scenery.

A damsel is like a flower,
That refreshes the youthful mind,
Scaling heaven and earth,
Waking the slumbering mountain,
As the river changes the scenery.

This heroine Motherland
Is where I was brought up,
In this ancient land of youthful strength.

Good mountains, water and places,
That radiate tranquility and happiness.
There are good wines for friends who come,
And if there be wolves and jackals,
We greet them with a hunting rifle.

This is my big and powerful Motherland
The land of my birth.
Over this vast land peace radiates!

This site has some more interesting information about Chinese song politics and the Xi-Peng marriage.

Watch what happens when Mr. Xi becomes president in two years. The Western media will get all gloopy about his wife, her good looks, and her singing, and ignore what she really does for a living.

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One Response to “An extremely warm hard-liner”

  1. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    然るを支那人などの如く、我国より外に国なき如く、外国の人を見ればひとくちに夷狄々々と唱え、四足にてあるく畜類のようにこれを賎しめこれを嫌い、自国の力をも計らずして妄に外国人を追い払わんとし、却ってその夷狄に窘めらるるなどの始末は、実に国の分限を知らず、一人の身の上にて言えば天然の自由を達せずして我侭放蕩に陥る者というべし。

    Yukichi Fukuzawa

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