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Diaoyu Islands

China must shed 'victim' mentality

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 3:04am

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I refer to Philip Bowring's column ("The other tale, of Han expansion", December 2).

He wrote, "With the 18th party congress behind us and Xi Jinping now installed as leader, can China ease off on the narrative of victimhood which has been so apparent in recent months?"

Beginning with the first opium war (1839-42), China had to endure more than 100 years of humiliation at the hands of the Western powers and Japan.

Of course, China was partly to blame for this state of affairs, first through a mistaken sense of its own superiority, and then because of military ineptitude.

Now China finally has become a world economic and military power, and is a key player in global politics. But somehow Chinese people cannot get away from the "victim" mentality, especially when it concerns Japan.

If we cannot overcome this hurdle, and always act as an aggrieved child, we will not gain the respect of the world. When China was a weakling, it was bullied by others; now that it is a strong country, its citizens need to act in a way that befits the nation's international status.

The Diaoyus/Senkakus dispute with Japan is a case in point. The anti-Japanese demonstrations on the mainland were a disgrace.

To wreck Japanese restaurants and department stores, and to put at risk the safety of innocent Japanese citizens, is not an act of patriotism, but simply thuggery.

On the political front, although Beijing has a near watertight case to prove that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China, instead of going through the proper legal channels to reclaim sovereignty of the islands, it took to patrolling the islands as if they were already Chinese territory.

It is incomprehensible that China, in wanting to be a key player in the world, seems to think it can make up its own rules and the world will follow.

What is worse is Beijing's stance in the South China Sea dispute with various countries. It seems to want to use muscle and dictate to the other countries involved to abide by its terms and its terms alone.

These disputes are still unresolved because of unclear historical records.

Our government needs to approach the countries concerned with reason and with respect.

Muscle flexing through a display of our military prowess by our government, and blind patriotism coupled with Chinese people's victim mentality, will get us nowhere.

Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui