The lesson that Chinese netizens learnt from Jang Song Thaek’s execution

Alia | December 17th, 2013 - 5:21 am

The execution of Kim Jon Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, last week stunned the world, including Chinese netizens, whose government is the reign’s biggest backer. The execution has been widely seen as a move that will diminish China’s influence over its increasingly unstable neighbor. But such instability is not without merit.  

Jang Song-thaekDramas created by North Korea are a constant reminder to the Chinese people of what China has grown out of and why China cannot go back. Like netizen 老徐时评 commented: “The best thing of the execution is that it has made a lot of us be more assertive than ever about the true nature of North Korea, a country that we’ve supported for so many years.”

The sudden purge of a country’s second most powerful man isn’t something new to the Chinese people. Apart from countless similar incidents throughout China’s long history, modern China itself isn’t short of similar executions during the notorious Cultural Revolution. “Those who didn’t experience the Cultural Revolution themselves, please read the news carefully. The exact same thing happened in our country, too.” Netizen 请勿关照 commented.

“To be in the king’s company is like living with a tiger,” thus goes an old Chinese saying. And that’s exactly why many Chinese people are working to make sure that there will be no more “kings” in the middle kingdom. To limit the powers of a privileged few and to promote rule of law is the only way to go. 

“The co-existence of North Korea and South Korea is like an art of God. Among two countries that are similar in tradition, size, source and location, one becomes heaven and the other hell, only because of their differences in political system. So please don’t use ‘national characteristics’ as excuses. Political system is the most fundamental national characteristic.” Netizen 司令本 commented.

“Democracy doesn’t fit China due to the country’s unique cultures and histories” is what’s commonly used by the Chinese government to defy calls for reform. But seeing what has happened in North Korea, not many people in China would doubt the necessity of political reform.

Out of strategic concerns, China may continue to back North Korea up. But how long will it take before the Chinese government say “enough is enough”, especially when such aid and support are glowingly upsetting its own people? Nothing provides a better example than North Korea that an authoritarian state won’t lead its people to prosperity. A fact that Beijing wouldn’t want its people to be constantly reminded of. 

In response to a picture where North Korean officials and military forces vowed loyalty to Kim Jon Un, one Chinese netizen 萧及军 commented: “How familiar! ‘The Chinese people firmly support the decision by the Chinese Communist Party.’  We’ve seen too many of such scenes.”

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