Monday, September 06, 2010

"Which country is China's best friend?"

While driving in a taxi to go to the Guangzhou Book Center on Sunday, I had an interesting chat with the taxi driver. Having heard that I am a South Korean, he was obviously making some jokes and teasing me with various questions. One of the questions, after a brief exchange of views about the South Korean navy vessel that sunk recently,  was why South Korea does not attack North Korea to reunify the peninsula. Below is a simplified version of what went on between us two:

Driver: Why doesn't South Korea attack North Korea?
Me: Why do you say that?
Driver: To re-unify the peninsula.
Me: That would result in many deaths.
Driver: That doesn't matter, if the countries are re-unified [some sort of human costs to be accepted].
Me: What would you say if the United States attacked China and many people died?
Driver: That would not matter. There are so many people in China anyway.
Me: What if your brothers and sisters died?
Driver: Oh, then, it's not good.

Obviously, this line of argument, while very much simplified, tends to dominate some of the international relations discourses with regard to the Korean peninsula, often led by right-wing conservatives that do not seem to mind the use of military power.

Another discussion then followed about which country was the best friend of China. To my question, the driver said that North and South Korea were the best friends, though I would reckon he said this after having known that I was South Korean. Then, he asked what I thought, and I replied, "the USA would be the best friend of China at the moment". This reply seemed to have been something he didn't expect to hear. After pondering on this for a few seconds, he asked, "what do you do?"

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