WALKS THE WALK
ON THE GREAT WALL
The last thing that President Barack Obama did during his first visit to China was to take a
solitary stroll on the ramparts of the Great Wall of China. During those precious quiet
minutes alone, what thoughts could have crossed his mind?
Earlier, many hefty issues were raised with Hu Jintao, President of China and General
Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. Trade and currency, censorship, human
rights, global warning, military cooperation, – these and others were broached and none
conclusively resolved. Our President must have sensed a more muscular China, flexing
and pushing harder against a United States still struggling at home with high
unemployment and a high federal deficit.
Could his mind’s eye wander back to that oversized portrait of Mao ZeDong still framing
Tian An Men? If he did, he must have recalled the most famous, indeed, infamous dicta
of China’s Great Dictator – “Political Power Grows Out of the Barrel of the Gun.” If he did,
he could have taken genuine comfort and even inspiration knowing that by his initiative
and display of humility, he has taken great steps towards disarming the dead hand of the
When two mighty nuclear armed nations engage in dialogue, however chilly and
seemingly unproductive, they are unlikely to resort to armed conflict, however great the
differences. And the dialogue must and will continue.
Did Obama think of another wall of recent memory – the Berlin Wall? If he did, he must
have recalled the clarion challenge issued by President Ronald Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev,
tear down this wall.” If he did, our President must have smiled to himself and said very
quietly “Mr. Hu, I shall be back.”
And the World will be a better place for it.
An Opinion by Charleston C. K. Wang, November 23, 2009
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