Why Washington politicians need to read Cha’s Wuxia novels

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/31 21:28:40

Two major news stories caught Chinese people's attention on Tuesday. First, reports said that US President Donald Trump's post-midterm plan is slapping tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if the two countries fail to forge a breakthrough in the short term. Second, Cha Leung-yung, renowned Chinese Wuxia - martial arts chivalry - novelist, known by his pen name Jin Yong, passed away.

There seems no connection between the two incidents. US leaders most likely don't know who Cha is, at the most having watched a few movies adapted from his novels. Yet there are links. Cha's passing away when tensions between Beijing and Washington boil over may turn out to be a hint to Washington that peremptorily pressuring China, hoping that Beijing will back down, will not work. US politicians need to add Cha's books to their reading list.

Hard-liners in the White House tend to habitually miscalculate China's reaction and resilience to stress and hardships. This is because they don't understand the spirit of the Chinese people, vividly and incisively presented in Cha's novels.

Few writers or scholars have received as overwhelming condolences on Chinese social media as Cha. His social influence is immeasurable, as his countless fans either yearn for the chivalry and righteousness present in his stories or worship the hero who inhabits them. Only after US strategists read Cha's books can they understand that real heroes in Chinese people's eyes are those willing to sacrifice themselves to help others and their countries, those who endeavor to change the world, no matter how ordinary they may be.

Cha's kung-fu methodology is the way Chinese people like to work: Superior martial arts do not derive from a single skill, but a combination and recalibration of various fighting techniques. How do we defeat enemies? The answer from Cha was loyalty, filial piety, abstinence and righteousness. This is the core of traditional Chinese culture. Why does Guo Jing in The Legend of the Condor Heroes receive so much help on his way to becoming a master? Because he is an honest, upright and decent man.

Chinese people are never fans of aggression. This is well explained in Cha's novels. Take The Legend of the Condor Heroes, where Genghis Khan, founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, one of the largest empires in history, died with an enigma in his heart. Yes, he conquered more than twice as much land as any other ruler in history, yet his achievements came at the cost of millions of lives. So was he a true hero?

When facing foreign invasions, there were always people who walked into the turbulence to save their compatriots. For generations, the Chinese people have adored and appreciated such stories in adoration of a greater good. Would Washington dare play this elaborate game of chicken with Beijing if the US politicians had to face Chinese people of such legendary fortitude?

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