In his July 9 column, “Revolution and democracy, ” Hugh Cortazzi mistakenly attributes an oft-quoted remark to Chinese politician Deng Xiaoping. It was Zhou Enlai who, back in the early 1970s, is supposed to have commented that it was too soon to tell when asked about the effects of the French Revolution.
However, Zhou wasn’t actually referring to the revolution in 1789 but to the much more recent events of May 1968, which makes his reply more plausible, though much less quotable.
Probably the misunderstood Zhou quote will remain popular for a very long time, as it nurtures the hope that there are politicians in this world who exhibit less short-term thinking than our local ones. With problems such as nuclear waste and global warming, we need more long-term thinking on behalf of the generations who will live on this planet after us.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.