[EDITORIALS]Middle Kingdom?

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[EDITORIALS]Middle Kingdom?

Chinese police officers invaded the South Korean Consulate General in Beijing, beat up Korean diplomats and abducted by force North Korean defectors who were inside the consulate.

The forward-looking bilateral relationship between Korea and China has been severely wounded by the incident. Koreans who saw the videotaped scenes are not only outraged but also in shock.

The Chinese police violated Korean sovereignty, and the armed police officers, smelling of alcohol, violently shoved aside and assaulted protesting Korean diplomats and journalists on the spot.

That is a serious provocation -- brutality that cannot be tolerated in a civilized country.

Furthermore, China Central Television unilaterally blocked a Korean broadcasting company's effort to transmit video footage of the incident to Seoul. That was probably dictated by the Chinese government, which seems to have some serious flaws in its ability to reason and judge its actions.

The incident at the consulate involves complicated issues: violations of the human rights of North Korean defectors who would be cruelly punished if they were deported to North Korea, the Chinese police's illegal intrusion into the consulate and a physical assault on our diplomats.

If China keeps saying things that are pure nonsense, it will soon have little face left in international society.

China is trying to become a new leader of international society by joining the World Trade Organization and hosting the 2008 Olympic games. To stop a few pitiful North Korean defectors, it trampled on human rights and violated international law. China has lost most of its dignity, and its relations with South Korea are now in great jeopardy.

Beijing should apologize to Seoul without delay, punish the people responsible for the incident and return the North Korean defector they seized from the consulate. Seoul should handle this matter in a principled manner.

Our government should also keep in mind that South Korea's dignity is at stake.
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