[EDITORIALS]A diplomatic contretempsChina forcibly barred a press conference called by Grand National Party lawmakers visiting Beijing to investigate the kidnapping of Reverend Kim Dong-shik and the North Korean defector issue.
Chinese security agents marched into the conference venue and turned off the microphones and lights. Journalists were forcibly driven out of the conference room. Scuffles broke out among the security agents and reporters as well as the lawmakers.
It is unacceptable that China, one of the global powers and the host of the 2008 Olympic Games, treated legislators of a friendly nation in such a manner by employing security forces. Politicians meet wih journalists and hold press conferences. And journalists show up at newsmaking events for their reporting. That is a right unquestionably guaranteed in all civilized nations around the world.
Whether the content of the press conference is newsworthy or not is decided by the media, not the Chinese public security authorities.
Some South Korean Foreign Ministry officials said the Chinese Foreign Ministry had informed them that the event was canceled, but the lawmakers ignored the warning. They said such an incident took place because of the legislators’ snub. That is not logical.
Journalists’ reporting and politicians’ calling a news conference do not require someone’s permission. We understand that the legislators intended to reveal sensitive issues that might upset Pyeongyang. But covering one’s eyes with one’s hands cannot conceal the reality. It is wise to recognize the reality and chose to make improvements.
China’s lack of awareness of press freedom and the diplomatic mishap with a friendly nation will never help Beijing in its aim to become the leader of Asia and the world with its economic power. China will instead become a laughingstock in the international arena.
The incident must not become any more serious and hinder relations between the two countries. China, however, must remember that it is hard to find a good friend but easy to lose one.
Seoul’s Foreign Ministry must lodge a strong complaint with Beijing and demand punishment of the responsible officials, rather than emphasizing the peculiar nature of China’s domestic affairs.