[EDITORIALS]Values go undefended in China

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[EDITORIALS]Values go undefended in China

Chinese security authorities used force earlier this week to shut down a press conference in Beijing held by Korean Grand National Party lawmakers to address issues related to North Korean defectors. The South Korean Foreign Ministry’s handling of the matter was extremely disappointing.
Immediately after the incident, the Foreign Ministry called Li Bin, China’s ambassador to South Korea, to express regret, but failed to communicate Koreans’ displeasure with China’s arrogance.
A spokesman for China’s own foreign ministry brazenly said that the lawmakers must offer Beijing an apology; Seoul’s response to this was lukewarm, with neither a complaint nor a refutation issued.
On the contrary, a South Korean diplomat in Beijing said, “China made a mistake, but South Korea also is at fault.” The diplomat indicated that the incident could damage the friendship between the two countries.
Undeniably, the Foreign Ministry mishandled this incident. This issue has nothing to do with the need to continue and expand our amicable and cooperative relations with China in order to resolve the nuclear problem on the peninsula, address regional issues in Northeast Asia and expand bilateral economic cooperation.
Put simply, the incident is nothing but China’s arrogant use of violence against press freedom and human rights, accepted norms of the international community. Nevertheless, our Foreign Ministry failed to complain about this uncivilized behavior. Instead, the ministry tried to connect the issue with the two countries’ friendship. That will actually hinder efforts to expand exchanges between the two countries.
China experts and Chinese security authorities themselves cannot say for sure whether the country’s laws require government permission for all press conferences in China. It is a basic right of people to contact journalists in order to voice their opinion. The press conference was not an attempt to intervene in China’s domestic affairs; it was only to support the human rights of a victim of kidnapping. And the press exists to nurture the universal value of human rights.
This incident is irrelevant to the spread of anti-China sentiment. The South Korean Foreign Ministry has failed to address this issue in an appropriate manner. What values is our Foreign Ministry protecting?
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