[EDITORIALS]An arrogant comedyFour Chinese diplomats in Seoul refused to take a Breathalyzer test this week. Instead, in an incident that was both comic and bizarre, they sat in their car for eight hours from Tuesday night until Wednesday morning.
The police at the checkpoint claim they told the passengers that they could drive away as long as they could prove they were diplomats, but the passengers kept their windows closed and sat tight until after sunrise.
The Chinese Embassy claimed that stopping a car with diplomat plates for a Breathalyzer test violates diplomatic immunity. They cited the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that stipulates such immunity. The embassy maintains that the police should have let the car drive away when it saw its diplomatic plates, instead of trying to test the driver. But this argument does not make sense. When a car has diplomatic plates, it does not necessarily mean the driver is a diplomat. It could be a stolen car. It is natural and fair for the police to demand the driver prove his or her identity. It is hard to understand why the Chinese occupants refused to verify their identities. Some argue that they probably did not because they are arrogant and do not respect Korea.
Diplomatic immunity is aimed at helping diplomats operate more smoothly without harassment from prosecution. It is not designed to allow diplomats to violate or ignore legitimate law enforcement officers of a host country. In any civilized country, Breathalyzer tests are taken in order to protect innocent citizens’ lives.
Diplomatic immunity exists to protect diplomats from arbitrary prosecutions ― it does not grant them a permit for drunk driving. If the police have previously let cars with diplomatic plates pass through sobriety checkpoints, that practice should be changed. If it is found out that a driver is under the influence he should be punished, diplomat or not, with appropriate measures, such as the suspension of his driver’s license.
The Korea’s Foreign Ministry gave the impression that it was protecting the diplomats, probably because of its overly passive diplomatic stance toward China. In the same sycophantic fashion, Korea’s government has not raised its voice when China glorifies its history by distorting ours, and it has done nothing when China sends North Korean defectors back to be tortured and killed.
We should declare the Chinese diplomats in question persona non grata and take appropriate diplomatic measures to expel them for arrogant disregard of our laws.