Searching for excusesReaction by the Korean and Chinese governments to the tragic Golden Rose incident in which a Korean cargo vessel sank off China’s east coast makes our jaw drop.
It is 10 days since the accident happened and the chances of survival for the 16 missing crew members, including seven Koreans, eight Burmese and one Indonesian grows thinner all the time.
It is no wonder we get enraged over Beijing’s late and insincere reaction to the accident as well as a wait-and-see policy of Seoul, which declined to criticize China.
We sympathize with families of the missing Koreans who reportedly went on hunger strike to protest the lackluster efforts of the Korean government.
China’s reaction after the accident was so nonsensical that one has to doubt whether the world’s most populous country belongs in the civilized global community of 21st century nations. The way the Chinese vessel ran away was terrible, as was the failure of anyone from that vessel to apologize.
The Chinese government has also been disingenuous by continuing to claim that both vessels were responsible for the accident. It has also ignored the Korean government’s criticism of the delay in reporting the accident.
No less regrettable is the Korean government’s response. In particular, its decision not to dispatch a rescue vessel following Beijing’s claim that the accident happened in Chinese waters is beyond comprehension.
It was just an unarmed rescue vessel and the Korean government should have done more rather than unquestioningly obeying China when Korean lives are at stake.
Where is the self reliance that this government has claimed it has in its relationship with the United States?
The Roh Moo-hyun administration has showed its willingness to have a good relationship with China. The Search and Rescue Agreement the two governments reached last year was one of the examples of this policy.
But, as this case shows, the policy has turned out to be wishful thinking by the Korean government.
This case serves as a chance to recognize the true China. Diplomacy is not and should never be one-sided.
Maintaining a friendly relationship with a neighboring country is important, but the government needs to give serious thought as to how to deal with China, which is likely to become more arrogant as its economy and military power grows.