Stop trading insultsAnti-Korea sentiment in China has reached its highest level in years.
Countless groundless rumors claiming South Koreans are saying this or that are circulating on the Internet, and many Chinese are believing the far-fetched stories.
The ludicrous rumors include: “South Koreans claim they really invented the four great inventions of China,” and “South Korea claims Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Phelps is Korean.”
The stories were picked up and reported by several Chinese media, and immediately distributed via Internet portal sites to 253 million Web users across China.
But the situation in South Korea is hardly better. South Koreans, aware of the growing animosity toward them in China, are reciprocating by expressing their anger at the Chinese.
Several dozen anti-China online forums are being launched on major Internet portals like Naver and Daum, and their memberships are rapidly growing.
The current debacle, if left unsolved, will damage diplomatic ties between the two countries, which have recently agreed to form a “strategic cooperative partnership.”
More significantly, South Korea cannot afford such a disaster given that China is its biggest trading partner.
President Lee Myung-bak is aware of the situation. In his speech at the JoongAng Global Forum, Lee said he is “very concerned” about the growing animosity between people in the two countries.
Experts have mooted various reasons and causes behind the hostility, but blaming each other as being more responsible for the situation is meaningless.
What is needed now is for the governments, press and Internet users in both countries to realize that such anti-Korea or anti-China sentiment is useless, and for them to collaborate to find a solution.
Above all, Web users should exercise some responsibility and try to prevent any further groundless rumors about each other from spreading on the Internet.
Media organizations on both sides should work harder to highlight the activities that cement friendship between the two countries and promote mutual understanding.
And the governments should also work harder to encourage and promote human exchanges between China and Korea.
If the right steps are taken, there is an opportunity to use this latest debacle to further promote friendship between the two countries, instead of animosity.