China’s media spiteBeijing appears to be mounting a retaliatory campaign after Seoul’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system in South Korea, which defied China’s repeated opposition to the powerful U.S.-controlled radar in its neighbor country. China scaled down a Chinese delegation to a chicken and beer festival in Daegu, North Gyeongsang, and Chinese bloggers indefinitely postponed a planned visit to Gangwon Province. Chinese authorities are finding fault with Korean products. There was a crackdown on smuggled Korean cosmetics. It is a pity that bilateral relations have to be chilled by a security decision.
The People’s Daily recently carried op-eds by two South Koreans that contributed to Beijing’s argument against Thaad. In Monday’s paper, a former presidential secretary gave six reasons for opposing the U.S. missile system based on questions of efficacy and safety.
He claimed the battery is welcome nowhere on South Korean soil.
In Sunday’s paper, Lee Sang-man, a professor at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University, accused the Korean government of disregarding hopes for peaceful unification and public safety in favor of servicing U.S. interests.
Beijing has grounds to oppose to Thaad, but it need not go against common civility by using its media to slam Korea.
The action by the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, is worrisome, as the pieces could be seen as intended to increase the divide in public opinion about Thaad in Korea. The paper carried the contributions in the upper right section of the op-ed page to make sure they would be read. The first article represented the view of a villager from Seongju County, the site chosen to host the battery, and the second offered reasons against Thaad from the perspective of an expert in international affairs.
The articles appear to have an obvious motive. The paper strictly follows orders from the Communist Party. Criticizing the Korean government using Korean nationals is purely spiteful and can rouse ill feelings toward China. The media has the important role of easing tensions between nations. The articles did more harm than good.
JoongAng Ilbo, August 2, Page 30