Beijing gets nastyChina appears to increasingly put pressure on South Korea over Seoul’s decision to allow the deployment of the U.S-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system to South Korea. Beijing cancelled an event to promote academic exchanges between the two countries and a meeting between popular Korean drama actors and actresses and Chinese fans. The Chinese government even took the action of cutting the scenes of Korean actors in Chinese TV dramas before they were broadcast in China.
China’s decision to toughen the requirements for commercial visas for Korean nationals raises suspicion that it could lead to a suspension of visa issuance sooner or later. A UN resolution denouncing North Korea’s latest launch of ballistic missiles could not pass in the face of China’s opposition. All the development points to a China trying to use all kinds of cards on the table to bully South Korea.
More concerning is the full-fledged “Korea bashing” by the Chinese media. After the raw attacks waged by the Global Times, the People’s Daily— an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party — is jumping on the bandwagon.
The paper has recently run four opinion pieces attacking President Park Geun-hye for the government’s decision to deploy the Thaad battery to Seongju County, North Gyeongsang. Following the first op-ed on July 29 warning a painful price Seoul has to pay for the deployment, the paper on August 1 waged a malicious attack nearing a curse — “The decision will force South Korea to burn itself” — followed by another threat after two days that President Park must avoid pushing the nation into a worst situation by taking the most penny-wise and pound-foolish path. If the Park government does not deal with the issue prudently, South Korea will become a target for a strike, the paper warned. It is regrettable that Beijing resorts to an outrageous — and totally unacceptable — blackmail.
South Korea is a sovereign state just like China. But we regard China as a “big country” not simply because of its huge size of territory and populations but because of our expectations that it would speak words and take actions befitting its purported image as a big nation.
But the way China has been reacting to the Thaad deployment only makes us wonder if China really has such qualifications as a G-2 nation to leas the world together with Uncle Sam. It would be worrisome if China has really turned its backs on South Korea to force it to withdraw the deployment decision through a meticulously choreographed propaganda war aimed at fueling anti-Thaad sentiments among South Koreans.
JoongAng Ilbo, August 5, Page 26