A visit to Beijing backfires

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A visit to Beijing backfires

The six first-term lawmakers in the opposition Minjoo Party of Korea — led by Kim Young-ho representing Seodaemun District B — made trouble in their recent visit to China, as expected.

Shin Dong-geun, a member of the delegation and a legislator representing Incheon Seo-gu B, said, “China stated that it can restore its blood ties with North Korea if South Korea deploys the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system.” But that was a lie.

Shin made the remarks to Korean correspondents based in Beijing. But after his remarks ran on Korean media, China complained to him, “Why do you deliver what we said in the wrong way? None of us made such remarks (in our discussions on the Thaad deployment).”

It is hard to decipher what Rep. Shin — a former dentist and a member of the Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee at the National Assembly — meant by his words. The fuss could be attributed to his meager expertise in diplomacy and national security, which could trigger huge international repercussions with regard to the volatile issue.

His real intention is yet to be found. Did he want to deliver the Chinese government’s will to retaliate against South Korea even by fabricating what they said? Or did he lack an ability to comprehend what his Chinese counterparts said? Or did he make populist remarks in a bid to attract voters’ attention? They have to be answered. But first, he must explain why he delivered the wrong message, make apology, and be held accountable for his fabrication.

Whatever the case, the lawmaker showed a shameful image of Korean lawmakers to China. In addition to lawmakers Kim and Shin, others members of the group — including Sohn Hye-won, Kim Byung-wook, So Byung-hoon and Park Jeong — all went ahead with the trip to Beijing as if it had been students’ field trip — without any sense of the gravity of issue. They returned Wednesday after being fully exploited by China as it wishes.

The Global Times, China’s state-run newspaper, went so far as to ridicule their visit to Beijing, saying that they left the room as if fleeing from the scene with only three vain words. The six first-term lawmakers helped China demonstrate its cherished art of living — a warm welcome when necessary, but dumping someone like an old shoe when unnecessary.

Their trip to China explicitly shows the futility of the diplomacy by our lawmakers often conducted in the name of “legislative diplomacy” when an intergovernmental clash occurs over sensitive issues. Opposition lawmakers must learn a lesson from them.
JoongAng Ilbo, August 11, Page 30
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