China’s take on Choi
Without addressing the illegal operation of these fishing boats, Bi only expressed concerns that the Korean Coast Guard would “habitually resort to weapons.” “A tougher diplomatic stance can be taken by China,” he wrote. “This has to be done in a proper manner to avoid falling victim to South Korea’s internal politics.” He cleverly stirred nationalistic sentiment among Chinese leaders while expressing concerns that nationalistic antagonism could damage the basis of our bilateral relationship.
The People’s Daily went a step further and used the scandal to pressure Seoul to adjust its diplomacy. Prof. Zheng Jiyong of Fudan University’s Center for Korean Studies wrote that the Korean legislature was investigating how much Choi Soon-sil had been involved in the Park government’s foreign policy, including on such issues as deployment of a missile defense system and reparations for “comfort women.”
Zheng cited a Korean foreign affairs ministry official who said any policy announcement would lead to suspicions on its purpose and decision-making process, and this would affect the hard-line policy on Pyongyang.
He also cited Lu Zongwei, former director of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, who said the missile defense system deployment was decided in a secret room in the Blue House, and that if American defense lobbying was involved, Park’s political career was in jeopardy and the deployment would be postponed.
Lu Zongwei, who was vice minister of state security until last year, wrote in a Nov. 13 column in the Wenhui Daily that “Korea suffered an international humiliation and is faced with a ‘lost decade’ in the turbulent time of international order. If the owner of the Blue House is changed due to the scandal, Korean foreign policy will be reset completely.”
Despite the unreasonable claims of the Chinese state media, Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains silent. China has made nothing more than verbal promises on economic and security cooperation. The stance of many Koreans in Beijing is that “Korea offered a piece of flesh and got rice cake in return.” A vegetable president cannot handle China under the leadership of Xi Jinping. We desperately need restored leadership in diplomacy. Now, hesitation is a luxury.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 16, Page 29
*The author is the Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.