Acting very smallChinese authorities are suspected of taking retaliatory actions against Lotte Group, bombarding it with fire safety, hygiene and tax probes after Seoul decided to deploy a U.S. antimissile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad). The location for the deployment is a golf course owned by Lotte Group. Lotte’s Chinese headquarters in Shanghai and more than 150 retail shops and manufacturing bases across China have come under sudden inspections.
China has been taking a tit-for-tat approach to punish Korea for going ahead with the Thaad deployment it strongly opposed. Beijing fears that it is one of the targets of the Thaad system’s surveillance by its powerful radar system. China has forced tourism agencies to cut back visitors to Korea by 20 percent and banned broadcasters from airing Korean TV programs. It even stopped the Korean ambassador in China from attending an opening ceremony of a Korean factory in China.
Beijing is acting very small considering its colossal size. Its actions go against the pledge by Chinese President Xi Jinping to pursue a sound relationship with its neighboring countries through the four principles of friendliness, sincerity, mutual benefits and engagement.
It is taking out its frustrations on a weaker party because it cannot outright protest to the United States for bringing in a powerful missile system. Its logic is poor as it merely protests the Thaad deployment without providing another viable option to strengthen deterrence against an escalating North Korean nuclear and missile threat.
We ask China to stop its offensive over Thaad. Seoul should endeavor to take more consideration of Beijing’s position on its decision over Thaad. It should up its partnerships on the economic and cultural front so that security conflicts do not spill over to other realms. Korean companies in the meanwhile should re-examine their business strategies in China to leverage against political risks.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 3, Page 26
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