What would you do in China’s situation?Since China allegedly took several measures to retaliate against South Korea over its decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system, there have been quite a few opinion pieces coming out of conservative South Korean media complaining and lambasting China. “Getting real about China” was the latest piece.
While I understand where you are coming from, I really do, I have to ask you to ask yourself this question: What would I do if I were China? Or, what would I do if I were in China’s situation?
Regardless of what your rationale and intentions behind deploying Thaad are (I do believe South Korea only had North Korea in mind, not China), the fact of the matter is, Thaad plays a significant role in the U.S.’s grand strategy to encircle and contain China. The Chinese know it, and the Americans know it.
Militarily Thaad is probably not as menacing as it is feared to be and the Chinese probably have ways to neutralize it and render it useless, but strategically and symbolically it is truly a gesture of containment and an infringement on China’s national security and strategic interests. Therefore China has to respond, otherwise it would be seen as an invitation for further Thaad deployments and similar devices to be deployed against China. Not responding will send a message that China is weak and can’t do a thing about it to the rest of the world, especially to the Americans and their allies like South Korea and Japan.
OK, do we agree that China has to respond at this point? If so, how should China respond if you were China’s leaders? Certainly China can’t respond militarily. What other venues can China pursue? What other options does China have other than in the realm of economics and trade (just like how China does it vis-à-vis North Korea too)? What would you have done differently if you were in China’s shoes?
So, again I understand why you have been complaining about these alleged retaliation measures as they might hurt your economic interests, but that’s pretty much the only thing China can do, is it not? What else can China do?
I often read from South Korean commentators whining about “China’s true face”, “China is back to its imperialistic past,” “China does not deserve the G-2 status if they do this” etc. They are so naïve and out of touch with the reality, I have to say. Do they expect China to just do nothing? Do they expect any other country, including the U.S., even your very own South Korea to behave any differently if their core interests have been infringed upon?
I urge you to ponder these questions.
Xiao Fan, Chinese citizen in Beijing