China must stop nonsensical retaliations

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China must stop nonsensical retaliations

The Chinese government’s economic retaliation against South Korea is heading to a climax after the deployment of the U.S. antimissile system Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad). While Beijing bases its retaliations on Korean companies’ violation of the law in China, the move translates into a warning to strong-arm Seoul.

It’s been a while since China has emerged as an economic giant in the world. But does it really behave in a manner befitting its newfound economic power? China levied similar retaliations on Japan in 2012 in the territorial disputes over the Senkaku (Diaoyu in China) Islets and against Taiwan for similar reasons last year. This year, China resorts to the same strategy over Korea as if we were back to the Joseon dynasty when China considered our country a tributary state.

China’s revenge does not end in the economic realm. Beijing imposes various types of regulations — and even puts bans — on Korean cultural products such popular TV dramas, K-pop and pure art performances. The retaliation has expanded to sports as well, as seen in its decision to block a cheering squad for the Korean football team from entering China.

Also, Chnia must consider that the economic pressure could eventually hurt its economic interests too. Why doesn’t Beijing think that Korean companies with so many factories in China can also stay off from their Chinese businesses if the situation gets even worse?

Beijing must understand that economic pressure — maybe its one and only option to show off its power — could backfire when they abuse it. They must have the wisdom to separate economic issues from those involving our national security.

In a critical void of leadership in Korea following the Constitutional Court’s ruling upholding the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, it is highly likely for the Chinese government to take advantage of the power vacuum to thwart our Thaad deployment.

That’s not an image of China Beijing wants to brag about. China must stop nonsensical retaliations apparently aimed at flexing its muscles to tame a neighbor down the road.

Son Min-young,
Senior student at Sungshin Women’s University
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