U.S. asks China to stop bullyingThe bipartisan resolution from the U.S. congress condemning China’s retaliatory actions on South Korea over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system provides moral support for South Korea. The House of Representatives, in a rare bipartisan resolution, called upon Beijing “to cease its retaliatory measures” against South Korean enterprises and people, claiming its actions are “unreasonable and inappropriate” and “potentially constitute a violation of its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations.”
The open congressional call suggests U.S. parties are united in the fact that South Korea needs greater deterrence and protection against increasing North Korean nuclear and missile threats. China’s meddling and retaliation over Thaad will undermine not only Seoul’s sovereignty, but also the bilateral security of Korea and the United States. The resolution listed the series of actions China has taken after the plan took form upon signing a deal to purchase a land lot from Lotte Group for the battery site. It warned that its suspension of business at Lotte Mart stores, sales ban on tour packages to South Korea and cancellation of Korean performances were a breach of WTO principles.
It demanded Beijing to “immediately cease its diplomatic intimidation.” The resolution was adopted ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s April 6-7 visit to the United States for summit talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The resolution can shape the mood in Washington to include the Thaad issue in the upcoming summit talks. Only Washington would be able to humble Beijing in its excesses with newfound power. Beijing would be wise to stop the retaliatory actions to avoid losing face, if it wants to salvage its national dignity. A quarter of century ago, Seoul and Beijing normalized diplomatic ties for two main reasons — to severe Seoul’s ties with Taiwan and to do business with South Korea. Deng Xiaoping had then said diplomatic normalization with South Korea brings all good and no harm.
China’s domineering acts could impair the business and cultural relationship the two countries have built over the years. Its economic retaliation would have limited effect, given the intricate economic ties between the two countries. Its bullying has only led to anti-China sentiment among Koreans. Beijing must divorce itself from the military-regime ideological mindset to see that Thaad is “strictly defensive.”
JoongAng Ilbo, March 25, Page 30