China sends brief condolences over Chun's death

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China sends brief condolences over Chun's death

Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, speaks at a regular press conference on Tuesday. [CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY]

Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, speaks at a regular press conference on Tuesday. [CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY]

Seoul received Tuesday a brief condolence from Beijing on the death of former President Chun Doo Hwan.
 
“Mr. Chun Doo-hwan was the ROK leader before the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the ROK,” said Zhao Lijian, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, during a press conference Tuesday.
 
“He had some exchanges with relevant sides […] after diplomatic ties were established. We would like to extend sincere condolences to his family on his passing.”  
 
Chun died at his home in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, on Tuesday morning, at the age of 90. He seized power in a coup d’etat in 1979 and brutally cracked down on pro-democracy protests in Gwangju in May 1980.
 
He died within a month of his ally and successor, former President Roh Tae-woo. Roh was given a state funeral in consideration of his apologetic stance towards the military junta’s deadly suppression of the Gwangju protests and his efforts toward inter-Korean reconciliation.
 
Chun never made a public statement of contrition and is not getting a state funeral.
 
Beijing’s condolences for Chun were shorter than for Roh.
 
When Roh died on Oct. 26, Chinese President Xi Jining conveyed his condolences in a written statement, which said, “Former President Roh placed great importance on relations with China and made important contributions to the establishment of diplomatic ties between Korea and China.”
 
China’s condolences for Korean presidents have grown curter over the years, after peaking with the funeral of President Kim Dae-jung.  
 
When Kim died on Aug. 18, 2009, Qin Kang, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said China conveyed its “deep condolences,” adding that Kim was “an old friend of the Chinese public” and that the Chinese government and the people would not forget his “important contributions to the development of China-Korea ties.”
 
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao each sent written condolences to President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Han Seung-soo. Chinese representatives also took part in the state funeral.  
 
When former President Kim Young-sam died on Nov. 22, 2015, Hong Lei, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, conveyed China’s condolence two days later.  
 
“Mr. Kim Young-sam made contributions to the development of China-ROK relations when serving as the ROK president,” Hong said. “We mourn the loss of him.”
 
No Chinese officials flew in from Beijing to attend his state funeral.
 
China also tends to emphasize its condolences in the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, as was done after the deaths of Tanzania’s former President John Magufuli, Britain’s Prince Philip and Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno this year.  
 
Xi’s message of condolence for former President Roh was not printed in the paper.

BYSHINKYUNG-JIN,ESTHERCHUNG[chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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