[Meanwhile] Bad-mouthing alone can’t overcome China

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[Meanwhile] Bad-mouthing alone can’t overcome China

The author is the head of the China Institute of the JoongAng Ilbo and CEO of China Lab.

Last week, the JoongAng Ilbo’s online Chinese page “The China” published an article titled, “Young Chinese Ph.D.s saw possibilities here, not big tech companies.” “Here” was “agriculture.” Then a comment on the article caught my attention. “Do something about the fine dust first! China has done the most harm to the Earth.” Every article about China has hate comments against China.

Some said I should just ignore the comments. But I don’t think so. This is one of the voices of our society. What is regrettable is that these comments don’t go further than cursing at China. Most Koreans simply vent their emotions. This phenomenon has been spotted since the Thaad retaliation in 2016. Anti-Chinese sentiment has been especially high among the young people. Some blame the media for encouraging the sentiment. Really?

Young Koreans are sensitive to fairness and common sense. Many of them have antagonism toward China because what China represents now is far from fairness and common sense. Despite fine dust originating from China, I have not heard of China taking any responsible measures.

The Hong Kong protests have been suppressed by China’s ruthless crackdown. Covid-19 has swept over the world for the last three years. But aside from the controversy over the origin, it is a fact that it exploded from Wuhan, China. But I’ve never heard China apologize in any way.

I am speechless that China claims to be the origin of hanbok and kimchi. The biggest cause of the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment is the “loss of Chinese charm.” Ten years ago, under the leadership of Hu Jintao, China was associated with “development,” “peace,” and “rise.” But now, a rough, aggressive and selfish image comes to mind first. China has become an icon of negativity, not positivity. But it may as well be a temporary phenomenon. Nothing lasts forever. Over time, China will recover the virtue of long tradition.

What matters is our attitude. We should not build a wall just because we don’t like China. We should actually make more efforts to look into China. China has become a country that is too big to fail or fall. If China falls, there is a risk of Korea going down, too.

Just in time, two annual political events — the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference — began a few days ago. The Chinese leadership reshuffle, including the Premier, is scheduled. We need to thoroughly analyze what impacts these changes will have on Korea and prepare our responses. We cannot get over China by bad-mouthing the country.
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