February 24, 2016 13:12
Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong on Tuesday met with Kim Chong-in, the interim chairman of the main opposition Minjoo Party, and warned that Seoul-Beijing relations could be "destroyed" if the U.S. pushes ahead with the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense batteries here.
Qiu said destroyed bilateral relations "could take a long time to recover." Qiu added, "Without the THAAD issue, a new UN resolution would have been adopted already."
An ambassador representing a foreign nation is of course entitled to voicing his government's position on a security issue. But Qiu's comments went beyond that to naked blackmail.
The THAAD is entirely a matter of South Korea's sovereign right to defend itself against an ever-increasing missile threat from North Korea. But somehow the Chinese envoy made out that all the blame lies with Seoul and warned of diplomatic and economic repercussions unless it obeys China's demands. This is an unacceptable breach of diplomatic protocol.
Qiu claims that the deployment of THAAD batteries here would threaten China's security and interests, but blithely ignored what makes it necessary in the first place, namely that China's close ally North Korea is totally out of control.
If China had taken part in international sanctions against North Korea from the onset, there would be no need to station THAAD batteries here. Instead China points the finger at Seoul. This suggests Beijing has no regard whatsoever for the interests of its neighbors.
To make matters worse, Qiu shot his mouth off at a meeting with the head of the opposition, although he is the accredited envoy to the South Korean government. That suggests his real aim was to foment strife within South Korea. Or perhaps he merely seized the opportunity of a pre-scheduled meeting to fire a shot across Washington's bow just before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. State Secretary John Kerry met on Wednesday to hammer out a deal on North Korea sanctions.
The U.S. and South Korea caved in at the last minute and delayed the start of formal THAAD talks. But using South Korea as a messenger boy in negotiations with the U.S. is completely out of order.
China should say whether it is willing to implement sanctions against North Korea or not. Their success or failure depend on China, which is the North's sole sponsor in the world. If it has for some reason no interest in pressuring the North to abandon its nuclear weapons, it should equally refrain from leaning on South Korea and shut up.
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