November 24, 2017 13:26
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a meeting with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Wednesday, "China attaches great importance to Korea's statement that deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery will not damage China's security interests. We hope the Korean side will continue to appropriately handle the matter."
But instead of bristling at this interference in Korea's legitimate defense interests, Kang merely muttered, "We both realize that continued conflict is in neither of our interests, so we have come to this outcome." She added that it is necessary to resume exchanges between the two sides before President Moon Jae-in's visit to Beijing next month. It appears that the government has staked everything on making Moon's trip to China happen and is touting it as a major achievement. Yet Beijing did not even mention it. The only reference to Moon's visit to China was a short notice in the Chinese state media. To add insult to injury, Wang arrived half an hour late for the meeting with Kang, who said she was not told why.
Cheong Wa Dae announced on Oct. 31 that Seoul and Beijing have agreed to put bilateral relations back on the right track. The presidential office at the time said the THAAD issue will not be raised again, but there it was again in the meeting between the two foreign ministers, and Moon continues to be pressured by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to "deal with the issue." The government meekly accepts this, and there has been no news that it demanded compensation from China for the damage incurred from its unofficial boycott of Korean products and services.
Moon's visit to China and Xi's presence at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang may be important. But the government really needs to be more assertive on the diplomatic stage. It can only diminish Korea's stature if it puts up with this kind of behavior.
During negotiations over THAAD, Beijing apparently demanded access for inspectors to the THAAD battery in Seonju, North Gyeongsang Province and the construction of a barrier wall to ease the Chinese government's unfounded fears that the radar will somehow be used to spy on its military activities.
No foreign government should has the right to demand access another country's defenses. This is a violation of its sovereign right. Yet the government was only too keen to agree to China's demands. Beijing's behavior clearly shows the high price Seoul will have to pay for the decision. Now China is demanding that Moon and Kang deal with the THAAD issue "in stages." A high-ranking government official said, "China used the phrase 'at the current state' to refer to the need for the issue to be put to rest." But that makes no sense, and really suggests that the issue is at some sort of interim stage of development instead of being over, and China intends to keep telling Korea what to do.
China has no history of dealing with foreign countries on an equal basis. It historically only understands vassal states and enemies, nothing else. That means that when a country deals with China, it needs to stick to its principles. But there are no principles visible in the way the government here is kowtowing to the bullies. Seoul does not have to do this. It is a mystery why the government is taking this approach.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com