November 16, 2020 13:49
China on Nov. 13 abruptly cancelled permits for two chartered flights to take 200 Samsung Electronics employees from Korea. That effectively puts paid to the much-trumpeted "fast-track" agreement for business travelers between the two countries. Samsung has two big factories in Xian and Tianjin. The Xian factory is Samsung's only overseas memory chip plant, and the electronic giant has invested US$7 billion in it so far and plans to spend another $8 billion on expansion.
Of course China has the right to cancel charter flights if there are serious concerns of coronavirus infections, but why did it not see fit to discuss the matter with the Korean government first? The blatant snub shows just how little respect it has for Korea and its people. Yet the Korean Foreign Ministry eagerly defended China's decision by saying Beijing is stepping up quarantine "regardless of nationality" due to an increase in coronavirus infections from overseas.
When China was overwhelmed by a surge in coronavirus infections early this year, most countries banned all Chinese travelers because the most effective quarantine method is to isolate the source of infection. Experts here pleaded with the government to do the same, but their entreaties fell on deaf ears. President Moon Jae-in obsequiously told Chinese President Xi Jinping in a telephone call, "China's difficulty is our difficulty." But when the Chinese government banned foreign travelers in March, it made no exemption for Koreans and did not bother giving the Korean government a heads-up. Then too the government here tried to make excuses for China by saying the measure was aimed at the whole world after all. Yet when the Japanese government banned foreign travelers, the government here quickly went on the offensive, accusing Tokyo of "unscientific" and "unfriendly" policies. Meanwhile, Koreans who wish to visit China must spend W400,000 on two separate COVID-19 tests, whereas Chinese who come here are given free tests (US$1=W1,114).
The government quails abjectly before China. Yang Jiechi, a senior adviser to Xi, told Korea's national security adviser to come and see him in Busan instead of Seoul when he visited recently, and he did not even bother to visit the presidential office. Nobody has so far explained why this happened. When President Moon Jae-in visited China in 2017, Beijing did not disseminate a single photo of the event at the time and only grudgingly put some out later. A Korean photojournalist was even assaulted by Chinese security, but the government here was happy to accept the claim that they were private contractors and had nothing to do with the Chinese regime. Every time the Chinese government insults Korea, the government here kowtows some more. All of this is apparently due to its desperate hope that Xi will one day grace it with a visit. But what good would that do? He will not magically acquire any respect for the Korean government until it learns to respect itself.
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