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China’s retaliation backfires

Mar 17,2017
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Fourteen of the 20 elementary, middle and high schools in South Chungcheong that had planned to visit China this semester have cancelled their trips. A dozen high schools in Nonsan changed their destination from Shanghai to Osaka, Japan. The JoongAng Ilbo’s March 15 issue also reported that many high schools in Daegu gave up student trips to China.

The cancellation of the school trips is practically the fault of the Chinese government. As retaliation for the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system in South Korea, China since March 2 has been making unfair and nonsensical moves by banning its citizens’ leisure travel to Korea.

Beijing imposed a more full-scale ban on March 15, Consumer Day in China. Private Chinese companies are also threatening Korea. On March 14, two photos taken at the entrance of a hotel in China were posted on an online community. The pictures showed signs that read, “Trample on Koreans.”

When our safety is threatened, it is doubtful that Korean students would want to visit China. Go Eun-seo, a junior at Ganggyeong High School in Nonsan said, “I am afraid that something may happen if we visit China. China’s reaction is narrow-minded and cheap, unfitting its economic power.”

China’s excessive retaliatory measures even had side effects on the Chinese people. Since the number of Chinese tourists visiting Korea has plummeted, some 2,400 Chinese tour guides working in Jeju Island have lost jobs. As the operation of 55 Lotte Mart stores in China have been suspended, the job security of at least 5,000 Chinese workers is also threatened.

China’s retaliation is also criticized for bringing security and political issues into the economic realm. Jung Sang-eun, a professor of Chinese studies and economics at Hannam University said that China’s measures are far from global standards.

China launched a similar tourism retaliation on Japan. When the Japanese government purchased disputed the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands) in 2012, China suspended citizen visits to Japan. But although the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands is not resolved, Chinese tourists to Japan in 2014 increased 83.3 percent. Last year, the number increased five times from 2012. But since the tourism retaliation, the threats in China were emphasized, and the number of Japanese visitors to China hasn’t changed much.

Similar things can happen in Korea. Chinese citizens want to visit Korea to experience the popular Korean Wave culture. But the number of Koreans visiting China may continue to decrease if China establishes itself as unstable and dangerous. China’s short-tempered retaliation may incur damage to itself in the longer run.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 16, Page 33

*The author is a national news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

KIM BANG-HYUN