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If we run out of goods to sell to China…

Mar 31,2017
In September of 1793, a foreign delegation visited the royal resort of Qing China in Rehe. It was the Macartney Embassy, the British diplomatic mission to China led by George Macartney on behalf of King George III. While they asked the Qianlong Emperor to allow trade, he flat out rejected it, saying there was nothing that China needed.

Lately, China is retaliating on Korea for the Thaad deployment. Imports of Korean products are banned, and operation of Lotte Marts is suspended. Chinese tourists’ visit to Korea is banned, and Beijing rejected the request for a bilateral financial ministerial meeting at the recent G-20 finance ministers’ conference. In the meantime, Korean companies are suffering.

Watching the latest development, I am more worried about what will happen after the Thaad deployment. Korea is already suffering so much, what will happen when China’s competitiveness grows more and China does not need Korean products anymore?

Signs are already showing. Samsung Electronics’ mobile phones used to have the biggest market share, 19 percent of the Chinese market, in 2013, but it is now below the top 5. Hyundai-Kia used to be in the big 3 along with Volkswagen and GM with 10.6 percent market share, but it now has 5.4 percent as of January. They have been pushed out by Chinese products. Four of the top five companies in the mobile phone market were Chinese companies last year. It was China’s Changan Motors that pushed Hyundai Kia to fourth place and took the third spot.

25.1 percent of Korea’s total exports go to China. When China declares it does not need anything, funeral bells may ring for Korean economy. While Korea needs to respond to the Thaad retaliation, we need to focus on enhancing fundamental competitiveness in relations with China through the fourth industrial revolution.

*Business news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo

Park Jin-seok