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No time to brag

Dec 18,2017
The controversial state visit to China by President Moon Jae-in has ended. The Moon administration is busy giving itself a pat on the back for its achievements — finding a breakthrough in the diplomatic deadlock over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system, for instance.

However, despite its praise of an agreement between Moon and China’s President Xi Jinping to enhance bilateral economic cooperation regardless of the friction over Thaad, Moon’s visit has left many questions unanswered. We expected him to achieve some tangible results in resolving the North Korean nuclear problem, including urging Xi to stop oil supplies to the North to help bring North Korea to the negotiating table. But Moon could not even talk about it in his summit with Xi.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Moon’s trip is under fire for Beijing’s poor treatment of him and Chinese security guards’ use of violence against Korean journalists who accompanied Moon.

Such a diplomatic fiasco owes much to the Moon administration. The Blue House tried to create a reconciliatory mood ahead of the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics by inviting Xi to the opening ceremony and a North Korean delegation to the games. The presidential office tried to find a way to address the North Korean nuclear problem through those efforts. That’s why the Blue House pushed forward Moon’s visit even while being aware of Xi’s departure from Beijing to attend a ceremony to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre.

But his impatient visit has cost us the United States and Japan’s trust. Washington and Tokyo will see it as Moon begging for a summit with Xi. His shortsighted state visit did more harm than good.

Moon’s aides are accusing local press and opposition parties of distorting his diplomatic accomplishments. The sharp division over Chinese bodyguards’ outrageous use of violence on Korean journalists shows how wide the schism is. Even when two Korean photojournalists had serious injuries, some local netizens are saying the journalists deserved it. The Korean people have become a laughing stock.

We clearly saw how rudely China would respond if it does not like what others do. The Moon administration must wake up. Beijing can dump even universal values like mutual respect any time it wants. Moon must learn a lesson from his trip.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 18, Page 34