It is imperative for China to adopt sanctions against South Korea. But how?
Chinese society should learn that conflict is normal in international politics. Our countermeasures toward Seoul's deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system must be organized and resolute. Yet there is no need for us to fly into a rage and swear not to stop until we bring South Korea to its knees. Our sanctions should be peaceful and rigorous. We don't have to make the country bleed, but we'd better make it hurt.
Chinese consumers should become the main force in teaching Seoul a lesson, punishing the nation through the power of the market.
In the meantime, we cannot take measures which will cause destruction to both sides. Preventing the Chinese economy from suffering losses should be the basic principle in terms of the sanctions.
That said, we propose that ordinary people should play the major role in sanctioning South Korea.
The number of foreign tourists to South Korea surged to a record breaking 17.418 million in 2016, 8.268 million of whom came from China, which accounts for 47.5 percent of total visitors to the country. As long as Chinese media increases its reports over the conflict between Beijing and Seoul due to THAAD and Chinese tourist agencies make some adjustments, the number of Chinese tourists to South Korea is bound to decline.
Since the second half of 2016, South Korean TV dramas and live performances by South Korean stars have taken a hit in China due to the fallout from THAAD. Promoting the export of cultural goods is one of South Korea's strategic priorities. China is the largest market for the South Korean fad. If Chinese audiences sink TV dramas and stars from South Korea into oblivion, it will turn into an enormous blow to the latter's national pride. If the deployment of THAAD continues, resentment toward Seoul from Chinese consumers will eventually lead to zero exports of South Korean cultural goods to China. It will be the bitter fruit created by Seoul itself.
China is the largest market for Samsung and Hyundai, both of which have factories in China. Most of their products sold in China are made in China. Sanctioning them will lead to a complicated outcome. However, Sino-South Korean conflicts keep escalating; the two companies will suffer sooner or later.
Apart from Lotte Group, other popular South Korean retailers and elements should also be sanctioned by Chinese buyers. Official and semi-official communications between the two nations should be largely reduced, freezing the Beijing-Seoul relationship.
China has imposed severe sanctions against Pyongyang's nuclear program through the UN. If South Korea installs THAAD, Beijing's sanctions toward Seoul should be no less than those it imposes on North Korea.
When Seoul turns hostile against China, we cannot be aloof and do nothing about it.