Although mainstream Chinese society has supported sanctions on South Korea and Lotte Group in particular, some people also hold different views. This is normal. China has already become a diverse society in which it's impossible to have a monolithic view of a single event. However, Chinese society has formed a collective determination to impose sanctions on South Korea, so there is no room for the latter to take any chances.
The dissenters hold that China is bullying the weak and fears the strong as it shuns confronting the US, initiator of the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD
) anti-missile system. They question why China is soft on North Korea's nuclear moves while being tough on the South, which opts for THAAD "out of self-defense." They also argue that economic sanctions should not be used as a weapon and it's particularly wrong to punish a company for state-to-state disputes.
Some people just oppose everything the country does. Some disagree that sanctions should be used as a tactic. They don't believe that sanctioning South Korea, and especially boycotting Lotte, will be effective, but instead will hurt China itself.
Whatever their considerations are, these opinions are wrong and one-sided under current circumstances.
China is highly vigilant about the US global deployment of its anti-missile system and is taking a series of strategic countermeasures, including strengthening the penetration ability of its strategic weapons. The more the US puts forward its anti-missile system deployment, the stronger China's strategic countermeasures will be. South Korea is a long-term partner of China, but providing a base for THAAD will severely damage China's strategic security and it is a betrayal of the China-South Korea friendship. It will be an international political joke if China takes no action.
China is not soft on North Korea's nuclear ambitions. China has joined sanctions against the North for more than a decade. The sanctions it has imposed on Pyongyang have brought a great impact on the country, leading to drastic changes in China-North Korea bilateral relations. The US and South Korea hope to see Beijing and Pyongyang turn hostile against each other. China won't be a geopolitical fool.
Chinese diplomacy must serve to safeguard national interests. China has both the moral grounds and ample strength to expand the scope of sanctions against South Korea. Whether Lotte should bear the brunt is a matter for South Koreans to worry about, not Chinese.
Sanctioning South Korea is not a question of whether to or not, but of how to do it well. We have to make the sanctions most effective, so as to avoid harming the Chinese economy while at the same time preventing anti-South Korean movements on the streets and crimes and travesties such as beating, smashing, looting and burning.
South Korea must pay a heavy price for its erroneous decision to stand with and act as an accomplice to the US in suppressing China's strategic nuclear deterrence capability. The US will see China further expand and update its strategic power, while the cost to South Korea will be the huge Chinese market.