Boycott calls grow against South Korea

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/27 0:53:00

Chinese upset over THAAD deployment announcement

Although the Chinese government has not imposed any sanctions following the US announcement to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea, public calls to boycott South Korean pop stars and products have been growing on Chinese social media.

The decision of Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province to postpone the visit of an official delegation from a South Korean sister city due to the "inappropriate atmosphere," as the local government puts it, is believed to be another sign of increasing strains in China-South Korea ties at the grass-roots level.

"The visit of a delegation headed by Daegu mayor Kwon Young-jin in August was postponed for various reasons," an official at the Qingdao Foreign Affairs Office told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"The timing is not appropriate and the atmosphere is not good," said the official, who requested anonymity.

The official neither admitted nor denied whether the THAAD issue led to the postponement, only saying that some local people showed discontent after the deployment.

Kwon and 90 city officials were scheduled to attend the Qingdao International Beer Festival in August, and the group was to open 11 booths at the festival to promote Korean fried chicken, South Korea's Joongang Daily reported on Monday.

Qingdao and Daegu have been sister cities since 1993, a year after China and South Korea established diplomatic relations.

The host of Qingdao's beer festival told the Global Times that they have not heard of any report saying the Daegu delegation is unwanted or was refused entry.

The government official said that 19 people from Qingdao, including performers, will not attend the Daegu Chimac Festival which begins on Wednesday, though some Qingdao companies will still participate in the festival.

In 2013, when the first Daegu Chimac Festival was held, and the following year, Qingdao sent 10 artists to perform at the festival.

No one was sent last year because of the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the Joongang Daily reported.

'No idol before country'

On July 8, the US and South Korea announced their decision to deploy the THAAD system in South Korea, which drew angry protest from Beijing.

The decision, which was announced a few days before an arbitration court in The Hague was expected to rule on the maritime territorial disputes between China and the Philippines, has also hurt the feelings of many Chinese people, who previously regarded South Korea as a friendly neighbor, and the image of the country has been deteriorating ever since, Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies of the Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The deployment also tarnished South Korean President Park Geun-hye's image among many Chinese, who felt the "always smiling and friendly president" had stabbed China in the back, said Dong Xiangrong, a research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Park won praise from China after she resisted US pressure and visited Beijing in September last year to observe a military parade to mark the defeat of Japan in World War II.

Chinese netizens are calling for a boycott of Korean pop stars, such as boy bands BigBang, EXO and iKon, and actors like Song Joong-ki and Lee Jong-suk.

The hashtag "No idols before country" on Chinese social media Sina Weibo has been viewed more than 15 million times as of press time, with many saying they had un-followed the South Korean entertainers' Weibo accounts.

"Farewell, Big Bang, fried chicken, cosmetics made in South Korea, I love my country and there's no way I will contribute to the GDP of South Korea so that the country could buy weapons and use it against China," Sina Weibo user "Emily-Chun" wrote on Friday.

The boycott also covers South Korean-made products and travel to the country, with Net users compiling a list of the 10 most visited South Korea tourist sites and 100 most popular products, with calls to support domestic substitutes.

South Korean concerns

Many South Koreans are also worried that the THAAD deployment will damage bilateral ties, and protests against the deployment have not stopped since the announcement was made.

More than 2,000 people from Seongju County, where one THAAD battery will be deployed, staged a rally at a square in Seoul on Thursday to protest the THAAD deployment, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Also last week, hundreds of young people rallied outside South Korea's foreign ministry, holding signs saying "Peace and No THAAD" to protest the deployment and to demand its withdrawal, said Dong.

Many South Koreans reject THAAD because they say it cannot protect the country and the deployment will create trouble in the region, experts said.

Newspaper headline: S.Korea boycott calls grow

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