No need to care too much about S.Korea's criticism of Chinese ambassador
Published: Jun 14, 2023 12:50 AM
China South Korea Photo:VCG


South Korea has taken Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming as a main attack target. According to foreign media reports, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that "Judging from Ambassador Xing Haiming's attitude, it's questionable whether he has the attitude of mutual respect or promoting friendship as a diplomat… Our people are offended by Ambassador Xing's inappropriate behavior." South Korea is waiting for China to take an "appropriate measure," a South Korean presidential official said on the same day.

Although the South Korean side did not put it explicitly, they apparently want to pressure Beijing into replacing Ambassador Xing. Personally, I believe that the Chinese side should not bow to this pressure from South Korea. According to the Yonhap News Agency, the main accusation against Ambassador Xing by South Korea is that he said during a meeting with the leader of the Democratic Party of Korea Lee Jae-myung, on June 8 that "In a situation where the US is pressuring China with all its might, some are betting that the US will win and China will lose. This is clearly a wrong judgment and a failure to properly grasp the course of history." He warned that "those who bet on China's defeat will definitely regret it." Ambassador Xing also said South Korea's deficit in trade with China is "because of a global economic slowdown and waning demand for chips… it is largely because of some efforts to get out of China."

I read Ambassador Xing's full speech on the website of the Chinese embassy in South Korea. It can be said the speech is a sincere effort to promote normal and friendly cooperation between China and South Korea. The South Korean side has taken a few sentences from Ambassador Xing's speech out of context, but even so, I cannot see any mistakes in his words. He did not name anyone to criticize; he spoke objectively about the situation, and he was making efforts to restore normal relations between China and South Korea. I think it's because of the Yoon administration's guilty conscience that they believe they were targeted and felt offended.

Since coming to power, the Yoon government's attitude toward China has been completely different from that of the previous Moon Jae-in government, which is also in sharp contrast with Yoon's obsequiousness toward the US and Japan. The Yoon government is clearly betraying the long-standing friendly cooperation between China and South Korea, and inciting a new wave of anti-China sentiment in South Korea, which everyone can see. It probably thinks that China, facing strategic pressure from the US, has no choice but to surrender to South Korea. China should not indulge such opportunism.

The biggest variable in the deterioration of China-South Korea relations is undoubtedly Yoon's assuming power and his misguided efforts to push South Korea to take sides between China and the US. It is South Korea that needs to take an "appropriate measure" after careful consideration.

South Koreans are very sensitive, so Seoul should be respected, but their opportunism is also strong, so they should not be indulged. Yoon's thinking and values determine that the China-South Korea relationship will be cool during his tenure. Then let it be cool. China does not need to care too much and should maintain a calm attitude toward South Korean diplomacy.