ROK should reflect rather than playing blame game

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, January 12, 2017
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In all, nearly 11 tons of cosmetics imported from the Republic of Korea were found to be substandard and denied access to the Chinese market by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in November.

The ROK manufacturers concerned should ensure their products meet quality standards.

Yet the return has prompted worries in the ROK that cosmetics exports to China might be becoming a victim of the escalating tensions between Seoul and Beijing over the former's decision to deploy the US' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missile system in the ROK.

Although there is nothing to suggest the return of the cosmetics had anything to do with the souring ties after that decision, sooner or later that diplomatic chill is bound to be felt elsewhere. It is natural for there to be spillover effects, particularly on the two peoples' mutual feelings of friendliness.

The estrangement Seoul has engineered with its neighbors as a result of its misfiring decision is reflected in mainstream public opinion in the ROK, which is pessimistic about the country's ties not just with China, but also Japan, even the United States.

A number of ROK media outlets have lamented their country's "isolated, helpless, hopeless" role as a "punch bag" in regional diplomacy, and claim it is being "kicked" and "pushed" around. But instead of seeking to blame Beijing and others, Seoul would do better to reflect on how this state of affairs has come to pass.

Seoul would not have found itself in such a position vis-à-vis Beijing had it not disregarded repeatedly expressed Chinese concerns about its deployment of THAAD.

It is unrealistic for Seoul to think that it can present a substantial security threat to China and expect its neighbor to continue being as friendly as it was.

Beijing regards the move as a threat because deployment of the system does not fulfill the stated purpose, instead it gravely undermines the regional strategic balance, as well as the security interests of China and others in the region.

The media in the ROK are not being fair to their now disgraced President Park Geun-hye by describing her diplomacy as "four years of total failure". It has only been a failure since her government chose to do the US' bidding by embracing the anti-missile system.

Since there is no indication that the decision to deploy THAAD will be reconsidered in the foreseeable future, since the politicians there seem convinced THAAD conveys a message of self-reliance rather than signaling as it does an overreliance on the US, Seoul should stop its blame game and accept there are inevitable consequences to its choice.

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