by WorldTribune Staff, February 11, 2020
South Korea’s liberal government is brushing off a petition signed by over 660,000 citizens urging President Moon Jae-In to prohibit the entry of Chinese residents to South Korea amid the coronavirus crisis, reports say.
Instead, Moon is calling on the South’s residents to “share the suffering” with China, the East Asia Research Center reported.
Twenty countries, including the United States, Australia, Singapore, and Italy have banned Chinese entry amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“We must spare no effort in providing support and cooperation as a neighboring country,” Moon said on Feb. 3.
“He said it while about 30,000 Chinese a day visit South Korea, and the risk of infection spreads,” South Korea’s NewDaily.com said in an analysis. “President Moon’s conciliatory approach has been criticized for going beyond walking on eggshells, and showing ‘submissive diplomacy’ to China.”
At a meeting of senior aides at the Blue House on Feb. 3, Moon said “China is our largest human exchange and the largest trading partner. China’s suffering is linked to our suffering. Only when we don’t ignore, but share our neighbor’s suffering and band together, are we a genuine neighbor and can we go together toward the future.”
NewsDaily reported that China’s ambassador to South Korea, Xin Haiming, had insisted on Feb. 1 that he “expects [South Korea] to make a decision consistent with the World Health Organization (WHO) rules against restricting travel and trade with China.”
Min Kyung-Wook, of the Liberty Korea Party, wrote in a Facebook post: “How arrogant of the Chinese ambassador [to tell us] what to do regarding the Chinese entry ban. If it is dangerous for our citizens, then we’ll decide on the entry ban. Just because Moon Jae-In is intimidated and likened [China] to the highest mountain peak and South Korea as a small country, [does he think South Korea is] a push over? So big headed.”
The Moon government restricted travel only from China’s Hubei Province, which has been hit hardest by the Wuhan coronavirus.
Shim Jae-Cheol told a recent Liberty Korea Party conference: “It’s not enough to restrict the visitors from Hubei Province only. The spreading of infections can’t be prevented that way, and it does not resolve the citizens’ anxiety. It’s only a drop in a bucket measure, while overly concerned about China’s reaction…Until the Wuhan Pneumonia situation stabilizes, I urge the government to place a temporary Chinese entry ban right away.”