International ties

Sensationalizing military drill could backfire

By Wang Hui (
Updated: 2010-08-05 17:12
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Time for the media to cool down

Media landscapes in China and South Korea are showing increasing signs of negative portrayal or coverage on the opposite side. This is a worrying phenomenon. If unchecked, it will have a negative impact on the long-term interest of bilateral relations between the two neighbors in Northeast Asia.

In the past few months, it is irrefutable that the amount of media reporting and comments unfavorable to China has reached an unprecedented height in South Korea. After the Cheonan incident, some South Korean media vented their spleens on China, wrongly accusing the country of taking side with North Korea. The media's anti-China sentiments flared up as the situation evolved.

The joint military exercise by the US and South Korea has fanned nationalism and which in turn fueled the South Korean media's negative attitude towards China. Some South Korea media deliberately played up the participation of the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington in the joint military drills in an attempt to indirectly deter China. The presence of the US aircraft carrier in waters near China's eastern coast is widely perceived as an open threat to China's security.

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This new trend in South Korea media was soon picked up by their Chinese counterparts and ignited strong responses from opinion leaders and the online population in China. Constant reporting on how hostile South Korea media have now become made many Chinese feel indignant. Some started to call for countermeasures.

A recent opinion poll conducted by offered an extreme case of Chinese netizens' strong reaction to negative sentiments against China in South Korea media. Of the 23,499 netizens polled, 94.5% support countermeasures against South Korea. One furious netizen said, "South Korea has been cashing in on doing business with China. At the same time, it joins hands with the US to contain China. South Korea should be warned of the severe consequences of their behavior."

Though by no means a comprehensive reflection on the Chinese people's general attitude towards South Korea, the Global Times website opinion poll is a stern warning to media in South Korea: Their anti-China sentiments could backfire.

It's about time for the media on both sides to cool down. They should reflect upon whether their media coverage has contributed or impaired bilateral ties.

As close neighbors with a long tradition of friendship, China and South Korea have more to lose if estrangement and bitterness between the two peoples deepen. On the other hand, they have everything to gain if mutual understanding and trust on the people-to-people level could be expanded. The media should serve as a bridge facilitating mutual understanding instead of sowing seeds of distrust or even hatred.