“Brutal interference”: China’s tabloids circulate criticism of South Korea 2023

China’s state-run Global Times lashed out at the South Korean embassy after it sent a letter criticizing the tabloid’s coverage of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s U.S. visit.

In an editorial titled “This newspaper has something to say about the S. Korean embassy’s ‘protest'” published on Monday, the English-language tabloid grumbled at a “strong protest” sent to its editors by Seoul’s embassy in Beijing the previous week.

Friday’s letter criticized the Global Times’ coverage of the visit as well as a number of its columns and editorials. A letter was also sent to the editor of Huanqiu Shibao, a publication affiliated with the People’s Daily of the Communist Party.

The embassy accused state-run newspapers of “using sensational, provocative, and inappropriate language” that “denigrated our president and our government’s foreign policy.”

The embassy added, “Some of the criticism leveled against our president, using language so vulgar that it is difficult to repeat, makes one wonder if they even come from the news media.”

The Global Times, renowned for its nationalistic reporting, displayed no remorse for the unusual public reprimand from a foreign embassy.

“Such words that crossed boundaries and were accompanied by strong emotions should not emanate from a diplomatic institution,” stated the editorial. “We cannot accept the rather brutal interference with our independent reporting.”

In deference to Japan

Yoon, a conservative politician elected last year, seeks to strengthen ties with the United States and Japan amid heightened tensions in the region caused by North Korea’s aggressive weapons testing and China’s growing assertiveness.

In April, he spent six days in the United States, where he was honored with a state banquet commemorating 70 years of the alliance between the two countries and spoke before a joint session of Congress.

Yoon had traveled to Tokyo the previous month, the first visit by a South Korean leader in 12 years, in an effort to overcome years of historical animosity originating from Japan’s colonial domination of the Korean peninsula.

The Global Times accused him of “blindly following the United States” and “bowing to Japan to please Washington,” asserting that Seoul’s actions exacerbated regional tensions.

The embassy of South Korea highlighted reporting on April 26, April 30, and May 3 and 4, although it did not specify specific articles.

“I wonder how the Chinese people would react if the Korean media published daily reports criticizing the Chinese leader in a similar manner,” the letter stated, adding that professional journalists must adhere to certain standards.

After Seoul’s embassy protested over Global Times’ coverage of President Yoon’s US visit, the tabloid attacks.

The Global Times editorial stated that Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida began a historic two-day visit to South Korea on May 7 and that it was pleased to see an improved relationship between the two nations so long as it did not “harm” China’s interests.

Insisting that its editorials had been “as civil as possible,” the paper continued: “Since the current South Korean government came to power, it has supported actions by the United States, Japan, and other nations that undermine regional stability. In addition, it has repeatedly made incorrect statements on key issues concerning China’s sovereignty and excessively interfered in China’s internal affairs, such as the Taiwan issue. Now it targets Chinese media outlets.

“If South Korea’s diplomacy persists in this trajectory, the repercussions will not be limited to the deterioration of relations between China and South Korea or the loss of South Korea’s ‘national dignity’ in the eyes of Washington and Tokyo. Rather, it will stimulate, induce, and exacerbate the imbalance and possible collapse of the Northeast Asian situation. It is intolerable for South Korea.”

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