China is S. Koreans’ least liked nation
SEOUL: The row between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a United States missile defence system has seen China overtake even former coloniser Japan in the ranking of South Koreans’ least favoured countries, a survey shows.
Japan has consistently been the South’s most disliked country after North Korea, mainly due to disputes over Tokyo’s wartime atrocities, including the use of up to 200,000 Korean women as sexual slaves for Japanese troops.
But now, South Korea and the US have begun deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system to guard against missile threats from the nuclear-armed North, infuriating China, which sees it as compromising its own capabilities.
Beijing launched a series of measures against the South seen as economic retaliation, forcing dozens of South Korean retail stores in China to shut their doors and banning Chinese tour groups from visiting South Korea.
China’s rating in an opinion poll by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies slumped from 4.31 in January to 3.21 this month, on a 0-10 scale, with 10 representing the most favourable.
Japan’s number also fell amid a diplomatic row over the “comfort women” issue, from 3.56 to 3.33.
A drop in the Chinese figure was expected given Beijing’s response to THAAD, but the “sharp decline” was surprising, the institute said on Monday.
“Even more surprising is that South Koreans are now more favourable towards Japan (3.33) than China (3.21),” it said.
The survey also showed the ratings of US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe all declining, but Xi’s rating fell the most, plunging from 4.25 in January to 3.01 this month.
“The only good news for Xi was that his rating remained higher than Abe’s,” the institute said. AFP