China is S. Kore­ans’ least liked na­tion

New Straits Times - - World -

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

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