Chinese Economic Bullying an Ongoing Concern With South Korea, Japan: Kirby

Eva Fu
By Eva Fu
December 7, 2023China News
Chinese Economic Bullying an Ongoing Concern With South Korea, Japan: Kirby
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during a news briefing at the White House on Dec. 07, 2023.(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Beijing’s economic coercion is a topic that frequently comes up in conversations between the United States and its Asian allies, such as Japan and South Korea, according to a top White House national security official.

“I don’t know of too many conversations we’ve had with our Korean and Japanese counterparts where in some forms or fashion Chinese economic bullying practices don’t come up,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters in a Dec. 7 press conference.

Mr. Kirby made the comments in response to a question from NTD, sister media outlet of The Epoch Times, regarding the Chinese regime exerting economic and diplomatic pressure to block U.S. dance company Shen Yun from performing in South Korea.

As U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan heads to Seoul, South Korea, for a trilateral discussion with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan on Dec. 9, Mr. Kirby said it “wouldn’t surprise” him if Chinese economic coercion is again on the agenda.

South Korea has recently called on China to resolve a customs clearance issue after Beijing blocked exports of nitrogen-based fertilizer, urea, without specifying the reasons, leading to emergency meetings across multiple Korean government agencies, as the country has only three months of urea stock.

Since its establishment in 2006 in New York, Shen Yun has been subjected to a series of sabotage campaigns orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The company was founded with the aim of showcasing 5,000 years of Chinese culture through dance and music. The nearly two decades of interference efforts, according to analysts, came from Beijing’s fear that the portrayal of Chinese traditions could rival its communist ideology.

A Chinese Embassy spokesperson in November admitted that it has been “informing the Korean side of the Chinese position against the Shen Yun performance” to not let the company into the Korean theaters.

In recent weeks, multiple Biden administration officials and lawmakers in Congress have expressed concerns over the underlying economic coercion of such interference activities.

The U.S. State Department on Nov. 7 stated that Beijing “has a very clear track record of using economic coercion and otherwise in a wide array of countries,” noting that the administration will “continue to address in close partnership” the issue with Indo-Pacific allies, such as South Korea and Japan.

During a background briefing in San Francisco ahead of a planned U.S.–China summit, a senior Biden administration official described “economic coercion” as “very damaging.”

“I think it is a concerning feature of Chinese diplomacy,” he said. “And it will be important for countries to take steps going forward to try to either work together to create greater resilience, more generally other options, but also to send a collective message that such steps are antithetical to the smooth functioning of a global capital system.”

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he hopes that the influence that the Chinese regime has been able to display over Korean theaters should be a “wake-up call to South Korea that your economic ties are not as important as your freedom and democracy.”

U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.), who was born in Seoul, likewise expressed concerns.

In a recent commentary published in The Epoch Times, she noted how Shen Yun has received 13 rejections from Korean theaters since September 2022, after a series of abrupt show cancellations in South Korea in the past under Chinese influence.

“Bowing to the will of the CCP sets a worrisome precedent for any future policymaking at a time when South Korea must stand strong,” Ms. Steel wrote.

“The CCP should never have a say in the decisions of any nation, much less a free and democratic nation.”

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.