January 13, 2005


Chinese Agents Storm Briefing By South Korean Lawmakers (Philip P. Pan, January 13, 2005, Washington Post)

Chinese security agents raided a news conference organized by visiting South Korean legislators Wednesday, shutting off the lights in a hotel meeting room and forcibly ejecting several foreign journalists. The raid prompted official statements of protest and concern in Seoul.

Four members of South Korea's opposition Grand National Party had called the news conference to urge the Chinese government to show leniency toward refugees from North Korea and to release South Korean activists jailed for trying to smuggle the refugees out of China. The visiting legislators refused orders to leave the room, resulting in a standoff that lasted nearly 13 hours.

China's ruling Communist Party routinely shuts down meetings it considers politically sensitive, but it rarely breaks up events hosted by visiting foreign dignitaries. The decision to disrupt the news conference highlights the government's growing anxiety about the migration of North Koreans into China, as well as about international criticism of its efforts to stem the flow.

Somehow, South Koreans seem especially detached from the reality of their Communist neighbors.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 13, 2005 9:07 AM

The South Koreans have been in denial for probably 15 or 20 years. It may take another bombing like the one in Burma(?) to wake them up.

Or a few shells heading their way.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 13, 2005 10:37 AM

These are the anti-Communist South Korean legislators getting the bad treatment from the Communist Chinese. The governing party in South Korea now is a pro-Communist party whose leader collaborates with the North Koreans and Chinese.

Most of the voters who vote left fear the North Koreans and Chinese, and think appeasement is the best approach. This alliance of hard-left with fearful-appeasers may well be the new majority in Korea. The Korean conservatives have to get more savvy politically to defeat them. This trip to China seems a good move.

Posted by: pj at January 13, 2005 12:32 PM

While the PRC certainly over-reacted, this press conference is just the kind of rude, in your face gesture that Koreans, who think they are G-d's gift to the world, love to do. How do most Americans feel when some annoying foreigners come to the States and hold press conferences condemning our 'war crimes' in Gitmo?

The reality for the PRC is that they have a border to defend and they don't want anyone coming there from the DPRK, for good reason.

Posted by: Bart at January 13, 2005 2:09 PM

Even for the clued-in leadership in South Korea, there are definitely good if cynical reasons to try to kick the can down the road a bit.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 13, 2005 2:10 PM


Or, the opposite of your Indonesia point? Lucky the Chinese aren't Muslim...

Posted by: oj at January 13, 2005 2:14 PM

The Chinese aren't passing around the begging bowl looking to be helped out in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Posted by: Bart at January 13, 2005 3:01 PM

They will be next time they have one.

Posted by: oj at January 13, 2005 3:12 PM

Yeah, they remind me of the Poles that way.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at January 14, 2005 8:33 PM