We attribute the negative perceptions between South Korea and China to the absence of real argumentative interaction. Argumentative interaction is a social process that seeks mutual understanding through persuasive and noncoercive action. The argumentative process helps state actors to minimize their negative perceptions and to reach mutual understanding-an evolutionary process that leads to perceptional change. In the case of South Korea and China, two conditions are known to instigate arguing: uncertainty and conscious efforts by both actors. The governments and elites of both states should take significant roles in seeking policy alternatives and in building a healthy cyberspace. KEYWORDS: South Korea-China relations, mutual perceptions, argumentative action, constructivism.
BASED ON THE CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH, WE ASSERT IN THIS ARTICLE that "argumentative action" can contribute to reconstructing mutual perceptions between South Korea (Republic of Korea; ROK) and China (People's Republic of China; PRC). Since these nations established diplomatic ties in 1992, South Korea and China have made great progress in their bilateral relations through expanding diplomatic and economic cooperation. However, their mutual perceptions remain rather negative, which we attribute to the absence of real argumentative interaction. Argumentative interaction is a social process that seeks mutual understanding through deliberative, persuasive, and noncoercive action (Risse 2000; Checkel 2001; Manea 2009). The argumentative process helps state actors to minimize their negative perceptions and reach mutual understanding. The argumentative process is an evolutionary process that leads to perceptional change. In this article we pay special attention to the underlying motivation of state actors to participate in such arguing. In the case of South Korea and China, two conditions are known to instigate arguing: "uncertainty" and "conscious efforts" by South Korea and China.
In May 2008 South Korea and China agreed to establish a "strategic cooperative partnership" to advance their diplomatic relationship to a higher level. The undertaking dramatically strengthened their cooperation in diplomacy, security, the economy, and society. Furthermore, it facilitated close cooperation on global issues such as climate change and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) (Snyder 2008a). The number of human exchanges between the two states also increased by an astonishing rate. For instance, these days more than 10,000 South Koreans visit China every day, and the international flights connecting the cities of the two states outnumber the total number of domestic flights in South Korea. At the same time, the number of Chinese tourists to South Korea has reached almost 2 million a year. From January to November 2010, 1.76 million Chinese tourists visited South Korea, an increase of 41.5 percent compared to the previous year (Kim Jin-hyuk 2011).
However, alongside the rapid expansion of bilateral exchanges and cooperation has come a simultaneous increase in the number of conflicts between the two countries. Potential conflicts previously hidden by the fast growth in relations have now surfaced. The first major case was triggered by China's "Northeast Project" in 2002, which has led to furious historical disputes.1 The second was the 2008 Beijing Olympic torch relay incident in South Korea in 2008, which led to a series of ruthless disparagements on the Internet by online observers of both states (Jih-Un Kim 2011). Such incidents have incited "anti-China" (banjoong or fanzhong) and "anti-Korea" (hyumhan or xianhan) sentiments, which may hinder the bilateral relationship.
With respect to bilateral economic relations, China has become South Korea's biggest trading partner and the largest source of its trade surplus, while South Korea has become the third-largest export market for Chinese products. The trade volume between South Korea and China has exceeded the scale of ROK-US trade since 2004. In fact, trade between South Korea and China is almost double the size of the ROK-US trade in recent years. Most noteworthy is that after only sixteen years of ROK-China amity, the trade volume between the two states surpassed South Korea's combined trade with Japan and the United States. Actual trade volume between South Korea and China in 2008 reached $186.1 billion, or thirty-six times the volume at the initial stage of their relations. Their mutual investments have also greatly increased-about ninety-four times, to $43.2 billion (Korea International Trade Association 2010).
Beyond their economic relations, China and Korea face the strategic need to strengthen cooperation and partnership in every aspect of diplomacy, security, and culture. In this respect, their mutual perceptions are becoming an important issue for the future development of the bilateral relationship. Although the reality of international relations may sometimes lead to cooperation and at other times to competition, one should choose to coexist and cooperate rather than to compete and distrust. Both states must place some urgency on finding a way to overcome their rising conflicts and build mutual trust and respect, in line with their growing bilateral relations.
In this study we examine the possibility of improving the mutual perceptions between South Korea and China and explore practical ways to facilitate such perceptional change. The theory of argumentative action provides a way forward, such that when state leaders are faced with a problem in their relationship with other states, they will try to find possible solutions. State actors will eventually come to effect a perceptional change through the argumentative process. In this sense, the recent conflicts between South Korea and China should motivate the two countries to recognize their uncertain relationship and to make conscious efforts to resolve their conflicts.
Arguing and Reconstructing ROK-PRC Mutual Perceptions
Conditions for Resolving Differences
Reconstructing perceptions between two countries requires a strong resolution on the part of state leaders to improve their relations, implying also the need for a conscious social effort to create better perceptions. The logical ground for such a possibility can be found in constructivism. The core point of constructivism is that many aspects of international relations are in fact not "given" but rest on the way in which they are constructed by social practice and interaction (Kratochwil and Ruggie 1986; Wendt 1992; Wendt 1999). Studying international relations should not be confined to understanding the status quo and predicting the future. Rather, such study should lead to creating a new world by creating new ideals and directions in the process of resolving current problems. An underlying implication is that the relationship between South Korea and China can also change if the two countries wish. However, depending on how the two states perceive each other, their relationship can become either more contentious or more cooperative. More conflicts can lead to less stability in terms of regional cooperation; on the other hand, improving negative mutual perceptions can lead to more cooperation, which might benefit both states while also increasing regional stability and peace. In this sense, state actors need to be open to change.
Arguing is "a social process of interaction that involves changing attitudes about cause and effect in the absence of overt coercion.... It is an activity or process in which a communicator attempts to induce a change in the belief, attitude, or behavior of another person (or state)" (Checkel 2001, 562). Arguing is not a sufficient condition on its own, but it is a necessary step (or process) for better relations between countries. Resolving chronic problems such as historical disputes and ideological differences between countries is usually not easy during the argumentative process. However, the process provides a chance to recognize each other's differences and to resolve mutual misunderstandings. Furthermore, successful arguing can contribute to social learning and change in the states, then leading to new knowledge and a new way of thinking about a problem and its possible solution. By entering into an argumentative process, states can be induced to reformulate their interests according to the new empirical knowledge and moral standards (Ulbert and Risse 2005). South Korea and China have rarely tried to engage in such an argumentative discourse; thus, they have had little opportunity to change their mutual perceptions.
Why should two states be motivated to seek solutions to their problems through the argumentation process? Searching for answers can help solve or at least alleviate social conflict via outreach. If state actors had cooperated when discussing various issues, they would never have needed to argue in order to achieve a reasonable consensus (Risse 2000). Hence, Thomas Risse (2000) has suggested several conditions that should be conducive to problem-solving behavior in international relations. One is the existence of a common "lifeworld"2 provided by a high degree of international institutionalization in the respective issue area. Another is international institutions based on nonhierarchical relations, enabling dense interactions in informal networklike settings. Third is that in the absence of such international institutions, actors should make a conscious effort to construct a common lifeworld through narratives that enable them to communicate in a meaningful way. The fourth condition is state actors' uncertainty about interests or a lack of knowledge about the problematic situation.
In the case of South Korea and China, two of the above four conditions seem to apply: uncertainty and conscious efforts by the state actors. Recent conflicts between South Korea and China can provide motivation to engage in the argumentation and deliberation process. "Uncertainty" makes for instability as Chinese and Korean leaders do not know whether their relations will turn for better or worse. Therefore, the desire to change their uncertain relationship in such a way as to resolve the dilemma may lead both countries to participate voluntarily in argumentative interaction. As some scholars have pointed out, especially in an anarchic international environment, an argumentative process could actually begin with very limited common understanding (Risse 2000). Risse draws special attention to state actors' conscious efforts to construct such a common knowledge. In this regard, elites who are interested in recasting relations with another country in a different way can play a central role in the process of making changes that will bring about greater cooperation. For example, in the case of China's relations with the tenmember Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the early 1990s, neither a common lifeworld nor any significant degree of institutionalization existed. But elites played a critical role in the argumentative process (Ba 2006).
On the other hand, the first two conditions have yet to be solidified between South Korea and China. These two countries have not yet shared the common lifeworld that is conducive to a high degree of international institutionalization on various issues. As some South Korean and Chinese journalists, scholars, and specialists have said, self-examination is in order for both sides regarding excessive mutual disparagement if a common understanding is to be built (Mang 2010; Wang and Dong 2010; "Holding the Forum" 2011). South Korea and China also have not created international institutions based on nonhierarchical relations, which would enable "dense" interactions in informal and networklike settings. However, after a series of recent conflicts, these two states have begun to recognize the necessity of common knowledge, and thus are trying to make conscious efforts to resolve the problems.
How Arguing Can Work
Having discussed the need, goal, and motivation for arguing, we can now ask how arguing can work for ROK-China relations. Argumentative interactions-whether economic, political, or social; formal or informal; bilateral or multilateral-can proceed on various issues (Ba 2006). Arguing, in addition to diplomatic negotiations, might take place in a more open arena, such as a public domain (Calhoun 1993). The current negativity in mutual perceptions between South Korea and China was in fact revealed via public discussion on the Internet. However, until now, cyberspace has been a place for conflict rather than a real public sphere. When state actors engage in a truth-seeking discourse (arguing), they are expected to change their own views of the world as well as their interests, and sometimes even their identities (Risse 2000). For cyberspace to work as a real public sphere, bloggers on both states should at least try to refrain from ruthlessly disparaging each other.3
In this study, we focus on the conditions that could motivate South Korea and China to engage in arguing rather the process of arguing itself, as it is impossible to anticipate precisely when arguing could begin or how arguing might work out between the two states. "Arguing is a reflexive process that does not take place in distinct sequences. The process of arguing is rather characterized by an exchange of arguments that is based on a common frame of reference that is adjusted in the course of communication" (Ulbert and Risse 2005, 352). Accordingly, arguing may sometimes lead to unexpected results. Therefore, studying the process and the results of arguing between South Korea and China remains a task for future research.
Uncertainty and Absence of Argumentative Interaction
Since establishing diplomatic relations, South Korea and China have made great progress in all aspects of their relations. In 2008 the "comprehensive cooperative partnership" between the two states was upgraded to a "strategic cooperative partnership," leading to extensive bilateral cooperation in various fields. This phase of the relationship is often praised by officials of both governments as one of unprecedented friendship.
Although South Korea and China have been building a cooperative relationship at the state level, developments in the civilian sector (such as the sentiments shared by the people of both countries) have not gone as positively. Several surveys show that mutual perceptions between South Korea and China have deteriorated. After conducting a survey of Chinese Internet bulletin boards that posted South Korea-related messages from January to April 2009, the Korean National Brand Committee reported that about 68 percent of the messages were anti-South Korean, while only 17 percent were pro-South Korean ("Around 68%" 2009). This negative perception might be temporary, but most likely its main cause lies in a deeply embedded preconception within the bilateral relationship. Once "an image of others is established, it is hard to change, so it is very important to try to understand how it is formed" (Jervis 1976, 10). The most provocative sentiments between South Korea and China arose out of historical disputes and political differences related to the ROKUS alliance and North Korea-China relations (Lee 2011). The negative perceptions among the people of both states have accumulated from past experience. Rarely, however, have there been any attempts to make argumentative interactions with each other to change these negative perceptions. Mutual distrust between the two countries continues to build up, and thus their cooperation and partnership are increasingly uncertain. To be more specific, we examined three key cases of increasing uncertainty in the bilateral relationship: the Northeast Project; the 2008 Beijing Olympic torch relay; and the 2010 sinking of the ROK Navy corvette, the Cheonan, and North Korea's subsequent shelling of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island.
The Northeast Project
The Korean peninsula and China share a border along the Amnok River, where controversy surrounds the history of the Koguryo Dynasty (37 B.C.-A.D. 667), an ancient Korean kingdom, and the cultural heritages between the two states. The first incident that escalated into a diplomatic dispute between South Korea and China was triggered in 2002 by the "Northeast Project."4 The project, planned to run five years, was launched by the Chinese government-run Research Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Research Center for Chinese Borderland History 2010). Its purpose was to incorporate the ancient history of the southern parts of the three northeastern provinces of China and the northern Korean regions, where Koguryo had been located, into China's history.5
China's revision of Koguryo's history provoked severe public criticism in Korea (Ramzy 2004). After Seoul expressed its outrage, Beijing dispatched senior diplomat Wu Dawei to settle the dispute. He agreed to a five-point "verbal understanding," including nonpoliticization of the Koguryo issue and resolution through an academic conference ("Chinese Government" 2004; Seo 2004). The understanding was amorphous and nonbinding, and as expected no follow-ups have been necessary since the visit (Klingner 2004). But the incident caused Seoul and Beijing to dispute publicly their cultural and historical heritage (Gries 2005; Chung 2009).
In the aftermath of the incident, anti-ROK sentiments in China spread widely, triggering fierce disputes and denunciations between the two states. Disputes have occurred regarding whether certain traditional cultures should be labeled as originally Korean or originally Chinese. For example, one of the Chinese grievances was over a Korean bid to register a Korean traditional festival (Danoje in Korean; Duanwujie in Chinese) at UNESCO as a world heritage event. This infuriated many Chinese because they believed that the festival originated in China.6 When South Korea went ahead with the registration in 2005, China accused it of stealing a Chinese cultural legacy and claimed that the Danoje festival should be treated as a regional variation of the original Duanwujie.7
The Beijing Olympic Torch Relay
In April 2008, at the Beijing Olympic torch relay in Seoul, a conflict broke out when several thousand Chinese, most of whom were students, physically clashed with 100 South Koreans who were demonstrating against China's suppression of violent protests for independence in Tibet as well as the compulsory repatriation of North Korean refugees in China ("Protests Greet Olympic Torch Relay in Korea" 2008; "Scuffles at South Korea Torch Leg" 2008). At the start, Chinese spectators cheered the torchbearers, chanting and waving signs reading "We love China" and "Go, China." But the cheering took on a completely different tone when they met anti-China activists and demonstrators. Scuffles reportedly broke out when Chinese students broke a police line and approached protesters who were condemning Chinese policies in Tibet. The Chinese students threw rocks and water bottles as approximately 2,500 policemen tried to keep the groups separated (Choe 2008).
This clash ignited anti-Chinese sentiment in Korea. Koreans criticized the nationalistic Chinese and shared photos and video clips showing the Chinese attacking policemen and anti-China activists in a "foreign country" (Kim 2008). Some Koreans even demanded the boycott of the Olympic Games and wanted those involved in the violent clash to be deported immediately. An office worker in Seoul said, "It made me start to hate the Chinese. Why did they do such a horrible thing here? They should go back to their own country" ("Anti-Korean Sentiment Spreads Through China" 2008).
The Olympics also brought about a serious undertone of anti-Korean sentiment in China. Major Chinese portal sites such as Sina.com and Sohu.com were full of comments ridiculing or belittling Korea. Some pundits attribute the emerging anti-Korean sentiment to the arrogance of South Koreans, who once looked down on the Chinese when they were poor in the early 1990s ("Anti-Korean Sentiment" 2008; Shin 2010/2011). More recently, slanderous posts against China regarding the devastating May 2008 Sichuan earthquake were attributed to Korean Internet users who wrote that the earthquake was "God's punishment of China," provoking further animosity among Chinese bloggers (Snyder 2008b, 5).
The Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island Incidents
Even after the end of the Cold War, ideological differences between South Korea and China have negatively affected their mutual perceptions. After the inauguration of President Lee Myung-bak in South Korea in early 2008, Seoul and Beijing upgraded their relationship to a "strategic cooperative partnership." But South Korea's actual foreign policies thereafter belied the notion of a strategic partnership. The South Korean government started to restrengthen its alliance with the United States rather than balance it with China. That led PRC foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang to denounce the ROK-US alliance as a "historical relic," which caused uneasiness in diplomatic relations between South Korea and China. These types of incoherent diplomatic policies further aroused "anti-Korea" and "anti-China" sentiments in the two countries ("China's Foreign Ministry" 2008).
More recently, the conflicts between South Korea and China have further escalated since the sinking of the Cheonan in March 2010 and North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010 ("The Conflict Between South Korea and China" 2010; "In Spite of the Highly Related Conflicts" 2010; "The South Korea-China Relations at the Crossroads" 2011). South Korea formally submitted the Cheonan case to the UN Security Council after an international investigation concluded that the warship's sinking was caused by a North Korean torpedo. In the meantime, Beijing called for "calm and restraint" in dealing with the crisis (Lin 2010; Mo 2010; "S. Korea's Defense Chief Vows Retaliation" 2010; Wang 2010; Yan 2010; Zhang 2010a). South Korean media criticized Chinese president Hu Jintao for remaining "noncommittal" toward the sinking of the Cheonan. Hu stated that "China opposes and condemns any act that would undermine stability in the region," but without making any reference to North Korea in regard to the cause of the sinking (Snyder and Byun 2010).
In addition to this incident, three days after the Lee-Hu summit in Shanghai, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited China, which also caused the South Korean media to denounce China as engaging in "double play" between the two Koreas (Snyder and Byun 2010). In short, the Cheonan incident most importantly revealed the relative weakness of China-ROK relations in politics and security, despite the fact that their economic ties had grown rapidly.
Then came North Korea's artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, which again placed the Korean peninsula at the center of regional attention and intensified diplomatic pressures on China as an indispensable player in dealing with Pyongyang (Snyder and Byun 2010). In contrast with China's delayed reaction to the Cheonan sinking, Chinese officials quickly expressed "concern" over the situation a day after the bombardment and "regret" over the South Korean casualties. Beijing stepped up its diplomatic outreach in immediate response to the attack ("China Again Calls for Restart of Six-Party Talks" 2010; Deng 2010a; Deng 2010b; Yang 2010; Zhang 2010b). But South Korea and the United States responded to North Korea's attack by carrying out military exercises designed to strengthen deterrence against North Korea. This further aggravated ROK-China relations. PRC foreign minister Yang Jiechi postponed his visit to South Korea, which had been scheduled for November 26-27, in apparent protest against the ROK-US naval drills in the Yellow Sea. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson strongly warned that "China opposes any military acts in its exclusive economic zone without permission" (Snyder and Byun 2011).
Anti-Korean and Anti-Chinese Sentiment on Display
Rising Public Negativity
The reactions regarding the Northeast Project, Olympic torch relay incident, and Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong Island bombardment clearly manifest the different views between South Korea and China on history, human rights, and national interests, all of which can set a real limit on the level of partnership between the two states (Snyder and Byun 2010). However, neither country has taken the opportunity to narrow the perceptional gap between them, and their negative perceptions have constantly aggravated ROK-China relations in spite of the booming trade and investment ties. Recent anti-Korean sentiment in China and anti-Chinese sentiment in South Korea are a reflection of the built-up negativity surrounding bilateral issues.
With regard to the Northeast Project, South Koreans became more aware of the project, with awareness having risen from 70.1 percent in 2007 to 74.8 percent in 2010. As many as 59.1 percent of survey respondents indicated that the Northeast Project could affect ROK-PRC relations negatively. In the case of China, 25.8 percent of respondents said they believed the differences between South Korea and China related to the interpretation of the ancient history of northeastern China (Northeast Asian History Foundation 2010). As for the North Korean issue, according to one survey, 27 percent of the South Korean respondents were concerned that China might become hostile to South Korea, and as many as 60 percent of the respondents predicted that China might eventually side with North Korea in case of an emergency on the Korean peninsula (Se-jin Kim 2011).
Public opinion surveys (Table 1) show that positive views of South Koreans and Chinese on their mutual relations have dropped sharply over a four-year period, from 65.5 percent to 50.8 percent in South Korea, and from 87.6 percent to 56 percent in China. This implies that mutual perceptions have moved sharply negative.
A recent East Asia Institute (EAI) survey in Korea shows a similar result. According to the survey, the Chinese favorability score toward South Korea on a scale of 0 (very unfavorable) to 100 (very favorable) has declined continuously, from 73.0 in 2006 to 64.5 in 2008 and 57.5 in 2010 (Lee 2011). Even though the mutual favorability between the two states still seems to be above average, in reality, the mutual invective in cyberspace is worsening. South Korean Internet users denounced the Chinese with derogatory terms, while Chinese have used derogatory terms online to demean the Koreans (Wang and Dong 2010, 126-127).
These negative perceptions may even affect Korean economic activity. There is considerable concern that Chinese people might boycott South Korean companies in China, as they did the French supermarket firm Carrefour in the aftermath of the demonstrations against the China Olympic torch relay in Paris. The Sino-Korean relationship is moving beyond its honeymoon stage. Relations are at a crossroads, as the Chinese view of Korea has moved from pro-Korean to anti-Korean. It could develop into either hatred or renewed friendship ("'Sunwen Is a Korean'" 2008).
A Matter of Language
At the heart of the issue is the Korean media's attitude toward China. In particular, when reporting on China's policy toward ethnic minorities, the Korean media have often used very provocative titles. For example, one such title, "Shaoshu minzu shiye shiyiwu guihua 2006-2010" (China's Ethnic Group Plan in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, 2006-2010), focuses on the government's reinforced monitoring of China's ethnic minorities and tightening the grip of control over them ("China Increases Monitoring" 2007; "China Keeps a Tight Rein" 2007). No real effort was made to discover the intent of the plan, and the article provoked anti-China sentiments in Korea. After reviewing the original text of the project, it becomes obvious that the media exaggerated the issue by misinterpreting some of the critical terminology. For instance, the term "tuchu wenti" (a notable problem, such as poverty, illiteracy, and disease) was misinterpreted as "abrupt incident" (implying ethnic separatist movements from China), which could have negative implications.8
When dealing with China's policy on ethnic Koreans in China, the Korean media reacted with particularly impulsive and unfair reports that only angered people further; South Korea, without clear reasoning, has a tendency to view China's ethnic policy as hostile and suppressive, as a conqueror against the Korean descendants residing in China. Moreover, since most ethnic Koreans in China (choseon-jok) live close to China's northeastern border, South Korea tends to regard China's policy as a threat to the Korean heritage and culture in the region. Hence, the wariness behind China's policy toward the Korean Chinese is an outcome induced by the negative perception of the Korean media regarding China's internal ethnic issues (Kwon 2000). Such an attitude creates possible danger for ethnic Koreans in China. For instance, Huang You-fu, an ethnic Korean in China who is an expert on Korean affairs, became very skeptical of the Korean media. He was particularly upset when a Korean reporter approached him to ask which side he would cheer for if Korea and China were to compete in the same game. He said it was an absurd question that he had to confront many times in the past and did not want to answer anymore (Lee 2008).
Sometimes, incorrect interpretation resulting from misunderstanding of the Chinese language or culture negatively impacts mutual perceptions. For example, when Koreans first tried to figure out the underlying intention of the Northeast Project, the Chinese word for "project," "gongcheng," was used. But it is pronounced "gongjeong" in Korean, which can mean "to attack and conquer." This provoked strongly anti-Chinese sentiment in Korea. Another example is "heping jueqi" (peaceful rise, the official phrase for China's self-identity).9 The Chinese word jueqi was easily misunderstood by Koreans as "to stand up and demand." "Heping jueqi" would be pronounced in Korean phonetics as "huapyeonggulki"; "gulki" has a threatening nuance, which may cause one to see the policy in a negative light. If it had been translated as "pusang," it would not have sounded or been perceived as threatening. Unfortunately, no South Korean media, scholars, or professionals came forth to provide an accurate interpretation of such terms.10
Disputes between the two states have also escalated because of inaccurate reports in the Chinese media (Shi 2009). The same kind of mistake occurred when unverified facts were used to write reports. Likewise, as the adage goes, bad news always spreads quickly, causing more problems. In particular, in August 2008, a Chinese newspaper cited several Korean media sources and a Korean professor for a report that South Korea was concocting a theory to claim Sun Wen's origin as Korean ("A South Korean Professor" 2008). This theory of Sun Wen's origin was actually another version of a 2007 theory of Buddha's Korean origins ("'Sunwen Is a Korean'" 2008). Other newspaper articles followed with reports that China's ancient beauty Seosi and famous Chinese basketball player Yao Ming were also being claimed to be of Korean origin. Barring such media reports, those rumors could have vanished by themselves, but the false reports exaggerated these rumors and thus caused anti-Korean sentiments in China to rise. Thus, anti-Korean sentiments also stem from the mass media and people who use the Internet to spread unverified stories. Their reactions may easily accelerate if fueled by rising nationalism.
Reconstructing Mutual Perceptions
The more that state leaders desire to resolve problematic situations, the more they should participate in the arguing process. The recent clashes between South Korea and China may provide motivation to engage in argumentation and deliberation, and thus lead to reconstruction of their mutual perceptions. In fact, argumentative discourse can begin with limited understanding and evolve from that point. Uncertainty may open a window of opportunities and create incentives to reconsider the foundation of relations between the two states and engage with one another in different ways (Ba 2006). The states can actually try to overcome the dilemma between them and develop a common knowledge necessary for the bargaining process. From that positive perspective, the possibility that South Korea and China can participate in the argumentative process has increased as a result of their recent conflicts.
The disputes and negative perceptions between South Korea and China have motivated their citizens to ask questions about why their relations are aggravated and how they can resolve their conflicts. In fact, the strongest catalyst for causing conflicts often comes from distorted and groundless reports made by the public media. The territorial disputes and ideological differences between the countries have deep roots and thus are not easy to resolve. According to recent surveys, the two peoples' lack of mutual understanding and prejudice toward each other usually aggravate national sentiments, not just because of the fundamental differences, but also because these problems have been imbued in people's daily life (Wang 2009). Conscious efforts are required for these problems to be overcome.
South Korea and China have rarely tried to engage in argumentative discourse; thus, they have had little opportunity to change their mutual perceptions. Some elites in both countries have finally begun to call for self-examination regarding the excessive mutual disparagement in cyberspace. Professor Guo Zhenzi of Qinghua University in China said, "There are strong nationalistic sentiments in South Korea and China. In particular, the great-power chauvinism of some Chinese and the victim mentality of some South Koreans have combined to interact negatively with each other." The ROK ambassador to China, Lee Kyu-hyung, made similar comments: "If the distorted and exaggerated information in cyberspace is distributed widely, it can cause social distrust, and this situation can affect South Korea-China relations" ("Holding the First Internet Media Forum" 2011; "Holding the Forum" 2011).
In this respect, one can argue that the negative perceptions between the two states are caused by the absence of a real argumentative process. In fact, the rising general consensus is that the great misunderstanding between the two exists due to a lack of appreciation of their cultural differences. According to Wang Xiaoling and Dong Xiangrong, Koreans' impressions and thoughts about China tend to lean toward the negative side, a stereotype of China largely due to societal, ideological, and historical differences. These Chinese scholars argue that the cause of that negative perception partly came from Koreans' misunderstanding of China (Wang and Dong 2010).
Constructive and instructive functioning of the Internet media can be crucial to reestablishing the friendship between South Korea and China. Actually, the first step for real arguing between South Korea and China should be taken in cyberspace. Governments and media organizations can play a leading role in the argumentation before the two nations start to examine themselves. In fact, new media forums have been organized recently to do this. For example, the South Korean-Chinese High-Level Journalists Forum has been held annually since 2009. The South Korean-Chinese Internet Media Forum was also held in July 2011. These forums were organized by government and media organizations in a conscious effort to discourage the media from producing suggestive or provocative information about incidents that may affect South Korea-China relations, especially in cyberspace (Mang 2010).
Such conscious efforts can motivate the states to engage in real argumentative actions. In this study, however, we did not aim to deal with the actual process and the result of argumentative interaction between South Korea and China. Nevertheless, we can predict some of the changes that can take place in the mutual perceptions between the two countries. Successful arguing can contribute to social learning and change by which South Korea and China can acquire new information (about each other and the rise of China), and it can lead to new ways of thinking about a problem and its possible solutions. In this way, the two states can build a common understanding to minimize negative perceptions and accept each other as equals and serious negotiating partners. Such arguing might then lead to their refraining from disparaging each other.
South Korea and China could very well overcome their rising conflicts by reconstructing their perceptions of each other. The conditions that can motivate the two states to engage in arguing have already been formed: uncertainty and conscious efforts by the two states. When the two states acquire new information about each other and recognize recent changes in East Asia, such as the rise of China, their arguing can be seen as successful. Success can also be claimed when the two states are introduced to new ways of thinking about a problem and its possible solutions. Goals of their arguing can be achieved when they formulate a common understanding that can minimize negative perceptions, and when they accept each other as valid interlocutors through truth-seeking behavior while refraining from disparaging each other.
Historical disputes and ideological differences between the two countries may continue to strain public perceptions of the South Korea-China relationship. The rise of anti-Korean sentiments in China and anti-Chinese sentiments in Korea suggest that an emerging future task is effective management of the political effects of rising nationalism in both countries. In this respect, China and South Korea should put more effort into repairing damage to the bilateral relationship over differences regarding history and ideology. Both countries should take steps to expand mutual understanding and develop a political and cultural basis for more mature and positive interaction.
So far, major global trends have influenced the South Korea-China relationship and their mutual perceptions. During the Cold War, most states were confronted with issues of ideological confrontation and self-help. Within the realm of international relations, it was inevitable that the cycle of competition and cooperation among the states would be repeated. However, twentyfirst-century postmodern international politics has brought a new trend to disrupt that cycle. It is now possible and also necessary for each state to elevate its cooperation to the global level. Under this trend, rather than looking for someone to blame and disputing existing misperceptions, state leaders should be considering how and what efforts need to be taken to improve their countries' mutual perceptions. Thus, if South Korea and China can achieve positive mutual perceptions, the bilateral relations between them can develop into a more sustainable phase of friendship and cooperation.
We are not suggesting a particular process of argumentative interaction. Numerous variables can emerge on the path to good argumentation and deliberation, and the process might end up being very long and at time tortuous. However, both states need to maintain steady efforts to find the root cause of deteriorating mutual perceptions and induce positive changes in those perceptions. Therefore, the governments and elites of both states should take significant roles in seeking policy alternatives and in building a healthy cyberspace. Teenagers and students who have a strong attachment to the Internet should have a balanced view of the relationship between South Korea and China, and false reports should be corrected. In the long run, South Korea and China also need to promote productive student and cultural exchange programs. If such interactions occur, the enhanced friendship and cooperation between South Korea and China will contribute to the peace and stability of Northeast Asia.
1. China's dumping of garlic in the South Korean market in 1999-the "Garlic War"-was one such critical dispute between South Korea and China since diplomatic relations were established. However, the garlic issue was relatively easy to resolve compared to the "Northeast Project" dispute, because Seoul made a crucial concession to allow continued garlic imports up to limits slightly less than 1999 levels (Snyder 2000; Chung 2003/2004).
2. A common lifeworld consists mainly of a shared history, common experiences, and a common culture (Habermas 1985).
3. The formation of an online public sphere in China has come about over various high-profile cases such as the Deng Yujiao incident, crackdowns on Chongqing's gangsters, the Yunnan hide-and-seek incident, the Black Taxi Entrapment Scandal in Shanghai, Internet addiction in China, the Green dam, Hangzhou's drag-race driving, and the Tonghua Iron and Steel Group riot. For case analysis of individuals or groups that have reflected their views in the Chinese policy making processes through the Internet, see Chung 2008.
4. It was originally called the "Northeast Borderland History and the Chain of Events Research Project" (Dongbei Bianjiang Lishi yu Xiazhuang Xilie Yanjiu Gongcheng). See Research Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography 2010.
5. Koguryo was often in conflict with the Sui (A.D. 581-618) and Tang (A.D. 618-907) dynasties of China in the late sixth and early seventh centuries. At that time, China claimed that Koguryo was an ancient minority nationality subordinate to the Chinese court, and that the wars between Koguryo and Sui and Tang were unification wars fought by the Chinese central government (Byington 2002; "Several Questions Concerning Historical Research on Koguryo" 2003).
6. The Gangneung Danoje festival is a traditional folk festival that takes place for fifty days-from April 5 to May 8, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. During the festival, a series of unique cultural events and games are performed: a traditional swing (guinetuigi), a traditional seesaw (nultuigi), and a traditional form of Korean wrestling (ssirum). Many spiritual ceremonies are also carried out (Gangneung Danoje Festival n.d.).
7. The Chinese Duanwujie festival originated from the Qu Yuan ceremony of Hubei Province some 2,500 years ago. Qu Yuan, a politician and poet of the Chu Dynasty, threw himself into the river in order to demonstrate his loyalty to the king. In commemoration of Qu Yuan, people celebrate by holding dragon boat races and eating zongzi wrapped in bamboo leaves. China declared Duanwujie a national three-day holiday in 2008.
8. See Kim 2009 for further explanation.
9. "Peaceful rise" was officially introduced at the 2003 Bo'ao Forum by Zheng Bijian, chairman of the China Forum. He pointed out that under the current international situation the only choice for China was to rise peacefully and at the same time maintain world peace through its development ("China's Road of Peaceful Rise" 2004).
10. Controversy on using the term "peaceful rise" existed both in the Chinese leadership and in academia, particularly because of the possible misinterpretation of the term "rise" that could engender negative perceptions of China. Eventually, at the 2004 session of the Bo'ao Forum, Hu Jintao instead referred to China's "peaceful development" (heping fazhan). Since then, the term "rise" has not been used in official Chinese statements (Guo 2006).
"A South Korean Professor Claims That Sun Wen Is of Korean lineage." 2008. Xinkuaiwang, July 31, www.xkb.com.cn.
"Anti-Korean Sentiment: Seoul, Beijing Should Boost Understanding and Friendship." 2008. Korea Times, August 21.
"Anti-Korean Sentiment Spreads Through China." 2008. Hankyoreh, August 27.
"Around 68% of the Chinese Internet Bulletin Board Messages Were Anti-Korean." 2009. New Daily. July 22, www.newdaily.co.kr.
Ba, Alice. D. 2006. "Who's Socializing Whom? Complex Engagement in Sino-ASEAN Relations." Pacific Review, vol. 29, no. 2 (June), pp. 157-179.
Byington, Mark. 2002. "The Creation of an Ancient Minority Nationality: Koguryo in Chinese Historiography." In Embracing the Other: The Interaction of Korean and Foreign Cultures-Proceedings of the First World Congress of Korean Studies, 3. Songnam, ROK: Academy of Korean Studies, www.ikorea.ac.kr.
Calhoun, Craig, ed. 1993. Habermas and the Public Sphere. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Checkel, Jeffrey T. 2001. "Why Comply? Social Learning and European Identity Change." International Organization, vol. 55, no. 3 (Summer), pp. 553-588.
"China Again Calls for Restart of Six-Party Talks." 2010. Xinhuanet, December 16.
"China Increases Monitoring of Its Ethnic Groups." 2007. Hankyoreh, March 31, www.hani.co.kr.
"China Keeps a Tight Rein on Control over Its Ethnic Groups." 2007. Joongang Ilbo (Joongang Daily), April 3, http://article.joinsmsn.com.
"China's Foreign Ministry Made Disparaging Remarks About 'the South Korean-US Alliance.'" 2008. Seoul Newspaper, May 29, www.seoul.co.kr.
"China's Road of Peaceful Rise." 2004. China View, April 23.
"Chinese Government, Promise to Stop Distorting the History of Koguryo." 2004. Hankyoreh, August 24.
Choe, Sang-Hun. 2008. "Chinese Clash with Protesters in Seoul." New York Times, April 27.
Chung, Jae Ho. 2003/2004. "From a Special Relationship to a Normal Partnership? Interpreting the 'Garlic Battle' in Sino-South Korean Relations." Pacific Affairs, vol. 76, no. 4 (Winter), pp. 563-566.
_____. 2009. "China's 'Soft' Clash with South Korea-The History War and Beyond." Asian Survey, vol. 49, no. 3 (May/June), pp. 468-483.
Chung, Jongpil. 2008. "Comparing Online Activities in China and South Korea: The Internet and the Political Regime." Asian Survey, vol. 48, no. 5 (September/October), pp. 727-751.
Deng Shasha. 2010a. "Chinese FM Talks with DPRK, ROK, U.S. Diplomats on Korean Peninsular Situation." Xinhuanet, November 26.
_____. 2010b. "China Proposes Emergency Consultations on Korean Peninsula Tensions." Xinhuanet, November 28.
Gangneung Danoje Festival. n.d. www.danojefestival.or.kr.
Gries, Peter Hays. 2005. "The Koguryo Controversy, National Identity, and Sino-Korean Relations Today." East Asia, vol. 22, no. 4 (Winter), pp. 3-17.
Guo, Suijian. 2006. "Challenges and Opportunities for China's 'Peaceful Rise.'" In Suijian Guo, ed. China's Peaceful Rise in the Twenty-First Century: Domestic and International Conditions. Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing, pp. 1-3.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1985. The Theory of Communicative Action, vol. 2: Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason. Trans. Thomas McCarthy. Boston: Beacon Press, pp. 113-198.
"Holding the First Internet Media Forum, the Participants Reportedly Agreed that Internet Media Should Not Excessively Exaggerate the Confrontation Between Two Nations" (in Chinese). 2011. Huanqiuwang, July 30, http://china.huanqiu.com.
"Holding the Forum on 'Internet Media and South Korea-China Relations.'" 2011. Yonhap News, July 29.
"In Spite of the Highly Related Conflicts Between South Korea and China, Chinese Media Support North Korea's Side." 2010. Segye Ilbo (Segye Daily), December 22.
Jervis, Robert. 1976. Perception and Misperception in International Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Kim, Jih-Un. 2011. "Chinese Nationalism, a False Alarm for Korea: The Case of the Beijing Olympics." East Asia, September 28.
Kim, Jin-hyuk. 2011. "50 Million New Consumers, Chinese Tourists." SERI Business Note 87, January 6, p. 1.
Kim Se Jin. 2011. "'South Korea Behaved Frivolously': China, Friend or Enemy." MBC News, February 4, http://imnews.imbc.com.
Kim, Tae-jong. 2008. "Anti-Chinese Sentiment Looms After Torch Relay." Korea Times, April 28.
Kim Yeikyoung. 2009. "China's Perception on Korean Ethnicity: A Thorn in the Dragon's Side." Korea and World Politics (in Korean), vol. 25, no. 2 (Summer), pp. 149-172.
Klingner, Bruce. 2004. "China Shock for South Korea." Asia Times, September 11.
Korea International Trade Association. 2010. Chinese Trade Statistics Service. KITA.net, February, http://stat.kita.net/top/state/n_submain_stat _kita.jsp?menuId=04&subUrl=n_default-test_kita.jsp?lang_gbn=statid=cts&top_menu_id=db11.
Kratochwil, Friedrich, and John Ruggie. 1986. "International Organization: A State of the Art on an Art of the State." International Organization, vol. 40, no. 4 (Autumn), pp. 753-775.
Kwon Joong-dal. 2000. "Koreans' Perception and Right Direction for Korean-Chinese." Journal of National Development, vol. 4, pp. 159-174.
Lee, Sook-Jong. 2011. "South Korea in the Chinese Political Imagination." EAI Issue Briefing MASI 2011-01, March 10.
Lee, Sunny. 2008. "Anti-Korean Sentiment in China Evolutionary." Korea Times, September 3.
Lin Zhi. 2010. "China Again Calls for Proper Handling of ROK Warship Sinking." Xinhuanet, May 27.
Manea, Maria-Gabriela. 2009. "How and Why Interaction Matters: ASEAN's Regional Identity and Human Rights." Cooperation and Conflict, vol. 44, no. 1 (March), pp. 27-49.
Mang Jiuchen. 2010. "The Second Chinese-South Korean High-Level Journalists Forum Being Held in Seoul" (in Chinese). Renminwang, September 28, http://world.people.com.cn.
Mo Hong'e. 2010. "Wen Urges Diplomacy over S. Korean Warship Sinking." Xinhuanet, May 31.
Northeast Asian History Foundation. 2010. "A Report on South Korea, China, and Japan's Perceptions of History 2010" (in Chinese). October, pp. 8-10, 40-50.
"Protests Greet Olympic Torch Relay in Korea." 2008. RTÉ News, April 28.
Ramzy, Austin. 2004. "Rewriting History." Time, August 16.
Research Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography. 2010. http://bjzx.cass.cn.
Risse, Thomas. 2000. "'Let's Argue!' Communicative Action in World Politics." International Organization, vol. 54, no. 1 (Winter), pp. 1-39.
"Scuffles at South Korea Torch Leg." 2008. BBC News, April 27.
"S. Korea's Defense Chief Vows Retaliation in Case of DPRK Provocation." 2010. Xinhuanet, March 7.
Seo, Hyun-jin. 2004. "China-Korea Truce in Ancient-Kingdom Feud." Asia Times, August 25.
"Several Questions Concerning Historical Research on Koguryo" (in Chinese). 2003. Guangming Ribao, June 24.
Shi Yuanhua. 2009. "Evaluating Conflicts Between China and South Korea" (in Chinese). Dangdai hanguo (Contemporary Korea) (Summer), pp. 39-42.
Shin Young-Mee. 2010/2011. "The Anti-Korea Emotion in China: Focus on Internet Community." Chung-So Yongu (Sino-Soviet Affairs), vol. 34, no. 4 (Winter), pp. 107-138.
Snyder, Scott. 2000. "The Insatiable Sino-Korean Economic Relationship: Too Much for Seoul to Swallow?" Comparative Connections, vol. 2, no. 3 (October), http://csis.org.
_____. 2008a. "China-Korea Relations: Establishing a 'Strategic Cooperative Partnership.'" Comparative Connections, vol. 10, no. 2 (July), http://csis.org.
_____. 2008b. "China-Korea Relations: Post-Olympic Hangover-New Backdrop for Relations." Comparative Connections, vol. 10, no. 3 (October), http://csis.org.
_____, and See-won Byun. 2010. "China-Korea Relations: The Cheonan and China's 'Double Play.'" Comparative Connections, vol. 12, no. 2 (July), http://csis.org.
_____. 2011. "China-Korea Relations: DPRK Provocations Test China's Regional Role." Comparative Connections, vol. 12, no. 4 (January), http://csis.org.
"'Sunwen Is a Korean'... Anti-Korean Sentiment Increased in China." 2008. Nocutnews, August 1, www.nocutnews.co.kr.
"The Conflict Between South Korea and China Will Continue for the Present." 2010. YTN, December 25.
"The South Korea-China Relations at the Crossroads." 2011. Yonhap News, February 11.
Ulbert, Cornelia, and Thomas Risse. 2005. "Deliberately Changing the Discourse: What Does Make Arguing Effective?" Acta Politica, vol. 40, no. 3 (September), p. 365.
Wang, Guanqun. 2010. "China Again Calls for Restraint, Calm over ROK Warship Sinking." Xinhuanet, June 10.
Wang Xiaoling. 2009. South Korea's Image Through the Eyes of Chinese. Beijing: Minzu chubanshe.
_____, and Dong Xiangrong. 2010. " China's Image Through the Eyes of Koreans: Results from Focus Group Interview" (in Chinese). Journal of Contemporary Asia-Pacific Studies, vol. 2, pp. 126-127.
Wendt, Alexander. 1992. "Anarchy Is What States Make of It: Social Construction of Power Politics." International Organization, vol. 46, no. 2 (Spring), pp. 391-425.
_____. 1999. Social Theory of International Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Yan. 2010. "China to Be 'Impartial' on S. Korean Warship Sinking: Premier." Xinhuanet, June 2.
Yang, Lina. 2010. "China Expresses Concern over Alleged Exchange of Fire Between DPRK, ROK." Xinhuanet, November 23.
Zhang Xiang. 2010a. "Chinese Premier Calls for Defusing Tensions over S. Korean Warship Sinking." Xinhuanet, May 30.
_____. 2010b. "China Calls for Restraint, Dialogue on Korean Peninsula Issue." Xinhuanet, December 21.
Yeikyoung Kim is research professor at Kyung Hee University, Korea. Her research focuses on South Korea-China relations and ASEAN-China relations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jongpil Chung is assistant professor of political science at Kyung Hee University. His research interests include Chinese state-society relationship, information technology policy, and Chinese foreign policy. He can be reached at jongpil@ khu.ac.kr. This work was supported by a grant from Kyung Hee University in 2011 (KHU-20110069).…