China Envoy Angers Koreans Again

Article excerpt

Chinese Ambassador to Seoul Wu Dawei has again attracted criticism from the Korean media by making inappropriate remarks at Thursday's lecture at the Korea Press Foundation in downtown Seoul.

Wu touched on a wide variety of issues during his lecture and question-and-answer session, prompting some participants to express profound displeasure with the way he expressed his ideas.

Reiterating Beijing's opposition to the possible visit to Seoul by the Dalai Lama, for example, he said giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the Tibetan spiritual leader in 1989 had made a mockery of the award.

Such comments from the Chinese envoy on the prestigious prize are inappropriate, especially as Korean President Kim Dae-jung recently became this year's recipient.

Wu's latest remarks were actually low-key in comparison with a speech in September assailing the Korean government.

``Even if the Dalai Lama visits Korea, I don't believe relations will deteriorate to the extent that we would sever diplomatic ties,'' the unusually outspoken diplomat said at that time. ``By hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, however, it would affect relations in some form,'' he added.

Shortly after, Vice Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Ban Ki-moon summoned the ambassador to deliver Seoul's positions on the Tibetan leader's visit in an indirect expression of Seoul's disappointment with his remarks at a forum of the National Assembly Pacific Policy Studies.

On the issue of reopening civilian air routes between Korea and Taiwan, Wu said the Seoul government should consult with Beijing in advance, adding that the issue is related to his country's sovereignty.

A Foreign Affairs-Trade Ministry official said, ``That is nonsense. The decision is purely up to us.''

The Chinese ambassador did not limit his controversial comments to Korea's relations with Taiwan and Tibet.

In addition, he made scornful remarks about the problems with the current U.S. presidential race, noting U.S. attempts to force other nations to accept its development model, ideas and ideology would always fail.

The ambassador said the Dalai Lama's activities were in line with imperialist forces' attempts to separate Tibet from China, which have been going on since the early 20th century, adding that the CIA had helped the Dalai Lama defect to India in 1959. …