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Han accuses opposition leader of being 'subservient to China'

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : March 24, 2024 - 14:57

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President Yoon Suk Yeol (left) and People Power Party interim leader Han Dong-hoon on Friday look around the salvaged remains of the warship Cheonan, which was destroyed by a North Korean torpedo attack 14 years ago, in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. (Presidential office) President Yoon Suk Yeol (left) and People Power Party interim leader Han Dong-hoon on Friday look around the salvaged remains of the warship Cheonan, which was destroyed by a North Korean torpedo attack 14 years ago, in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. (Presidential office)

The ruling party head on Sunday slammed main opposition leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung for his speech on the Yoon Suk Yeol administration's stance on the South Korea-China relationship, accusing the Democratic Party of Korea as being subservient to China.

Han Dong-hoon, interim chair of the ruling People Power Party, said in a meeting of the party's election committee on Sunday that Lee's comment Friday "reaffirms the Democratic Party of Korea's perception of itself as a vassal to China."

This came two days after Lee's remarks during an election campaign event in Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, indicating that Yoon and his government had marred Seoul's relationship with Beijing in a way that has taken a toll on people's livelihoods.

"Why does (the Yoon administration) dare to harass China?" Lee asked Friday.

He continued, posing with a Chinese hand gesture used to express gratitude, "Just say 'Xiexie' to China and just say 'Xiexie' to Taiwan, and there is no need to harass these countries." "Xiexie" is the Chinese expression for "thank you."

Lee's intention was to highlight the plight of Yoon's diplomatic stance to lean toward the United States in its Indo-Pacific strategy, repeatedly urging peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and opposing a change in the status quo in the region.

As a result, China, Lee claimed, "began to hate South Korea and does not buy South Korean goods."

He added, "Why should we intervene in the China-Taiwan relationship? No matter what unfolds in the Taiwan Strait, and no matter how the China-Taiwan relationship unravels, it has nothing to do with us. We just care about our livelihoods, and that would be enough."

Democratic Party of Korea Chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung poses with a hand gesture during his visit to Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, on Friday. (A screen grab from Lee's official YouTube account) Democratic Party of Korea Chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung poses with a hand gesture during his visit to Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, on Friday. (A screen grab from Lee's official YouTube account)

 

 

Accusing Lee of having a history of being submissive to China, ruling party interim leader Han said it was "hard to understand."

Han brought up Lee's meeting in June with Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming at his residence, at which Xing's remarks to Lee implied that Seoul's pro-Washington stance is inappropriate.

"Lee failed to come up with a rebuttal in return for Xing's menacing words of 'You will regret later if you bet on China's defeat,'" Han said. "He was not making a mistake, but he was convinced (that Xing was right). The 'xiexie' remark is proof that he was convinced."

Han also said Lee's intention to encourage Seoul to sit on its hands regarding peace across the Taiwan Strait means that Lee supports a unilateral effort to change the status quo for Taiwan by force.

"In this world we live in, only China, North Korea and Lee's Democratic Party of Korea are in favor of the change of the status quo (in Taiwan) by force."

Democratic Party of Korea Chair Lee Jae-myung (right) shakes hands with a traditional market vendor while visiting Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, Friday, (Pool photo via Yonhap) Democratic Party of Korea Chair Lee Jae-myung (right) shakes hands with a traditional market vendor while visiting Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, Friday, (Pool photo via Yonhap)

 

As for North Korea-related issues, Lee blamed the Yoon administration for squandering the previous thaw in inter-Korean relations, saying the ruling bloc was trying to instigate war, in a speech in Pocheon, northern Gyeonggi Province.

The ruling People Power Party responded Saturday that matters of national security should not be used as political warfare.

Meanwhile, Han blasted the main opposition for trying to block the passage of a bill that would nullify the taxation at a 20-25 percent rate on the proceeds of 50 million won ($37,200) or more from investments in financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, funds and derivatives.

South Korea is to hold its general election to fill the National Assembly on April 10. Candidates are to vie for 254 seats, with the remaining 46 seats awarded in proportion to a separate vote by party. The main opposition Democratic Party currently controls a majority of seats.

The official election campaign is poised to start Thursday.