• Chinese tourists Beijing’s new weapon

    4

    BEIJING: Slapping import bans on products like mangoes, coal and salmon has long been China’s way of punishing countries that refuse to toe its political line.

    But Beijing has shown that it can also hurt others by cutting a lucrative Chinese export: tourists who normally flock to South Korea or Taiwan.

    China’s recent boycott of South Korea over a US anti-missile shield on the Korean peninsula signals a growing aggression in the way it flexes its economic muscles, analysts say.

    Beijing has banned Chinese tour groups from going to the South, hammering its tourist market and the duty-free shops of retail giant Lotte Group, which has been targeted for providing land for the controversial defense system.

    Dozens of Lotte stores were closed in China and protests held across the country as Beijing ramped up pressure on Seoul to abandon the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which it sees as a threat to its own military capability.

    Lotte also suffered setbacks in several of its Chinese ventures — from the government-ordered halt of a $2.6 billion theme park project to apparent cyberattacks on company websites.

    “If you don’t do what Beijing’s political leaders want they will punish you economically,” said Shaun Rein, founder of Shanghai-based China Market Research Group.

    “They put the economic vise on politicians around the world. They have been doing it for years and it works.”
    Seoul-based tour operator Korea-China International Tourism has reported an 85 percent drop in tourists in recent months, which its founder attributes to China’s anger over THAAD.

    The company usually receives 4,000 mostly Chinese visitors a month, but that has fallen to around 500 after Beijing warned tourists about the risks of travelling to the South, and ordered Chinese tour operators to stop sending groups there.

    ‘Carrot and stick’

    As the world’s second-largest economy and biggest trader, China can also inflict pain by blocking certain imports.

    Norway learned that lesson the hard way. After the Oslo-based Nobel Committee awarded the 2010 Peace Prize to jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo, China halted Norwegian salmon exports.

    Relations only returned to normal in April after Oslo pledged its commitment to the one-China policy and respect for China’s territorial integrity.

    Mongolia also incurred Beijing’s wrath in November when it allowed the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who China views as a devious separatist, to visit the impoverished landlocked country.

    Following the exiled Buddhist monk’s visit, China reportedly took punitive measures against Mongolia, including stopping trucks carrying coal from crossing the Chinese border — a move with heavy repercussions for Mongolian mining concerns.

    Tourism to Taiwan has also fallen sharply as relations across the strait worsen.

    The Taipei Hotel Association reported decreases of up to 50 percent in Chinese visitors in recent months and warned “the situation could get worse.”

    “I’ve been told by friends not to visit Taiwan since the cross-strait situation is tense but I am just a regular citizen so I am not too worried about that,” a 58-year-old Chinese man surnamed Liu said in a Taipei duty free shop.
    Countries that submit to China’s demands, however, can find themselves rewarded.

    A ban on 27 Philippine tropical fruit export companies was lifted after President Rodrigo Duterte declared his “separation” from the United States during a visit to Beijing in October, confirming his tilt towards China.
    The sanctions had been intended to punish Manila for its South China Sea stance.

    South Korea will be hoping for a similar outcome after its new President Moon Jae-In dispatched his envoy Lee Hae-Chan to China after his election victory last week, in an apparent effort to mend fences with Beijing.

    “It’s a kind of carrot and stick policy. They (China) are doing it to show they have more leverage now and send a signal,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a professor in political science at Hong Kong Baptist University.

    “The irony is that China has criticized that way of doing things but now China is less hesitant to do the same thing because she’s stronger and feels she can do it.”

    Filling the void

    Analysts expect China to become even more assertive as it seeks to fill the vacuum created by the US retreat
    into “America First” policies promoted by President Donald Trump.

    “Smaller nations (in Asia) don’t feel that Trump is going to support them,” said Rein.

    But in the case of South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, Beijing has been careful to target specific sectors to avoid disruption that could backfire on Chinese companies.

    “It has become a well-developed tool of diplomatic pressure,” said Andrew Gilholm, director of analysis of Greater China and North Asia at Control Risks.
    AFP

    Share.
    loading...
    Loading...

    Please follow our commenting guidelines.

    4 Comments

    1. matakutin ako. on

      Why China was so afraid when U.S. deployed anti missile shield on the Korean peninsula? What the South Korean did, was to provide the land for these THAAD missiles, which are purely defensive in nature. Few years back, like four year or so ago, the Chinese also boycotted Japanese products because Japan did not give in to Chinese wishes, trying to claim ownership of few islands in East china Sea, called the Shingkaki Islands as a result of their claims based on their 9-dash line. The 9-dash line was map of China drawn couple of years before the Ming Dynasty, and that was over eight (8) centuries ago. Kung gaano ka swapang ang mga Pinoy, sampung beses na mas swapang and mga ito, at ‘yan po ay hindi biro.

      Did any body noticed that when the U.S. steps in and confront China about any trade issues, they seems to back down because China have always created trade imbalance, or huge trade deficits with the United States. Huge U.S. Companies that sell finished products such as iphone, computers, and almost anything and everything, they rely on China. United States has been the main dumping ground of Chinese products, mainly because their labor is very cheap. Few months ago when President Trump met with Chinese president, talked about closing the trade gap and also their conduct in South China Sea, and that’s probably the reason why China spearheaded a conference with his neighbors which just occurred recently. Si Digong lang Kasi ang walang tiwala kay Uncle Sam. Here is the bottom line : China seems to be putting economic pressure on South Korea because they provided land for U.S.THAAD missiles. Why the Chinese does not want to directly confront U.S.A.? It is their military equipment, di ba?

      emdelacruz.2016@yahoo.com

      • Did the US steps in when China ban our bananas and mangoes and was left to rot in the shores of China by not letting in our shipment of bananas? That was the time of Bs Aquino. It was only now that they allowed our bananas and mangoes to enter their country. US did nothing to help us in our trade with China and worst the US did not do anything while China was building an island in PH territory. It was only now that the US is making a noise about China’s island building when the island is already finish and well equip.

      • The article was about China’s carrot and stick policy, meaning, China will not buy any of the Philippine’s products such as bananas, mangoes, and whatever the Philippines wanted to sell to China (called trade) without complying with their demands. What did China wants from the Philippines? Do not bring out any of the issues in South China Sea, such as your claim on the reefs where we constructed and militarized illegally. Ito ang sinasabi ng China sa Pinas. However, China will never do this to the U.S. because they already created a big trade imbalance with them, and there is NOWHERE in the article that says the U.S. will save the Philippines when China rejects their bananas.