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Lee’s Visit to Sichuan Receives Warm Welcome

Posted May. 31, 2008 03:15,   


“Dear South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Thank you very much for your heart-felt sympathy to those suffering from the massive earthquake. Your visit to the earthquake-devastated area, which we believe shows Koreans’ condolences to the victims, has really touched many Chinese.”

This was a remark left by a Chinese netizen on leading Chinese Internet portal Sina.com yesterday on the observance of President Lee’s visit to Dujiangyan, a remote city in Sichuan Province severely damaged by the magnitude-7.9 earthquake on May 12.

The earthquake hit the mountainous region with a population of 600,000, claiming more than 3,000 lives and leaving 280,000 houses in rubble.

A host of Chinese netizens expressed gratitude for Lee’s extended condolences and assistance during his visit to the disaster-hit area, saying, “His condolence visit to the victims enabled us to feel the earnest compassion and kindness from the neighboring country.” Another netizen said, “The Chinese will always remember his visit (to the quake-struck area).”

Some expressed welcome to Lee’s response, saying, “I decided to travel Korea.” Some said they would like to study in Korea.

However, some negative responses were also found. Another Chinese portal 163.com featured a comment made by a Chinese who criticized Lee’s visit as “an affectation.” He said, “The South Korean president has never paid attention to China since his inauguration, while he has been clung to the United States.”

In general, however, President Lee’s visit to the earthquake-hit region apparently contributed to the drastic turnaround in the anti-Korean sentiment recently prevailing among Chinese people.

Overseas Korean businesses and 800,000 ethnic Koreans in China welcome the visit, saying, “Lee’s visit will greatly help to improve Koreans’ image in China.”

Shen Dingchang, a Korean studies professor at Peking University, said, “Lee’s visit to the disaster-hit area was the first one made by a foreign head of state and this I believe will play an important role in enhancing Sino-Korea relations to the next level.”