Fake news confuses truth about China’s THAAD retaliation

China’s retaliation against Korean conglomerate Lotte Group regarding THAAD is becoming confusing. / Yonhap

By Lee Han-soo

China’s retaliation against Korean conglomerate Lotte Group over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system is becoming confusing because of an anti-Korean fake news report and a video involving elementary school children.

China’s retaliatory campaign stepped up as parts of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system arrived in Korea on Mar. 7.

Lotte was main target after the conglomerate signed a land swap deal with South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense allowing the military to use the company-owned golf course in Seongju as the site for the THAAD battery.

On Mar. 3, fake news started to spread about an interview that Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin allegedly gave to Huanqiu newspaper.

Weibo quoted Shin as saying that Chinese “are profiteers and have no backbone or passion” and accused him of saying, “Because the Chinese are poor, they will buy our product if we lower our prices.”

However, Guancha Syndicate, a Chinese state-run newspaper, later revealed that the SNS post was concocted.

“There is no newspaper in Korea called Huanqiu newspaper,” read the Guancha article. “The whole interview with Shin did not happen.”

Weibo users did not answer newspaper interview on where and how the fake news originated, according to the news outlet.

Guancha Syndicate observed that whether the news was true or not seemed irrelevant.

“Rousing anti-Korean resentment and patriotism through malicious fake news only gives opponents a weapon that can help them strike back,” Guancha commented.

The confusion was fueled further by an online video of a Chinese elementary holding a ceremony at which the students vowed to boycott Lotte snacks.

The video shows young students holding their fists in the air, shouting, “Say ‘No’ to snacks and Lotte.”

The image also shows the teacher standing in front of the podium, shouting that boycotting Lotte snacks shows patriotism.

The video has become controversial in China, with some saying everyone should participate in a show of patriotism.

But others say the school has gone too far in rousing anti-Korean sentiment and brain-washing young students.

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