China’s foreign ministry denies government blocking entry of BTS goods

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied that the government has blocked the entry of goods related to K-pop superstars BTS into the country.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian made this statement during a regular press conference on Oct. 21 when he was asked if China’s General Administration of Customs and other government offices issued a new policy to prohibit the clearance of BTS-related items based on Korean media reports that logistics companies like Yunda Express, YTO Express and ZTO Express have declined to deliver the fan goods.

He said “the Chinese customs and other government departments have never rolled out any policy that you mentioned. China’s position on supporting and promoting China-ROK friendly exchange and win-win cooperation hasn’t changed. We don’t want to see irresponsible reports and comments like these to further impact the atmosphere of bilateral relations.”

The issue about some Chinese citizens and BTS started when the K-pop idol group received the Van Fleet Award as “recognition of the group’s promotion of cultural ties between the U.S. and South Korea.”

The award was given by The Korea Society, an American organization based in New York City dedicated to promoting understanding between the people of the US and South Korea.

In BTS’ video acceptance speech during the gala held on Oct. 7, RM said, “As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, we will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women."

BTS during their video acceptance speech (Screenshot from The Korea Society video)

US was an ally of South Korea during the Korean War, which started in 1950 when North Korea invaded the South. China was North Korea’s ally in the war. The Philippines also supported South Korea during the war by sending troops.

Some Chinese citizens were offended by RM’s remarks for his alleged failure to recognize the sacrifices of Chinese soldiers who fought for North Korea in the war and they called for a boycott of the boy band. Fans of BTS defended RM, saying it would be bizarre if he acknowledged the sacrifices of Chinese soldiers who helped North Korea in its invasion of South Korea.

Chinese media outlet Global Times reported the incident on Oct. 11 and described the Korean War as a “War to Resist US Aggression and Aid to Korea.” It said Chinese people refer to the US as an “aggressor in the war.”

“There were thousands of Chinese soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war. You are South Korean people and you can say that, but I am Chinese so I decided to be angry and quit the boy band's fan club to express my clear attitude," said one Chinese fan of BTS, according to the report.

During a press briefing on Oct. 12, Zhao Lijian said, “I have noted relevant reports as well as the reactions from the Chinese people online. I want to say that we all should learn lessons from history and look forward to the future, hold dear peace and strengthen friendship.”

On Oct. 21, he added, “About BTS’s comments on the Korean War, I stated China’s position the other day. Our common pursuit should be taking history as a mirror, facing the future, cherishing peace and promoting friendship. I also noticed the remarks by the spokesperson of the ROK foreign ministry. We share similar views. China would like to work with the ROK to promote bilateral friendship.”