China beat South Korea 1-0 at a World Cup qualifier in Changsha, Hunan Province, on Thursday, keeping the team’s 2018 soccer World Cup dream alive. The game was played in the midst of high tensions between the two countries, which began after the U.S. deployed its THAAD missile defense system in South Korea earlier this month. China, believing that this move threatens its national security, responded to the deployment by targeting South Korean businesses and the country’s tourism industry. In recent years, anti-Korean sentiment has periodically riled up Chinese citizens, occasionally leading to violence at soccer matches. At Thursday’s game, there were more than 37,000 spectators, including about 100 South Korean fans, who were surrounded by just as many police.
On the social network Weibo, the victory stirred up nationalistic feelings. One commenter said (in Chinese), “In this sensitive time of THAAD, China and South Korea had a football war. The Chinese national team is awesome! You’re our nation’s pride…China is the best!” Another commenter said (in Chinese), “This is not magic! This is not magic! This is a victory made by the sweat and effort of the Chinese team.”
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