[EDITORIALS]Security lies in Korea-U.S. ties

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[EDITORIALS]Security lies in Korea-U.S. ties

It is significant that for the first time in history, China and Russia will hold a joint military exercise in the Yellow Sea in September.
The two countries agreed to a strategic partnership in 1996 and have strengthened military and economic cooperation since then. Now, cooperation between them has developed into a military exercise involving navy and air force troops with state-of-the-art weaponry.
The military drill is a response to the strengthening of the U.S.-Japan alliance. In February, Washington and Tokyo proclaimed a “New Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security” which is aimed at China by defining Taiwan as their “joint security concern.” The interests of China and Russia ― engaged in a territorial dispute with Japan over four northern islands ― coincide with each other.
We worry because a large-scale Russian and Chinese military exercise can prompt the United States and Japan to take similar action. The Yellow Sea has been the major military exercise area for the U.S. forces in Japan and in Korea. On the other hand, China, in view of its national interest in the event of a crisis in the Taiwan Straits and its navy’s access to the Pacific, can’t leave it to U.S. forces. When tension is heightened, the Yellow Sea is the area where the conflict between the two countries can break out.
It is a serious challenge to our national security that the United States and Japan confront China and Russia in such a sensitive area. The fact that the big powers demonstrate their military clout and form alliances is itself a security threat. There is possibility that we can be swept into a conflict against our will.
It is naive to debate over such a conceptual problem as northern triangle diplomacy or southern triangle diplomacy in this situation. While scenes of competition among the big four powers unfold near the Korean Peninsula, if we are busy thinking of picking one of them as our partner, we could become prey to another of them.
When the surrounding situation changes rapidly like this, we have to cool-headedly decide on the type of alliance that can guarantee our security. We shouldn’t have illusions that do not fit our national strength.
The ministries of Foreign Affairs and Unification have assured repeatedly that “South Korea-U.S. alliance is the axis of our security policy.” That is the right answer.
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