[EDITORIALS]Diplomatically poor strategyPrime Minister Lee Hai-chan said yesterday, “The Foreign Ministry should remove its Cold War mindset that attempts to blockade the continent.” Mr. Lee’s comment seems to be in line with President Roh Moo-hyun’s view of “Korea’s active role as the stabilizer in East Asia,” and Unification Minister Chung Dong-young’s “new thinking in foreign policy” remark.
We do not understand what this series of remarks really means and are concerned as to whether the government is on the right track or not.
It will be necessary for Korea to review its foreign policy principles amid such situations as a strengthened United States-Japan alliance and rising tensions between Korea and Japan, and between Japan and China. It seems that Mr. Lee, considering the current situation, emphasized that Korea should expand the scope of its diplomatic efforts.
But we do not understand how declaring such a position officially can help our diplomatic interests. If Korea has adopted a particular foreign policy direction, then it should just pursue it, delivering its message to concerned countries only. But the current administration openly revealed its inner thoughts, led by the prime minister and the president. This is a diplomatically immature strategy, and that is why we hear comments that the Roh administration is an amateurish government.
What Mr. Lee said can be understood to mean that Korea should reinforce its cooperation with China and Russia more than with the United States and Japan. But the government still claims “The axis of Korean diplomacy is its alliance with the United States.” We do not understand what the real intention of the government is.
Japan and the United States may well have a perception that “Korea is attempting to move its diplomatic axis in a northern direction.” We do not understand what benefits we will get from shaking up established alliances and amicable relationships.
Of course, Korea’s trade with the “continent,” including China, is important. In reality, however, if we are estranged from the United States and Japan we will face many problems.
We believe it is very inappropriate for Mr. Lee to make such a remark that is open to many interpretations. The way he spoke was also not desirable. The expression “blockading the continent” recalls the memories of the Cold War. Top government officials should be prudent in their remarks.