[LETTERS to the editor]Seoul in NATO should not upset ChinaI can assure Kim Sung-han that the Korea-U.S. alliance is not at all inversely proportional to cooperation between Korea and China.
Historically, puissant NATO’s purpose was to ‘check’ the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact East European satellites. Tellingly, NATO next meets in Riga, the capital of Latvia, in November. Also tellingly, the Korean foreign minister has been bruited as a candidate to be UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s successor. Simultaneously, Japan and Australia have been invited to join NATO, along with the Republic of Korea.
There is nothing here to forestall closer Korean-Chinese political and economic relations. Neither the United States nor the United Kingdom, the two leaders of NATO who’ve done the most to extend the invitation, want such Northeast Asian countries to be estranged. On the contrary, high on the overall agenda is prosperity, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Joining NATO makes sense for Korea, as much because of its burgeoning construction projects and sale of industrial products in the Middle East and the success of Korean products in Chile under the FTA, as because of military and political events elsewhere.
South Korea has not paid adequate attention to its strategic interests involving Mongolia or Russia or the regions west of China. “It is necessary, therefore,” as Professor Kim says, “to consider positively the proposal of the United States and the United Kingdom to participate in NATO as a global partner.”
by Richard Thompson