[EDITORIALS]Follow UN, not ChinaPresident Roh Moo-hyun will have a summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao today.
After the China-Japan summit last Sunday and Mr. Roh’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last Monday, this marks the last of the summits among the three Northeast Asian nations.
And it comes at a crucial time, when the United States and Japan are having differences with China and Russia over the degree of possible sanctions on North Korea after its nuclear test.
We are wary about Mr. Roh’s unclear stance on the issue. With each passing day, the South Korean president is moving farther away from his hard-line position against the nuclear test. South Korea and China are closer in their opinions on how to handle the aftermath of the test than any others in the region. Both feel that military action should be avoided, economic sanctions must be limited in their scope, and talks and negotiations will be the key to the solution. China sent Tang Jiaxuan, Chinese state councilor, to Washington and to Moscow as Mr. Hu’s special envoy, and that move could been seen as China’s attempt to control the level of sanctions against North Korea.
Agreement on a resolution at the United Nations Security Council could be reached as early as today. If strong restrictions on North Korea contrast with the tone of the South Korea-China summit, it will present a burden on our foreign policy.
It would send the wrong message to North Korea. Since China and South Korea account for nearly 60 percent of North Korea’s international trade, the two nations’ participation in sanctions would have a significant impact on the degree of such restrictions. Should South Korea denounce strong sanctions against North Korea, it may hurt our relations with our allies.
If North Korea arms itself with nuclear weapons, the United States would have to use the nuclear umbrella in response, unless the South itself is armed with nuclear bombs. This means the South Korea-U.S. alliance has been rendered even more essential.
At the South Korea-China summit, while it may be possible to share certain ideas with China, we must be in step with the UN resolution.
The leaders from the two countries may exchange ideas and opinions, but it would be wise and logical to keep their declaration from going overboard. We cannot afford to be seen as going against the flow of international sentiment.