China and Russia know betterChina and Russia have expressed strong opposition to our planned artillery drill around the waters of Yeonpyeong Island. China is increasingly vociferous, and Russia demanded a UN Security Council meeting to address the issue following its earlier denunciation of the drill. The pretext for their opposition is that the exercise may lead to a full-fledged military collision between the two Koreas.
However, our drill is confined to the waters to the south of the Northern Limit Line. Therefore, Beijing and Moscow’s opposition is unfathomable. As the drill carries symbolic meaning - it reaffirms our sovereignty over the tense waters around the five islands since the North’s bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island - China and Russia’s attitude and actions could well be considered an infringement of our sovereignty.
Beijing and Moscow certainly understand that drills around the islands are routine exercises for our military. They also acknowledge that North Korea recognized the NLL as the de facto maritime border with the South. Still, China and Russia have never denounced any of the provocations by the North in the Yellow Sea, including its large-scale shelling drills to the south of the NLL and North Korea’s sinking of our warship, the Cheonan.
It is totally ludicrous for Beijing and Moscow to criticize a regular drill by our military. Moreover, this drill will be conducted after we lost two soldiers and two civilians in the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.
The government should make it clear to China and Russia that there will be no compromise in our efforts to protect our own territory. It should also discourage both countries from finding fault with a drill inside our own territory and encourage them to make some effort to restrain the North from provocations.
Most of all, however, the government must send a clear message to China and Russia that their inappropriate intervention and knee-jerk embrace of the North will only heighten, rather than alleviate, tensions on the peninsula.
Our military should go ahead with the drill. When and if the North makes additional provocations, we must thoroughly thwart its aggression by launching massive counterattacks. We must show our unflinching readiness to protect our own security.
Tension on this peninsula has always been heightened due to Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and its military provocations, not Seoul’s resolution to defend itself. China and Russia should know better.