Korea, China to get military hot lineFor the first time, a military hot line will be established between Seoul and Beijing in August when the two countries celebrate their 19th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties, a Seoul military official told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.
Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin will make the plan official during a scheduled visit to Beijing at the end of this month, the official said.
It will be among the measures Kim and Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie will announce to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries.
“This is all part of the effort to enhance the Korea-China relationship, ensuring the upgrade of the relationship to a strategic partnership as agreed by President Lee Myung-bak and President Hu Jintao in 2008,” said a ministry official.
The official said establishing a military hot line, agreed upon by the two countries four years ago, is a significant move that could have an effect on the stability of the Korean Peninsula.
“The establishment of a hot line will help not only prevent an accidental military confrontation on the Yellow Sea, but will allow us to exchange information about unidentified aircraft and enable swift and efficient cooperation in the case of a natural disaster,” said the official.
The official said the military authorities of the two countries also agreed to start an exchange program for major-level officers to study at their respective Army, Navy or Air Force academies for one year.
The agreement with China came after Korea promised to stop a military personnel exchange program with Taiwan, the official said.
Seoul and Taipei severed diplomatic relations in 1992, but have continued the exchange program unofficially.
The official said Beijing had strongly insisted Seoul stop the exchange program with Taipei.
Washington is closely watching the military cooperation between Seoul and Beijing, a Seoul diplomatic source said.
“I heard that the U.S. side conveyed its dissatisfaction to us, saying the study program for Chinese officers in Korea could lead to the leakage of military information and be against the interests of the Korea-U.S. alliance,” the source said.
The official stressed that the government made the decision in the belief that it would help stabilize the Korean Peninsula.
By Kim Su-jeong [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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