China used Kim’s ear to get at U.S.

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China used Kim’s ear to get at U.S.

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Kim Kwan-jin

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said yesterday that he thought China’s blunt criticism of the U.S. during his meeting with a top Chinese defense chief in Beijing last week was because it saw Korea as on the same side as the U.S.

“China wants the U.S. to stop its intervention in the South China Sea and the U.S.’ stance is it can’t because it is such an important area,” Kim said at a monthly seminar of the Forum on the Future of Northeast Asia, co-hosted by the JoongAng Ilbo and the Hyundai Research Institute. “So, there is conflict between the two.”

Last Thursday, Chen Bingde, chairman of China’s People’s Liberation Army General Staff, criticized the U.S. for about 15 minutes to Kim, accusing the U.S. as a super power of turning a deaf ear to other countries, an act considered by Seoul officials to have breached diplomatic etiquette.

Observers saw Chen’s criticism as an expression of his frustration over a meeting with Mike Mullen, head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, earlier this month, when he tried unsuccessfully to take issue with U.S. military drills in the South China Sea.

Kim said the Washington-Beijing conflict puts Seoul in a difficult spot, requiring it to think hard about ways to stand on its own power, between the surrounding powers.

“If we cannot cope with it wisely, we won’t know what the Korean Peninsula will be like in the future,” he said.

During the seminar, Kim also touched on military cooperation between Korea and Japan, for which progress was made in January when Kim agreed with Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa to work toward concluding their countries’ first defense cooperation pacts since 1945.

He said there is possibility that Seoul could sign a military supply assistance pact with Tokyo as early as this year or next year, but said it will be difficult for such cooperation to develop into a trilateral military alliance among Korea, the U.S. and Japan.

The Korean public views negatively the expanding presence of Japan’s military due to the memory of its colonization. There is also concern that enhanced military cooperation with Japan could stir China and Russia and raise tension on the peninsula.

Kim also stressed the importance of the ongoing military reform, criticizing the Korean military as having been transformed to an administrative force to the point where most higher-ranking military officers are “grabbing pens” rather than guns.


By Jeong Yong-soo [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
김관진 “한·미·일 동맹 생각 안 해”
동북아미래포럼 참석
김관진 국방부 장관은 20일 일각에서 한·미·일 동맹 체계 구축 주장이 나오고 있는 데 대해 “그런 동맹은 현재 생각하지 않고 있다”고 말했다. 중앙일보와 현대경제연구원이 공동 주최한 동북아미래포럼 월례 세미나에 참석해서다. 그는 “한반도가 전략적으로 대단히 어려운 환경에 있기에 슬기롭게 헤쳐나가지 않으면 안 된다”며 이같이 밝혔다. 김 장관의 언급은 지난주 베이징에서 중국의 천빙더(陳炳德·진병덕) 인민해방군 총참모장과 량광례(梁光烈·양광렬) 국방부장과 만난 뒤에 나온 것이다.

 김 장관은 “지난주 중국의 대미 비판은 (한국을 동맹국인 미국과) 같은 편으로 봤기 때문이라고 생각한다”며 “그들의 이야기는 난사(南沙)군도를 둘러싼 미·중 관계가 핵심”이라고 말했다. 그는 “역사적으로 A가 B의 패권을 이야기하면 상호패권을 추구한다는 것”이라며 “주변 4강(미·중·일·러) 속에서 한국이 우뚝 설 수 있는 방법이 뭔지 고민해야 한다”고 덧붙였다. 천 총참모장은 당시 김 장관 면전에 대고 “미국이 패권주의를 추구하고 있다”고 비난했다.

 지난 4일 강화도 해병대 총기 사건과 관련한 이상훈 해병 2사단장의 문책에 대해선 “2사단장이 부임한 지 한 달 남짓 됐고, 해병대 소장의 숫자가 워낙 소수여서 교체한다는 것은 무리가 있다”고 밝혔다. 김 장관은 국방개혁에 대해 “시대가 변함에 따라 군도 변해야 한다”며 “군이 변하지 않겠다는 것은 디지털 카메라 보편화로 필름 카메라가 사라졌는데도 필름 공장을 운영하는 것과 같은 것”이라고 국방개혁의 필요성을 강조했다.

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