Challenges raised by think tank heads
In the JoongAng Ilbo’s recent report on conversations between Park Jin, the former National Assembly Foreign Affairs and Trade Subcommittee chairman, and leaders of think tanks in the United States and China, Korea was given four tasks for national strategy. First, Korea must deal with the distinct differences in position between the United States and China over world management. The two are headed toward a clash - China has achieved modern development through socialism, which stands in stark contrast to a capitalist America.
Ji Zhiye, director of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, argues that the international community should not be judged based on American values. However, the United States does not look at China’s rise as values-based. Rather, it tends to view it as a form of expansionism that causes anxiety among its neighbors, said Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution. So Korea’s national strategy must be flexible.
Secondly, we need to expect a clash on security perspectives between Korea and China in the course of reunification. While China supports a peaceful Korean reunification, the basis is that a unified Korea cannot be a threat to China’s security. Former Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said that a unified Korea should be friendly to China, and Li Xiangyang, president of the Institute of Asia-Pacific and Global Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, argued that the U.S. military should not be stationed on the peninsula. It’s a warning that China will not allow the U.S. military to stand right in front of its gate. At this point, it’s more about the post-unification direction of the Korea-U.S. alliance. Seoul needs to establish a strategic security direction to ease concerns.
Third, the relationship between the North and China has transformed into a one-on-one relationship. Li Zhaoxing, who served as the foreign minister and Chinese ambassador to the United States, didn’t deny the change. So Korea must make appropriate strategic adjustments in its China policy in accordance with international standards.
Fourth, Korea’s position on the prolonged discord between China and Japan should be defined. The four think tank heads who participated in the discussion agree that historical and territorial conflicts and structural contradictions would be long-lasting. Then, Korea should establish a diplomatic strategy as a buffer between China and Japan for peace in Northeast Asia. Of course, the idea is that Korea will proactively resolve the contradictions in Korea-Japan relations before China. We must also keep in mind that Korea should not be swayed by anyone - the United States or China.
The author is the Beijing bureau chief of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 31, Page 33
BY CHOI HYUNG-KYU