Playing with fire

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Playing with fire

Diplomacy and national defense fall under the jurisdiction of the executive branch. Political parties and the legislative branch can engage in diplomatic activities, but they should be supplementary. They cannot shake or reverse a nation’s diplomatic goals.

At a Monday meeting of senior presidential secretaries, President Park Geun-hye underscored that politicians must offer bipartisan cooperation with the administration when it comes to national security.

It is true that the Park administration did not act in a trustworthy manner in the lead-up to the decision to deploy the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) anti-missile system in the country. Nevertheless, security issues must be resolved through internal discussions and debates in the legislature. If the opposition cannot accommodate the incumbent government’s security policies, it can change them after it wins a presidential election. No matter what party takes power, it must externally demonstrate bipartisanship in our diplomacy for national security irrespective of their internal schisms.

China is under the strict rule of the Communist Party. The country is very different from Korea, where freedom of the press, civil disobedience and political activities are all guaranteed. Despite six first-term legislators of the major opposition Minjoo Party of Korea claiming that they will carry out diplomacy for our national interest in China, it is highly likely that they will be exploited by Beijing for political purposes. It would be too late if the lawmakers accept responsibility for producing undesirable results in China.

The Chinese media ran an interview with former Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun under the liberal Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, who argued that the Thaad deployment will mean an end to the strategic cooperative partnership between Seoul and Beijing. But China did not run an op-ed by Ajou University professor Kim Heung-kyu, director of the China Policy Institute, who insists the Thaad battery is aimed at intercepting North Korean missiles — not monitoring the movement of Chinese missiles. He urges China to recognize Koreans’ security anxiety about the North’s missiles.

The opposition lawmakers going to Beijing deserve strong public criticism for their unpatriotic acts. No sovereign state allow the principle of bipartisan diplomacy for security to be ignored. Once they are in Beijing, they must behave carefully.

JoongAng Ilbo, August 9, Page 30
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