Shared values in a changing worldAustralia’s Foreign Minister, the Hon. Julie Bishop MP, visited the Republic of Korea from 17-18 February to reflect on Australia’s past
engagement on the Korean Peninsula and to lay the groundwork for the future of our vital bilateral relationship.
Her participation at a wreathlaying ceremony at the UN Military Cemetery in Busan commemorated the sacrifice made by 340 Australians
to secure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. It was this sacrifice, etched in lives and history, which became a cornerstone for the establishment of the modern Korean nation
The Foreign Minister visited Geoje Island to name an offshore liquefied natural gas facility manufactured by Korea’s shipyards. The
advanced Korean engineering technology used in the facility will be deployed in Australia’s gas fields, securing energy supplies to the region, including the Republic of Korea. There is no better example to highlight our complementary economic partnership.
The relationship between the Republic of Korea and Australia is based on our shared values. Our nations are both robust democracies.
We encourage entrepreneurialism and creativity among our people. It is our shared values that have been the basis of our prospering bilateral economic and strategic partnership.
Australia’s relationship with North Korea stands in stark contrast. We have no trade or investment relationship with North Korea, and
there is no formal contact with North Korea’s senior leadership. North Korea is unfortunately taking a path that is running against the tide of
The Foreign Minister’s visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was a clear demonstration of Australia’s commitment to stand side-by-side
with the Republic of Korea in the face of North Korean provocations.
The Foreign Minister reiterated Australia’s commitment to fully implement UNSC sanctions, including further autonomous sanctions.
Through our own channels of communication, Australia will continue to urge North Korea to relinquish its nuclear and missile ambitions and
return to the negotiating table.
The rise of isolation and protectionism in Europe and North America, and the emergence of many more influential actors in the Indo-
Pacific region, are contributing to change and uncertainty. The global rules of the road appear to be shifting, especially due to the rise of
China and the narrowing of the United States’ global strategic dominance.
Neither Korea nor Australia has the power to coerce or buy our way in the world. But as middle powers, we can use diplomacy to shape and influence. The Foreign Minister made clear during her visit to Korea that it was incumbent on like-minded democracies in the region, especially the ROK and Australia, to work together to navigate our way through these uncertain times.
Our countries have an interest in supporting and building on existing international law and frameworks that have so clearly benefitted
our economies and societies. And in uncertain times, it will be our shared values that will bring us together to contribute to regional
peace and prosperity and protect the international rules-based order.
*The author is Australia’s ambassador to South Korea.