A stern response is the best medicine

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A stern response is the best medicine

We are dumbfounded by China’s unfettered arbitrariness when it comes to security issues, in particular. In a consultative meeting with China in October 2017 over the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) missile defense system in Korea, the Moon Jae-in administration allegedly agreed to the so-called three no’s — no additional Thaad deployments, no joining of a broader U.S. missile defense system and no Korea-U.S.-Japan military alliance. Now, China says that the Moon administration also promised that it will operate the deployed Thaad batteries in a limited way. In a regular briefing on Wednesday — a day after the meeting between Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing — Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed that Korea made official the three no’s plus one restriction.

Korea’s position on the issue is clear and consistent. It takes the position that its announcement of the three no’s was just an explanation of its position — not an agreement or promise to China. In fact, such word as “promise” or “agreement” does not appear in the government’s announcement of the results of the consultative meeting in 2017. (Instead, the statement only mentioned that Korea once again explained to China about its long-held position.) As each of the three no’s is directly related to our security and sovereignty, it cannot be an object for negotiation with any other countries.

Nevertheless, Beijing has been ratcheting up pressure on Korea by arbitrarily interpreting an explanation of position as a “promise.” On top of that, China has made another weird argument that Seoul promised Beijing that it will restrict the operation of the Thaad system. Such a scheme by Beijing is apparently aimed at blocking the Yoon Suk-yeol administration from fully activating the missile batteries after their operation has been restricted by radical environmental groups and other civic groups. China also may have attempted to fuel internal conflict in Korea by encouraging liberal groups to demand withdrawal of the missile defense system from the country.

China’s nonsensical arguments directly translate into interventionism and an infringe on Korea’s sovereignty. Our government must respond to the arrogance sternly and boldly. The Yoon administration must not follow in the footsteps of the Moon administration, which had been overly submissive to Beijing. There is no reason whatsoever to further delay the long-overdue full operation of the Thaad batteries.

At the same time, we urge the Democratic Party to take responsibility for the unfathomable situation and react to China’s argument proudly. Former negotiators under President Moon also must make their position clear so that Beijing cannot make preposterous arguments again.
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