Officials in China have voiced their opposition to the planned U.S.-South Korea-Japan summit at Camp David, Maryland, slated for this Friday.
Joe Biden, Yoon Suk-yeol, and Kishida Fumio, the prime ministers of South Korea and Japan, are scheduled to have a security conversation during the summit, where they will discuss the threats posed by China’s territorial aggressiveness, North Korea’s ballistic missile program, and China’s possible invasion of Taiwan. Increased information sharing and cooperative military drills are two possible answers.
This trilateral summit is the first time the United States, South Korea, and Japan have met formally since 2015. The declaration upset China, arguing that exclusive regional security alliances only heighten hostility and weaken the strategic security of other nations. The Communist Party of China newspaper called the conference a “mini-NATO” that would harm regional stability.
By assisting South Korea in bolstering its defenses against Pyongyang’s persistent threats, North Korean authorities accused American officials of bringing Asia to the brink of a nuclear war. The Global Times cited South Korea for its role in igniting the “new cold war” and warned Seoul that it would pay a high price if it abandoned China.
The South Korean government’s interpretation of China’s role in the region and the world comes off as extreme and oversimplified. The decisions chosen based on such an understanding are not likely to be adequate for negotiating Northeast Asia’s very complicated geopolitical realities. Having suffered greatly from the “remnants of the Cold War,” South Korea should have been one of the most watchful and worried nations in the fight against the “new Cold War.”
The Global Times feared South Korea might waste the “social and economic resources it has gained over the last several decades” if it sided with the United States against China, as the Camp David summit was set up to deceive South Korea into doing.
Yoon Suk-yeol, unlike his socialist predecessor Moon Jae-in, is significantly more conservative and security-minded, which is one reason China is focusing so much of its rhetorical fire on South Korea. He said that the international community would never tolerate North Korea as a nuclear power and that Pyongyang must understand that its continued illegal nuclear and missile development will only increase the isolation of its government and the severity of its current challenges.
Yoon believes that the clear and present danger posed by North Korean missile threats to Japan and South Korea may be mitigated by greater collaboration after the next trilateral conference in Camp David.