ROK should first do its bit for regional peace

Li Yang

Talking about ROK-China-Japan relations in an interview to local media outlets before leaving for Indonesia on Tuesday, Republic of Korea President Yoon Suk-yeol said Seoul will make every effort to revitalize the trilateral cooperation. Also, in a recent written interview with The AP, Yoon urged Beijing to use its leverage over Pyongyang to persuade the latter to give up its nuclear and missile projects. He stressed that China, which has a responsibility to maintain international peace and stability as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, should make constructive efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
It is good to see Yong talk of resuming trilateral communication and cooperation. It is also good to see that he hopes the Korean Peninsula issue can be resolved amicably at an early date. However, apart from paying lip service, has the ROK government made any contribution to fulfill these goals? On the one hand, Seoul’s one-sided pro-Washington strategy is to blame for the souring of Sino-ROK relations, which used to be a ballast for regional stability in East Asia. If the Yoon government really wants to mend trilateral ties, it must take concrete action to prevent the Sino-ROK ties from slipping to a record low first.
On the other hand, the worsening of conditions in the Korean Peninsula should mainly be attributed to the fact that Seoul gave up the ROK’s long-term strategic autonomy in handling the issue, and chose to become a pawn of the United States in geopolitical games. It is ridiculous that Seoul is trying to put the onus on Beijing for its own strategic misjudgment. As Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning pointed out, the current situation on the Korean Peninsula does not serve anyone’s interest, nor is it to China’s liking. The process started in 2018 to address the Korean Peninsula issues came to a standstill because the US refused to respond to the denuclearization measures taken by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Neither has the US taken the DPRK’s legitimate concerns seriously or shown readiness to address these concerns.
The US needs to draw lessons, correct course, step up to its responsibility, stop heightening the pressure and sanctions, stop military deterrence, and take effective steps to resume meaningful dialogue. It is becoming increasingly clear that, like Washington’s two-sided China policy, Seoul is also taking a carrot-and-stick approach to deal with relations with Beijing. The ROK’s lack of sincerity means it will neither be able to broker reconciliation in trilateral ties, nor can it facilitate a peaceful resolution of the Korean Peninsula problem.
The China Daily