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Global Times Editorial: China-Korean Relations Need “Respect,” but Don’t Forget the Word “Mutual”

After the result of Korea’s presidential election was made public, China’s state media, Global Times, published an editorial giving advice to Korea’s new administration not to side with the U.S. on some key issues such as THAAD deployment. An excerpt of the article follows:

“The results of South Korea’s 20th presidential election were released on March 10. Yin Xiyue the candidate of South Korea’s largest opposition party,  the National Power Party, won the election. The extent to which the new president will adjust South Korea’s domestic and foreign policies has attracted great attention from the outside world. At the press conference held that morning, Yin Xiyue said that “the Korea-China relations will be developed on the basis of mutual respect.” This sentence leaves a lot of room for the public’s interpretation.”

“Due to a number of reasons, some people in South Korea are now paranoid because they believe that ‘China does not treat South Korea as an equal. They think that the connotation of ‘mutual respect’ should be that China treats South Korea ‘as an equal.’ Some even believe that China will respect South Korea only if South Korea-U.S. relations are consolidated.”

“In fact, mutual respect is one of the basic principles of China’s handling of foreign relations and the same is true for South Korea. China understands and respects South Korea’s independent foreign policy orientation, and is also aware of the alliance between the United States and South Korea. However, China’s respect for South Korea has never been due to the U.S.-Korea alliance or other reasons. It can only be based on a mutual understanding of each other’s core interests and major concerns.”

“At the same time, we also want to remind that ‘mutual respect’ not only includes ‘respect,’ It includes the connotation of ‘mutual,’ which is equally important. It not only means that China respects Korea, but also includes China’s legitimate concern that Korea should respect China.”

“There is a view that Yin Xiyue deliberately mentioned ‘mutual respect,’ which is aimed at the relevant remarks of the Moon Jae-in government on the THAAD issue (not joining the U.S. anti-missile system, not developing security cooperation between South Korea, the United States and Japan into a tripartite military alliance and not deploying an additional THAAD system). Although Yin Xiyue did say that he did not think it was ‘achieved within the framework of mutual respect,’ his senior adviser also said that Yin Xiyue supported the addition of a new ‘THAAD’ system. But we hope that this view is a distorted one or a misunderstanding of Yin Xiyue. In other words, China respects South Korea’s legitimate concerns about its own security, and at the same time, it also recognizes that real security must be common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable. China’s strategic security interests should also be respected by South Korea. The South Korean side should not regard the deployment of THAAD as an issue of ‘internal affairs’ or a ‘sovereignty’ issue, which is essentially a wedge that the United States has nailed in Northeast Asia.

“At the press conference, Yin Xiyue expressed his desire to ‘rebuild the Korea-U.S. alliance.’  We fully respect South Korea’s independence and sovereignty, but China-South Korea relations should not be regarded as an appendage of South Korea-U.S. relations, nor should the self-esteem of South Korean society be filled with misreading and misjudgment that ‘China will respect South Korea only when South Korea-U.S. relations have been consolidated.’ Moreover, South Korea actually has no room to gamble in the so-called ‘China-U.S. battle.’ Only by accurately clarifying and grasping the connotation of ‘mutual respect’ can South Korea find the code to become a ‘central country.'”

Source: Global Times, March 10, 2022