Reliance on U.S. Alone
Will Not Ensure South Korean Security
U.S.-South Korea alliance too blunt a weapon? According to this editorial from
China's state-controlled Global Times, the alliance may act to deter a
major conflict, but fails utterly to prevent the kind of event that happened on Tuesday,
when North Korea showered a South Korean Island with artillery shells, killing soldiers
U.S. President Barack Obama
yesterday urged China to offer a clearer response to the artillery exchange
between North and South Korea.
U.S. and South Korea media are
full of strong sentiment against China. The United States and its allies seem
to have a paradoxical attitude about the role they want China to play on the
On the one hand, the U.S. and
South Korea want China to side with them and press the North; meanwhile, they
want China to exert unique influence over Pyongyang. This reflects a dilemma between
self-centered thinking and a lack of means to deal with North Korea.
Stability on the Korean
Peninsula and the surrounding region is at the core of China's Korean policy. The
relationship between China and North Korea cannot oppose this principle, and the
same applies to Sino-South Korean relations.
After the latest incident, the
U.S. and South Korea announced a new round of joint military drills. Perhaps
Seoul has no better option for dealing with the North than resorting to its
alliance with the U.S. But the reality is that the U.S. alliance cannot
guarantee South Korea's security.
Past experience shows that America's
military presence there can secure a generally safe environment, but cannot
prevent small-scale skirmishes like what happened on Tuesday. The U.S. presence
is like a nuclear weapon: It can provide a strategic deterrence, but is
incapable of preventing skirmishes. Thus, South Korea often seems at a
disadvantage when in conflict with the North.
In the past, joint military
exercises have failed to deter the North. This time again, the impact remains in
doubt. Perhaps South Korea should reconsider its security strategy, which relies
solely on its alliance with the U.S. If greater security to the South means
less in the North, stability on the Korean Peninsula will be hard to maintain.
The previous "Sunshine Policy" has
been largely deemed a failure. But with the hard-line policy of the Lee Myung-bak
Administration, does the South feel any more secure?
Countries in Northeast Asia have
enormous business and trade interests, but they are all looking for their own
security guarantees. The poverty and insecurity of North Korea have been
ignored for too long, and the entire region is paying the price.
The greater the gap between
North Korea and the surrounding region, the more the region will fall into
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