Blindly following US is bound to restrict S.Korea's room for diplomatic work, experts warn
Published: Apr 23, 2023 10:14 PM
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong Photo: VCG

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong Photo: VCG

With controversy over South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol's Taiwan-related remarks continuing ahead of a US visit he is scheduled to make from April 24-29, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong made solemn representations to South Korean Ambassador to China Chung Jae-ho over Yoon's erroneous remarks, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday.

In an interview with Reuters, Yoon said that "increased tensions around [the island of Taiwan] were due to attempts to change the status quo by force," noting that "the Taiwan issue is not simply an issue between China and Taiwan but, like the issue of North Korea, it is a global issue."

Sun stressed that such remarks are totally unacceptable, and China has expressed grave concerns and strong dissatisfaction. There is only one China in the world and the island of Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. The Taiwan question is purely China's internal affair and the settlement of the Taiwan question is the Chinese people's own affair, and no force will be allowed to interfere, Sun said.

The fundamental cause of tensions across the Taiwan Straits is the secessionist activities carried out by "Taiwan independence" forces on the island with the support and connivance of foreign forces, Sun said, according to the statement. Yoon did not mention the one-China principle but equated the Taiwan question with the Korean Peninsula issue. It is known to all that North Korea and South Korea are sovereign states that have joined the United Nations, and the Korean Peninsula issue and the Taiwan question are totally different in nature and are not comparable at all, Sun noted.

In response, Chung said that South Korea always respects the one-China principle, and this position remains unchanged.

Experts pointed out that due to the lack of diplomatic experience, the Yoon administration is not sufficiently sensitive to the Taiwan question on the whole. 

According to the South Korean media outlet Yonhap News Agency, US State Department spokesperson on Friday echoed Yoon's statement on the Taiwan question, saying that the US will continue to work with its allies, including South Korea, to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

Judging from a series of performances ahead of Yoon's state visit to the US, it is obvious that the Yoon administration has high expectations of the US' reaction, experts noted. South Korea wants to improve its diplomatic status by enhancing the US-South Korea alliance, but recklessly following the US in this way is bound to greatly restrict South Korea's room for diplomatic work, Lü Chao, an expert on Korean Peninsula issues at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times on Sunday.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed by the Biden administration, which allows up to $7,500 in tax credits to buyers of electric vehicles assembled only in North America, has had a significant impact on the South Korean economy. It is predicted that the Yoon administration is hoping to get subsidies or exemptions from the IRA for South Korean electric vehicles and semiconductor industries during his US trip. However, it is hard to see how much the US will make concessions based on its current responses and attitude, experts noted.

According to Maeil Broadcasting Network, Kwon Chil-seung, chief spokesperson of the main opposition Minjoo Party, said in a briefing at the National Assembly on Saturday that "President Yoon is responsible for causing a stir by his careless remarks on cross-Straits issues," noting that "President Yoon's self-harming diplomacy with neighboring countries over the Korean Peninsula is not helping South Korea become a global hub, but weakens South Korea's negotiating power in global diplomacy." 

The US either encourages, pressures, or uses "carrot and stick" tactics on its allies, and South Korea cannot escape this fate, said Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences on Sunday. "The Korean government may be hopeful about the upcoming visit to the US, but there are many uncertainties as to whether those requirements will be realized."