Yoon will find it's hard to go against the trend
Published: Apr 26, 2023 08:43 PM
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (right) and his wife Kim Keon-hee board a plane as they leave for Washington on April 24, 2023. Photo: VCG

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (right) and his wife Kim Keon-hee board a plane as they leave for Washington on April 24, 2023. Photo: VCG

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol made astonishing remarks again. He said he cannot accept the notion that Japan "must kneel because of our history 100 years ago," as if it's reasonable for Japan to refuse to reflect on its atrocities made during World War II, and as if it is South Koreans and the Chinese people who are "ignorant" and "pushing Japan too far." Isn't Yoon insulting South Korean society?

As Yoon's remarks on Japan sparked the anger of many Koreans, the South Korean president was happily sitting on a plane to the US to meet his "US Daddy." His recent remarks have shaped Seoul's new diplomatic posture in which South Korea is fully inclined to the US, appeasing Japan at any cost, and showing toughness and even hostility toward China and Russia. He is pushing South Korea to deviate from its long-term strategic posture and act as a new strategic pawn of the US in the Asia-Pacific, confusing many people in South Korea's strategic circles.

Recently, Yoon made an absurd statement on the Taiwan question, claiming that the Taiwan question "is not simply an issue between China and Taiwan, but, like the issue of North Korea, it is a global issue." After the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed strong dissatisfaction, South Korean summoned Chinese ambassador over China's opposition to Yoon's Taiwan remarks. Meanwhile, South Korea is dedicated to the chip alliance with the US, regardless of the long-standing cooperation between China and South Korea as well as the market and moral norms.

Facing with the US, Yoon presents a different attitude, which can only be described as "subservient." The leaked Pentagon documents revealed that the senior officials of the South Korean Presidential Office were spied on by the US, but Yoon didn't even express any complaint. A South Korean official also stated that the US did not act against the South Korean side out of ill intentions. In an exclusive interview with NBC News on Monday, Yoon said that the leak will not affect the relationship between the two countries. They all whitewashed the evil actions of the US. According to the Korean media, Yoon stopped public activities from April 21 to prepare for the English speech at the US Congress during his visit.

In my view, Yoon represents a right-wing Korean politician who is a lackey to the US and Japan and treats China and Russia with his nose in the air. He is the most unfriendly South Korean president to China since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and has become one of the actual instigators of anti-China sentiment in South Korean society. Yoon is pushing South Korea toward an evil path.

Yoon forgets that one of the reasons South Korea has achieved sustained prosperity is that it has effectively balanced its complex relations with all sides over the past decades. This has made it possible for South Korea, though on a peninsula where the risk of conflict flares up intermittently, to contain all kinds of negative factors and create a rare pattern in which development resources to South Korea converge. The US is South Korea's ally, while China is the latter's absolute biggest trading partner and has become the main force that drive the "Korean Wave." Yoon's lousy attitude toward China is a kind of treachery. He seriously overestimates the capital that South Korea is proud of and arrogantly thinks he has the initiative to scold and attack a giant like China whenever he wants.

From my personal point of view, Yoon is a petty man defined in traditional Chinese culture. He lacks morality and behaves like a strategic sleepwalker. But I believe that South Korea as a whole cannot be an enemy of China. It does not have the strength or courage. If China, Russia, and North Korea deal with South Korea together, it will definitely make it miserable, and its "US daddy" and "Japanese uncle" will not be able to help it in everything. China should respect South Korean society, as it is a bit sensitive and aggressive. We might let it be to some extent. However, we don't need to be polite to South Korean politicians like Yoon. We should reprimand and scold them, and never indulge them. I don't believe South Korea can go very far in this way. Yoon's one-sided approach has caused widespread controversy in South Korea. As he pushes forward for a while, he will be pressured to back off. China should maintain sufficient strategic determination and not dance with the Yoon government. We should stick to the basic direction and logic of China-South Korea relations. The attitude of the Chinese side is consistent. The Yoon government wants to go against the general trend, but in the end it will find that the trend is stronger than what it can do.

The author is a commentator with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn