U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the United States spends “a lot of money” to help the rest of the world, including South Korea and Japan, among other allies. His remark is seen as intended to put more pressure on its major allies in an attempt to have them shoulder more defense burdens.
When asked about the friction with China over the South China Sea, while discussing cooperation with U.S. allies during a meeting with journalists at the White House, Trump said, “We're spending a lot of money to help Japan. We're spending a lot of money to help South Korea, the Philippines. In many cases, in some cases, but many cases, these people don't do so much for us, but we are helping a lot of people throughout the world that have never appreciated it. We've never had a leader that demanded that they appreciated it.”
The cessation of U.S. budget execution regarding U.S. military construction projects for a wartime bunker for the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command and the U.S. Forces Korea’s air base will also likely increase upward pressure on Seoul’s defense cost sharing.
The Pentagon has approved the diversion of some 3.6 billion U.S. dollars in budget to building the southwestern border wall. The decision affects the construction projects for 127 military installations including the TANGO command post in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province and the hangar for unmanned aerial vehicles in the U.S. Air Force base in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province. The U.S. military budget assigned to the two projects amounted to 70.5 million dollars.
On the occasions of a series of visits by senior U.S. officials, including White House national security advisor John Bolton, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the Trump administration reportedly wants Seoul to increase its share of the defense cost by up to five folds, claiming that keeping the U.S. troops in South Korea costs 4.8 billion dollars a year.