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President Park should seek real gains from China visit

Posted August. 21, 2015 07:15,   


President Park Geun-hye has decided to visit China to attend its celebrations in Beijing on September 3 of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Although the government says that the decision has been made in consideration of Seoul`s national interest, there are concerns over its impact and side effects in terms of the South Korea-U.S. alliance and the three-way cooperation among the two allies and Japan. When Seoul`s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae announced the decision Thursday, it showed a reserved attitude toward the president`s possible attendance at a Chinese military parade, indicating that complex diplomatic wars were going on between Washington and Beijing.

Realistically, it is highly likely that President Park will attend both the war victory ceremony and the military parade in Beijing. As the parade will take place right after Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a victory day speech at the Tiananmen Square, it would not be easy for Park to leave the venue in the middle of the event both in terms of security and diplomatic protocols. Initially, Cheong Wa Dae was negative about her attendance at a high-profile parade by the People`s Liberation Army, which was South Korea enemy during the 1950-1953 Korean War.

If she decides to attend the military parade despite the risks, she can only justify the decision by securing actual gains that would offset diplomatic losses. More than anything else, she should have the Chinese leader to vow, through a summit, to exert influence over North Korea to resolve Pyongyang`s nuclear issue and express Beijing`s support for future unification of the Korean Peninsula. Even if Seoul and Beijing cooperate in dealing with Tokyo`s history distortions, they should reach a consensus on holding a three-way summit with Japan at an early date for the cause of regional cooperation. If the United States` planned deployment of its missile defense system to the South for security, it is desirable for her to persuade Xi regarding the issue.

President Park is the first leader among Western and pro-Western countries to decide to attend China`s war victory ceremony. Although leaders of some countries close to Beijing, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, will also attend it, President Park will likely by one of the most important guests for China. As she will visit Beijing despite realistic limitations and burdens, Xi is expected to show his sincerity toward the advancement of the bilateral ties. The result of the upcoming China visit will be a litmus test for Seoul`s pursuit of a new, balanced diplomacy between the U.S. and China.