The eight round of the trilateral summit among South Korea, China, Japan to be hosted in Chengdu of China on December 23 and 24 is gaining attention on what message will be derived to reconfirm concerted action of the three countries to ensure peace and stability in East Asia amidst heightened tensions between North Korea and the U.S. Many are also looking forward to progress on South Korea-Japan and South Korea-China relations at bilateral summits that will also take place at the occasion.
Mending relations with Japan and China are urgent tasks. Historical issues have been impacting economic and security issues, as shown by Japan’s retaliatory economic action against ruling on forced Korean conscription during Japanese colonial rule and Seoul’s response to the General Security of Military Information Agreement. Such conflicts have impacted mutual trust between the two countries. According to a survey on how the two countries view each other, disclosed by Japanese press NPO, 49.9% of both South Koreans and Japanese responded that their perceptions towards each other were “not good,” which shows that we have a long way to go for better relations.
South Korea, China and Japan account for 1/5 of the world’s population, 25% of global GDP, 20% of global trade. The three countries are a growth engine as well as a future zone. Aside from summit meetings, the three countries run more than 70 intergovernmental consultative bodies including 21 ministerial meetings in foreign policy, economy, culture and agriculture.
The world is going through tough times with superpowers such as the U.S. and Britain strengthening isolationism and North Korea’s nuclear threats. While the Korean public is preoccupied with domestic politics, major shifts are taking place in security and foreign policy, which are critical to our existence. Against this background, the three nations should seek common benefits and focus on joint prosperity in the region while South Korea should promote the initiatives of the trilateral summit. In this regard, the upcoming summit will be a test board for President Moon Jae-in to exert his diplomatic capabilities.