Go to contents

A new security order may rise with ‘Northeast Asia Trio’

A new security order may rise with ‘Northeast Asia Trio’

Posted July. 22, 2023 07:55,   

Updated July. 22, 2023 07:55


The ROK-the US-Japan trilateral summit is scheduled on Aug. 18 to convene at Camp David, the presidential retreat nestled in the vicinity of Washington, DC. For the first time, the leaders of South Korea, the United States, and Japan will convene a standalone tripartite meeting, diverging from the traditional rendezvous at international conferences. According to the Presidential Office, these leaders will "engage in comprehensive discussions regarding the crucial agendas of forming a unified front against North Korean nuclear threats and enhancing cooperation within global supply chains." Concurrently, the North has threatened that the docking of a U.S.’s ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) in Busan could potentially "trigger the application of our nuclear force laws."

Ordinarily, the leaders of South Korea, the U.S., and Japan encounter each other during international forums. However, this unique gathering signifies the inception of an enhanced phase of trilateral cooperation. President Joe Biden's gesture of inviting the South Korean and Japanese leaders to Camp David, a site rich with diplomatic history, is interpreted as a deliberate strategy to amplify the significance of this trilateral dialogue. Rumors also swirl around the potential emergence of a new trilateral consultative mechanism - the "Northeast Asia Trio," indicating an ambition to transcend the boundaries of conventional summit meetings for the three nations.

Historically, the trilateral collaboration among these countries has endured, albeit primarily in the form of two parallel, U.S.-centered bilateral alliances, due to ongoing rivalry and discord between South Korea and Japan. However, with North Korea's nuclear threats reaching alarming heights, the urgency for trilateral security cooperation has correspondingly escalated. A robust foundation has been laid by the significant recent progress in South Korea-Japan bilateral relations, underscoring the dire need for the "South Korea-U.S.-Japan Trio" alliance primarily triggered by North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Recently, North Korea brazenly demonstrated its missile prowess around the time of the inaugural US-ROK Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) meeting. Two years ago, North Korea commenced deploying tactical nuclear weapons, legalized pre-emptive nuclear strikes last year, and is now threatening to execute a pre-emptive nuclear attack in retaliation to the docking of the U.S.’s SSBN in Busan. As the severity of these threats escalates, the alliances invariably strengthen. North Korea's intensifying provocations and threats only serve to invite more US strategic assets into the arena, including strategic bombers, aircraft carriers, and nuclear submarines.

The Biden administration may aspire to evolve the "ROK-US-Japan Trio" into a security consultative mechanism to counterbalance China, following the model of the "Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad)" between the U.S., Japan, India, and Australia, and the nuclear submarine alliance 'AUKUS' between the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. China is likely to react sensitively to this development, potentially stirring tensions within South Korea-China relations. In this strategic realignment, some friction is inevitable, and the test of diplomatic competence lies in its mitigation. South Korea faces a formidable challenge: constructively engaging in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, whilst maintaining harmony with its largest trading partner.