During a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of China’s entry into the Korean War, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China had responded to North Korea’s request when its national security had been seriously threatened, adding it was a very righteous act. By saying so, President Xi emphasized that China’s participation in the Korean War, which was prompted by North Korea’s invasion of South Korea, was “a victory of justice.” As if targeting the U.S., Xi said no matter how strong a country or a military is, it will have its head broken and bleed if it harasses the weak and expand its aggression.
To be sure, China’s self-praise of its participation in the “war to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea” is a way of justifying its patriotism but close ties between North Korea and China amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China cannot be neglected. President Xi gave a speech at the ceremony for the first time as the supreme leader of China in 20 years to encourage the Chinese people to resist against “China-bashing” by the U.S.
North Korea is acting in concert with China. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the martyrs of the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) in Heochang Country, South Pyongan Province and paid tribute to Mao Anying, the son of Mao Zedong. Kim also sent flower baskets to the graveyard in Shenyang and a memorial monument in Dandong. North Korea is in dire need of China’s support with its economy hit hard by international sanctions, COVID-19, and damages from floods. Therefore, it sees strengthening ties with China as an opportunity to extend its economic lifeline.
Unlike the friendly ties between North Korea and China, diplomatic rift is deepening between South Korea and the U.S. Since the two allies had significant disagreements on major issues at their annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) last week, Washington seems to show blatant displeasure toward Seoul. U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper did not include South Korea in its list of 10 Asian countries that will stand against China’s threats. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has excluded South Korea in his Asia tour, where he will visit four countries. It is questionable if the U.S. is skipping South Korea due to its uncomfortable ties with the country.
The conflict between the U.S. and China will continue regardless of who wins the U.S. presidential election 10 days later. During Friday’s presidential debate, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden raised suspicions against each other, arguing who would take a more firm stand against China. Regardless of what the next U.S. president calls Kim Jong Unㅡeither friend or thugㅡNorth Korea will try to keep China closer to its side. How about South Korea? South Korea should pay closer attention to alliance diplomacy when there is a shift in the U.S. political landscape.