The General Security of Military Information Agreement between South Korea and Japan, which was resumed in four years and signed at once, is regarded as a starting point for the enhancement of the three-way alliance among South Korea, Japan and the United States. Experts are pointing out that South Korea has definitely veered toward the U.S. and Japan instead of its honeymoon relationship with China.
In September last year, South Korean President Park Geun-hye was invited to China's V-Day military parade in Beijing and stood at Tiananmen with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This symbolized a drastic change in Sino-Korean relations in stark contrast to the picture of the late Kim Il-sung and the late Mao Zedong who stood at the same place 60 years ago. The two incumbent presidents worked very closely with each other regarding specific issues, such as the comfort women issue, and some even expressed concerns that the South Korean government was lopsided in its diplomacy.
Such a close relationship between Seoul and Beijing showed some signs of cracking this year, when North Korea conducted two nuclear experiments but China remained lukewarm about additional sanctions on Pyongyang. Then, the South Korean government made a decision in favor of the deployment of the THAAD system in the Korean Peninsula. China expressed its strong opposition to the decision, and then the short-lived amicable relationship between Seoul and Beijing came to an end.
At a recent seminar hosted by the Association of High Potential Enterprises of Korea, Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Qiu Guohong compared the Sino-Korean relations to a married couple bound together by a common destiny. “In spite of quarrels and disagreements, a husband and a wife end up in peace,” he said, adding, “Likewise, China and South Korea cannot avoid political conflicts but they are and will be very important economic partners for each other.”
His remark, however, is nothing but a political rhetoric. Basically, economic exchange is supposed to be founded on reciprocity and a pursuit of interests lies at its very center. China’s manufacturing sector and export are heavily dependent on the South Korean economy when it comes to key raw materials, components, semi-finished products, etc. Mutual economic exchange between South Korea and China is not a relation beneficial for South Korea alone.
These days, however, the Chinese government is trying to block the spreading of Hallyu-related cultural exchange in China. On November 18, some Weibo postings were found to say that the exposure of each and every Hallyu content in China has been prohibited. As is well known, cultural exchange between nations is the best way to increase the intimacy between the peoples and their awareness of each other, and the blocking of it is not beneficial for the purpose by any means. In today’s connected world due to highly developed communications and transportation technology, geographical proximity does not guarantee a closer relationship. If China truly sees South Korea as its partner sharing the same destiny, its view of South Korea and deeds in relation to South Korea should be truthful ones respecting that partner.