The 3 nights and 5 days NATO summit has come to an end. As it was Korea’s first invitation to the NATO summit, and it was the first multilateral diplomacy debut since the inauguration of President Yun Seok-yeol, every move was of interest. Immediately after the return of the president, the ruling party evaluated that it was a “successful schedule achieved with three elements: solidarity of values norms, strengthening of emerging security cooperation, and building a global network”. .. It’s time to put aside the political rhetoric and take a cold-blooded knock on the summit’s income statement.
Here is a summary of the achievements of the President’s Office for the NATO meeting. The multilateral meeting drew a consensus among European countries on the North Korean issue, and in particular, the South Korea-U.S.-Japan summit strengthened security cooperation with North Korea (“I agree with the principle that it is desirable to resume military security cooperation for the trilateral trilateral response to the North Korean nuclear issue.” ) was an opportunity to do so. It is an achievement to broaden the scope of sharing consensus on the North Korean nuclear issue to Europe. Also, at the bilateral meeting, the presidential office emphasized that the president carried out ‘sales diplomacy’ to directly inform the superiority of Korea’s nuclear power plants and defense industries. The fact that the company tried to diversify the supply chain that had been dependent on China by promising supply chain cooperation for high-tech industrial materials and rare minerals with Australia can also be seen as a performance item on the income statement.
What matters is what we paid for this. The United States, along with Japan, Australia and New Zealand, invited our government to NATO as AP4. The common point of experts is that we must not forget the invitation fee we have to pay, as the phrase “there is no free lunch” is more accurately used than anywhere else on the diplomatic stage. In order to calculate this invitation fee, it is necessary to reconsider what the NATO summit means first.
What does the NATO summit mean?
If I could define this NATO summit in one word, it could be said as a signal that signals the end of the post-Cold War era and the beginning of a new Cold War era. Because of NATO’s new stance on Russia and China. NATO, which attempted to embrace Russia as a ‘strategic partner’ at the 2010 summit in Lisbon, Portugal, stripped Russia of this status after 12 years. It also identified Russia as “the most serious and direct threat”. Of course because of the Ukrainian war.
Regarding China, he said, “China’s explicit ambitions and coercive policies challenge NATO’s interests, security and values.” This is a big change considering that NATO, which consists of the United States, Canada and Europe, did not originally focus on China. In addition, it even announced a doctrine “to solve China’s structural challenges”. At the same time, it is said that the closeness of the two is against NATO’s values and interests, but it is said that it showed the clearer camp confrontation between the West and China and Russia. In an interview with SBS, Lee Soo-hyeong, a senior research fellow at the National Security Strategy Institute, Korea’s top NATO expert, said, “It was a meeting that could be recorded as a turning point in history.” .
Of course, several factors may have contributed to the start of the new Cold War. The confrontation between Russia and the West due to the invasion of Ukraine, the United States, which turned its eyes to strategic competition with China, from the Middle East to Asia after the withdrawal from Afghanistan after breaking away from the isolationism of the Trump era, and China’s aggressive expansion policy in the Southeast China Sea It must have been the result of multiple factors, such as the advent of the so-called ‘economic security era’, in which the United States and Japan’s checks against this, deepening economic interdependence and advanced digital technology converge to act as a security crisis. . Experts say that the NATO summit served as a kind of landmark for the new Cold War order that is being formed in this complex series of flows.
In particular, at this meeting, it was said that NATO approved the use of NATO’s name for the United States to contain China, which is of great significance. However, it is difficult for European countries other than the UK to be directly involved in the containment of China due to confrontation with Russia and geographical reasons (Countries such as Germany and France have requested a level adjustment when setting the strategic concept containing the line of containment with China. .) So, this time the US has invited four Asia-Pacific allies. Senior Research Fellow Lee Soo-hyeong used the expression, “It was a kind of anti-Chinese front by calling the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, wearing a hat called ‘NATO’.”
For us, it was an opportunity to publicly announce that we would convert the ‘strategic ambiguity’ held by the US and China into ‘strategic clarity’. Naturally, China strongly opposed it. This means that the ‘China risk’ we have taken on is a kind of NATO invitation fee.
Korea on the US-led order… What is the Chinese backlash?
The festival is over and only the expenses to be settled in post-payment remain. It is necessary to manage these expenses well so that interest does not accrue. Although they say they are trying to diversify their markets to reduce their dependence on China, they are still in the beginning stages, and they are still highly dependent on China (which accounts for 25% of our exports and 23% of our imports), and is an important lever to solve the North Korean nuclear issue. Relations with China remain an important subject of management, even in terms of losing one.
To do that, experts say, first of all, we must well define our strategic objectives. In particular, he said that it should not be overlooked that the United States and we have a military alliance, but the strategic objectives are not the same. USA in 2017 Since we officially mentioned the concept of a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ in the US, we have been playing a strategic competition with China as one of the most important diplomatic strategies. Therefore, “it is better to pursue cooperation in the field of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and cyber security under the principle of promoting security cooperation with NATO in terms of countermeasures against the North Korean nuclear threat rather than US-China competition” ( Lee Soo-hyung and Kim Seong-bae, National Security Strategy Institute (Diplomatic Strategy Lab) give suggestions. It means that we should not be blindly dragged into the United States, which wants to put us on the anti-Chinese front.
In particular, he said that it was important to define and interpret ourselves as “post-China” and “a strategy to contain China,” and not show it. So, experts’ advice can be summarized as “Get on the US-led order, but don’t wave the outright anti-Chinese flag.” “Do not slap a child who wants to cry.” Although China is dissatisfied, the common opinion of experts is that at present, the justification for economic retaliation like in the case of THAAD is not great at present when allies are united by camp. For the lack of justification, they will keep an eye on us, so the diplomatic grave is a really important moment.
In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been insisting on a single public message recently. Whether participating in the IPEF or attending the NATO summit, it is the answer to the questions asked by reporters, ‘Have you chosen the policy of containment in China?’ and ‘How will you deal with China’s opposition?’ They are repeating the low-key messages excessively, such as “It is absolutely not intended to check or exclude a specific country” and “If we do not participate, we will lose our national interest.” As a reporter, this attitude is sometimes frustrating, but experts say that now is the time to send such a consistent message.
Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the National Academy of Diplomacy, said, “In the current competitive landscape between the US and China, what remains to be done is what our regional strategy should be, and we have to redesign it to suit our national interest.” “It is not diplomatically desirable and there is nothing to be gained,” he said. He added, “In areas that are not in conflict between the US and China, it is necessary to continue to develop Korea-China cooperation issues through top-level exchanges and strategic dialogues between Korea and China.” There is also talk that there is a high possibility that the Korea-China foreign ministers meeting will be held at the upcoming G20 foreign ministers meeting.
In that sense, experts say that President Yoon’s remarks at the staff meeting while attending the NATO summit (“Madrid is the point where Korea’s Indo-Pacific strategy and initiative meet NATO’s 2022 new strategic concept”) or Choi Sang-mok, senior secretary for economy Concerning the remarks (“the era of booming exports through China are over”), experts shared a common concern. They said it was diplomatically inappropriate in that it was too explicitly aimed at China. A head of a state-run research institute also said in a phone call with SBS that President Yoon’s remarks were “too far-fetched remarks that seem to be aimed at China by anyone.” After Choi’s remarks, China-related stocks plummeted.
As mentioned earlier, the NATO invitation fee is a deferred payment. If the interest rate on the ‘China risk’ snowballs, the damage will inevitably go to the common people who are solely engaged in economic activities. It seems that a more sophisticated and detailed diplomatic approach is required than ever before in order to prevent the government from making its debut in multilateral diplomacy and paying the citizens back.