Monday, December 18, 2017

Moon Jae-in the Groveler

President Moon Jae-in, with his hat in hand, went to Beijing to mend bilateral ties - ties that had been frayed when China decided to impose sanctions on SOUTH Korean businesses for South Korea’s audacity to attempt to DEFEND itself from North Korean missiles by agreeing to deploy THAAD anti-missile batteries.

This is politics. So, as expected, the Moon administration is attempting to paint the summit in the most positive way possible. Senior Blue House officials have even gone so far as to say that both Moon and Xi managed to “completely overcome the awkwardness” that was brought about by THAAD.

However, that is a bald-faced lie. After all, China’s position remains unchanged and it was put most succinctly by a Chinese professor:
“The South Korean side should take more action to solve the Thaad issue. It should write down [commitments taken to reassure China] rather than just talk. China still strongly opposes the Thaad’s deployment and that has not changed.”

Xi Jinping may not have spoken about THAAD as much as he did in the past, but the goal remains the same. Xi Jinping will be satisfied with nothing less than South Korea abandoning its own sovereignty to please Beijing.

One has to suffer from a debilitating case of denial to believe in Cheong Wa Dae’s talking point.

The Four Principles

Aside from the Moon administration’s pitiful attempt at media spin, the Moon-Xi summit did result in something rather ominous - the Four Principles. The details are as follows:

  1. No war on the Korean peninsula. 
  2. Hold firmly to the policy of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. 
  3. Resolve all issues peacefully through negotiations. 
  4. Improve relations between the two Koreas. 

At best, the Four Principles is proof of China’s unwillingness to be serious about ending North Korea’s nuclear program. At worst, it betrays China’s intentions to decouple the Seoul-Washington alliance and to impose its will on South Korea.

China is Not Serious

China is not serious about North Korea’s nuclear program. China’s calls for a negotiated settlement is no different from what Chinese leaders have been saying for years. North Korea has been saying all along that they will never enter into any negotiations where its “sacred” nuclear weapons are up for compromise. In order to convince the North Koreans that abandoning that policy is the only way to ensure their survival, serious sanctions with teeth are needed.

Despite China’s public expressions of imposing sanctions on North Korea, all evidence points to the contrary. Even if Xi Jinping had declared China’s intention to impose more sanctions or to enforce existing ones, it would have taken a leap of faith to believe his words. But he didn’t even bother to do that.

Moon got nothing from Xi.

No War = No Sovereignty

The fact of the matter is that no one wants to see a war break out on the Korean peninsula. Millions of lives would be lost, property and land will be destroyed and scorched, billions (if not trillions) of dollars worth of trade would be seriously disrupted, and the radiation resulting from the war will affect untold millions indefinitely.

However, the fact remains that whether or not a nation state goes to war is a decision that rests in no other government’s hands other than its own. China has no business whatsoever declaring one way or another about war on the Korean peninsula.

As much as the civilized nations of the world may find war deplorable, all diplomatic options, including war, must be utilized when dealing with North Korea. The threat of overwhelming military action led by Seoul and Washington against the North Korean regime has always been a powerful leverage that the allies have been able to use.

A North Korea that fears for its survival is willing to come to the negotiation table. A North Korea that does not have such fears will continue to do what it wants.

By publicly siding with China and openly declaring that there will be no war on the Korean peninsula, Moon Jae-in simultaneously weakened South Korea’s negotiating position vis-à-vis North Korea AND undermined South Korea’s alliance with the United States.

No Nukes = Maintaining the Status Quo

Denuclearizing the Korean peninsula is now nothing more than a fever dream. How many more nuclear tests are needed before people accept that the nuclear genie is out of the lamp and that there is no way to stuff it back in?

North Korea has called its nuclear program sacred. It has repeatedly said that it would never abandon its nuclear weapons. It has repeatedly rejected diplomacy (though the fact that North Korea has rejected diplomacy has never stopped peaceniks from droning on and on about how WE should just talk to the North Koreans).

Unless North Korea suddenly collapses and an international coalition of South Korean, American, and possibly Chinese troops scour the northern half of the Korean peninsula to secure its WMDs, nuclear weapons are here to stay.

North Korea has said repeatedly that they have no intention of abandoning its nuclear weapons. China has no plans of abandoning its nuclear weapons either. That means that at present, there is a nuclear monopoly in East Asia and it is currently being wielded by two communist dictatorships.

Some day, when the Moon administration is relegated to the history books, future South Korean leaders are going to have to seriously discuss arming ourselves with nuclear weapons. If the United States does not intend to re-introduce its tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula, it may become necessary for South Korea to develop its own independent nuclear force. Even former US Defense Secretary William Perry floated such an idea.

Accuracy and perfection notwithstanding, North Korea now possesses the weapons technology it needs to target the American mainland. As Pyongyang improves this ability, America’s commitment and its credibility to defend South Korea becomes less reassuring by the day. After all, why would the United States willingly sacrifice Seattle or Los Angeles or Guam to defend Seoul?

Mutually Assured Destruction worked during the Cold War. It is exactly why it ended without a single nuclear weapon being used. North Korea has fallen behind South Korea in every possible metric imaginable. Health, longevity, economic well-being, political standing, political maturity, weapons, diplomatic relations, entertainment, respectability, etc. However, all of that becomes meaningless when it can all be incinerated in a nuclear blast. South Korea’s survival depends on one thing - its ability to assure North Korea that a war will result in catastrophe and death to all.

Moon Jae-in irresponsibly declared that he has no intentions of deploying nuclear weapons in South Korea. He said that such a move could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.” Never mind that there already is a nuclear race in East Asia and that it was initiated by North Korea. By siding with Xi Jinping’s Four Principles, Moon Jae-in further undermined South Korea’s sovereignty and ability to defend itself.

China Does Not Take South Korea Seriously

China also clearly does not take South Korea itself seriously. Not only did China refuse to issue a joint press statement with Moon Jae-in - had Moon Jae-in any self-respect, he would have shelved his decision to visit China on that basis alone - Moon Jae-in did not even get to have a meal with Xi Jinping. In fact, the President of the Republic of Korea - the person who at least according to the South Korean Constitution represents the entire Korean peninsula - had to dine in a restaurant like some commoner.

Ceremony is important in politics. It is even more important in diplomacy and it is definitely important in East Asian diplomacy where saving face is a vital part of politics. The insufficient level of protocol shown by the Chinese was deliberate and their intentions to humiliate Moon Jae-in were as clear as day.

Furthermore, no Chinese official has offered any apology when Chinese security officials assaulted South Korean journalists. Those journalists who were assaulted were members of the official press corps that was accompanying Moon Jae-in. Thus far, all that the Chinese have done is to start an investigation.

If that doesn’t show how China views South Korea, then I don’t know what does.

What Was Gained?

In a not-so veiled threat, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that improved relations between Seoul and Beijing would result in improved profit margins for Korean businesses. What remained unsaid is that Korean businesses would then suffer if relations don’t improve.

However, the overall impact on economic growth of expanding trade and tourism with other countries is limited to 0.2 to 0.3 percentage points. Moon Jae-in tossed South Korea’s sovereignty in exchange for 0.2 percentage points in economic improvement.

There are other ways to improve the economy. Diversifying trade and seeking out more trade partners in Southeast Asia is one way. Investing in emerging African economies is another way. Yet another way is to improve relations with Japan.

What About Japan?

In his attempt to improve relations with Beijing - which has all but completely failed - Moon Jae-in decided that the best course of action to take was to take aim at Japan for crimes it committed more than 70 years ago.

Some of the things that Moon said in his speech are as follows (translation provided by Noon in Korea):
“SK & China are fellow travelers that overcame colonialism & imperialism on our way to modernization; our mutual trust cannot easily be shaken. Together we can work toward peace in East Asia”

“Listening to Xi's speech at the 19th Congress, I was impressed that his vision for China isn't just economic growth but a constitutional republic that prizes rule of law, social justice, concern for all human beings as well as nature & ecology.”

“Xi wants to improve the quality of life of not just Chinese people but all of mankind. He also wants to solve 2 vexing problems facing mankind: the problem of securing lasting peace among all nations & achieving co-prosperity w global citizens. They are attainable goals.”

Never mind that Xi Jinping was the one who orchestrated sanctions against South Korea - his supposed fellow travelers - for attempting to defend ourselves. Never mind that Xi’s consolidation of power turns Moon’s comment about China being a constitutional republic a sick joke. Never mind that China’s oppression of human rights advocates is the ideological opposite of what Moon Jae-in and South Korea’s progressives supposedly fought for. Never mind that to date, China has forcefully repatriated thousands of North Korean refugees back to their hellhole of a country to face torture, rape, and death at the hands of North Korean border guards and in concentration camps. Never mind that thousands of North Korean women who cross into China are almost immediately bought and sold as sex slaves.

Never mind that all of this is happening now. Moon Jae-in wanted to improve ties with Xi Jinping so badly that instead of focusing on the evils that are going on in China today that affects the lives of all Koreans on both sides of the DMZ, he preferred to focus on the evils that Japan committed more than 70 years ago.

At a time when South Korea ought to be strengthening relations with Japan (though this is certainly not to say that bowing to Shinzo Abe is the right way of going about it), Moon has once again cut off South Korea's legs from underneath it.

Moon the Groveler

Moon achieved less than nothing in this trip. His trip wasn’t treated anything close to an official state visit. Moon did not even get to share a meal with Xi. China didn’t promise to do anything; and in fact, it offered veiled threats. South Korean journalists were assaulted and no apologies were given. Moon got nothing but humiliation.

After Moon’s trip to China, North Korea’s official newspaper, the Rodong Shinmun referred to Moon’s visit as “a worthless trip of a beggar.”

The North Koreans aren’t entirely wrong.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with most of the points. Nothing much will change until China is forced to change. Who knows when that will be? After all, they are the ones predominantly keeping the situation the way it is on the peninsula. They don't want the refugees nor a unified Korea against them.