Why China definitely opposes the US-ROK joint military drill?

China Military Online
Li Wei
2021-08-11 17:48:50

By Yang Xiyu

The US-ROK annual joint summer military drill kicked off on August 10. With the intensification of the pandemic, the signs of relaxed relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK), and the appearance of opposition toward the drill from the ROK inside, many people believed that the military drill should have been postponed or even canceled, but it turned out that the drill was still on schedule. This shows that it is the US being the decisive factor for the US-ROK military drill, and this drill is essentially a means that the US took to exert tremendous pressure on the DPRK.

In this sense, the US-ROK military drill on the Korean Peninsula is undoubtedly a drill with special political attributes. Washington will definitely insist on continuing the military drill no matter which political party is in power in the US, what the situation is on the Korean Peninsula, and whether Seoul hesitates or even opposes. Its starting point is not to take care of the security concerns of the ROK but to exert pressure on the DPRK.

The current US-ROK military drill is bound to affect the security situation on both sides of the Korean Peninsula. Washington's insistence on pushing the US-ROK military drill to become normal practice is actually further exacerbating the separation tragedy on the peninsula.

The direct impact of the continuous US-ROK military drills supported by military investment race is to further aggravate suspicion on the peninsula. The settlement of the issue faces many difficulties, including denuclearization and peace agreements, but the primary crux lies in the serious strategic suspicion between the ROK and the DPRK, as well as the US and the DPRK.

The joint military drills this time are obviously aggravating rather than solving the suspicion. As a result, the security interests of both sides on the peninsula have been damaged while the US has continuously reaped geopolitical gains. This is a question that all East Asian countries, including the DPRK and the ROK, should pay attention to and think deeply.

In this process, the ROK's situation in the US-ROK alliance is at a delicate crossroad. On the one hand, ROK is trying its best to maintain the original intention of the alliance, which is to prevent "threats" from the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It hopes that the US-ROK alliance covers only Korean Peninsula affairs. On the other hand, the Biden administration is eager to expand the role and scope of the US-ROK alliance and drag it into the "Indo-Pacific Strategy". Therefore, the current situation has become a thorny issue.

The ROK government should be deeply aware that the ROK is clearly in a weak position in the alliance, which determines that even if the ROK hopes that the alliance only covers Korean Peninsula affairs, it will be difficult for the ROK to get what it wants, as long as the US has other considerations. The ROK also faces a security paradox, that is, the more insecure it feels, the more it depends on the US, and the more difficult it is to realize its "independent national defense strategy". Once the US ties the ROK to the "Indo-Pacific" chariot, it will inevitably harm the geopolitical structure of Northeast Asia.

The reason why China definitely opposes this military drill is that it has become a major obstacle to the settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue. This institutionalized military drill is not for the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, or even not for the ROK to be safer. The Peninsula affairs can only be resolved by enhancing mutual trust. Blindly strengthening the US-ROK joint military drill can only make the ROK and the DPRK deeply sink into the security dilemma.

It is more worrying that behind the US's insistence on promoting the military drill, it is planning to expand the US-ROK alliance or take it as so-called "regional security pillar". In that case, the interactions between the US and the ROK, including joint military drills, will be really harmful to the East Asia and even the entire Indo-Pacific region.

(The author is a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies)

Editor's note: This article is originally published on huanqiu.com, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.


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