Saturday, July 24, 2010

[A Paradox or Mere Contradiction?] Korean Economic Dependence with China, but Security Reliance with the United States

I certainly do not suggest that Peter Lee speaks for Beijing, but I do suppose his writing probably reflects the way Beijing hopes to use this incident to advance its hegemonic ambitions and divert its suppressed domestic rage toward foreign demons.
But, in Peter Lee's lenghty article's, he goes on to write that the U.S. decision to support South Korea in the Cheonan incident was in part a response to Japanese efforts to move the U.S. base off of Okinawa. He goes on further to write that "it encouraged Lee's ambitions to boost South Korea's global profile, arranging for the Group of 20 Summit and 2011 Nuclear Security Summit to be held in Seoul." U.S. President Barak Obama also pledged to support the KORUS free trade pact that was signed during the last administration and which has yet to be ratified by the Senate -- both President Barak Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton had reservations against KORUS in the last presidential campaign race. 

Nonetheless, there's also another aspect of this article that I find to be interesting at least with respect to a certain state owned Chinese publication. 

I previously wrote about how the People's Daily Online -- a Chinese state owned newspaper -- fabricated claims about a fictitious South Korean Professor's research and a South Korean agenda to register Chinese script as a Korean cultural treasure. Well, interestingly enough, Peter Lee documents the several "other" times this publication has lapsed into questionable journalistic practices.
In an indication of the convoluted path of content across the Chinese Internet, the People's Daily English-language post was an uncredited cut-and-paste of an EastSouthWestNorth (ESWN) post.

Apparently, the publication also published pictures of a bombed U.S. aircraft carrier before it retracted it. 

However, with respect to the main aspect of Peter Lee's article, he suggests that increasing South Korean economic dependence on China makes it difficult for South Korea to remain dependent on the United States for security. And, I believe this is what Joshua Stanton was addressing when he writes that he "suppose[s] his writing probably reflects the way Beijing hopes to use this incident [...]" 

However, it hasn't really yet been shown whether China can effectively transfer economic ties into political leverage-- I'd say consider Scott Snyder's book, China's Rise and the Two Koreas: Politics, Economics, Security. This seems to be true for both halves of the peninsula, but it remains to be seen if this will continue to hold, even as South Korean trade with China now is greater than combined trade figures with the United States and Japan and North Korea is kept on life support by China. 

Still, even as China keeps North Korea afloat, China doesn't really have that much leverage with North Korea. 

A senior South Korean diplomat described this problem in a private conversation by a good allegory: "China does not have leverage when it comes to dealing with the North. What China has is a hammer."

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