Tackling Korean ‘trilemma’
- All have a part to play if nascent hopes of change in Korea are to be fulfilled
May 19, 2017-
The most reassuring signal from new South Korean President Moon Jae In is his willingness to go to Washington, Beijing, Tokyo and “even Pyongyang in the right circumstances” to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. It is a tangled issue and not hewing to a rigid policy will help to to make meaningful engagement possible. While having a steady hand on the rudder is a plus in itself, a departure from almost a decade of a hardline approach to the North, adopted by conservative Korean rulers, is a bonus. The world can count on North Korea to use every trick in the book to have its way. Pyongyang’s latest provocation reflects this—the ballistic missile it fired improved on the range of the previous one. It also wants to test evolving geopolitical stances.
The peace process is encumbered by the security trilemma evident in North-east Asia. China’s long-time support for Pyongyang is based on strategic concerns. For similar reasons, China is against the US deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system (Thaad) in South Korea. Mr Moon will have to deal delicately with the Thaad issue as he cannot do without US protection and yet cannot afford to alienate China. A united front with Japan would also ease multilateral discussions, but Mr Moon will first have to overcome the thorny issue of war reparations. Japan must curb militaristic impulses at home. All have a part to play if nascent hopes of change in Korea are to be fulfilled.
Published: 19-05-2017 08:13