China Denounces South Korean, Japanese, and U.S. Comments about Taiwan

The Chinese Embassy in South Korea has conveyed “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to South Korea, Japan, and the United States for recent comments regarding Taiwan, describing them as “consecutive erroneous statements.”

The Seoul-based Chinese Embassy made the statement on the Chinese social media application WeChat, saying: “These actions rudely interfere in China’s internal affairs and maliciously smear and attack China. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this and has lodged solemn representations with South Korea.”

The embassy’s spokesperson also claimed South Korean involvement with the United States and Japan goes against the strategic partnership between South Korea and China, urging South Korea to be “careful” with words and actions regarding the issue of Taiwan.

Diplomatic Meetings

On Friday, May 31st, Vice Foreign Ministers from South Korea and Japan met with the United States Deputy Director of State to discuss topics relating to the Indo-Pacific, such as maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait, managing threats from North Korea, and current conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell giving a speech next to South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong-kyun and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Masataka Okano at Little Washington, Virginia. Source: Yonhap News.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson on Monday, June 3rd, claimed the purpose behind the trilateral meeting was to “attack and vilify China.”

This meeting followed another held on Sunday, June 2nd, where defense ministers and other officials from nations, including the Philippines, Indonesia, and the United States, reinforced their stand on maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

South Korean Response

Lim Soo-suk, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said during a press briefing: “Our government’s basic position on the Taiwan issue remains unchanged,” adding: “We hope for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the peaceful development of cross-strait relations through dialogue and cooperation.”

South Korea has repeatedly reiterated its respect for and adherence to the “One-China Policy.”

Analysis

China’s response to the two meetings, along with South Korea’s willingness to cooperate with nations such as Japan and the United States, can have a few impacts on diplomatic relations and the overall stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

South Korea continuing to attend meetings with the United States and Japan could worsen relations with China, leading to a decrease in trade. China is a major trading partner for South Korea, and trade serves as a focal point in their overall relations. Overall trade between China and South Korea has grown from $7.38 billion in 1995 to approximately $150 billion in 2022. Bilateral trade between the two countries declined from $150 billion to $124 billion due to South Korea shifting trade from China to the United States in 2023.

China also likely views increased South Korean involvement as a “diplomatic backstab.” If South Korea were to continue to meet with Japan and the United States, China could begin to use non-threatening actions if relations worsened enough. Such actions could include military drills or patrols or non-military means, such as economic coercion, to protest the meetings, like the trilateral meeting held on May 31st.

Such moves could be similar to China’s reactions when Taiwan holds meetings with nations such as the United States, where China may patrol the waters near Taiwan or even enter their Air Defense Identification Zone. The economic coercion tactics would include placing export controls on South Korean exports to China or placing holds on exports to keep them in Chinese ports.

Evan Berridge
Evan Berridge
Evan is an analyst specializing in Indo-Pacific affairs and has over 5 years of experience as a freelance writer.

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