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East Asia on dangerous ground as long as Seoul and Tokyo blinkered by Washington: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-11-28 20:21

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa pose for a photo prior to the 10th trilateral foreign ministers' meeting in Busan, South Korea, Nov 26, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Both Seoul and Tokyo are well aware that Washington has been trying to speculate on the Korean Peninsula issue, the Taiwan question and the maritime disputes in the East and South China seas to gain an advantage for the United States in its "competition" with China. They are also well aware that this is detrimental to regional peace and development.

Yet rather than considering what's best for the region, they have unconditionally supported Washington's reckless gambling.

Beijing respects the right of Seoul and Tokyo to develop relations with whosoever they choose, but that right should not be exercised sporting blinkers provided by Washington as it comes at the expense of the well-being of the region as a whole.

That the ROK and Japanese enterprises have to follow a course drawn by Washington demarcating the boundaries of their high-tech trade and cooperation with Chinese entities should be a direct reminder to Seoul and Tokyo of the string-pulled nature of their capitulation to Washington's demands.

Tokyo in particular should be conversant with the "with a friend like this who needs enemies" nature of Japan's relationship with the US given it was forced to yield to the Plaza Accord in 1985, which has resulted in the stagnation of the Japanese economy ever since.

In contrast, the five-point initiative China put forward at the 10th Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Meeting of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in Busan on Sunday aims to deepen cooperation among the three countries for shared benefits.

It calls for the three countries to work for an early resumption of negotiations on a trilateral free trade agreement, strengthen their high-tech cooperation, expand the scale of people-to-people and cultural exchanges, increase their efforts to respond to their aging populations, and create more China-Japan-ROK+ cooperation projects with third party countries. These endeavors, which do not target any third party country, deserve the serious consideration of both Seoul and Tokyo, as they would benefit the three East Asian neighbors and the broader region beyond.

That the discussions among the three foreign ministers were conducted in a friendly and harmonious atmosphere, and that they concluded with the three joining hands for a genial photo, suggest that the three neighbors are sincerely trying to lay a good foundation for a mooted leaders' meeting in the foreseeable future.

But to what extent that meeting can produce tangible deliverables depends on the degree to which Seoul and Tokyo can loosen the reins on them that Washington holds.

It has been their willingness to let Washington take the reins and spur them into active participation in its "Indo-Pacific" strategy that has been a primary cause of the estrangement between themselves and Beijing. As such, if they truly want to improve relations with Beijing they should act accordingly.

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