Hankyoreh News
July 3, 2022

S. Korean president fleshes out anti-China policy line at NATO summit

“I’m glad to be able to join this discussion about the changing international security environment with NATO, which was established on the foundation of liberal democracy and the rule of law. I hope that a cooperative relationship between NATO and the Indo-Pacific will become a cornerstone of a coalition defending universal values,” South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said in his speech at the NATO summit on Wednesday.

Yoon’s remarks are tied to NATO’s denunciation of Chinese policies that “challenge our interests, security and values,” in the first direct mention of China in NATO’s strategic concept, the summit declaration which is intended to remain in place for the next decade. Some observers see this as the first step in Yoon’s anti-China agenda.

“As a new alignment of competition and conflict takes shape, there are indications that the universal values we have long defended are being denied,” Yoon said in his speech at the NATO summit. Yoon may be referring not only to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but also to China and signaling his intention to actively join NATO’s efforts to contain China.

After the leaders of NATO’s four Asia-Pacific partners – Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand – said during a meeting on Wednesday that they would deliberate as necessary with European countries while drawing up a new Indo-Pacific strategy to be completed before the end of the year, there are predictions that Yoon will cooperate with efforts to curb China’s influence.