South Korea is one of the oldest surviving victims of Chinese belligerence. China uses a perpetual threat called North Korea to keep Seoul on the edge. To maintain a geopolitical advantage over Seoul, Beijing keeps playing the North Korean missiles card against South Korea. So, South Korea is now arming China’s enemies to settle scores with the paper Dragon.
How China bullies South Korea
Take for instance the Yellow Sea dispute. The EEZs of the two countries overlap with each other in the Yellow Sea. Both China and South Korea claim an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles from their coastline in the Yellow Sea. The EEZs of the two countries overlap with each other.
As per the UNCLOS, the maritime boundary must be determined by the Median line principle. But the CCP prefers expansionism over the UNCLOS and claims a larger EEZ on account of its larger population and long coastline. And if South Korea asks China to go by international law, China plays the North Korea card.
South Korea arming ASEAN countries
If China can poke South Korea in the Korean Peninsula, then why can’t South Korea poke China in the South China Sea? And this is exactly what Seoul is up to.
The Philippines has ordered two new warships from South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, as disclosed by Filipino Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Seoul is thus helping Manila modernise the Philippine Navy in the face of growing Chinese aggression.
The US$556 million deal between the Philippines and the South Korean shipbuilding major comes five years after the company won a contract to build two new frigates for the Philippine Navy.
Lorenzana said, “This project will give the Philippine Navy two modern corvettes that are capable of anti-ship, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare missions.”
Meanwhile, South Korea is also edging closer to an agreement to develop the KF-21 Boramae multirole fighter aircraft in collaboration with Indonesia. The two countries agreed to invest USD7.5 billion to develop the KF-21 with Indonesia paying 20 per cent of the development costs, and getting access to technologies and know-how in return.
The joint project was temporarily affected by concerns over Indonesia’s ability to make the necessary payments. However, in October, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) of the South Korean government reportedly stated, “The Republic of Korea and Indonesia are narrowing the gap between each other’s position with regards to repayments through several negotiations.”
Both Indonesia and the Philippines are presently in the midst of contentious maritime disputes with China. And South Korea is arming them massively with a warning to China- if you don’t back off, my allies will go after you in Southeast Asia.
South Korea-Australia defence deal
If there is a country that truly hates China and its ideology, it has to be Australia. With Sino-Australian relations getting deeply strained, Canberra has decided to go as far as vowing to defend the island nation of Taiwan against Chinese aggression. And guess who is arming Australia? Well, South Korea.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and South Korean President Moon Jae-in signed a $717 million defence deal earlier this month. The deal involves the supply of artillery weapons, supply vehicles and radars to the Australian army by South Korean defence company Hanwha.
China emboldening Mongolia
This has to be one of Seoul’s boldest moves. Mongolia as a nation has permanently lived under China’s shadow. And we are not talking about recent times.
Inner Mongolia ended up becoming an unnatural part of China because of the constant battles between Mongolia and medieval Chinese dynasties. While Mongolia broke out of China in 1911, just before the establishment of the Republic of China, Inner Mongolia got acceded to the erstwhile Republic of China because the local princes were reluctant to join Mongolia.
An Independent Inner Mongolian People’s Republic did come up for a very brief period between September 9, 1945, and November 6, 1945. But it was taken over by the CCP.
In September, Mongolia and South Korea held a high-level online summit between Mongolian President Khurelsukh Ukhnaa and his counterpart, President Moon Jae-in. During this meeting, South Korea became Mongolia’s sixth strategic partner.
Mongolia and South Korea are working together and enhancing dialogue mechanisms on security, defence, and foreign policy issues.
Soon, you might hear about South Korea announcing a big weapons transfer deal with Mongolia.
South Korea is thus going all into arm China’s enemies and this is bound to tame the paper Dragon in an unprecedented way.