Author: Xusheng source: Xusheng (official account id:lxlong20) has been reproduced with authorization
There were two slightly unexpected events at the NATO summit in Madrid:
One is that Turkey unexpectedly agreed to Finland and Sweden to join NATO before the summit.
The other is that South Korea released the balloon of “breaking away from China”.
On June 29, Choi sang mu, the chief economic Secretary of the presidential Secretariat of South Korea, who accompanied Yin Xiyue to the NATO summit, publicly told the media, “the era of achieving the prosperity of South Korea’s export economy through China is over.” He proposed to strengthen cooperation with Europe to develop the Korean economy.
Cui Xiangmu’s argument was interpreted by the media as “breaking away from China”.
That sounds incredible. Here is a brief analysis of the trade fundamentals between China and South Korea:
1. China has become the first trading partner of South Korea for 18 consecutive years. Public data show that the bilateral trade between China and South Korea exceeded 360billion US dollars in 2021, and the trade between the two countries accounted for about one third of the total foreign trade of South Korea.
2. Among them, the export volume of South Korea to China was 213.6 billion US dollars, with a year-on-year increase of more than 20%, a record high. At the same time, China is also one of the major trade surplus countries of South Korea.
3. The second largest trading partner of South Korea is the United States, the third largest trading partner is Japan, and the fourth largest trading partner is Vietnam. The combined trade volume of these three countries is similar to that of China, accounting for one third of South Korea’s total foreign trade.
4. All countries after Vietnam (the fourth largest trading partner) together account for one third of South Korea’s total foreign trade, which is similar to China.
5. If South Korea really wants to “decouple” from China, it will lose one third of its trade volume. It is almost unbearable for a country like South Korea, which is small in size, lacking in resources and heavily dependent on import and export trade.
Can Europe make up for the trade gap between China and South Korea? Obviously not. At the level of division of labor in the international industrial chain, Korean goods are mainly positioned at the middle end, which seriously overlaps with many countries in Europe.
Will Europe import a lot of Korean goods because of its overcapacity? It’s not realistic.
In a sense, the decoupling of South Korea and China is not something that a South Korean government can decide at all.
So why did Cui Xiangmu talk so loudly?
Answer 1: catch up with the trend
There are two major trends for politicians in the global village today.
Trend one, politicians like to put satellites.
For example, Biden went to Germany to attend the G7 summit, and put a large satellite of a $600billion infrastructure project.
For example, macron once threatened to make French the first language in the world, but it ended in nothing.
Johnson, for example, has been threatening to help Ukraine defeat Russia all day, but his chips are very limited.
Yin Xiyue himself is also a big mouth. He took office and said that he would build South Korea into a “global hub country” and a “key participant in global challenges such as international supply chain management, climate change and vaccine production”
Looking at these heroic words, as a senior gourd eater, it is naturally impossible to imagine how South Korea will become a “global hub country”. In fact, South Koreans themselves do not know; Even Yin Xiyue didn’t know. He just talked casually.
Second, politicians like to release satellites to China and Russia.
Also at the NATO summit in Madrid, Fumio Kishida publicly declared that “East Asia is likely to become the second Ukraine.” The West used the Ukrainian issue to target Russia, and the emergence of Ukraine in East Asia must be aimed at China.
After the United States listed China as its main competitor, politicians of the United States and its allies would sometimes talk nonsense about China. The ultimate goal of the United States is to pull Japan, Australia, India and other countries to encircle China, and finally pull South Korea into that small circle.
In the era of Moon Jae-in, South Korea also wanted to strike a balance between major countries. Yin Xiyue is openly pro american and friendly.
Yin Xiyue publicly announced that South Korea has not decided whether to join the “US Japan India Australia quadripartite security dialogue mechanism”, but before deciding this issue, it will first “support and assist” the relevant working groups of the quadripartite security dialogue mechanism in international affairs such as vaccine circulation and climate change.
Because of its own policies, the Yin Xiyue government has also won the label of “taking off China” in South Korea.
At the NATO summit in Madrid, a group of politicians came together, which was an opportunity to talk and launch satellites.
The NATO summit had nothing to do with South Korea. But South Korea was also called, which just gave South Korea a chance to flatter and flatter the West. Cui Xiangmu’s argument of “leaving China” came into being under this background and can be regarded as a kind of words to please the West.
Answer 2: potential risks
The Madrid NATO summit was Yin Xiyue’s diplomatic debut, but it was not successful.
First, the meeting with Finnish and NATO leaders was “stood up” (canceled), and then Biden “ignored the handshake”. What makes Koreans more angry is that in a group photo of the Secretary General of NATO and the leaders of South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand released on the official website of NATO, only Yin Xiyue’s eyes are closed.
Public opinion circles in South Korea believe that South Korea has not received enough respect.
After watching it, the melon eaters may feel that the above scenes are very entertaining. But behind the entertainment, even if Yin Xiyue didn’t get enough attention, he was still posting to the West; That means a potential risk, that is, the fragmentation of East Asia may become more and more serious, and South Korea is really deeply tied up with the United States and Japan.
If the United States uses Ukraine to pull down the iron curtain against Russia in Europe, it may also pull down the iron curtain against China in East Asia by creating crises (such as the peninsula crisis or the Taiwan Strait crisis).
If we really get there, the situation in East Asia will return to before the ice breaking between China and the United States, and South Korea is likely to become the forefront of the iron curtain. In a sense, the relationship between South Korea and China is the vane of the pattern of East Asia.
Although it is said that decoupling from China is an unbearable price for South Korea. However, given that South Korea is deeply controlled by the United States, China still has to make worse plans: that is, once China and the United States turn, South Korea is ready to stand on the side of the United States.
Therefore, the “decoupling theory” of Yin Xiyue government is also a potential risk.